The White House announced on June 25 that President Obama will host Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Washington, D.C. on July 20. The White House statement notes that both presidents will be accompanied by “senior advisors,” an indication that the visit will be more substantive than ceremonial.
As is usual with a substantive visit to Washington by a head of state, the agenda for the conversations will be carefully prepared in advance. The White House statement refers specifically to a “holistic” response to Boko Haram and “Nigeria’s efforts to advance important economic and political reforms.”
According to the Nigerian media, the two presidents agreed to the visit when they met at the G-7 in Schloss Elmau, Germany. The visit will take place just after Ramadan, which ends July 17 (President Buhari is a Muslim).
There will be much to talk about. Boko Haram carnage continues unabated. President Buhari has publicly said that the Nigerian government is almost out of money, with many federal and state civil servants going unpaid.
Nigeria watchers will be interested in whom President Buhari includes on his team. It will likely be an indication of who will be the new president’s close collaborators and advisors.
President Obama’s invitation to President Buhari may mitigate criticism that the U.S. president is not visiting Nigeria during his upcoming trip to Ethiopia and Kenya.