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Obasanjo commends land border closure, says Benin Republic’s ‘sabotage’ not new

Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has asked Benin Republic to change its ways for a harmonious bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Obasanjo spoke at a press conference on Tuesday, in Addis Ababa, on the margins of the policy dialogue of African business associations on implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreements.

The two-day policy dialogue was organised by the African Union (AU), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Export – Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK).

Obasanjo, who is the chair of the Coalition of Dialogue Africa (CoDA) board of directors, expressed his support for Nigeria’s land border closure.

He said Benin’s notoriety for economic sabotage is not new, and that Nigeria has for a long time been enduring the act which undermined its economic well-being.

“It happened when I was president of Nigeria. I called the then Benin president, Nicephore Dieudonne Soglo, to let us meet at any of our border posts over the issue, ” he said.

“We eventually met at Badagry (in Nigeria), where we agreed that Nigerian customs would be stationed in Benin.

“They (the Nigerian Customs) are still there. We don’t have issues with goods manufactured in Benin — they are welcome.

“But as long as Benin allow dumping of goods, there will always be problem with Nigeria.”

Related: IMF backs Nigeria on closure of its borders, urges speedy resolution of issue

He said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was not created to allow one country to turn itself into a dump ground.

On AfCFTA, Obasanjo 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, ” he said.

“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.”

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He asked for more actions, adding that with fragmented 55 markets, Africa would remain small player in the global marketplace.

President Muhammadu Buhari had explained that the border closure was to check the activities of smugglers.

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