As part of a strategic gesture towards tackling the threat posed by insecurity within the borders of Nigeria and Benin-Republic, the government of both countries has agreed to enter a treaty targeted at stemming the tide of criminality, arms smuggling, drug trafficking, and other trans-border crime.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, while speaking to newsmen after a closed-door meeting with his Benin Republic counterpart, Aurelien Agbenonci said that both countries are putting measures in place to address their mutual challenges of trans-border crime.
According to Onyeama: “The meeting we just had was a follow up to the meeting that President Muhammadu Buhari and his brother, Patrice Talon of Benin, had a few weeks back. We want to have an agreement between our two countries that will put any issue of smuggling or whatever it is behind us once and for all.
“So, President Buhari charged us to come together at the ministerial level, first of all, to work out a framework for a sustainable relationship. You know the President of Benin said that they are concerned; they are not just saying it, that Benin should be the 37th state of Nigeria. We should really be one.
“We will look into all these and we’re going to report to the two presidents. We more or less agree on a mechanism where Nigeria’s intelligence, security, and Customs will together with their Beninoise counterparts be able to monitor the borders and ports in Benin to ensure that we don’t have smuggling of small arms and light weapons and drugs.”
The Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister also noted that a treaty that would govern this new arrangement between the two countries would be signed to provide a common economic space between Benin and Nigeria.
Nigeria and Benin no doubt share deep historical-economic ties, reflecting their geographical and cultural proximity.
Trade relations between both countries have largely been informal. According to the World Bank, informal trade between the two countries accounts for 20% of its GDP. Mainly resulting from the re-export of second-hand vehicles, frozen products, drinks, or rice, it is a considerable source of income that makes the Beninese economy dependent on its neighbour.