By Ayo Akinfe
 Over the last few weeks, the border between Nigeria and Benin Republic has been closed and it is causing economic havoc. Nigeria shut the border to combat the influx of cheap imports coming in via Cotonou but hang on a minute, could this not have a more damaging effect on the regional West African economy
 At least 70% of the goods that come into Cotonou port are destined for Nigeria. In effect, Cotonou is Nigeria’s second port after Apapa. It creates jobs, generates wealth and has prevented Benin Republic from becoming another haven for terrorists and extremists
 Culturally and linguistically, Benin Republic and Nigeria are one people. The Fon (Egun), Yoruba, Hausa, Bariba (Borgu) people live in both countries. Despite the fact that the Europeans sought to divide them into Anglophone and Francophone peoples, they have by and large remained one
 Most educated Benenoise speak English anyway, so are easily able to communicate with their Nigerian brethren. There no, I repeat, no justification under the sun for Nigeria and Benin Republic to be separate countries and we need to correct that colonial anomaly today
 With the border closure, Nigerian farmers are unable to export their goods to Benin Republic and likewise, Benenoise farmers are unable to export their goods to Nigeria. Has it occurred to the Nigerian government that if this continues, very soon, we will impoverish Benin Republic to the point whereby it becomes another haven for Isis?
 There is only one way to prevent cheap and sub-standard Chinese goods coming into Nigeria via Benin Republic and that is by amalgamating the two nations
 I propose that the governments of both nations hold referendums in 2020 about merging. We did this with Western Cameroon in 1961 and 1963, so there is nothing dramatic or out of the ordinary here
 Adding Benin’s 10m people to Nigeria is going to open up new opportunities as they produce more cotton than us and we will have full use of the port of Cotonou. There is plenty of farmland that can tapped into for commercial agriculture
 Benin can be split into about three states with capitals in Cotonou, Abomey and Parakou. We can then have an Ibadan-Abomey Motorway and a Parakou-Ilorin Expressway to link the two countries. Personally, I would like to see rail links given priority
 Benin’s coastal strip in between Porto Novo and Ouidah is largely untapped and can be converted into one huge coconut plantation that will dramatically alter the dynamics of the world market. This combined nation can easily become the world’s number one producer of other cash crops like palm oil, cocoa, plantain, bananas, rubber etc.