On Life, love and Politics

"Random musings about Life, love and Politics. Just my open diary on the events going on in the world as I see it."

Solidarity Always August 16, 2009

Filed under: Opinion Corner/Votre opinion — kikenileda @ 8:53 AM

Nkendem FORBINAKE

As Nigeria and Cameroon mark the first year, today, of the definitive
settlement of their border misunderstanding, nothing better justifies
the claim that the resolution of this matter was a landmark event in
the settlement of international disputes than the posture of peace
posited by the two sides since August 14.

One year on, the two countries clearly have an attitude that
illustrates the determination of the two sides in the furtherance of a
course of peace, mutual cooperation and friendship as a way of saying
that never will the resolution of the Bakassi conflict be considered as
a victory or defeat by any of the parties. Rather, by resolving the
Bakassi issue the way it was done, Nigeria and Cameroon wanted to show
the world that international disputes can better be resolved in the
glass houses of diplomacy than on the harsh fields of military
confrontation.

As the count down to the signing of documents confirming the return of
sovereignty over the Bakassi marshlands to Cameroon on August 14 in
Calabar was unfolding, a team of Cameroon reporters criss-crossed
Nigeria to get the feel of ordinary Nigerians. The result of the
enquiry was a business-as-usual attitude with many people insisting on
the God-made geographical and historical imperative which “condemns”
the people of Nigeria and Cameroon to live together. “You can choose
your friends, but you can never choose your neighbours”, many people
seemed to be saying, to vindicate the fact that tied by such bonds, it
could only be in the interest of the two peoples to adopt a most
favourable modus vivendi.

Granted, Nigeria was losing territory; but the Foreign Minister Chief
Ojo Maduekwe very warmly received the Cameroon Tribune team at his
Abuja residence on August 11, 2008. Going beyond the rigours of
protocol, the Minister gladly offered supper to the team and in
conclusion to the formal interview wondered aloud why, with Yaounde
just an hour’s flying time from Abuja, the Foreign Ministers of the two
countries could not commune more regularly. A veritable Cameroonophile,
Minister Maduekwe conceded being a fan of Makossa music. Marching words
with action, he crossed over the sitting room for his musical set and
within seconds Longue Longue’s latest hit at the time “Ayo’o Africa”
filled the air. A few other guests visiting the Minister that evening
joined the Minister on the dance floor.

In Calabar, several officials the team met, readily told stories about
transborder trade with many, recalling jolly childhood stories about
Cameroonian classmates met locally or even during their studies in
Cameroon. Some even talked about their joint belonging to the Ekpe
society which stretches across the Cameroon-Nigeria border.

At the handing-over ceremony in Calabar one year ago, no Nigerian
official who took the floor – be it the acting Governor of the Cross
River State Francis Adah or the Michael Aondoakan, Minister of Justice
and Attorney General of the Nigerian Federation – regretted their loss
of Bakassi. Rather, they wished that Cameroon, in a veritable spirit of
pater familias continue to take care of the Nigerian populations found
in the area under the new Cameroonian sovereignty.

One year later, there is nothing to regret for those Nigerians who
opted to stay. The government of Cameroon has initiated face-lifting
projects within the Bakassi area which starkly change the sentiment of
neglect and ostracism the local people had often entertained. This
positive government disposition is more so welcome, given the fact that
the majority of the people in the area are still Nigerian.

Nigerians across the national territory continue to enjoy the full
hospitality of Cameroonians. With Bakassi over there even seems to be a
new communion between the peoples of Nigeria an Cameroon. The reported
incidents of police harassments are rather marginal phenomena which are
to be blamed more on human weaknesses than on an express political will
to cooperate, because even the highest authorities of the land have
instructed Cameroonians to live with Nigerians as if they were
compatriots.

At the upper echelons of the State administration, this political will
is manifested by regular visits and consultations as well as work
within the mixed commission set up to bolster cooperation between the
two countries.

 

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