As President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in the United States of America on Sunday night Nigerian time, indications emerged that former Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and former Chief of Army State Staff (COAS), General Abdulrahaman Dambazzau may play key roles in the new administration.
The two are non-state officials who are attending some of the highly sensitive meetings with the Nigerian leader.
The Daily Times of Nigeria exclusively obtained the itinerary of the President and his entourage.
Ahead of the visit, the US government announced readiness to help Nigeria recover looted funds.
The President’s plane touched down at the Joint Base Andrews International Airport in Washington DC at 4.00 am local time in the US.
He is billed to begin a whistle-stop series of meetings afterwards, starting with a breakfast meeting at 7am.
This will be followed by a breakfast meeting with the US Vice President Joe Biden at 9.15 am. That meeting will be attended by Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, Amaechi and Ambassador Ade Adefuye as well as Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting will be followed by a US Government lunch on power to be hosted by the Secretary of State John Kerry. In attendance will be Governors of Ondo and Imo.
There will also be a bilateral meeting with Deputy Secretary of State (Defence), Robert O. Work. On the Nigerian side will be Gen. Dambazzau, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence and Amaechi, the two non-government officials playing prominent roles.
Between 11 am and noon, President Buhari will meet his US counterpart, Barrack Obama at the Oval Office in the White House, followed by a 20-minute media chat.
At 12.35pm today, the President will be joined by the Governors of Nasarawa and Borno states at a meeting with the United States Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker .
From 1.30pm to 2pm, he will receive in audience ECOWAS Ambassadors and at 2.35pm, the President will hold a meeting on tackling corruption in Nigeria with the US Attorney General, Lorreta Lynch. In attendance will be Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice and the Solicitor General of the Federation.
The busy schedule also includes a meeting with the Secretary of Treasury, Jack Lew. Buhari will be joined at that meeting by the Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, as well as the Director General, Budget Office. At 16.40 hrs, he will meet with potential investors in Agriculture and at 16.45hrs with the Chamber of Commerce. At 7.00pm, he will be treated to an interactive dinner by the US Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council for Africa.
On Tuesday, the President will hold an interactive meeting at 8.00am and at 10am, he will meet with the President of the World Bank, as well as the representative of the Bill Gates Foundation and former Nigerian Minister of State for Health, Mohammed Pate.
At 11.50 am, he will be hosted by the US Department of State at a function to be attended by the Director og the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
At 4:00pm, President Buhari will receive the Class of 1980 US War College of which he was a participant.
The American government also reaffirmed its earlier pledge to help Nigeria root out terrorists.
Nigeria’s stolen wealth stashed in different foreign accounts is believed to be in trillions of Naira.
Washington has broad powers to track suspicious funds and enforce sanctions against individuals.
Johnnie Carson, a former assistant secretary of state, said Washington should not let security issues overshadow the need for closer trade and investment ties.
“Nigeria is the most important country in Africa,” said Carson, currently an adviser to the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Now more than ever, “the relationship with Nigeria should not rest essentially on a security and military-to-military relationship,” he added.
Lauren Ploch Blanchard, an Africa specialist with the non-partisan Congressional Research Services, said the U.S. challenge was to work with Buhari while giving him time to address the country’s vast problems.
How Buhari will handle the campaign against Boko Haram is still an unknown, Blanchard said.