The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Saturday, said there was no plan to make neighbouring Republic of Benin the 37th State of Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘Republic of Benin Is Not Aspiring To Be Part Of Nigeria’ which was signed by the ministry’s spokesman, Ferdinand Nwonye.
It read, “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 37th 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 fruitful meeting between the Ministerial delegation from both countries and stated there ‘…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.”
Benin Republic attainted its independence on December 11, 1958, some two years before Nigeria’s independence on October 1, 1960.
The two West African countries are strategic economic partners as traders from both countries transact businesses fluidly at the Seme-Badagry corridor, which has become one of the most popular borders for trans-regional economic exchanges.
Due to proximity, the two countries also share certain similarities like culture, religion and tribe. Some cross-marriages have also occurred between citizens of both countries.