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Interview: “This Is The Best Time In Our Relationship”

Her Excellency Hadiza Mustapha, outgoing Nigerian High Commissioner to Cameroon, talks on the over three years she spent in the country - her achievements and wishes for her replacement.

What would you consider your most memorable moments during your tour of duty in Cameroon?

I have many memorable moments. My memories of my stay include the acceptance I got from Cameroonians - both official and at the private level. The friendliness, hospitality and the willingness to engage and improve relations between Cameroon and Nigeria, were some of the things I cherished. This made my work very easy because I found people who had the same commitment to peace, dialogue and the will to move our relationship forward. These were the best moments for me since I arrived in the country on August 19, 2012.

If you had any piece of advice for the next High Commissioner, what would you say?

I would say that he should come with an open mind. He would definitely find good foundations that have been laid. This is the best time in our relationship, so he should find it very easy. I expect him to work very fast to move things to greater heights. I would like to see Cameroon and Nigeria improve and expand their economic cooperation. There are so many potentials.

I was so pleased with the Investment Forum organised in Yaounde from May 17-18, 2016. To me, this is opening up to emergence. For Cameroon to say it is ready for business and invite foreigners, was the right decision. And to recognise and invite a Nigerian entrepreneur, Tony Elumemu of UBA Bank Group, as one of the keynote speakers at the forum, sent excellent signals. I think whoever comes to replace me will have much more fun than I did.   

What is the state of relations between Cameroon and Nigeria?

The best moment during my tour of duty was when His Excellency President Paul Biya accepted to visit his brother, President Muhammadu Buhari, in Nigeria. I watched the Nigerian media cover the visit and could see that a lot of barriers and misconceptions were lifted. The visit changed the opinion of many Nigerians about Cameroon.

Some Nigerians even congratulated President Biya for leading a healthy lifestyle and for looking so strong. To me, this was the greatest moment. What I used to tell my countrymen and women about Cameroon was not enough. But when they saw President Paul Biya in Nigeria alongside President Buhari, it sent excellent signals about relations between both countries.

Is there anything you did not like about Cameroon?

As a person, I am an incurable optimist. I don’t believe in the impossible. I do not also believe that there is nothing that cannot be fixed. I am not saying this because I am a diplomat. I didn’t see anything in Cameroon that I didn’t like. The country has a few challenges like Nigeria and other African countries. But these are challenges that are surmountable. I don’t have any regrets for having been in this country. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and will certainly come back.  

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