Bourha Vango: Nigeria’s Forgotten Territory


The vast Bourha Vango area was ceded to Nigeria by Cameroon Republic after the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague, Holland, on October 10, 2002, and became part of Adamawa State. In the same judgment, Nigeria lost the mineral-rich Bakassi Peninsula which was acquired by her north eastern neighbour, Cameroon. Ever since Bourha Vango was annexed by Nigeria and became part of Adamawa state 13 years ago, it was only former Governor Boni Haruna who visited the area and provided social facilities. However, succeeding governments never gave thought to the place, not to talk of visiting and providing facilities or social services to the inhabitants. At the moment the residents of the area are not sure whether they are Cameroonians or bona fide Nigerians as development, in whatever guise, has not been extended to them to show them that they are now citizens of a new country, the Giant of Africa. Some patriots and concerned citizens were worried and recently raised alarm that the vast area could be turned into terrorists’ haven, especially when seven French nationals were kidnapped in the place a few years ago. The entire area is now no man’s land as it is not effectively under any government!! When the Green Tree Agreement was signed and Nigeria finally ceded the Bakassi Peninsula and a few other portions of Nigerian territory to Cameroon, President Paul Biya took necessary measures to ensure that the new areas that accrued to his country were adequately protected, rightly integrated and immediately provided with basic services. The new citizens were promptly provided with new national identity cards to convince them that they were now Cameroonians while English speaking workers were posted to their locations to cater for their socio-economic requirements so as to quickly integrate them into the Cameroonian society. Apart from these initial measures, more profound steps were taken when census was conducted to determine their population and assess their infrastructural needs. Those of them that were civil servants were screened and absorbed into the Cameroonian civil service to ameliorate their suffering and give them a sense of belonging. In Nigeria, however, irrational and unwarranted behaviour manifested. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo that hastily accepted the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and handed over Bakassi and other parts of Nigerian territory was expected to use the same speed to accept and integrate the Cameroonians that had now become Nigerian citizens into the Nigerian society. He failed to do this and treated them with contempt, if not derision. The people were neither issued with Nigerian national identity cards nor their workers screened and absorbed into the Nigerian civil service. Worst affected were their traditional rulers who remained dumfounded as their citizenship was under serious question and the fate of their subjects remained unknown, especially when it became clear to them that they were neither Cameroonians nor Nigerians following the bizarre treatment they received from Nigerian officials for almost one and a half decades. As noted earlier, apart from former Governor Boni Haruna who took over the territory on behalf of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007and provided the new citizens with a school, clinic and a borehole towards the tail end of his administration, no Nigerian leader has ever visited the area or deemed it necessary to address their socio-economic problems. The Bourha Vango area seems to be an unwanted territory and has remained in dilemma ever since the Green Tree Agreement was formally signed by Nigeria and Cameroon on October 9, 2012. So far, this is the unfortunate fate that has befallen the former Cameroonians since they were handed over to Mubi North Local Government, Adamawa State of Nigeria. As Nigeria is fighting a war against terrorism both within and outside the country, she should not allow the existence of no man’s land in its tumultuous north east territory that could become the shelter for terrorists. Since the Bourha Vango area has not been effectively integrated as Nigerian territory, vacuum should not be created to turn it into terrorists’ haven where their clandestine activities could be shielded from the prying eyes of security agents who could monitor and neutralize their sinister plots. At the moment, the area is not under the effective control of any government and could therefore be a veritable ground for the breeding of terrorists or insurgents. The Federal and Adamawa State Governments should therefore hasten and immediately bring Bourha Vango area under effective Nigerian control to avoid the dilemma of both fighting and breeding terrorism in its north eastern territory in Adamawa State. Also, it is necessary to conduct census in the area to determine the population in order to issue residents with national identity cards and provide other basic social services like roads, potable drinking water, schools, health centres, security personnel and bilingual or French-speaking workers to enable them feel the impact of government and have a sense of belonging as Nigerians. With these measures, Nigeria will safeguard the area from becoming the breeding ground of insurgents or terrorists.

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