The Nigerian federal government donated 15 Hilux operational vehicles and 100 motorcycles to the independent national electoral commission of Benin Republic, Commission Electorale Nationale Autonome (CENA), to enable it conduct a credible presidential election. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo, who presented the items in Cotonou, said that free, peaceful and credible election in Benin was of interest to Nigeria.
“Nigeria and Benin are neighbors; what happens in Benin is of immediate impact and interest to Nigeria and what happens in Nigeria has impact and is of interest to Benin. Besides, we are one and the same people separated by colonial rule and because of this separation with a borderline, we tend to think that we are different people,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria wants to share its experience with Benin to encourage the people of the country that there is no alternative to democratic governance.
“You are witnesses to the landmark change that took place in Nigeria in 2015 following the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in a peaceful, transparent and legitimate election without rancor. That election in Nigeria was a landmark because for the first time, a ruling party that had been in office for 16 years was voted out of office. Through the free will of the Nigerian people, the election ushered in an opposition party for the first time in the history of Nigeria,” he said.
Lolo, however, said the peaceful change could not have been possible were it not for the courageous and independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He said the support being given to Benin was a clear demonstration of Nigeria’s conviction that democracy must take very deep roots in our systems and in African countries.
Responding, the President of CENA, Tiando Emmanuel, commended Nigeria’s support to Benin at all times, saying that the donation would assist the electoral body to enhance its performance.
“The quality of relationship between Nigeria is demonstrated by the frequent meetings that exist between the two countries. During the last meeting with INEC, I told the INEC Chairman that Nigeria is the senior brother of Benin and the senior brother cannot abandon the junior brother. This gesture will allow CENA to reach the farthest parts of Benin during the election and will reinforce our democracy in Benin and democratic values in Africa,” Emmanuel said.
Businessman Patrice Talon had won the presidential elections.