UN Praises Nigeria and Cameroon for Bakassi Peninsula Transition

The United Nations Security Council have praised both the Nigerian and Cameroon governments for completing a resolution over the disputed Bakassi Peninsula. The UN released a recent statement to the press praising the efforts of both Nigerian and Cameroon officials in achieving a peaceful transition.

The 15-member Security Council heaped praise on the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon on the success and relatively peaceful transition that has taken place over the last few years. They commended both countries for: – “their commitment in honouring their obligations to comply with the decisions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and for the responsible and peaceful way in which they have resolved their differences on this matter”.

The Bakassi Peninsula lies at the southern foot of the border between Nigeria and Cameroon and has long been disputed largely over the large amount of oil resources in the Peninsula. Now after a tug-of-war between the two nations for control over the area, Cameroon have now officially taken full control of the Peninsula after the latter stages of the resolution progress were seen through.

Both Nigeria and Cameroon officials have spoken for years about how embarrassing the situation that the Bakassi Peninsula dispute has become over such a long period of time. As a result, crime has been passing through the disputed territory at a much larger rate as the focus remains on the oil business that the peninsula currently attracts. Only last month Nigerian Cross-River Police arrested a small robbery syndicate that had been travelling between Taraba and Ikang in the Bakassi local government state.

The group were believed to be part of a larger group that specialised in illegal arms trade and car thefts. The criminals were caught with a two expensive stolen cars and an amount of cash they believed the group were using to pay for two illegal AK-47 assault rifles. Incidents such as this have highlighted the fragility of the law and order system in the peninsula that has been a problem for a long time.

The first stages of the resolution process began back in 2002 when the International Court of Justice came to the decision that the Bakassi Peninsula was to become the property of Cameroon. After this ruling very little was done between the two countries to resolve the problem and conflict continued. In 2006 the UN then began a diplomatic intervention to speed up and improve the process between the two nations. In June of that year both countries agreed to sign the UN-backed ‘Greentree Agreement’ which settled the terms of agreement between both Nigeria and Cameroon regarding the Bakassi Peninsula within a specific timeframe.

After a nervy yet steady transition process in which Nigeria slowly pulled out all engagements in the Bakassi state the Nigerian government formally passed over any of their existing control over the peninsula to Cameroon in 2008. Since then efforts are being made to make sure there are no nasty side-effects in the near or distant future for the two countries over what has been a tension-filled saga for so long.

Many of the tension surrounded the area formerly known as South Cameroon which was officially part of Nigeria. However back in 1961 residents of South Cameroon won a vote to become part of the larger nation of Cameroon, leaving the South Cameroon area and the entire peninsula in diplomatic disarray. As battles took place for diplomatic control in Bakassi State during the 1960’s the later discovery of rich oil resources in the area further aggravated the tension between the two nations in the area. As a result the violent conflict in the peninsula grew to alarming levels.

As well as praising both the Nigerian and Cameroon officials for finally coming to an agreement over the Bakassi Peninsula, the council’s statement also said that it hoped both countries could continue to improve on their: – “cross-border confidence-building measures that address the security and well-being of the populations affected by the demarcating process”.

Without question this is very much the next challenge that faces both countries and the UN. Despite the main factors of deciding who controls the peninsula have been acted upon there is naturally a risk of backlashes in the regions surrounding Bakassi. Particularly from the Nigerian population residing in the area who may begin to lose out on things such as work opportunities and natural resources such as oil due to the official democratic switch into Cameroon jurisdiction. This said both Nigerian and Cameroon government officials and local authorities around the Bakassi State are said to working closely so as to retain order between the two nations in the area.Especially in light of the precious oil resources in the region, there is huge potential for successful business opportunities if both countries work together properly to ensure a stable and peaceful system in the Bakassi Peninsula. It is quite simply a case of working to consider and if needs be address any possible areas of dispute that may still remain outside the subject of the political sovereignty of the region.

ROBERT PRITCHARD

Information sourced from the following links:-
• http://allafrica.com/stories/201308160077.html?aa_source=mf-hdlns
• http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/08/finally-cameroon-takes-control-in-disputed-bakassi/