any unexpected incident, Nigeria will Thursday handover the disputed
oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. The Nigerian government has deployed
more troops and police in the area to ensure a peaceful handover.
International Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that Nigeria surrenders the
disputed territory to Cameroon. Cameroonians are anxiously looking forward to
today's official handover of Bakassi.
Bertha Ndoh is advisor to Cameroon Prime
Minister Ephraim Inoni. She told VOA Cameroonians are thankful that Bakassi is being relinquished without a major
war between two countries.
Cameroonians, it's a joy and a victory in which the two countries – Cameroon
and Nigeria - are resolving this conflict without war. We want
to thank the former head of state of Nigeria, former President Obasanjo and of
course our President, Paul Biya that they have come together and are trying to
resolve this conflict without a war. We also want to thank the former United
Nations Secretary General, His Excellency Kofi Annan for heading this
diplomacy," she said.
Ndoh said the Cameroon
government is anxious to bring development to the Bakassi province once it has
been handed over.
"When it has been handed
over to us, it will then become our territory, and then Cameroon is trying to
see what we can do in terms of developmental projects. In fact there are so
many in the pipeline, especially the roads that will lead from Kumba to Mundeba
and right to Bakassi. And also there are other projects like water which is
very important and schools and health," Ndoh said.
Most of the people living in
Bakassi consider themselves to be Nigerians, and some of them had filed a
lawsuit to try to stop the handover.
Ndoh said the Cameroon
government would like for those Nigerians in Bakassi to remain there even after
it had been handed over to Cameroon.
"I think in Cameroon there
is a government policy that people would want to live wherever they want, and I
think it would be for individuals to decide, and wherever they decide to be, I
think it would be find. If they want to be in Cameroon or if they want to go
back to Nigeria, that would be their own decision. But to us Cameroonians, I
think they are welcome," Ndoh said.
While welcoming the
handover, some Cameroonians hope their government would do more to expedite
development not only to Bakassi but to other provinces like Akwaya in the
southwest of the country, which they said have been neglected.
Ndoh said making sure that
Bakassi is developed is part of the prerequisite for the handover.
"I think that is one of the
resolutions that Cameroonians have to see to it that the place is developed,
and the head of state and the government are doing their best. Of course in
every one of the provinces there are projects in the pipeline, including
Akwaya," Ndoh said.