Benin Republic has recognised the Yoruba language as second official language in the country. Nigeria’s Ambassador to Benin, Dr Lawrence Obisakin, who disclosed this, also said that Dendi another indigenous Nigeria Language was also been recognised alongside Yoruba by the Beninoise Government, underscoring the affinity between the two countries. The Nigerian envoy explained that based on the recognition, the Federal Government has recently donated Yoruba Language books to the Government of Benin.
“At the fifth session of Nigeria-Benin Bilateral Joint Commission when you have multi-party, multifarious and inter-ministerial meetings and we were able to sign and renew eight agreements including educational agreements.
“Just a week ago, Nigerian Government gave Yoruba books to the government of Benin to support the recognition of the language.
“We have two languages recognised, Yoruba and Dendi languages have been recognised here as national languages,” he said.
According to him, even the President of Benin said 70 to 80 per cent of the people are of Nigerian origin.
“From the south, you have the Egun, both in Porto Novo and Badagry. When you go northward, you begin to find the Yoruba people.
“You have also the Bariba people; you have the Batonu who we call the Borgu people. You have the Dendi people; you have the people that speak Fulani and Hausa.”
Obisakin also explained that Nigeria and Benin Republic have had so many things in common right from the pre-colonial era. He said that historically, Nigeria and Benin were one and the same people adding, Nigerian empires had governed almost all parts of Benin before the colonial separation.
“Republic of Benin is a country that shares about 778 kilometres of border, and is about the country that has the most densely populated frontiers with Nigeria.
“Benin is a country that has produced the first official border at Idi-Iroko, the country that has the most lucrative border with Nigeria, Seme, where about 6,000 people cross per day.
“If not for the colonial separation, where you are standing now Cotonou use to be part of Oyo Empire and the capital was Oyo-Ile up to the shores of Ghana and the Northern part of this country (Benin) used to be Borgu Empire.
“When I came here, there were only four industries that were exporting but today, there are 28 and more.
“This is one of our negotiations and we thank God for that, a lot has been achieved.”