French President Emmanuel Macron is set to visit Nigeria today.
He is currently on his way to Abuja to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, in his latest attempt to forge closer ties with English-speaking Africa.
Fifteen years after he was an intern at the French embassy, Macron returns to the Nigerian capital for a whistlestop meeting with Buhari before flying south to Lagos.
The 40-year-old former investment banker, who speaks fluent English, has made a point of boosting ties with France’s former colonies but also improving trade with anglophone countries.
Macron will also visit Lagos State and the state government has planned to host him at the New Afrika Shrine founded by Femi Kuti, son of music legend, Fela Kuti – making him the first president to enter the venue.
The New Afrika Shrine located at Ikeja Lagos was built after the original Shrine by the musical maverick, Fela was burnt down in 1977.
In Lagos, the agenda will be less traditionally diplomatic, with a focus more on the megacity of 20 million people’s artistic and cultural scene.
On Tuesday night, he is expected to officially launch the African Cultural Season which takes place in France in 2020, at an event showcasing music, fashion and theatre.
The choice of location — the Shrine concert venue of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti — has come as a surprise for many Nigerians given its association with the anti-establishment musician.
“It’s a pleasant surprise that Macron chose to celebrate the cultural scene in Lagos,” said Steve Ayorinde, Lagos state tourism commissioner.
“But it didn’t come as a shock, knowing that France is a very cultural country and knowing that Macron is a young president.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has announced that there would be traffic diversion and restricted movement from 12 noon to 12 midnight on Tuesday around the Alausa, African Shrine/Agidingbi axis.