President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday said cooperation between Nigeria and Benin Republic remains imperative for economic prosperity in West Africa, noting that lack of synergy between Nigeria and Benin Republic has been an encumbrance to mutual development.
The President stated this when he received President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic at the State House in Abuja on Wednesday.
President Tinubu said Nigeria and Benin Republic share much in common, describing both countries as conjoined twins held together at the hip.
“We are one. No other nation like ours should be worried. What is affecting us is a lack of synergy. We have not developed the economic synergy to develop our two nations. We must have common economic principles and priorities. I welcome the economic programme you are developing through inter-ministerial collaboration.
“We will support all of our private sector interests to facilitate prosperity in our important countries. I appreciate the urgency of your approach, and we welcome this. Leadership is sometimes defined by urgent action. Thank you for your quality leadership. We are together. I am not a backward-looking person. I look forward. This is how I avoid missing steps,” the President said.
Bilateral formal trade relations between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin have witnessed a significant increase in the last ten years
Nigeria’s exports to Benin are said to have grown at an annual rate of 6.94%, from $25m in 1996 to $136m in 2021. In 2021, Benin exported $24.2M to Nigeria.
Inconsistencies in economic policies and poor border control measures have led to an increase in the smuggling of goods across their borders due to the porous nature of the borders.
President Talon, who was at the State House to seek the support of President Tinubu on improving trade relations ahead of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit, described the relationship between his country and Nigeria as crucial.
He said the Benin Republic seeks stronger trade ties with Nigeria, emphasizing both countries’ free movement of people and goods.
“Benin has started implementing a national development plan which includes enhanced integration between Nigeria and the Benin Republic. Our development plan considers what investments are required in Benin to enhance our integration with Nigeria in trade terms. Many agreements have indeed been signed to push our integration forward but have not been implemented.
“At the level of ECOWAS, we embrace free movement and integration, and at the African level, AfCFTA envisages this, so we need to move urgently to make this a reality.
“Our investment programme must be revised to factor in all factors of the Nigerian economy. We seek to set up an inter-ministerial technical committee to prepare a draft document for our legislatures jointly. I am ready to sign an executive order to appoint council members to advance mutually beneficial cooperation across sectors.
“There have been bilateral difficulties on the issue of smuggling. We will work hard to coordinate and protect your interests as we integrate our economies. I want us to make history together,” President Talon said.