One would have thought that there would be mutual love and respect between Nigerians living in Benin Republic and indigenes of the neighbouring country, especially as they interact on a daily basis in their business and social lives.
By Ademola Olonilua
This is not so, however, going by Saturday PUNCH’s investigation which revealed that there is a discreet hostility from the Béninoise to Nigerians living in their country.
Although Nigerians abound in the country -both as students or workers – there is usually an aggressive attitude once a Benin indigene realises that one is a Nigerian. The only people that seem to love Nigerians in the country are their females.
A Nigerian businessman, Promise Nwadigos of Digos Worldwide Limited, told Saturday PUNCH that he visits Benin Republic regularly because of the nature of his business. According to the civil engineer, the men of Benin do not like Nigerians because their women easily fall in love with Nigerians. He also added that an average Benin man was lazy and expected his wife to be the breadwinner of the family.
He said, “I come here every two weeks because of my car business and also, I import white cement from India and marbles too. It is cheaper to ‘clear’ the goods here than in Nigeria. Most young men that come here would want to live at ease.
“I’ll prefer to date a girl from Benin Republic than a Nigerian girl because they do not ask for money. In a scenario where you would give a Nigerian girl N5,000 her, a Benin girl would rather you feed her, accommodate here and give her N1,000. Benin people are not rich. Most of them are low-income earners; so whatever happens here is mostly done by Nigerians.”
Nwadigos added that Béninoise girls like Nigerian men because they (Nigerian men) work very hard and take care of the women.
He said, “They like Nigerian guys because we are hard working and decision makers. The women work the most here. Their men are the type of people that tie wrapper and wait for their women to bring food for them. An average Nigerian guy will work and want to impress his lady with his success. I know that some of the men here in Benin do not like Nigerians. For instance, if you take a cab and they find out you are a Nigerian, they are always aggressive, even with their bikes.
“Their girls like us, they don’t just like us because we are Nigerians, they like us because we are hard working, we know what we are doing and we are rich. They love us for our hard work. Most of their men here are taxi drivers and they do not go to school. Some are palm wine tappers, some sell bread. They live a useless life.”
However, an estate agent in the country, Cena Rodrick, told Saturday PUNCH that Nwadigos claims were not true. He stated that Béninoise men were hard working. He acknowledged that there was hostility towards Nigerians but said it was because some Béninoise have been swindled occasionally by Nigerians; especially the Igbos.