Consul General of Nigeria to the North-west and South-west Regions of Cameroon, Lawal Bappah is an accomplished diplomat who has, in the course of his career, served in different countries such as Kuwait, Ghana, Morocco and China before his current appointment. He assumed duty as Consul-General in Buea on 3rd October, 2021. In this interview, he reviews his career and his experience in Cameroon. Excerpts
Since your arrival in Cameroon, what surprises have you encountered among Nigerians and the host country?
I have not encountered any surprise since my arrival into the country on 30th September, 2021. I was well received by officials of the Protocol Department of the Ministry of External Relations and have successfully interacted with host authorities and members of Nigerian Communities in both the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon.
Cameroon is a bilingual country with English and French as its official languages and you are in charge of English-speaking compatriots. How do you intend to interact with your French speaking audiences?
Yes, since Cameroon is officially bilingual, there is no barrier and I should be free to express myself in any of the two official languages (English or French). I have been interacting comfortably with people in my area of jurisdiction, the English-Speaking Regions of Cameroon. That notwithstanding, I have previously served in a Francophone country, Morocco, where French was the language for diplomatic communication, and I have since then been making efforts to improve my understanding of the language. So, there is no problem at all about that.
As an experienced Nigerian Diplomat, who has travelled around the world, how do you think Nigeria can tackle the insecurity challenges within our borders?
Nigeria will continue to work towards boosting security cooperation with all its neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger Republic and Benin Republic. The Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) should be fully equipped to check proliferation of small arms and light weapons across our common borders. Special attention should also be focused on the cross-border insecurities by separatists between Cameroon and Nigeria. I have served in various countries of the globe and I am aware that all countries have their different challenges. The security challenge is everywhere in the world today.
The Nigerian government is not sparing any efforts in ensuring the security of the country and more will still continue to get done. On 16th November, 2021, Manga village in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State, Nigeria, was attacked by suspected Ambazonia fighters, that are yet to be identified. President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to hand over a more secure and prosperous country by 2023. The Nigeria-Cameroon Mixed Commission needs to consider appropriate measures to be taken by the two countries to tighten border security and prevent cross-border incursions. I feel Nigeria and Cameroon should continue to strengthen cooperation to resolve common security challenges; especially along their common borders in the North-West and South-West Regions.
There have been insecurity issues also in your area of jurisdiction, the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon that have affected fellow Nigerians. What do you have to say about this sir?
I have been holding a series of meetings with Nigerian communities where I continue to enjoin them to continue to be law abiding and to obey local laws. As I said, the issue of insecurity is everywhere; home and abroad. I wish to urge fellow Nigerian compatriots in the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon to be extra-ordinarily vigilant and security conscious; not to be victims of any evil.
We now live in volatile societies and there is need for everyone to be security conscious; especially with the recent heightened twist in the Anglophone crisis which we are praying and trusting God, will become a thing of the past in no distant future.
Nigerians living in Cameroon have boosted the economy with their various businesses whilst several companies also keep coming from Nigeria to establish in this country. What is your reaction about this and how do you appreciate business climate in Cameroon?
Nigerians are highly enterprising and are everywhere in the world. However, their increased presence in Cameroon is traceable to a good number of factors, which include the natural and geographical location of the two countries closely together. Cameroon shares a lot of historical, geographical, cultural, social and religious ties with Nigeria.
In addition, Nigeria and Cameroon are two neighbouring countries with long standing very cordial bilateral relations. Before the sudden outbreak of the novel COVID-19 and the ongoing twist in the spiraling Anglophone crisis, economic cooperation between Nigeria and Cameroon had been robust.
The geographical location of Cameroon has placed it as a strategic economic partner of Nigeria. The Nigeria-Cameroon economic relations had improved over the years; especially in the area of trade and investment. There had also been an increase in the presence of Nigerian investors in Cameroon, such as Dangote Group, United Bank for Africa, Ecobank and Air Peace Airline that have established presence in Cameroon.
There is also a huge and vibrant number of Small and Medium Enterprises owned by Nigerians living in Cameroon; most of who conduct their businesses at informal levels. There are many Nigerian goods like electronics, motor spare parts, cosmetics, building materials, fuel etc; that enter Cameroon on daily basis.
There are also many Cameroonian products; especially foodstuffs like garri, eru, palm oil, spices, bananas, cocoyam etc that enter Nigeria via Idenau beach on daily basis. Regrettably however, official report between 2015 and 2019 shows that the value of trade exchanges between Nigeria and Cameroon dropped by 81% from XAF 15.6 billion to 2.9 billion.
The reason for those significant drops is that the over 1500-km long border western Cameroon shares with Nigeria is close to the Northwest and Southwest regions affected by the Anglophone crisis as well as far-North plagued by the war against Boko Haram. I hope there will be improvement when peace reigns and the closed borders are opened to facilitate cross border trading activities.
Having up to five million Nigerians in Cameroon means the country really has something special to offer. How do you assess the hospitality of Cameroon?
Yes, you made an assertion in your preceding statement, that Cameroon has something special to offer. I agree with that because it is an indirect allusion to what I said earlier, that Nigeria and Cameroon have a lot of things in common and to benefit from each other, culturally, socially and especially economically.
Regarding hospitality, I can say without mincing words that Cameroonians are wonderful people. They are friendly and highly hospitable. This had been much proved to me again and again in the course of my courtesy visits to host authorities in Buea.
Members of Nigerian Community in South-West and North-West Regions of Cameroon have also confirmed that they live in peace and harmony with their Cameroonian counterparts. They carry out their trading, farming and fishing businesses without let or hindrance from relevant authorities. Even though there are some complaints of harassment and extortion of Nigerians in some cases, on a general note, Nigerians feel free as they carry out their economic and social activities in Cameroon.
When I paid a courtesy call to the Chief of Great Soppo, Buea, he invited Nigerians living in that community and they came and presented some cultural displays. On the occasion, HRM Etina Monono conferred on me the royal title of “EYOLE” which was translated to mean “Peace Maker”. It is a little wonder that Buea, in Southwest region of Cameroon is called “home of legendary hospitality”.
What should Nigeria in areas of your command be expecting from Your Excellency as regards their welfare and well-being?
Nigerians in the South-West and North-West Regions of the Republic of Cameroon, will continue to receive good consular services from the Consulate General of Nigeria, Buea. The Consulate offers consular services to Nigerians and foreign nationals, including Cameroonians in innumerable ways.
The Nigeria High Commissioner, H.E. Gabriel Olonisakin, has been moving round Cameroon to ensure stability among Nigerians. What are you also doing to assist his efforts as Consul General?
The High Commissioner, H.E. Ambassador Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, as Nigerian Principal Envoy to the Republic of Cameroon is responsible for the promotion of bilateral relations between Cameroon and Nigeria. As the Consul-General of Nigeria to the North West and South West Regions, I am complementing the efforts of the High Commissioner in promoting and protecting the welfare of Nigerians within my Consular jurisdiction.
Other than the Nigerian National Day on 1st October that brings Nigerians together, could you in your capacity initiate other events that will bring Nigerians together to showcase their culture, food, dances, talents etc.
The Consulate General of Nigeria, Buea will actively participate in the International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2022 in which my spouse will lead Nigerian women in Buea during the ceremonies and host them to a reception at the Residence. In addition, this Consulate organises other occasions during Christmas, Esther and when we have Muslim feasts.
The Consulate also pays courtesy visits to host authorities, the different Nigerian communities and also to inaugurate newly constituted executive bureaus of Nigerian Unions as well as to inaugurate a union Secretariat or launch union almanac or uniforms. During such occasions, Nigerians do come out in their numbers, to showcase their culture, dances, traditional dishes, talents and lots more.
At the AFCON 2021 hosted by Cameroon, Nigeria clinched 9 points in their group stage but unfortunately, got knocked out by Tunisia in round 16. How did you feel and what lessons should Nigeria learn from it and also, how would you rate the hosting by Cameroon and its people?
I felt bad; just as millions of Nigerians back home; here in Cameroon and the teeming other supporters of the Nigerian Super Eagles felt heavily disappointed.
I was in Garoua with the High Commissioner to cheer and support the Super Eagles for the march. Before the match, there were very high hopes, that Nigeria, the only team with 9 full points (which was 100%), would defeat Tunisia with 3 points. But what happened? Surprises sprang and all hopes were dashed to the ground. Regarding lessons to learn:
In every endeavour in life, we should not behave as if we have arrived when we have not even started a journey. The Super Eagles apparently under-rated/ under-estimated the Tunisian players; displayed some measure of over-confidence, and, sadly, we lost the match! Our national team should desist from playing “entertainment game”; dribbling and dribbling, even inside box 18; as if dribbling counts for goals.
Our players should master the art of firing hot shots from every distance and angle, catching the opponent’s goal keeper unawares, if possible, but not dribbling and dribbling without scoring a goal. A lot of work also needs to be done on our strikers.
As regards rating the hosting of AFCON by Cameroon, the Cameroonian Government of President Paul Biya had done excellently well; given all it demanded and had successfully hosted the 2021 AFCON! Cameroonians had also done wonderfully well, by being highly accommodating, hospitable to strangers in the land and giving every support to the government.
What advice can you give to Naija Diaspora Magazine?
To continue with their good job of informing, educating and enlightening people, and to continue promoting and projecting the laudable activities of Nigerian Diplomatic Missions in Cameroon as well as Nigerians doing great things in Cameroon.
What message do you have for Nigerians in your jurisdiction and Cameroon at large?
I wish to use this medium to commend Nigerians living in the Southwest and Northwest Regions for the good report received about them from host authorities visited, that they are conducting themselves well, and as well to urge them to continue going about their businesses and other social activities peacefully. They should continue to abide by the laws of the land; avoid taking side in the ongoing crisis in the North West and South West Regions. They are to be vigilant and security conscious; not to fall victim of any evil. They are to be patriotic; nationalistic in their minds; attitude and always project a dignified image of Nigeria, in their endeavours and everywhere they find themselves.
Nigerian Community praises Consul General Clark-Omeru over resolving Resident Permit issues in Cameroon
Consul General Clark-Omeru hosts Nigeria Community
…urges them to be law abiding citizens in host country
The Consul-General of Nigeria to Douala, the Republic of Cameroon, Ambassador (HRM) Queen Efe A. Clark-Omeru has hosted the Nigerian community in the Littoral Region for the second time to show appreciation for relentless services rendering to Nigeria nationals residing in the region of the host country.
It could be recalled that the executive of the Nigerian community paid courtesy visit to the Consulate General in May 2022 to express their maximum appreciation to the Mission who has been helpful in resolving pressing issues with the host country.
According to her speech, the CG welcomed the Nigerian Community executives led by the President, Honourable B.I.C Okwujiaku and provided details of the Consulate progress with the host country over pending issues concerning Nigerian residents in the region.
« It is my pleasure to welcome you to this event of New Year visit/wishes to me and the Consulate, » the statement reads.
« Since my arrival in June 2021, and with the presentation of my Exequatur which I assured you that the Consulate would not rest its oars by ensuring that the issue of molestation will be a thing of past in the history country. The Consulate has met several times with the officials of the immigration of the host country with particular reference to resident permit, exit Visa and the matter was resolved amicably as the immigration rights accorded to members of Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC)
region is also accorded to Nigeria due to the already subsisting bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries. »
The Nigeria CG also highlighted the issues of non-issuance of Resident permits which is a great challenge to Nigerian residents in the Littoral region as it is contrary to it immigration law.
« The issue of non-issuance of Resident Permit has attracted my attention, on that basis, I directed my officers on 10th February 2023, accompanied by the president and some executive members of the Nigerian community to meet with new Commissioner EMI-immigration Madame Gertrude Bikok and the matter was also resolved due to the subsisting bilateral relations between the two countries.
The Consul General was excited to proudly commend the Nigeria community over their successful business activities which were satisfied by the host authorities. But urges her compatriots to be more tolerance of each other and remain law abiding to the host country.
In responding to the CG’s speech, the President of the Nigeria Community, Honourable B.I.C Okwujiaku heaps praise on the first female Consul General in Douala for her breath of peace among Nigerians in the region.
« Last year, we came to say thank you for the ones you have done. We have come again to further demonstrate our joy for your constant support, caring and motherly advise and solidarity to us as your fellow compatriots in Cameroon, » he said.
« History will record it that as the first female Consul General in Douala. Nigerians have benefited from your good leadership and skills of work, » he added.
Also appreciating the CG is Eminent philanthropist, HRH Eze Thomas .J. Onyengubo, Eze Gburugburu 1 of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo in Cameroon, who also urged the Nigerian community members to remain united and be law abiding to the host country.
10TH ANIVERSARY OF THE CAMEROON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY – FINAL THOUGHTS
From the 18th to the 21st August 2022, the Pastoral Centre St Joseph of Kribi (Cameroon) hosted the 10th edition of what has become an annual ‘rendez-vous’ of capacity building of young Cameroonian Leaders and Entrepreneurs selected on the basis of their civic engagement, professional achievement and patriotic spirit.
Through this Academy, the Pan African Leadership and Entrepreneurship Foundation (PLF) by Go Ahead Africa Ltd has been contributing to the empowerment of hundreds of young people in the fields of Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Management.
Held in partnership with some of the most influential stakeholders in the Cameroonian economic ecosystem (Go Ahead Africa Ltd, Groupe SABC, the Port Authority of Kribi (PAK), BGFIBank Cameroon, Balafon Media and Vox Africa); and despite unforeseen circumstances, this 10th edition succeeded to gather forty-six participants (23 boys and 23 girls) aged between 18 and 35 years old under the theme « Challenges and opportunities of youth in a VUCA environment (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) ».
For the Founder of the PLF, Roland KWEMAIN, these young Leaders are true ambassadors of the emergence and prosperity of Cameroon. « Our goal is to train a world class of Young Cameroonian Leaders/Entrepreneurs who are masters of their destiny and resolutely at the service of the emergence of our country and even of our continent, Africa » he said.
During four (4) intense days under the expert guidance of Leadership Coach/Trainer
Emile SINGEH and Assistant Coach Perrin KWENKEU, the 2022 batch developed through a tailor-made program:
· Leadership and Management Skills
· Entrepreneurial spirit
· Spirit of Individual Social Responsibility and Active Citizenship
· Knowledge and Valorisation of the Great Historical Figures of Cameroon
· Appropriation of the Vision of a prosperous Cameroon
During this unique and extraordinary life experience punctuated by short nights (4 hours/day) and intense days of emotions, knowledge acquisition and teambuilding, the participants had the opportunity to meet and learn from their 2 Patrons:
· Mr Patrice MELOM (GM PAK)
· Mr Cyrille BOJIKO (Founder and CEO Balafon Media Group)
They also had the great opportunity to interact with some of the Leaders and Managers who drive the economic scene.
Among them we can name Mr Abakal MAHAMAT (General Manager, BGFIBank Cameroon), Dr Elizabeth FON (General Manager, TESHO), Mrs Arielle WAFFO (General Manager, DKT Cameroon), Mr Dagobert TAHA (Design Thinking Expert), Mrs Pulton ARUNA (Consultant, Corporate Trainer in Management Skills, Customer Care, Food Safety, Quality Management, Training Techniques).
As key part of the program, the participants worked on reinventing the CLA model during the traditional ‘24 heures Chrono’ where they spend 24 hours in a row without sleeping in a journey to better understand (themselves) and learn how to surpass their self-expectations.
As the Cameroon Leadership Academy heads to new starts for its 10 years’ Convention on December, 10th taking with it an annual event that brought together hundreds of young Leaders and Entrepreneurs; it’s worth reflecting on its legacy and on the impact it made during the past ten (10) years that the event grew to empower 850 youth with the mission of training better Leaders in order to build better communities.
Emile Désiré SINGEH
Du 18 au 21 août 2022, le Centre Pastoral St Joseph de Kribi (Cameroun) a accueilli la 10ème édition de ce qui est devenu un rendez-vous annuel de renforcement des capacités des jeunes leaders et entrepreneurs camerounais sélectionnés sur la base de leur engagement civique, de leur réussite professionnelle et de leur esprit patriotique.
Grâce à cette académie, la Pan African Leadership and Entrepreneurship Foundation (PLF), une initiative du cabinet Go Ahead Africa Ltd a contribué à l’autonomisation de centaines de jeunes dans les domaines du Leadership, Entreprenariat et du Management.
Organisée en partenariat avec certains des acteurs les plus influents de l’écosystème économique camerounais (Go Ahead Africa Ltd, Groupe SABC, le Port Autonome de Kribi (PAK), BGFIBank Cameroon, Balafon Media et Vox Africa) ; et malgré des cas de force majeure cette 10ème édition a réussi à rassembler quarante-six participants (23 garçons et 23 filles) âgés de 18 à 35 ans sous le thème « Défis et opportunités de la jeunesse dans un environnement VUCA (Volatile, Incertain, Complexe et Ambigu) ».
Pour le Fondateur de la PLF, Roland KWEMAIN, ces jeunes Leaders sont de véritables ambassadeurs de l’émergence et de la prospérité du Cameroun. » Notre objectif est de former une classe mondiale de Jeunes Leaders/Entrepreneurs camerounais maîtres de leur destin et résolument au service de l’émergence de notre pays et même de notre continent, l’Afrique » a-t-il déclaré.
Pendant quatre (4) jours intenses sous la direction experte du Coach/Formateur en Leadership Emile SINGEH et de l’Assistant-Coach Perrin KWENKEU, la promotion 2022 a développé grâce à un programme taillé sur mesure :
-Des Compétences en leadership et Management
-La Responsabilité sociale individuelle et de citoyenneté active
-La Connaissance et valorisation des grandes figures historiques du Cameroun
-L’Appropriation de la Vision d’un Cameroun prospère
Au cours de cette expérience de vie unique et extraordinaire ponctuée de courtes nuits (4 heures/jour) et de journées intenses en émotions, en acquisition de connaissances et en Teambuilding, les participants ont eu l’occasion de rencontrer et d’apprendre de leurs 2 Parrains :
· Mr Patrice MELOM (DG PAK)
· Mr Cyrille BOJIKO (Promoteur et PDG du Groupe Balafon Media)
Ils ont également eu l’occasion d’interagir avec certains des leaders et des managers qui animent la scène économique.
Parmi lesquels, nous pouvons citer M. Abakal MAHAMAT (Directeur Général, BGFIBank Cameroun), Dr Elizabeth FON (Directeur Général, TESHO), Mme Arielle WAFFO (Directeur Général, DKT Cameroun), M. Dagobert TAHA (Expert en Design Thinking), Mme Pulton ARUNA (Consultante, formatrice en management, service client, sécurité alimentaire, gestion de la qualité, techniques de formation).
Durant le traditionnel « 24 heures Chrono » qui est en réalité l’élément clé du programme, les participants ont passé 24 heures d’affilée sans dormir afin de mieux se connaître et apprendre ainsi à dépasser leurs propres attentes. Pour cette édition, le « 24 heures Chrono » était dédié à réinventer le modèle économique de la CLA.
Alors que l’Académie Camerounaise de Leadership s’apprête à prendre un nouveau départ avec la Convention de ses 10 ans le 10 décembre 2022, emportant avec elle un événement annuel qui a rassemblé des centaines de jeunes leaders et entrepreneurs, il convient donc de réfléchir sur son héritage et à l’impact qu’ elle a eu au cours des dix (10) dernières années durant lesquelles l’événement s’est développé et a autonomisé 850 jeunes avec pour principale mission de former de meilleurs leaders afin de construire de meilleures communautés.
Emile Désiré SINGEH
Pour plus d’informations sur la Fondation et ses activités, contactez :
Etienne Martial MVONDO
Directeur Exécutif, PLF
+237 6 96 79 99 60 / 6 51 51 40 59
Emile Désiré SINGEH
+237 6 77 82 36 12
THE LAW SOCIETY with ELOCHUKWU JOY as president
The law society, is the student association of the department of English law of the University of Buea, Cameroon. It encompasses all duly registered students of this department. It has been existing since the creation of the university in 1993, and stands out as the largest departmental student association, with about three thousand (3000) students at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. With the motto| “integritas veritas justicia” meaning integrity, truth and justice, the main objective of the student association is to maintain a link between the students and the administration. The association is made up of fourteen (14) executives elected through universal suffrage, representing the various levels. The association is headed by the president who together with his/her executive are elected for an unrenewable duration of one (1) academic year. During the course of the year, the association is charged with organizing activities such as moot courts, symposiums, debates, academic interactions etc.
As a student enrolled into the department of English law during the academic year 2019-2020 and consequently became a Bonafide member of the student association. I was then, immediately elected to serve as the class delegate of my class. As the class delegate, I was the representative of the over 700 students admitted as freshmen during that academic year. Due to my diligent service as class delegate, I got elected as vice president of the law society for the academic year 2020-2021. With my experience as class delegate and then vice president, I postulated for the post of president of the law society and eventually won the election in a historic election that saw the law society produce the first female president in its over 23years of existence.
During my tenure of office as president of the Law society, my executives and I, organized a series of activities to the benefit of the students. To promote harmony and enhance a sense of belonging amongst the students, we launched the T-shirt for the department of English law. To be worn by all the students in the department on Wednesdays. Also, to create awareness on sexual harassment which is a common phenomenon in the academic milieu, we organized a symposium that was well attended by officials in the university as well as the various heads of the judiciary in the south west region. To educate the students on how to avoid, overcame and tackle issues related to sexual harassment. We also continued the customary annual activities of the law society such as moot court, academic interactions and the Law society Gala. however, amongst the many activities and events we recorded, was the launching of the gigantic project to construct a Law society coffee stand. This project is aimed at building a spot that will enable law students of the university commune together out of the usual formal environment of the classroom. We equally championed advocacy campaigns at the level of the rectorate and the Nigerian consulate in Cameroon to inquire why Cameroonian students were not being admitted in the Nigerian Law school.
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