[dropcap type=”3″]D[/dropcap]etermined to curtail Boko Haram insurgency, President Muhammdu Buhari will on Monday begin a state visit to France to hold talks with President Francois Hollande.
He will also explore opportunities of more collaboration with Niger, Chad and Cameroon, which are assisting the nation in the war against insurgency.
The President was quoted as saying “it is more cost effective politically and economically to be at peace with your neighbours. This is something I learnt from the army.”
According to a pre-visit review by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the visit was in response to President Hollande’s invitation to President Buhari.
He said Hollande had extended olive branch to Buhari shortly after his election in March.
The agenda of the three-day bilateral talks will include
- Security in the Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin area.
- Boko Haram insurgency
- Review of ‘Wish List’
- To prevail on President Hollande and allies in G7 to keep their promise to assist Nigeria
- Access to military hardware, reconstruction of damaged infrastructure
- Economy and the war against corruption
He said: “One, he (Hollande) offered the friendship and partnership of France in President Buhari’s plan to rid Nigeria of terrorism and rebuild the country economically.
“His pronouncement that relations between our two countries are “strategic” has equally excited the Nigerian foreign policy establishment. It points to Nigeria’s opportunity.
“The second thing President Hollande said to our then President-elect was, “come to France and let us host to you to a bilateral discussion.”
From here, Hollande, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron and Obama encouraged President Buhari to, on getting into office put together a “wish list” of his government and country and table it at the “G7” meeting in Germany early in June, with a promise to come to the aid of our country.
Shehu gave elaborate details on why the visit was important to the war against Boko Haram insurgency.
He added: “Lastly and more importantly is the issue of security in the country and the Lake Chad basin area.
“Since his assumption of office, President Buhari has squared up to the threat of Boko Haram terrorism with a single-minded determination. Without waiting for the envisaged foreign support and assistance, Boko Haram is near resolution.
“If they were correctly reported in their press conference a few days ago, the military has indeed declared victory in the war. But the world still needs to come together to help this country manage its fallout.
“In this regard, President Hollande needs to make his friends and allies in the G7 to sharpen their response and keep their promise of assistance for which President Buhari was requested to present a wish list.
“So far, there is evidence of that support in the areas of training and the sharing of intelligence. But beyond these, it is hard to say that we are getting commensurate responses to the high hopes that we harboured in dealing with the war and reconstruction.
“Such promises, especially as regards access to military hardware and the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, donated or paid for should be pursued so that the victory over terror in our region is not a temporary one but one that will usher in permanent peace, tranquility and wealth for our beleaguered populations and the part of the continent they occupy.”
On the economy, Shehu said the meeting will also focus on it since France investment in Nigeria is the largest in Africa.
He said: “It is equally fundamental that France’s investment on the African continent is the largest in Nigeria. And it is still growing. French interests here are strongly represented by such companies as Total, ELF, LaFarge, Societe-Generale, SCOA and so on.
“The best outcome for Nigeria during this visit should reflect favourably on key priorities of the Buhari administration, which are security, economy and the war against corruption.
“An added one would be the strengthening of cultural cooperation. That should hopefully be beneficial to both states.
“We as a country are in the midst of our French-speaking siblings in Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin bordering this country to the North, East and West. The attitude of our authorities to this ground reality has not been very good so far.”