Honor and Loyalty : BAKASSI BELONGS TO CAMEROON : 20 years already!!!

October 2002 – October 2022. Twenty years ago, the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, by a famous ruling, put an end to the territorial dispute between the Republic of Cameroon and its neighbour, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, over Bakassi.This ruling was fully accepted and its provisions fully implemented by the authorities of the opposing camps.However, it should be noted that the string of marshy islets which was the bone of contention, from timber to oil and fisheries resources, continues to offer opportunities, not the least of which is its vantage position at the centre of the Gulf of Guinea.

In order to reach a peaceful legal settlement, Cameroon and Nigeria agreed to renounce the war and to comply with the final disposition of the international arbitration body well before the delivery of the judgement.

The sense for Bakassibelonging to Cameroon having been irrefutably confirmed by international justice, the protagonists of the land dispute, now deprived of its object, resorted to materialisingconfidence-building measures. This consequently led to the withdrawal of the Nigerian administration from the portions where it was present, and the observation of the transitional period that was toenable the inhabitants of the peninsula to opt for one or the other nationality, alongside the final demarcation of the border line from Lake Chad to the Atlantic Ocean.

And pursuant to the commitments undertaken at the international level, especially in respect of the custom in force in our land according to which “the word of Man is Man”, no petition against the decision of the ICJ , which bears the same weight as a peace treaty, no petition, we would say, has so far been recorded.This is not for lack of incentives, with some marginal actors willing to turn Bakassi into a military platform for foreign forces, and others planning to transform the peninsula and the adjoining territories on both sides of the border into a petroleum and drugs franchise in the hands of internationalterrorists.

The upsurge and resurgence of separatist tendencies are, in this respect, illustrative of the convergence of desires of which this area is the target.

But as brotherly and neighbouring peoples, as partner Powers convinced of the inseparability of their destinies, Nigerians and Cameroonians are fighting not against each other, but together side by side, against the threat of dislocation which is common to them.

This is a fine example of logical and sentimental communion that should serve as a lesson in all circumstances and on all continents, particularly in these times of strategic turmoil, marked by a hypersensitive warmongering spirit fuelled by anoverflow ofunbridled language.

More than ever, the world needs what diplomacy can offer in terms of discretion, perseverance and balance, a semblance of the African palaver of which Nigeria and Cameroon are models.

Honour and Loyalty wishes the International Court of Justice’s ruling of October 10, 2002 a happy anniversary and long life for a long time to come!

Navy Captain

ATONFACK GUEMO,

Head of Communication Division - MINDEF