Benin Republic Willing To Join Nigeria: The Facts and Fiction

On Saturday, February 20, 2021, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama was quoted saying the president of Benin was open to joining Nigeria as its 37th state.

“The President of Benin said as far as they are concerned, they want (not just saying it like that) but in reality, Benin should be the 37th state of Nigeria,”  he said.

“We should really be one,” Onyeama adds. “They charged us to come together at ministerial level, to work out a framework for a sustainable relationship.”

According to Onyeama, the Beninoise president allegedly made the offer after paying a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari a couple of weeks ago.

The Fact

The president of Benin Republic did make a visit to the president of Nigeria where both presidents discussed bilateral agreements and how to better tackle the smuggling menace across the border.

Former Beninoise President, Boni Yayi, has often described Benin Republic as Nigeria’s 37th state in 2011 and 2015 under Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari respectively, however, no express call for alliance has been made between the Nigerian government and Benin Republic.

 Benin republic covers an area of 114,763 square kilometres (44,310 sq. mi) with a population of 12,330,622 people as of February 21, 2021.

The country always remains affected by changes in the trade and currency policies of Nigeria – Benin’s leading trading partner and the recipient of 51% of its exports.

Economic growth in Benin is on the rise with an estimated at 6.7% in 2019, thanks in part to an increase in public investment from 21% of GDP in 2016 to 29.6% in 2019. On the supply side, growth is due to the performance of the agricultural sector led by cotton, whose production rose from 269,222 tons in 2016 to 726,831 in 2019; the vitality of the construction industry; and the dynamism of the port of Cotonou. Inflation remained low, estimated at –0.1% in 2019, and below the WAEMU 3% threshold. The CFA franc, pegged to the euro, appreciated against the dollar over 2017–19.

The Fiction

Ferdinand Nwonye, Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja in a statement released on Saturday evening said contrary to media reports, Benin republic never had plans to join Nigeria as a state, insisting the honourable Minister was only misquoted.

Read the statement below:

Republic Of Benin Is Not Aspiring To Be Part Of Nigeria

The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to misleading reports in the media that the Republic of Benin is aspiring to be the 37 State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in the presence of his counterpart from the Republic of Benin granted a Press Interview after a very fruitful meeting between Ministerial delegations from both countries and stated therein “… the President of Benin Republic said he would like the relations between the two countries to be so close as if Benin was the 37th State of Nigeria”.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria has no territorial ambition and has never aspired to make Benin or any country as part of Nigeria.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs was therefore quoted out of context and the general public should kindly disregard the wrong information.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

Related post