Cameroon and Nigeria remain two neighbouring countries that are conscious of the important links they share, with leaders of both nations showing the example. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Cameroon and Nigeria in 1960, the stakes and circumstances that have guided the evolution of relations have been numerous. Besides the land and maritime boundaries that they have in common, the socio-cultural and historical links binding both countries have been such that leaders of the two nations are bound to come together as often as possible.
Already, with the 16 February 1963 Friendship and Cooperation Accord as well as the Protocol Accord of 6 February 1963 on the Freedom of Movement for Persons and Goods, Cameroon and Nigeria set the pace at the dawn of independence for long-lasting diplomatic, cultural, economic and political cooperation crystallized in the 15 agreements governing the bilateral relations. At the summit, which is between Heads of State of both countries, the number of times they have met was generally motivated either by the need to strengthen cooperation or dictated by their belonging to common international organisations.
Thus, in recent years, Presidents Paul Biya and Olusegun Obasanjo met in Yaounde and Abuja for over five times and on several other occasions on foreign land to iron out differences and reinforce cooperation ties between the two nations. For instance, President Obasanjo came to Cameroon in 1999 and 2004 while Mr Biya met him in Nigeria in 1991 and 2003. Even when Mr Obasanjo left power, he still joined President Biya in Yaounde in 2010 for festivities marking 50 years of Independence and Reunification of Cameroon alongside another former Nigerian leader, Yakubu Gowon.
The resurgence of conflict over the Bakassi Peninsular led to President Biya and Obasanjo meeting in France, Geneva and New York on numerous occasions between 2002 and 2006 when they signed the Greentree Agreement of 12 June 2006 to seal the procedure provoked by the 2 October 2002 Verdict of the International Court of Justice reaffirming Cameroonian sovereignty over the disputed peninsula.
Such a bona-fide solution to cross-border conflict accepted by both leaders and subsequent Nigerian Presidents like Alhadji Umaru Musa Yar’adua (2007-2009) and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan 2010-2014), serve as model of cooperation for others to emulate. Even before his investiture as Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Musa Yar’adua made his maiden official visit to Cameroon and his successor, Goodluck Jonathan followed his footsteps in 2010.
President Paul Biya did not only take part in their swearing-in ceremonies, but was equally present on 1 October 2010 in Abuja during festivities to mark 50 years of the independence of Nigeria. With the growing security threats that both countries continue to face, the need for both leaders to increase regular contacts became even more urgent. As such, President Goodluck Jonathan was again in Cameroon from 24-25 June 2014 to take part in discussions by Heads of State and Government on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea.
The outcome of the different meetings has been evident. In 2008, the Grand Mixed Commission between Cameroon and Nigeria resumed discussions with its fourth session in Yaounde from 9-11 October 2008 and the fifth in Abuja from 23-24 November 2010, while the sixth session took place from 9-11April 2014 in Yaounde and the seventh is programmed for June 2016 in Abuja. All the high-level talks between leaders of Nigeria and Cameroon have yielded palpable fruits in areas of security, consular and immigration challenges, economic, commercial, scientific, judicial and socio-cultural domains.
Given the ever challenging threats posed by the Boko Haram extremists who have inflicted torture and misery on innocent citizens in northeast Nigeria, with spill over effects in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The presence of the newly elected Nigerian leader, Muhammadu Buhari in Cameroon today the 29 of July 2015 will certainly be another milestone in relations between both countries and of course, a sign of more happy days to come for their people.