|You are in: Talking Point|
Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Cameroon border decision: What do you think?
The International Court of Justice has awarded the disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon, rejecting Nigeria's claims.
The court based its decision on a colonial document.
The two countries have clashed several times over the peninsula and Cameroon referred the dispute to The Hague in 1994.
The ruling cannot be appealed and both sides have agreed to respect the court's judgement.
But Nigerian troops in the peninsula have been on alert.
What do you think of the decision? How should Nigeria and Cameroon react to the ruling?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I am Cameroonian. My Congratulation goes to both head of state who have proven immense maturity and responsibility. My Congratulation goes to Kofi Anan who has anticipated any escalation of the conflict by encouraging a commitment of both Mr Paul Biya and Mr Obasanjo before the decision of the ICJ. Let this be a precedent in a new way of resolving conflicts in Africa. There is no loser!
Even though the verdict leaves a bitter taste in the mouth for we Nigerians, I commend the courage of our government in accepting the verdict in the spirit of pan-africanism and good neighbourliness.
Akanbi Gabriel, Germany
I think both Nigeria and Cameroon should result to dialogue over the matter. I think there should be an agreement between the two countries on how to Explore the oil and share the revenue together, for the sake of peace in the region. War should be the last case scenario
The ICJ rule on Bakasi is almost impracticable for many reasons.
If the issue here is the oil, then shame on Nigeria and Cameroon. The issue should be about the people of Bakassi and their cultural affinity. We accepted to go to the ICJ anyway, so why should we not accept the judgement? Like every other national issue, the Obasanjo Government played the ethnic card by giving the headship of the legal team of the case to a Lagos lawyer, instead of a renown competent international lawyers in Nigeria. What should we expect? Magic?
Ray M, Japan
Since the ICJ has decided and Nigeria and Cameroon have agreed to abide by the decision, I suggest that the two countries come together and agree to join hands for the sake of the Bakassi people and work together to govern the people and together share whatever wealth they have in the area.
I hope Nigerians will learn bitterly from this kangaroo decision so that when next they elect a president, they choose a man of resourceful intellect who will understand the colonial thoughts and agenda of France, Britain and their cohorts when it comes to African affairs.
I am not impressed by any superficial ruling that looks like the re-enforcement of the colonial lines. I am not sure how different I am to a Nigerian, a Ghanaian, a Kenyan or South African. Nigeria alone has enough resources to maintain the whole continent, it supplies 15% of US oil same as Saudi Arabia, Nigerian gas is being traded in Wall Street, the soil in Uganda is so fertile it can feed the whole of Africa to say the least and yet we are the poorest continent. I am glad that even the ICJ's documents cited the fact that Africa was partitioned meaning we were one. There is no way you can make me pick up a gun to go fight another African just to secure some crude for the people who are responsible for the African nightmare.
Hopefully, Cameroon will see enough reason to share sovereignty with Nigeria, since the people of Bakassi are naturally Nigerians. Hopefully also, they would use the resources in Bakassi to the benefit of the people.
My sole concern is the political implication for people who have always known themselves as Nigerians. As for the oil, who cares? The proceeds would have been looted and stashed away with little impact for the average Nigerian. What have we done with the proceeds of the oil we've been pumping? I hope the Cameroonians make better use of the oil proceeds and put Nigeria to shame like Ghana is doing despite having no oil. Since Nigeria refuses to utilise its vast resources to light the torch for Africa and carry the smaller countries along, maybe it's poetic justice that these smaller countries be given a chance to do what big brother has failed and keeps failing to do.
World court - who are the people at the world court? Most are the agents of the colonial masters. I think Nigeria should say thank you for your verdict and then open up a dialogue with the Cameroon government to work out a partnership that will result in sharing the wealth of the area. We have a lot to lose in that area if we start a war. Those who will gain are the colonial masters, waiting to supply us their machines of destruction.
The ICJ ruling is only a moral victory and non-binding. Nigeria should never cede the Bakassi peninsula. The peninsula is worth fighting for and it doesn't matter what the international community thinks about it. There are 120 million of us and only 11 million of them. It will be a quick war, and Nigeria would prevail.
Blaise K. Hofmann, Cameroon
Cameroon and Nigeria in particular should be congratulated for accepting the verdict of the ICJ. Maybe both heads of state are now qualified to enter the Nobel Peace Prize race for 2003.
As a Nigerian this is a painful decision for me. However as someone whom has studied war, I would prefer peace over war any time. I am hopeful that this will make Nigeria a stronger nation through choosing arbitration over war.
There are basically two possible outcomes: peace or war. Let for once think carefully about what we wish before making inflammatory remarks. We Africans are very poor and war will not make us richer.
As an international law academic I think it is essential that Nigerians who feel it was wrong of the Court to base its decisions on colonial treaties should know African States have long accepted the principle that the boundaries of African States are those which were inherited from the former colonial powers. This principle of stability of boundaries, which was first accepted by the OAU in 1964, was felt to be necessary to prevent post colonial Africa descending into interminable conflicts on where the boundaries lie. Both Cameroon and Nigeria must be congratulated for settling this long running dispute in a peaceful way and in a manner which accords with international law.
Is it proper that a French judge should head the panel of Judges that handled this case? Is it not possible that Gilbert Guillaume of France was biased in favour of Cameroon? Can this judgement be seen as having been delivered beyond every bit of reasonable doubt? ODU, Ifeanyichukwu Titus, Nigeria
I believe in upholding the rule of Law. Nigeria agreed to respect the decision of the ICJ. The decision has gone against us, and we should accept it with good grace. Let us hope that from now on we can enjoy better and more peaceful relations with our neighbours Cameroon. In any event, what have we done with all the revenue from the vast oil reserves within our borders? Not much anyway. Win some, lose some!!
Sam Ojokawu, Nauru
First point: it was a good decision to refer this dispute to ICJ and agree to be bound by its verdict. Second point: Will this decision bring peace between both countries? I don't think so. Bakassi is a small island and from history, disputes over small islands haven't been easily resolved. It time to overcome that with a joint ownership over Bakassi. That is if we all want peace.
I don't think it will be easy for Nigeria to give up Bakassi peninsula. The main source of the country's in-come. And Cameroon will never give it up again for the simple fact that the International Court of Justice has awarded them this disputed oil-rich area.
So, in conclusion, this might led to a war between these two brother countries.
John Nweke, Nigeria
I am Cameroonian but it is no reason to rejoice because the common Cameroonian will in no way benefit from the new found wealth.
Though German by nationality, I am Cameroonian by birth. There is great potential for trade and cooperation between Cameroon and Nigeria. If relations between the two countries are cordial, then each is going to benefit one way or the other from the prosperity of its neighbour. The eyes of the world and all black Africa, in particular, are watching Cameroon and Nigeria. These two countries have the unique opportunity of doing black Africa a great favour by doing what both presidents agreed upon during their meeting in Paris with the UN Secretary General.
Eric Chu, USA
I have been reading a lot about the treaty agreements and I am very surprised with the ruling. Cameroon did not have a case here. A treaty was signed in the 1800¿s, which gave the peninsula to Nigeria. So that treaty is the first and supersedes any other.
Since the decision of the court was based manly on colonial treaties, it does not hold. Land titles existed prior to this time.
Obasanjo must not cede an inch of Nigerian land to legal victories based on colonial
documents. If he does, he becomes a national traitor!
OB Silla, Gambian in USA
I am impressed almost to the point of speechlessness. A border dispute settled by UN arbitration... and accepted by the side who has to give up the land?!?!? This is a triumph of diplomacy and statesmanship over bullying and politics.
The decision is totally unfair - especially being based on some colonial document from time immemorial. I cannot but smell politics involved in this decision, which has come at a time when the western world is increasingly looking at west African oil as an alternative source of energy. Considering that Nigerian soldiers have died defending the peninsula, it is particularly insulting and all Nigerians should demand some form of major compensation from our Cameroonian brothers.
Alex Davies, Australia
The international court of Justice is an independent body with no interest in the dispute. Their ruling therefore must be accepted by both parties. If for nothing else but to save the lives of innocent people if they resort to the other option. In any case I hope Cameroon will succeed where Nigeria failed. That is to use the vast resources of that area for the benefit of their people.
Being a Nigerian, I feel downcast about the verdict. But I do take solace in the peaceful process, and the quick acceptance of the results. Let it be a precedence for conflict resolution in the troubled continent.
I'm happy Nigeria has accepted the judgement in good faith. We don't want wars and conflicts in Africa anymore. What African needs most is good leaders, good governance and human development. Things like land, farm, oil, and mineral rights are not the critical factors for Africa's development.
This verdict has shed some light on this issue but the main problem remains unsolved - and this is to take care of the people who stay in Bakassi. The Yaounde authorities would never have shown any interest if there was no oil in Bakassi. Bakassi like the rest of the Anglophone Cameroon has been neglected completely by the government in Yaounde. African rulers have this tendency to exploit the resources, put the monies in their pocket and let the mass starve, be it in Angola, Sudan, Nigeria, Congo etc. Until our rulers change their way of thinking, we will always have such conflicts and the international court of justice cannot help us, we have to help ourselves. .
Olu Pase, United Kingdom
I suspected Cameroon was going to win the case simply because they were bold enough to refer it to a court to whose ruling there's no appeal. I believe my country will withdraw the troop and explore other oil-rich regions in the country.... we have enough anyway.
To say I am gutted with this decision is to say the least. I cannot imagine that the ICJ has effectively given credibility to colonialism and its legacy. When did the Brits and Germans become Africans? If Nigeria 'gives' away the Channel Islands to France today, will the ICJ recognise such 'accord' in 90 years time? When will Africa be finally decolonised? How come the ICJ didn't think of joint sovereignty as is being suggested regarding Gibraltar and even the Golan Heights? Where has common-sense gone? The answer is blowing in the wind..
10 Oct 02 | Africa
10 Oct 02 | Africa
Top Talking Point stories now:
Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.
|E-mail this story to a friend|
Links to more Talking Point stories
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>> | To BBC World Service>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy