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Jonathan: Why Nigeria didn’t appeal the ruling of the International Court of Justice on Bakassi

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President Goodluck Jonathan has given reasons why Nigeria did not appeal the ruling of the International Court of Justice, which awarded the oil-rich territory of Bakassi to Cameroon in 2002.

Speaking during an interactive session with Nigerian community in Yaounde, Cameroon, on Sunday night, Jonathan said that Nigeria did not appeal in order to ensure the protection of Nigerians living in Cameroon.

According to him, when two countries are friendly, the people of the two countries also tend to be friendly, but when the two countries disagree, their citizens tend to disagree also.

He also explained that Nigeria had no new evidence within the period of time that was given that will make a difference in the judgement.

Jonathan is in Cameroon for the summit of Heads of States and Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), which started yesterday and focusing on maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.

While the area had been heavily guarded by Cameroonian soldiers since their country took control of the territory from Nigeria on August 14, 2008, there is a deadline for Nigerians there to decide to become Cameroonian latest by August 2012 or leave the territory.

He said: “You all know what happened in Bakassi, there is no need to go back on why we couldn’t appeal. We had no new evidence within the period of time that was given that will make a difference in the judgement.

“Our people should live a good and decent life in Cameroon. The forces of animosity are gradually dying down and the relationship is improving”. He added

Jonathan assured the citizens that his government was totally committed to their welfare and that their concerns on high cost of residence permits, high cost of tuition fees for students among others would be tabled before his host, President Paul Biya in order to find amicable solution to them.

Commending the good reports on Nigerians in Cameroon, he assured that the various concerns raised on security, power, infrastructural deficits back home in Nigeria are all being tackled.

He maintained that two years of his administration has recorded significant progress in key sectors.

Urging Nigerians in diaspora to ignore negative reports that exaggerate the problems back home, he said that they should take time out to look at the parameters, GDP growth, foreign direct investments, which, he said, showed that “the economy is strong.”

Stressing that investors do not take money to countries where nothing is happening, the President claimed that out of every $10 that comes to the continent, $4 comes into Nigeria.

Speaking on agriculture and cement, he noted that non-importation of rice has impacted on the country’s revenue, saying, “We cannot be a giant of Africa when we keep importing rice, we must put a stop to that. The way we are going we will soon be exporting rice in few years. We are now exporting cement about 20 million tonnes”.

Admitting that Nigeria has health challenges, Jonathan said: “I can assure you we are on course, I will make you happy. We will exploit the opportunity”.

He also expressed unhappiness that Nigeria is among the four countries in the world with cases of polio.

“I’m uncomfortable with the figure, why should Nigeria be among the four countries in the world with polio? We are committed to eradicating polio and we will eradicate it”. He assured

On the power sector, he said that his administration was almost done with the privatisation exercise and when completed, the sector “will take a life of its own.”

He said that work has been going on on road infrastructure after the flood experienced in the country last year.

President Jonathan also disclosed that he personally advocated voting by Nigerians in diaspora, but that he cannot use executive fiat to veto it.

Stating that the process is on course, he urged them to be patient until the constitution is finally amended.

He however advised those passionate about the issue to write a petition to the National Assembly in order to push for the amendment.

He said: “On diaspora votes, I advocated for it but before we can have it the constitution will have to be amended. I cannot use executive fiat to do it, we have to follow the constitution. We have a very vibrant diaspora and should be heard. You should send your petition to National Assembly so that they will know is not only Mr. President that is interested in it”.

Promising that he will not allow them to be victimized or maltreated, Jonathan dispelled fears that the Federal Government has abandoned Nigerians who remained in the peninsula after its transfer to Cameroon.

Nigeria High Commissioner to Cameroon, Hadiza Mustapha, in her opening remarks said the Nigerian community “is the best community any ambassador could ask for. They are hardworking, patrotic, law-abiding and have good working relations with the Mission”.

She said the good working relationship existing between Nigeria and Cameroon has brought about reduction in harassment of citizens living in the host country.

She said the complains of Nigerian citizens have been tabled before the Cameroonian authorities and “so far we have no reason to doubt the commitment of our host government to address the issues”.

The President of the Nigerian Union, Center Region, Ebere Valentine, assured the President that Nigerians in Cameroon will continue to become good ambassadors and “project the image of our country well”.

He appealed for more government involvement in the welfare of Nigerians in Cameroon as regards the cost of residence permit, saying 50 per cent reduction will be a welcome development”.

Olukorede Adenowo, Managing Director, Standard Chartered Bank, West and Central Africa, who is the representative of Nigerians in the Corporate Sector in Cameroon, said that there were opportunities that exist in the Cameroons and advised Nigerian businessmen to take advantage of the geographical proximity and the comparatively high prices.

He noted that Nigerian businesses were active in aviation, general commerce, downstream oil and gas and banking in the Cameroon.

He said other areas Nigerians can assist in terms of foreign direct investment and simultaneously make decent returns in Cameroon are in oil and gas exploration and production, commercial and residential real estates, entertainments, shopping malls.

“We have been instrumental in working with our High Commission in bringing in several Nigerian businesses and helping them find their feet in Cameroon. We Nigerian professionals are ready and available to do more”, he said.

Representative from the Bakassi Peninsular, Chief Etim Effiong, commended President Jonathan for not abandoning those of them that choose to remain in the Cameroon as Nigerians.

According to him, they couldn’t bare to abandon the land that belonged to their fore-fathers for years and expressed happiness that the Nigerian government was working with the Cameroonian government to make them safe and at home in their community.



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