GAINS OF BONI YAYI’S STATE VISITS
arely 24 hours after his inauguration as Bénin’s number one man, President Boni Yayi had embarked on his first but curious tour which took him to Nigeria. Since then, he has visited other African countries on what is referred to as working visit. The fallout from these trips has proved that indeed they were working trips. Some of the countries visited by President Boni Yayi include :
Þ Nigeria: President Boni Yayi’s first port of call had to be Nigeria. Undoubtedly, the invitation must have transpired during the swearing-in ceremony in Porto-Novo with Nigeria’s Head of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in conscpicuous presence. That trip was not unexpected because, charity, they say, begins at home. And Nigeria being the country in closest proximity to Bénin is like home to many Beninese. Not just that. History has it that a great number of Beninese have their root in Nigeria in addition to trans-frontier economic activities between the two countries both in the formal and informal sectors. It therefore becomes expedient and natural for the two governments to work hands in gloves to harness the already existing healthy relationship between them.
Þ Senegal : Before his election as Benin president, Boni Yayi’s presence in Senegal had been some source of pride not only to the host country but to the banking industry at large, where Boni Yayi occupied the hot seat of the African Developement Bank at its headquarters in Dakar. President Abdoulaye Wade could not have missed being closely related to the banker-turned-politician which advantage he would now exploit to be counted among the first African presidents to play host to Bénin’s first gentleman. President Boni Yayi government’s acquisition of what has come to be known as technocratic embelishment stems from the crop of specially skilled manpower (however few), that he drew from his former banking outfit in Dakar.
Þ Mali/Niger : These are two countries whose nearness and dearness to Bénin cannot be ignored. The volume of trade between these countries and Bénin coupled with the apparent number of migrant traders from these countries really calls for attention.
Togo/Ghana : Though the President is yet to visit these two countries, that does not mean that they are being undermined. Hardly can one get out of Bénin from the side of the equator without encountering Togo and Ghana. Benin on its part has served as land of refuge for displaced Togolese and Ghanaians alike during their moments of political turmoil.
Gabon : The first emigrants from DAHOMEY to Gabon dates back to early 18th century. More than 200 years after the first movement, people of both countries still have a reason to interact culturally, socially, economically and politically. What with the recent donation of a sum of 20 million francs CFA by President Omar BONGO to the good people of Bénin resident in Libreville. This is indeed a clear testimony of the love and hospitality spirit existing between the two countries. Therefore, President Boni Yayi’s visit to Gabon can be perceived as being only natural.
Libyia : Given the prominent role being played by President Moumar Gadhafi in the African Union, it behooves of any right thinking African leader to seek to get as close to him as possible. This is one gentlemen that has publicly denounced acts of terrorism to the admiration of the G-8 and particularly the United States.
The Windfall : To the uninformed mind, these trips embarked upon by President Boni Yayi would look like a further drain on the country’s non-existent savings. But from economic perspective, what he has embarked upon is the most effective way of seeking to revitalise an ailing economy. In the words of this double-laurette economist, during his recent visit to the Hubert Maga University Teaching Hospital, " If an institution that is supposed to cater for sick persons is itself sick, it has to sought remedy first from external source in order to be able to fulfil its function effectively." (emphasis mine). Needless to say, these trips, judging from the economic variables, one should not expect to see the results within a very short period of time. Yet some evidences of bright llight at the end of the tunnel can be noticed in so many quarters. The aviation industry, the agricultural sector, the petroleum products distribution zone, and international trade, to mention just a few, have started breathing some air of revitalisation, and it certainly wont be long before the real windfall will become generally felt. Obviously, Béninese should give kudos to this God-sent regime of President Thomas Boni Yayi.