Minister Felix Mbayu (L) seals anti-secessionist deal with Nigeria’s Buhari
By Hope Nda
Amid separatists’ quest to secede from Cameroon and create a new state for Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has expressed his country’s commitment to ensuring a one and indivisible Cameroon.
Buhari made the declarations on Tuesday, July 13, at Nigeria’s State House in Abuja, while receiving President Biya’s Special Envoy, Minister Felix Mbayu -Minister Delegate in Charge of Cooperation with the Commonwealth.
Buhari said his country will do everything possible to support Cameroon’s unity just as Cameroon supported Nigeria against the Biafran secessionist war of 1967-1970 during which about 3 million Nigerians were killed.
“That was why, when I first came to office in 2015, I immediately visited all our neighbours, because we are very clear about the value of good neighbourliness.
“You will have problems if your neighbours are not cultivated. And our relationship with Cameroon had been very clear since when I was serving in the military. The country offered us needed support during our Civil War,” Buhari said in a statement issued by Femi Adesina, Media Adviser to the Nigerian President, on Tuesday.
On his part, President Biya’s Special Envoy, Minister Felix Mbayu, said Cameroon looks forward to a stronger partnership with Nigeria against Ambazonian fighters, some of whom are garnering support from pro-Biafran militants in Nigeria’s Eastern region.
Secessionist movements in South-eastern Nigeria and Western Cameroon have been partnering for training of their forces and arms exchange. In June this year, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kano, and that of the Ambazonian Defence Forces, Ayaba Cho, indicated plans to work together to liberate their two regions.
During his meeting with the Nigerian President, Felix Mbayu congratulated Nigeria on the recent arrest and repatriation of Biafra leader, Nnamdi Kanu, through collaboration of national security agencies and INTERPOL.
He was reportedly arrested by Kenyan security operatives on June 27, although the East African country denied its involvement in Kano’s arrest.
Nigeria and Cameroon have been cooperating against secessionist movements in their respective states. In January 2018, Nigerian security operatives arrested Ambazonian ‘Interim President’, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, alongside nine of his collaborators in Abuja before deporting them to Cameroon where they are serving life jail terms since August 2019.
A Nigerian court however found the arrests illegal in March 2019, and ordered for their release but which has not been effected.
President Buhari’s recent commitment to back Cameroon Government’s fight against Ambazonia fighters and leadership only reiterates Nigeria’s determination to do what it has already been doing.
According to Buhari, it is in the interest of Nigeria “to ensure that Cameroon is stable, and we will be steadfast in our support for you.”
To him, supporting Cameroon against Ambazonia will guarantee Cameroon’s support against Biafran secessionists who are making waves in the Southeast of the country, and against Boko Haram insurgents who are causing havoc in Nigeria’s Northern regions.
Apart from fighting against secessionist movements and Boko Haram militants together, both Nigeria and Cameroon share a long borderline and close historical links.
President Buhari said this makes it imperative for the two countries to look out for each other’s well-being.
Meanwhile, Minister Felix Mbayu said President Biya was happy with the role Nigeria was playing in Africa, noting that both neighbours share, not just borders and historical ties, “but also common challenges.”
“These challenges border on security specially, and it is incumbent on us both to find common solutions,” he said.