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Exemplary Political Ties

Cameroon and Nigeria remain some of the few African countries to overcome their difficulties in a commendable fashion.

Another milestone in the political life of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Friday 29 May, 2015, with the swearing-in of President Mohamadu Buhari has brought to the fore the exceptional political and diplomatic links that have characterised Cameroon and Nigeria. As close neighbours sharing over 2000 km of land and maritime borders, the people and geography are so interwoven that the leaders of both countries have understood the need to maintain harmonious ties and work for the wellbeing of their people.

In addition, the non-contentious and low-profile approach to international relations that President Paul Biya has generally favoured augurs well for peaceful coexistence between Cameroon and Nigeria. Although the current context of President Buhari’s investiture has been marked by the heinous activities of the extremist Boko Haram sect, the peaceful settlement of the Cameroon-Nigeria dispute over the Bakassi Peninsula already demonstrated the level of resolve by leaders of both countries to work together.

With the verdict of the Internal Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague on 2 October 2002 handing over Bakassi to Cameroon, the news was never received in Cameroon with any sense of triumphalism or taken with acrimony in Nigeria. Repeated diplomatic and political negotiations went on between leaders of both countries and their partners like the United Nations, Britain, France, the United States of America and Germany to ensure that all parties respect their commitments to peace and cooperation.  The process led to the putting in place of the Cameroon-Nigeria Joint Commission which has had several follow-up meetings to oversee the effective implementation of the set plans. From 9-11 April 2014, the Commission had it 6th session in Yaounde.

One of the decisive points to the border conflict was the 12 June 2006 Greentree Agreement in New York which led to the full withdrawal of Nigerian troops from the region and its administrative transfer back to Cameroon in August 2013. Many observers point out today that the remaining portion of the boundary demarcation between Cameroon and Nigeria as stated by the UN-mediated Bakassi border resolution accord is just a matter of time and should be done with before long.

Even if the issue may not be closely linked, the holding in Yaounde last 18-20 February of the third Cameroon-Nigeria Trans-border Security Committee meeting underlined the political will on the part of Cameroon and Nigeria to put in place working mechanisms that could enable the complete eradication of threats like those posed by the Boko Haram.

While acknowledging the need for joint action against the security hazards their countries face at the land and maritime borders, the chairmen of the Committee, Territorial Administration and Decentralisation Minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi for Cameroon and Retired Major General J.B. Samuel for Nigeria, noted that Abuja and Yaounde made significant progress in implementing decisions taken during their last session. Security, frontier surveillance, investigations, studies and research as well as diplomacy and justice were discussed in and in-depth manner during the February gathering in Yaounde with the resolution taken to hold the fourth session in Nigeria within a period of six months.

There is no doubt that the understanding that Nigeria and Cameroon continue to demonstrate in the handling of issues of common concern has accounted for the heavy casualties being inflicted on the Boko Haram insurgents. Offensives by the barbaric group defied all human reason and the exponential growth in their activities was apparently going to engulf large segments of territory in the entire Lake Chad Basin and Niger, making it indispensable for collective action at the political and diplomatic levels to push back the terrorists.  Cameroon and Nigeria have done just that to obtain current results and it would therefore make sense that such determination should continue for further positive outcomes.

Another outstanding factor which is perceptible in political and diplomatic ties between Cameroon and Nigeria has been the high-level contacts kept by President Paul Biya and his Nigerian counterparts. Such contacts have either been through direct visits or representation at the highest level of the State. Consequently, the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister Delegate at the Presidency in Charge of Relations with the Assemblies, Amadou Ali was in Nigeria on Friday to represent the Head of State at the inaugural of President Buhari’s new mandate in office in Nigeria.     

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