President Bola Tinubu has said lack of synergy between Nigeria and Benin Republic has been an encumbrance to mutual development, adding that cooperation is imperative for economic prosperity in West Africa.
Tinubu stated this while receiving President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic at the State House, Abuja, on Wednesday.
The president said Nigeria and Benin Republic share a lot 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 necessary economic synergy that will develop our two nations. We must have common economic principles and priorities. The economic programme you are developing through inter-ministerial collaboration is welcomed by me.
“We will support all of our private sector interests to facilitate prosperity in both of 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,” he said.
Talon, who was at the State House to seek the support of 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 Benin Republic is seeking stronger trade ties with Nigeria, emphasising the free movement of people and goods between both countries.
“Benin has started implementing a national development plan which includes enhanced integration between Nigeria and Benin Republic. Our development plan includes taking into account what investments are required in Benin to enhance our integration with Nigeria in trade terms. It is true that many agreements have been signed to push our integration forward, but they 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 that will jointly prepare a draft document for our legislatures. I am ready to sign an executive order to appoint members of the council to advance mutually beneficial cooperation across sectors.
“There have been difficulties bilaterally on the issue of smuggling. We will work hard to coordinate and ensure that your interests are protected as we integrate our economies. I want us to make history together,” Talon said.