Bakassi – Cameroon and Nigeria, Celebrating Advances in Peaceful Coexistence

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President Paul Biya of Cameroon and President Jonathan of Nigeria
President Paul Biya of Cameroon and President Jonathan of Nigeria

by Cameroon Tribune

The 31st session of the United Nations Mixed Commission for the Implementation of the ICJ Judgment of October 10, 2002 on the 25th of April in Yaounde with many advances to show in the area of peace.

The relaxed and convivial atmosphere at the cock-tail in the Yaounde Hilton, by experts and attendees at the opening ceremony of yet another mixed commission session between plenipotentiaries from Nigeria and Cameroon under the supervision of the UN, gives a clear picture of the state of relations today between Nigeria and Cameroon.
All the three speakers who took the floor at the opening session of the 31st session of the UN-sponsored mixed commission had some praiseworthy words for the state of relations between the two countries today.

Beginning with the leader of the Cameroonian delegation, Mr Amadou Ali, Vice Prime Minister and Minister-Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of relations with Parliament and the Economic and Social Council.
After welcoming the delegates from Nigeria and the United Nations, the Cameroonian plenipotentiary observed that relations between Cameroon and Nigeria have so improved that in 2011, they reached a point never attained before, as Nigeria became Cameroon’s first trading partner.

Proof of this new friendly posture is also the signing of numerous cooperation agreements, notably in the area of trans-border security, electricity inter-connectivity, trans-border roads and the bridge over the Mayo Tiel.

With regard to the Commission’s work, virtually all ground work on boundary demarcation has been completed as Mr Amadou Ali revealed that all the three parties had already agreed on where to put pegs on a distance of some 1913 kilometers of the 2100-odd kilometers of the Cameroon-Nigeria border.

It was also satisfactory to note that some 467 beacons had effectively been put up from the Lake Chad area down to around the North Region of Cameroon. What is left is however quite daunting because it involves not only building the 500 beacons left or working on the kilometer area which is still in dispute, but also agreeing on the final boundary map.

The leader of the Nigerian delegation and that country’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke seemed to have found some quick solutions to Mr Ali’s worries by positing a very cooperative posture of the Nigerian side.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said in his opening statement that more than anything else, the “most significant achievement of the Mixed Commission is the prevalence of peace between Cameroon and Nigeria”.

The Nigerian minister said it was thanks to peace that Cameroon and Nigeria had, among other things: returned to the discussion table by restoring the erstwhile Nigeria-Cameroon Joint Commission; the exchange of high-level visits between Cameroon and Nigeria; the withdrawal and transfer of authority in the Lake Chad in December 2003; the withdrawal and transfer of authority on the land boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria in 2004 as well as confidence-building measures along the common border.

It is the desire of the Nigerian side to see to the fast-tracking of the implementation of the modalities for the Trans-border Security Agreement earlier signed between the two countries, with emphasis on joint border patrols and a unified command along the entire border.

In view of the huge success of the Mixed Commission, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and Chairman of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, Said Djinnit, said he had solicited the support of the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program for funding to ensure that many of the trans-border initiatives are sustained.

He said the effectiveness of cooperation between Cameroon and Nigeria was best exemplified by the recent release of hostages taken in Cameroon and kept in Nigeria. He was full of praises for the role played by President Paul Biya in the release of the hostages.

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