BY SIMON ATEBA/WASHINGTON DC
Nigeria’s Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, declared on Thursday that ceding the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon was a huge loss, a sentiment that has been expressed by millions of Nigerians since the peninsula was transferred to Cameroon in 2008 following the International Court ruling that the region belonged to Cameroon.
Bakassi is a peninsula on the Gulf of Guinea, which lies between the Cross River estuary, near the city of Calabar in the west, and the Rio del Ray estuary on the east. It is governed by Cameroon, following the transfer of sovereignty from neighbouring Nigeria as a result of a judgment by the International Court of Justice.
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On 22 November 2007, the Nigerian Senate rejected the transfer, since the Greentree Agreement ceding the area to Cameroon was contrary to Section 12(1) of the 1999 Constitution. Regardless, the territory was transferred to Cameroon on 14 August 2008.
“The ceding of Bakassi as a result of the judgement of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) is a development that we all consider a loss,’’ Mr. Osinbajo said while responding to issues raised by stakeholders at the town hall meeting in Calabar. The meeting was organised in continuation of the series of engagements with leaders in the Niger Delta region.
“But the President strongly believes that while we ruminate over the legal issues we must not allow Nigerian citizens in Ikang and elsewhere to suffer,” he said.
“The Federal Government will certainly do more and engage more with the displaced in Bakassi. This is our duty and our commitment”.
Speaking on the relationship between soldiers and some residents of Bakassi, Mr. Osinbajo assured that the Federal Government “will also thoroughly investigate the issues raised on the relationship between the military, the militants and the people of Bakassi’’, with a view to find a lasting solution to the problem.
He said the Buhari administration would not hesitate to support viable programmes and initiatives that would make living better for Nigerians, adding that “the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari for Nigeria is one where the Federal Government partners with the States to create industrial, commercial and professional opportunities for all our citizens.
He said “the Federal Government is certainly interested in Cross River, the President himself re-negotiated the China-EXIM loan for the Lagos-Calabar rail line and in the 2017 budget have provided for the Udokpani/Ikot Ekpene road.’’
He mentioned other projects at different stages of execution in the state to include, the Calabar-Ogoja road, Adiabo-Okurikang Erosion Control, Eastern Naval Command Erosion Control Project Phase 1 and NewMap Erosion Control Project at Ikot Nkebre mass slide Erosion site.
Professor Osinbajo also urged the people of the state not to relent in ensuring the unity of the state and country as they continue to set the pace in the tourism and hospitality sector in Nigeria.
Mr. Osinbajo also met with owners of small businesses at the ongoing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Clinic.
The Acting President was accompanied to the forum by Ministers of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachukwu, Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Ughuru, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winiefred Oyo-Ita, the Coordinator of the Amnesty Office, Paul Boroh, Chairman of the NDDC Board, Sen. Ndoma Egba, among other dignitaries.