By Abraham Olatokunbo
Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama has said neighbouring Republic of Benin never was interested in dissolving into the Nigerian federation.
He said rather what the small francophone country wanted was a very close relationship with Nigeria.
A large population of Republic of Benin have some cultural similarities with the Yoruba people of South West Nigeria.
Onyeama, in a press release on Saturday by the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye said that the intention of Republic of Benin was misconstrued in recent media report which claimed that the country was willing to become Nigeria’s 37th State.
The press release read, in part, that: “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 37 State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
It said: “The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the presence of his counterpart from the Republic of Benin granted a Press Interview after a very fruitful meeting between Ministerial delegations from both countries and stated therein “… 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 release said: “The Federal Republic of Nigeria has no territorial ambition and has never aspired to make Benin or any country as part of Nigeria.”
It called on the general public to disregard the wrong information, stressing that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was quoted out of context.