Bakassi, popular for its rich oil and natural gas peninsula, was ceded to Cameroon by Nigeria after years of disagreement over its ownership. Despite this agreement being backed by the United Nations Greentree Agreement and signed by both countries in 2006, the formalization of the exercise has not been ratified nor implemented. This situation has left many returning Nigerians and who decided to stay evidently despondent as regards the state of social dilapidation being suffered.
Reports suggest that the failure to facilitate this agreement between both countries has caused a major implication on the economic stability of Cross River state, as well as an extended humanitarian disaster due to the compromise on the wellbeing of most returnees. However, not only have the returnees suffered hugely as a result of the government’s complacency, Nigerians living in Bakassi, the Cameroonian border region have also lamented about being sidelined and denied basic services by the government.
Cameroonian government blames underdevelopment on lack of paying tax.
Recall that the border conflict between Nigeria and Cameroon went on for years until the International Court of Justice transferred the control of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in 2008. On this complaint, the Cameroonian government noted that the reason for this underdevelopment has been due to Nigerians not paying their taxes. The Consul General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to to Southwest and Northwest Cameroon, during an official visit to Bakassi, was met with huge complaints by Nigerians about the incessant lack of access to drinkable water and other social infrastructures.
The two-day visit by Bappah Lawal, the Consul General, allowed him to meet Nigerians residing in Kombo itindi, Bamusso and Idabatu. Upon appreciating the communal relationship that Nigerians and the host community, the President of Nigerian Union in Bekumu, Bamusso division, Manga Joseph Wilson, noted that the Nigerian community was concerned about being treated unfairly. The local authorities however attributed this situation to the failure of Nigerians at contributing to the provision cost for the services.
Consul General’s visit to serve as eye opener to Nigerians on paying tax.
Ewane Roland, the Divisional Officer of Idabatu, also indicated that with the continuous evasion of taxes by Nigerians, it would be impossible to develop the community. He explained that Nigerians living in the community would better understand the impact of paying taxes now because it is what the government need to maintain a continued development of the region, noting that the Consul General’s visit would serve as an eye opening indication for the Nigerian residents on the need to pay their taxes.
Manga Joseph Wilson however appealed with the local administrators to consider reviewing and changing the timeframe slated for the collection of these taxes. He explained that most Nigerians cross the border to visit their families around December and February and as such, noted that the time for collecting these taxes would be a better fix in March rather than January. He also noted that most people who got to pay their taxes, had to do it late as they were mostly away as at the time of collection.
Collection of taxes postponed due to the ravaging cash crunch in Nigeria.
Also, the cash crunch which ravaged Nigeria’s economic space is said to have also devastated Nigerian residents in this region who still use the Nigerian currency. The Mayor of Bamusso, Meme, also admitted that this situation had devastated the state of their economy. He explained that this naira scarcity had crumbled their businesses and stalled development within the community. As a result, the authorities have had to postpone the collection of taxes for the time being, with a promise to continue when the naira scarcity problem is salvaged.