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ABAYOMI OLONISAKIN: The untiring General in Cameroon

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The journey of the former Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gabriel Olonisakin as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon, started when he officially pulled out of the Nigerian Army in a parade at the Mogadishu Cantonment, Asokoro, following his retirement and appointment of his successor, Lucky Irabor, a major general, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

As part of the military tradition in honouring a retiring CDS, the event involved a march past by the officers of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

It was attended by the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, members of the National Assembly, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Mr Irabor and other services chiefs.

Others in attendance were the traditional ruler of his Ode-Ekiti hometown, Oba Samuel Aderiye, as well as a representative of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Enoch Adeboye.

In his valedictory remarks, Olonisakin, then nominated as an Ambassador, thanked President Buhari for counting him worthy to command the nation’s armed forces for five years, recalling that his appointment came at a time Nigeria was confronted with several security challenges like the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east. Olonisakin said, confronting those threats, was his major pre-occupation as CDS.

Shortly after arriving in Yaoundé airport upon his appointment as Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon, his first official assignment was charging the Super Eagles of Nigeria to beat the Central African Republic in the second leg of 2022 FIFA World cup qualifiers in Douala having lost the first leg by a lone goal to Central African Republic in Lagos, Nigeria.

Olonisakin welcomed the national team led by the team captain Ahmed Musa from the Douala International Airport along with the Consul General of Nigeria Consulate General, Queen EFE A. Clark-Omeru and representatives of the Nigerian community in Cameroon.

He encouraged the team to put the previous shocking defeat behind them and go all out for victory to redeem the image of the country in the second qualifying games.

He said, “On behalf of the High Commission, the Consulate General and the Nigerian community, we want to welcome you to Douala, Cameroon for the return leg of the World cup qualifiers against the Central African Republic which we believe you are here for victory all the way. We believe in you going by your past records and we still want to believe you can do much better to redeem the image of the country here in Cameroon.

“As you are aware, Cameroon is Nigeria’s second home and you can be sure of maximum support from every Nigerian in the country, we are not going to let you down by cheering you to victory as we also believe you have the capacity to make the country proud once again.

Leon Balogun and Victor Osimhen scored a goal each as the Super Eagles beat the Central African Republic to avenge their shocking loss to the Les Fauves in the reverse fixture of the 2022 World Cup qualifier.

ABAYOMI OLONISAKIN: The untiring General in Cameroon

Olonisakin was excited as Nigeria defeated the Central African Republic on his first assignment as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon.

Later on, he began a five-day working visit as part of his tour of duty to dialogue with different regions to smoothen the existing relationship between Nigeria and Cameroon.

He visited Cameroon’s Littoral Regional Governor, Ivaha Diboua at the latter’s Bonanjo based office in Douala to discuss the possibility of a permanent Consulate staff residence in Douala.

During the visit, Olonisakin thanked the Governor and his état major for the relentless protection of Nigerians and defence of their interest in the region and pledged to collaborate in fostering further cooperation.

He also used the opportunity to request a parcel of land to construct a staff residence in Douala.

Responding, Governor Diboua lauded the ties between the Nigerian community and the Missions in Douala, stating that the Nigerian community in Douala is the biggest foreign community and one with which Cameroon historically shares natural brotherly ties.

The governor also promised to liaise with the Douala Consulate to find a solution to the staff residence project.

Olonisakin was also received by the Consul General to the Littoral and West regions, HRM Queen EFE A. Clark-Omeru.

His working visit lasted for five days, during which he met Nigerian businessmen based in Cameroon, socio-cultural unions as well as heads of Nigerian interest groups based in Douala.

Olonisakin commended the initiatives of Nigerian companies extending their businesses to neighbouring countries like Cameroon to further strengthen the good ties between the two countries over time.

He stated that it is important for them to extend corporate social responsibilities not only to the Cameroonians alone but also to Nigerians living in the regions.

He said: “I am very impressed with the development of the companies from Nigeria. I must commend all the efforts of the leadership of those businesses to have the initiative of establishing businesses in Cameroon like Dangote Cement, United Bank for Africa, and others.”

He continued: “Having met with the Nigerian companies in Cameroon, I made them understand the importance of Nigerians living in the country as part of their corporate social responsibilities.

“I am very confident that Nigerians living in Cameroon will benefit from the development; it is not only about Cameroonians but Nigerians also to further strengthen the ties between the two countries economically.”

Olonisakin stated that visiting Douala, the Littoral region was part of his five-day working visit plan to get acquainted with the authorities. The Ambassador was part of the top dignitaries that bid farewell to the outgoing Nigerian Consul General for North West and South West in Buea, Mr. Ibrahim Bashir, during which he called on the Nigerian community to show better cooperation for the successor.

“The farewell showed that he’s a committed servant dedicated to duties. He did good works that positively affected the lives of Nigerians living in the region and deepened the relationship between Nigerians and Cameroonians. His diligence to duty paid huge dividends for him at his sent forth, in which people came in numbers to appreciate his work and show their appreciation in this regard. I want to really commend all he did within that period.”

Over time, socio-political crises have ensued in the Northwest and Southwest regions in Cameroon where many Nigerian nationals reside, but Olonisakin appealed to everybody living in the regions to allow peace to reign and resolve the issues.

“As I said, there’s nothing better than peace in life, we must understand that there’s no other substitute to peace, so whatever we need to ensure that we have peace in our region is what we must pursue,” Olonisakin appealed to the Nigerian community.

“Wherever I find myself, I let them understand there’s no substitute for peace, and all hands must be on deck. All the stakeholders must be committed to ensuring there is peace. And of course, we know in the Northwest/Southwest there are some conflicts over there but it’s very important to let everybody understand that they must allow peace to reign. It is with peace that we can make progress.

The 59-year-old general said he was delighted to see patriotism amongst Nigerians upholding values in Cameroon.

“I was really delighted to see them coming out in numbers to appreciate their presence and I used that moment to send a message to them to ensure they live in peace and continue their good life and be law-abiding in the country and once they can do that, we are sure to support them ultimately.

Of course, they have issues they have mentioned which I will address when I get back to Yaoundé to ensure that these are properly addressed so that their stay here can be pleasant.”

Olonisakin expressed interest in the forthcoming Nigerian-Cameroon Trade, Tourism and Cultural Fair in Douala.

“It was a good initiative which should be sustained. This is going to be the third edition, which I believe will build on the successes of the previous editions. We are working with necessary stakeholders to ensure that the third edition is an improvement on the last one. In this position, we are going to involve more of the home country and all the relevant agencies and ministries will be contacted to participate in the trade show in such a way that they are well represented.”

As a former Military General, Olonisakin could not resist the fact that sport is a universal activity when he landed in Garoua to drum support for the Super Eagles ahead of the 2022 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Speaking on plans to ensure Nigeria excelled at the competition, Olonisakin said the embassy started a mobilisation drive as part of its diplomatic offensive aimed at getting over five million Nigerians resident in Cameroon to support the Super Eagles.

During his trip to Garoua, Olonisakin met with Governor Midjiyawa Bakary of the Northern Region of Cameroon, and also examined the accommodation and other facilities provided for the Super Eagles in the city.

ABAYOMI OLONISAKIN: The untiring General in Cameroon

He also inspected some facilities reserved for supporters planning to come to Cameroon to cheer the Super Eagles to victory in their matches.

“I met with the Nigerian community to sensitise them on the need to give the Super Eagles a rousing welcome and to support them in all their matches.

“We hope to top the group and play a fourth match in Garoua and also move ahead to get into the semi-finals. That means, we are playing about five matches in Garoua,” Olonisakin said during the visit.

Emphasising on the need to reach out to the Nigerian community in Garoua, Olonishakin said it was to prepare the city as a comfortable haven for the team.

Olonisakin told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Garoua that he had to temporarily relocate to Garoua in Cameroon, where the team played in the recent AFCON.

“I have been in Garoua right from the time the Super Eagles landed here. I came to receive them and since then I have been watching all their matches and even their training sessions. Last year when I resumed duty I went round to meet with members of the Nigerian communities in this country.

“When I met them, I made them understand that we have this year a very important task ahead of us, and that is to support the Super Eagles,” the envoy said.

Olonisakin said further that he was very impressed with the style of play of the team and expressed optimism that the Super Eagles would go all the way to play in the final match.

“Of course, from the performance of the team (Super Eagles) so far, it’s now a team to beat in the competition. So, I see the team going far in the competition.

“I see them scaling through the round of 16 tomorrow (Sunday), and then the quarter-finals and semi-finals. I see in them a promising team. This team is very young and very mobile and much of the strategy they employ is quite good and the coaching crew too is good,” he added. Olonisakin called on Nigerians both back home and abroad to continue to be patriotic and support the Super Eagles. Unfortunately, the team exited at the tournament in the round of 16.

On this note, the Sports Minister Sunday Dare commended the Nigerian High Commission in Cameroon for its support for the Super Eagles from the beginning of the AFCON 2021 tournament.

Dare said: “the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, the Nigeria Football Federation and even the Super Eagles are really appreciative of what the Nigerian High Commission did at AFCON 2021.

 “The team felt at home. Garoua became home away from home for us all. The Nigerian Community was always mobilized to turn up in their green and white outfit, and in large numbers too, on match days to support the Super Eagles.

“Driving through Garoua, you got the feeling that you were in a Nigerian town. One of every three persons on the street was putting on a Nigerian jersey, the Nigerian flag was everywhere and this was really heart-warming and inspiring.

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Gallery: Diaspora Excellence Award 2023

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At the occasion organized in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Naija Diaspora Magazine, several individuals, companies, governors, traditional rulers, business owners, government agencies and parastatals as well as politicians were honored for their outstanding performances in 2023. The publication celebrated its
10th anniversary with a two-day event that included the Symposium and Annual Diaspora Excellence Award. This platform provided a unique opportunity for collective learning, networking, and gaining insights into government policies that relate to communities. Attendees were empowered to navigate pathways of positive change. The Symposium lecture was titled: ‘Building a Nation’, with several dignitaries as speakers.

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Inaugural Anambra State Union Football Tournament Triumphs Amidst Adversity

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On the 6th of August 2023, a monumental event took place at St Michel, Terminus, Douala, marking the commencement of the First Edition of the Anambra State Union Football Tournament. Under the stewardship of Sir Emeka Uzoka, Chairman of the Anambra State Union, this tournament emerged as a testament to unity, sportsmanship, and the indomitable spirit of the Anambra community.

The opening ceremony set the stage for what would become an unforgettable showcase of camaraderie and competitive fervor. A true celebration of tradition and athleticism, the tournament kicked off with a Veteran Match at 2:00 pm. The clash between Aguata Local Government Union and Nnewi Local Government Union resulted in a gripping encounter, with Aguata securing victory with a 2-0 score line.

Distinguished figures graced the event with their presence, adding prestige to the occasion. Among them was Mr. Oliva Ochi, Consul 1 at the Consulate General Douala, representing the esteemed Consul General, H.E. Amb. (Mrs.) Efe A. Clark-Omeru.

The honorable gathering was further enriched by the participation of key personalities, including: Hon. BIC Okwujiaku, President of the Nigerian Community Douala, HRH Eze Jonathan T. Onyenagubor, Eze Gburugburu 1 of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Cameroon, Sir, Lovinus Ezeh, Vice President, Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Alex Nwoye, Vice President 2, Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Uche Obiekwe, Patron of the Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Innocent Obiorah Odoh, Patron Anambra State Union, Chairmen of Imo and Enugu States Union, Esteemed members of the Anambra State Union.

The event also extended its reach to include esteemed guests from Douala and beyond.
In recognition of the paramount importance of safety and well-being, the organizers ensured the presence of dedicated medical health and security personnel, assuring attendees a secure environment throughout the event.

Despite the inclement weather characterized by heavy rain, the unyielding spirit of the Anambra community remained unshaken. A testament to their passion for football and unity, a remarkable number of attendees braved the elements, converging to witness the unfolding of history on the lush fields of St Michel, Terminus.

The final was held on Sunday 12th of November 2023 @ Bonamousadi Stadium Douala. Oyi Local Government lifted the trophy while Aguta Local Government took the bronze and Idemili Local Government took silver.

The inaugural Anambra State Union Football Tournament stands as an embodiment of shared values, intercommunity collaboration, and the timeless appeal of sport. This event not only etched a significant mark on the sporting calendar but also served as a reminder of the resilience and unity that define the Anambra community.

As the tournament concluded its first chapter, it left in its wake a legacy of camaraderie, sporting excellence, and the promise of more remarkable editions to come.

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CAMEROON: Miniature Africa

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Cameroon, nestled in the heart of Central Africa, is a country with a captivating blend of rich cultural diversity, stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. Often referred to as « Miniature Africa, » Cameroon offers travelers a unique and multifaceted experience, showcasing the continent’s essence in a single destination.

With more than 250 ethnic groups and languages, Cameroon is a melting pot of diverse cultures, traditions and customs. The capital city, Yaoundé, and the economic hub, Douala, provide excellent starting points to dive into Cameroon’s cultural wealth.

Cameroon’s diverse geography offers a plethora of breathtaking landscapes, each with its unique charm.
In the West, the mist-covered peaks of Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in West Africa, beckon adventurous hikers to climb and witness awe-inspiring views of the surrounding scenery.
Towards the North, the Sahelian region boasts vast savannas and semi-arid landscapes, offering visitors an opportunity to spot magnificent wildlife, and in the East, the dense rainforests of the Congo Basin teem with a rich variety of flora and fauna, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and exotic bird species.

Tourism Spots on a Budget
Here are a selection of the most distinguished and captivating tourist destinations in Cameroon. These remarkable locales boast accessibility without undue strain on one’s financial resources, making them irresistible choices for tourists.

Mefou National Park:
Mefou National Park houses the Mefou Primate Sanctuary, a rescue center managed by Ape Action Africa. With over 300 rare and endangered primates, it’s a significant conservation project in Africa, providing lifelong care and rehabilitation for animals rescued from illegal trades.

Limbe:
Formerly known as Victoria, Limbe is a port city with a diverse flora and fauna influenced by its colonial past. The Limbe Wildlife Centre/Botanical Centre offers a close-to-nature experience, rescuing and caring for ill-treated and endangered animals.

Mount Cameroon:
Mount Cameroon, also called the « Chariot of the Gods, » is West Africa’s highest mountain and an active volcano. A popular destination for adventurers and hikers, the trek offers stunning views, diverse landscapes and encounters with wildlife like monkeys and birds.

Kribi Beach:
Kribi Beach, in the southwestern region, boasts long white sand beaches and clear waters. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Visitors can also enjoy the Chutes de la Lobé waterfall, where they can swim under the falls. Local cuisine and seafood delicacies await at various restaurants.

Korup National Park:
Korup National Park, renowned for its bird species, offers pristine tropical wilderness. Visitors can enjoy lodging infrastructure and spot unique primates like the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee and Perseus’s red colobus. Located near the ocean, Mundemba serves as a starting point for tours to the park, where guides often speak the local Cameroonian language.

Cameroon stands tall as a remarkable destination for audacious travelers seeking a blend of cultural diversity, awe-inspiring landscapes and thrilling adventures. From the depths of the rainforests to the heights of its mountains, and from the bustling cities to the serene beaches, the land beckons with open arms, ready to share its enchanting beauty and warm hospitality with all who venture to explore its wonders. As tourism in Cameroon continues to grow sustainably, the country’s potential as a captivating and memorable destination will undoubtedly flourish.

 

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