Since Re-unification in 1961, Cameroon has done everything possible to demonize Nigeria. Anglophones were called in the French-speaking parts of the country “Biafrans”. In 1979 when PWD Bamenda was to play Dynamo, a Francophone journalist approached me to find out whether Franklin Ngoh was a Nigerian or a Cameroonian. So much noise was made about him in the French papers. Nigeria was juju to Cameroon. In short everything Nigerian was bad.
During the disturbances in the University of Yaounde in 1990 Anglophone students were accused to have sung the Nigerian National Anthem. Nigerians were even accused to have come over to Bamenda to swell the crowds that marched during the launching of the SDF in 1990. Ni John Fru Ndi was reported in Cameroon Tribune to have escaped to Nigeria. The Nigerian phobia ran in the blood of all Francophone decision makers particularly a certain Mungosoo.
Even though Cameroon up to now cannot manufacture a common spoon, everything from Nigeria is called "Le faux" or fake. Nigerian fabricated goods were destroyed under false pretences in Cameroon markets. Nigerians were molested on the roads, in the market places and even in their private homes. Anglophone Cameroonians were not spared this humiliation particularly during their so called calé-calé (raids). After all, Andre Mbida, the first Prime Minister of French Cameroon did not want re-unification which is why Betis hate Anglophones terribly.
As at now Trade has not been officially legalized between Nigeria and Cameroon. This is to the disadvantage of Cameroon because Nigerian goods still enter Cameroon through bush roads on which custom duty is not charged. If Trade had been legalized between these two countries, Cameroon would be collecting customs duties four times in a day more than it collects from Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in a month.
At last, circumstances beyond the control of Cameroon, have compelled, obliged, and forced Cameroon to work with Nigeria.
Cameroon must cooperate and endure Nigeria to make sure that the Green Tree Accord becomes a reality. One of the conditionalities of this accord and other treaties that brought about peace between the two countries was to construct a road from Abakaliki to Mutengene and from Bamenda to Enugu. These conditionalities must be respected otherwise Nigeria will march into Cameroon again and this time they may reach Kumba and Limbe. Who knows?
Cameroon has to unwillingly do it and probably the fear of Anglophones interacting with Nigerians would have been conquered. Anglophone Cameroonians will benefit much from this arrangement. For one thing, Nigeria, which has the largest market South of the Sahara will buy bananas, Coffee, Beans, Cocoa, Tea, Kola-nuts, Irish Potatoes, and name the rest from Cameroon.
There is no doubt that if Cameroon had cooperated with Nigeria since 1961, Nigeria would not have been far more developed than Cameroon. Today Nigeria is 100 years ahead of Cameroon in development. For example, Cameroon is consuming Nigerian made goods. Francophone Cameroonians are more in Nigerian Universities than Anglophones. Nay, the Nigerian private sector is very vibrant while Cameroon has nothing to show. In short, Cameroon is consuming Nigerian and Chinese made goods. Where is the private sector in Cameroon?
The fear of Nigeria has caused Cameroon to limp for 50 years. It is now that scales have fallen from their eyes.
The shortsightedness of Francophones has limited their knowledge of Nigeria. It is a great country that could help Cameroon out of its very many developmental problems. It is the giant of black Africa.
If I were in a position to advise the Cameroon government, I would tell them to construct a Highway from Nkambe to Takum and one from Bamenda to Bawaru. The fear of Nigeria was unfounded. Cameroon has to speed up work on the construction of these roads instead of relying on Central African countries that suffer the same common problems with Cameroon and have nothing to offer.
We are obliged to work with Nigeria. We must cooperate with Nigeria and the greatest beneficiaries will be Anglophones who share a common boundary with Nigeria. Instead of buying goods from Douala and far flung areas like Yaounde, Bertoua and Douala, they will have to buy goods from Bamenda, Kumba and Limbe. Thanks to the Bakassi crisis that Anglophones can now smile.
By Gwellem Slyvester