Ladies and Gentlemen It affords me great pleasure today, Tuesday, 24th October, 2023 to address this Press Conference with the objective of informing the people and particularly the press media that the Nigeria Advocacy Group for the establishment of the Permanent Nigeria and Benin Republic Joint Commission will be hosting on 15th and 16th November, 2023 a bilateral meeting between with its Beninese counterpart at the Fam Embassy Suites Badagry, Nigeria.
The bilateral meeting is to raise awareness and advocate for the necessity of establishing a Permanent Nigeria and Benin Republic Joint Commission among the citizens of Nigeria and Benin Republic and more importantly, motivate, encourage and push the two governments of Nigeria and Benin-Republic to urgently consider the establishment of a Permanent Joint Commission between the two countries with the objective of establishing an enduring and robust strategic relation between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
The meeting is to create a synergy and collaboration among the private economic stakeholders of Nigeria and Benin – Republic who are earnestly yearning for strengthening and deepening socio- cultural and economic integration between the two countries through the establishment of a Permanent Joint Commission.
The bilateral meeting of the advocacy groups of the two countries are significant because it will ultimately lead to increased awareness among the governments and citizens of the two brotherly countries on the need to establish a Permanent Joint Commission between Nigeria and Benin Republic with a view to promoting more robust and enduring collaborations and cooperation between the two countries. This Bilateral meeting is expected to attract participants from the top government officials, economic stakeholders, traditional rulers, community leaders, civil society organizations, border security personnel and experts as well as civil society organizations that operate along the border corridors of the six Nigerian states sharing borders with Benin – Republic, including Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Niger and Kebbi. Similarly, stakeholders from the five (5) Beninese provinces that also share borders with Nigeria have also been invited for the meeting. This among others include: eighteen (18) Beninese Mayors, economic operators and traditional / religions leaders.
The highlights of issues to be discuss during the forthcoming bilateral meeting among others include: Visions and Missions of Establishing the Permanent Joint Commission
The aims and objectives of the proposed Permanent Joint Commission
Benefits of Establishing the Joint Commission Challenges/Problems that may likely face the establishment of the Permanent Joint Commission
Key and critical issues to consider while establishing Joint Commission
Protocol and Procedures for Establishing the Commission Statute of Commission for cooperation
Promoting cross border socio- Economic integration
Challenges of cross- border security Convention establishing the Commission
It is significant to recall that on 13th August, 2021 in Badagry, Lagos- State some Nigerian Private Economic Stakeholders drawn from the six Nigerian states sharing borders with Benin Republic, formed an advocacy group calling for the establishing of a Permanent Joint Commission between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
The Advocacy group has held consultative meetings with key Nigerian Government Ministries and Agencies including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Import and export Promotion Council and the Development Agenda for the Western Nigeria (DAWN).
The issue of establishing a Permanent Joint Commission between Nigeria and Benin Republic is quite apt and important considering the closeness and proximity of the two countries as well as the existing political, economic and socio-cultural ties between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
Indeed, The current cordiality and closeness between President Tinubu and the Beninese President, patrice TALON Will Enhance The Establishment of A Permanent Joint Commission Between Nigeria And Benin Republic.
The geo-strategic importance of both countries to their existential realities cannot be over-emphasized. It is significant to note that Nigeria and Benin share about 778kilometres of land and maritime borders with six States in Nigeria; including Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Niger and Kebbi; aswell as five departments in Benin Republic; namely the Atlantic/Littoral, Queme/Plateau, Zou, Collins and Borgu. Consequently, six common ethnic groups from both countries have, since the pre-colonial period continued to interact and interface culturally and socio-economically. The people of thetwo countries have been relating extensively and interacting socially as well economically with one another.
Given the closeness and proximity of Nigeria and Benin, there arehuge socio-cultural engagements among the people of both countries.Consequently, the people of Nigeria and Benin Republic are desirous toenhance and deepen the ties of fraternity and friendship as well as supportall levels of cooperation between the two countries. permanent joint Nigeria and Benin in Badagry on 13th August, 2021.
The joint commission will be charged with the responsibility of formulating the required basis to strengthen the relations between Nigeriaand Benin Republic, particularly in the field of, trade, economy, investment, energy, culture, human resources, skills science & technology, information technology, innovation, education, security and defence. The joint commission will also review agreements concluded in the past between thetwo countries and equally find suitable solutions for any issue in theirimplementation.
The joint commission is expected to leverage and transform the existing relations between the two countries into the level of strategic partnership which will manifest itself in building robust and sustainable people to people and business to business relations among the people of Nigeria and Benin Republic.
The Commission will also strive towards enhancing and advancing the two countries and shared priorities which among others include ‘promoting socio-economic integration of the two countries, encourage and increase formal and legitimate trade and investments between the countries; develop a solid economic cooperation between Nigeria and Benin Republic through the Co-Prosperity, Alliance Zone (COPAZ), strengthen the fight against tran border crimes and terrorism and promote the economic prosperity and security of the prosperous Lagos-Abidjan corridor”.
The future of Nigeria and Benin Republic economic relations hinge on adopting strategies geared towards improving and deepening the economic integration of the two countries as well as sustaining and preserving complementarities of their economies.
Therefore, establishing bilateral cooperation mvarious bilateral cooperation agreements concluded between the two countries are effectively and efficiently implemented. The Permanent Joint Commission will also set up structures and mechanisms for Consultation, Collaboration and Consensus among the Chambers of commerce and the economic stakeholders/actors of both Nigeria and Benin Republic.
In addition, establishing the Permanent Joint Commission will further enhance the creation of cross-border cooperation associations involving economic actors who are active in the border corridors, in order to better secure and facilitate the movements of goods and people.
No doubt, the economic relations between Nigeria and Benin Republic will be more dynamic, strategic and robust with the establishment of a Permanent Joint Commission between the two countries.
Consequently, all stake-holders in Nigeria and Benin relations including governments, technocrats, economic actors,’ civil society groups, traditional rulers and the medias; should collaborate and work relentlessly towards the establishment of a Permanent Joint Commission between Nigeria and Benin Republic. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.Long live the Republic of Benin.