President Boni Yayi
The President of the Republic of Benin and leader of African Union (AU), Bonyi Yayi, has described his country as the 37th state of Nigeria, given its proximity to Nigeria and the common historical and cultural ties which over the years have made both nations inseparable.
He said the population and size of Benin Republic, which can be compared to that of some states in Nigeria, unarguably makes the former an appendage to the latter, He called on the two countries to continue to cooperate in social and economic activities for the good of each other.
Yayi revealed that since Nigeria is the economic power house in Africa, Benin Republic was ready to partner her to ensure economic growth of both countries and singled out the provision of basic infrastructure to facilitate international trade between and across other countries in the West African sub-region.
Fielding questions from journalists shortly after a tour of facilities at the Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River State where he is on holidays, President Yayi explained that the envisaged collaboration has become necessary as both countries need to forge stronger economic ties to remain relevant in the sub-region.
“Our vision is to bring together the two countries by linking them through railways, airport, seaports and road networks to promote the desired economic activities in the area. The political will is already there and I am optimistic that we will achieve that”, he said.
The AU boss, who said the two countries were tied through Ife, Benin, Sokoto Caliphate, Kano Kingdom and other affinities, said more than 50 per cent of Benin’s population are Nigerians, hence there was need bring about the synergy to better the lots of the people.
On the insecurity that is threatening some of the countries on the continent, Yayi restated the AU’s readiness to ensure that it brings lasting peace to flash point areas by engaging all the interest groups in a dialogue.