The Federal Government has donated 15 Hilux operational vehicles and 100 motorcycles to the Independent National Electoral Commission of Benin Republic to enable it conduct credible presidential election.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Bulus Lolo, who presented the items in Cotonou, said that free, peaceful and credible election in Benin was of interest to Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presidential elections will be held in Benin on March 6, 2016 and 36 candidates have been cleared to contest the election.
Lolo encouraged the people of Benin and the electoral commission to conduct the elections in peaceful, transparent and credible manner.
“Nigeria and Benin are neighbours; 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.
“Therefore, our being here today to support the electoral process in Benin is a clear demonstration of our solidarity, brotherhood and friendship,” 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 rancour.
“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).
“INEC was courageous enough to declare the winner after the event that took place in Nigeria.
“Today, the support we are rendering to Benin is to enable the Commission Electorale Nationale Autonome (CENA) stand firm and ensure that the votes of the people count,” he said.
He said that 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.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to Benin, Dr Lawrence Obisakin, commended the leadership quality of President Muhamadu Buhari, who had supported democracy in Africa since he assumed office.
Obisakin said Buhari had further re-asserted Nigeria’s continental leadership.
The Ambassador of Benin to Nigeria, Mr Oyedekpo Laleye, lauded the cooperation between the two countries, pledging that the donation would be used for the betterment of the people.