Downturn in Nigeria’s economy affecting neighbouring countries —Beninoise president

•Meets Buhari in Aso Rock

THE present downturn in the Nigerian economy was affecting neighbouring countries negatively, President of Benin Republic, Patrick Talon, has said.

Speaking after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, he described Nigeria as the engine room of West Africa, urging it to explore its non-oil sectors in order to increase its revenue profile, which he observed had dwindled as a result of falling oil prices.

He observed that Nigeria had relied too much on crude oil revenue while ignoring other potential revenues sources.

Talon revealed that both leaders centred their discussion on security and economy, adding that his country was looking forward to reactivating the existing bilateral relationship between Benin and Nigeria, especially in the areas of trade relations, economy, energy development and education.

He said Benin would cooperate with Nigeria to end the current illegal trade going on between the two countries.

Talon said: “There is illegal trade between the two countries which is creating difficulties between the two countries. We looked at the possibility of re-energising the trade between the two countries, so that illegal trade is discouraged.”

He invited Buhari to visit Benin Republic towards enhancing the cooperation between the two countries.

President Buhari thanked him for his visit to Nigeria, noting that the Republic of Benin had always supported efforts by the Lake Chad Basin Commission to address insurgency and other trans-border crimes in the sub-region.