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Author Name: NGEX
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President Obasanjo's speech on the withdrawal of Nigeria Armed Forces From the Bakassi Peninsula
Author: NGEX | August 25, 2006



Address by His Excellency, President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR On the Celebration of Peace and the Presidential Parade to Formally mark the withdrawal of Nigeria Armed Forces From the Bakassi Peninsula on 21 August, 2006 PROTOCOL I greet you all on this occasion of the peaceful and graceful pull out of our troops from the Bakassi Peninsula. You would recall that the unresolved border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon made Cameroon to take recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which gave a ruling in October 2002. Disputes resulting from improper delineation of boundaries, particularly in Africa, have their roots in the outcome of the Berlin Conference of 1884/1885, where colonial powers drew artificial boundaries without regards to the demographic realities on the ground. States so formed, in the pursuance of their national interests, continued to clash with others leading to brothers, sisters and governments being constantly at logger heads with one another. In spite of efforts at adjudication and legal dispositions instituted for most of these cases, experience has shown that the real solution lay beyond legal paradigm. For as long as the goal is peace, security, development and freedom for our people; we need a combination of factors spanning faith, understanding, compromise, negotiation, diplomacy and creativity, all based on sincerity and simplicity. This is because successful conflict transformation and even resolution in our region and sub-region could only be hinged on empathy and creativity in building a true culture of peace, security, stability and cooperation for the future generation. This peaceful preemption is imperative and is less expensive, at least when compared with outright war, in assuring the lives and property of our citizenry and allowing our society to continue to move on the path of sustainable development. This is all the more reason why President Paul Biya of the Republic of Cameroon and I have deemed it wise to show full commitment to the peaceful resolution of the long standing border disputes. Consequently, my brother and I worked out modalities to willingly and peacefully implement the ICJ ruling by establishing the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission under the auspices of our brother, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Anan. This further led to the Greentree Agreement, which took place in New York on 12 June this year. By this Agreement, the seeds of discord and hatred, which were sown and allowed to germinate, had been replaced by a bond of brotherhood, friendship and true civility. After all, the character of civilization is not founded in political subterfuge but in finding common answers to common problems and practicing friendship and friendliness in addition to brotherhood and brotherliness of the mind such that mankind will continue to have hope of joy in their relations; not hopelessness and despair. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Officers and Men and Women, from this Agreement, a timetable for a gradual handover of the disputed area was drawn. It is this timetable that occasioned the total voluntary withdrawal of our troops from the Bakassi Peninsula while guaranteeing the security, welfare, well-being and interest of Nigerians who have opted to remain in what will now and later be administered as part and parcel of Cameroon. We are proud that you, the officers and men, have done this gracefully, obediently and loyally and in a most professional manner. I am particularly proud of you as your Commander-in-Chief. I want to felicitate with you therefore on this occasion as you have shown valour, discipline, commitment and gallantry. In protecting lives and properties of our citizens on the Peninsula you have demonstrated your full commitment to protecting and defending the dignity of our citizens. I salute your courage and steadfastness. Some of your colleagues have paid the supreme sacrifice while carrying out their constitutional roles and responsibilities and we pray solemnly for their departed souls. We thank you all for the self-sacrifice that you have made to ensure peace, security, harmony and progress. You gave us confidence. You inconvenienced yourselves to give is convenience and comfort. We use this medium to welcome you back home having proved your mettle. We thank you and we celebrate you as heroes in your own right. The path to peace may at times be symptomatic of courage than the path of war. Let me use this medium to call on all Nigerians to embrace peace. Let it be known that Nigeria will not condone any destructive action of the criminal youth from the Niger Delta in the Bakassi area. We most sincerely thank our citizens living in the Bakassi Peninsula for their patience and understanding. We beseech them not to see our actions as a denial of their ancestral and inalienable rights, rather as an indication of our civility, respect for international agreements, absolute belief in the rule of law and love for peace. Our action in this respect is an inescapable necessity for peace, security and stability; as there can be no credible and lasting solution in this matter without the collective efforts of Nigeria, Cameroon and the international community. I must add, however, that the Agreement reached has taken due cognizance of the need for protection of lives, properties, welfare, well-being and dignity of our nationals, who choose to remain on the Peninsula after this withdrawal and subsequent handover of all of Bakassi in two years time. I must also mention that the Nigerian Government shall be ready to assist our nationals who would want to relocate to our side of the border. Furthermore, we remain resolute in protecting the interests of our nationals wherever they may be in any part of the world as long as they are law abiding and are engaged in legitimate endeavours. It is therefore our sincere hope that the Greentree Agreement shall be implemented to the letter and in the true African spirit of respect and honour. At this juncture, I must thank my dear brother, President Paul Biya for his profound understanding and firm stand on a peaceful resolution of our boundary problem. This understanding will no doubt further promote our peace and security initiative whose mechanisms acknowledge the inextricable linkages between peace, security, stability, democracy, good governance and sustainable development on one hand; and the inseparability of our fortunes as Africans, on the other hand. We have set a lesson for Africa and the world. We have shown that it is possible to resolve a difficult border problem without war and unnecessary loss of lives and property. We have shown the value of understanding, accommodation, tolerance, discipline, negotiation, dialogue and commitment to peace. We have given true meaning to the common saying that democracies do not go to war against each other and as true Africans, we have shown what brotherhood and good neighbourliness are all about. We have reason to congratulate ourselves for what we have achieved. Permit me to once again thank the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Anan, on whom the world had conferred a sceptre, which he has used most positively to touch the spirit and mind of humankind in order to create a peaceful environment throughout the world. His commitment to the process of peace is indescribable. He mid-wifed the tripartite Summits involving Cameroon, Nigeria and the United Nations and also helped us to establish the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission chaired by the Secretary-Generalís personal representative. The result of his determined and thorough efforts has today brought us together to celebrate peace. We thank him most profoundly. Let me also appreciate the efforts and the commitment of the United Nations, Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission and the subsequent Follow-up Commission for their dedication to peace in the Bakassi Peninsula in particular and the sub-region in general. Your invaluable work made it possible for us to be here today for this epoch-making ceremony. I will also like to thank our friends, the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and Germany as witnesses to the Greentree Agreement. We extend our gratitude to several international organizations that in one way or the other contributed to the process that culminated in the peaceful resolution to the conflict over the Bakassi Peninsula. I must not forget to thank the Government and people of Cross River State whose territory diminishes and would also bear most of the burden of resettlement. Our love for our brothers and sisters must be enduring. We must care and share. The new settlement for the people of Bakassi will be carved out of three Wards of the present Akpabuyo Local Government. The new settlement will retain the name Bakassi Local Government so that legally and constitutionally no change will be required. Provision of infrastructures for the settlements will commence immediately. History we remember us all for opting for peace rather than war, embracing harmony rather than discord; celebrating unity and love rather than destruction and chaos, appreciating peace and dialogue rather than promoting uncertainty and insecurity. For all these we say, to God be the glory. May God continue to bless Nigeria. Thank you.

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