Alhaji Usman Sariki, the Emir of Yashikira in Kwara, urged the Federal Government on Thursday to establish a Nigeria-Benin permanent joint commission to address challenges between the two countries.
The emir gave the advice at a consultative and dialogue meeting organised by an advocacy group for the establishment of a Nigeria-Benin permanent joint commission in Badagry.
“The establishment of [the commission] will give us the opportunity to fight our common enemy, which is banditry and smuggling. Today, we are all conscious that it is high time we cooperate for the development of these two countries, especially in trade and commerce.
“This cooperation needs the coming together of forces of all economic agents of the area, traditional rulers, and administrators, especially the local government chairmen. They need to come together to find a solution to our common problem.
“This problem is illicit trade along the border area. We need to cooperate to make sure that illegal products do not cross the border. We need to cooperate and make sure that our countries are living on what we are producing and that we are not smuggling products from other countries.
“We do not want the import of illegal goods, arms and ammunition across the border line and that is where traditional rulers come in. Traditional rulers are mobilised to make sure they cooperate with all the security agencies along the borderline within their areas to make sure everything goes normal for the development of their areas,” he said.
The emir said that the establishment of this commission would help in checking problems faced by border communities.
The Controller of Seme Border Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Timi Bomodi, said the proposal should be embraced by business-minded people.
According to Bomodi, if it becomes a reality, a lot of progress in terms of bilateral trade between the two countries will be made.
He said that many trade challenges could be addressed through this platform.
Olusegun Onilude, the chairman of Badagry Local Government Area, also said the initiative would be beneficial to both countries.
The commission, he noted, would help to address the problem of multiple checkpoints along the corridor.
Also speaking, Oba Adekanmi Oyekan, the Alapa of Egun-Awori Kingdom, Badagry, Lagos State, said Nigeria and Benin Republic are of the same family and the commission, when established, would work for the progress of both countries.
In his remarks, Ambassador Kayode Oguntuase, the chairman of the Nigeria National Steering Committee of the Proposed Nigeria-Benin Republic Permanent Joint Commission, said the call for the establishment of the commission was long overdue.
Oguntuase said it would be modelled both in structure and function after the Nigeria-Niger Republic Permanent Joint Commission, which was established as far back as 1973.
“The commission will strive towards enhancing the two countries’ shared priorities, which, among others, include promoting socio-economic integration between the two countries and encouraging and increasing formal and legitimate trade and investment between them.
“It will also develop solid economic cooperation between Nigeria and Benin Republic, strengthen the fight against trans-border crimes and terrorism, and promote economic prosperity and security along the prosperous Lagos-Abidjan Corridor,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was graced by businessmen and women, traditional rulers, local government chairmen, and stakeholders from the two countries.