Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo has said the neighbouring Benin Republic must mend its ways for a harmonious bilateral relationship to continue between both countries.
Yesterday, Olusegun Obasanjo spoke on the issue during a news briefing on the margins of Policy Dialogue of African Business Associations on Implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreements in Addis Ababa.
Obasanjo mentioned that Benin’s notoriety has been occurring and Nigeria had endured the economic crumbling practice for a long time. He recurred when he was president and called the then Benin Republic President Nicephore Dieudonne Soglo for a meeting to discuss the border issues. He said they eventually met at Badagry in Lagos,Nigeria and came to an agreement that Nigerian Customs would be stationed in Benin.
He said the Nigerian Customs is still present in Benin Republic and Nigeria has no issues with goods manufactured in Benin Republic. He said such goods are welcome but if Benin Republic allows the dumping of goods into the country, then there will always be a problem with Nigeria. He reiterated that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was not created to allow one country to turn itself to a dumping ground.
The two-day policy dialogue was co-organised by the African Union (AU) African Development Bank (AfDB), African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), the AfroChampion Initiative and the Coalition of Dialogue Africa (CoDA).
On AfCFTA, Obasanjo, who is the Chair of the CoDA Board of Directors, said the execution of the agreements was crucial to its success and sustainability. “The intense support AfCFTA has received from various member states is a clear indication of its importance. “CoDA is highly engaged to seeking success of AfCFTA and other multilateral agreements. CoDA work is informed and guided by the notion that no one has monopoly of ideas,” he said. He urged for more actions, beyond words, adding that with fragmented 55 markets, Africa would remain small player in global market place.
In his welcome address, AU Commissioner, Department of Trade and Industry, Mr Albert Muranga, called for a change of attitude on the continent if the goals of AfCFTA was to be attained. “A new mindset is necessary. One country should not be going west and the other going east. All of us should be going in one direction. “For AfCFTA and our dreams of African integration to meet with success, it requires cooperation from all stakeholders,” he said.
Muranga also restated the fears as espoused by members of the organised private sector on the dangers ahead of AfCFTA, assuring that such fears also enjoy the attention of the framers of the AfCFTA initiaive. According to him, such fears include stability, predictability, fairness, corruption and enabling environment. Other participants included the Co-chair of the Executive Committee, AfroChampion Initiative, Dr Edem Adzogenu, and Chief Economist/Director, Research and International Cooperation, AFREXIMBANK, Dr Hippolyte Fofack.