It is significant that in a single month President Paul Biya visited Abuja twice.
The much-talked of bilateral relations as they should really be, came into direct focus in 2016 with a State visit to Nigeria by the Head of State. The Presidential couple was in Abuja from May 3 to May 4 on the invitation of the Nigerian Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari and in return to a friendly and State visit the latter made to Cameroon in July 2015. Significantly, the visit came when close watchers were beginning to develop ideas, especially as contacts between Presidents Biya and Jonathan had begun to be rare. It was therefore necessary to gauge the preparedness of the new Nigerian leadership about its disposition.
And indeed, the two-day stay of the President of the Republic provided very good auspices for a reinvigoration of relations which had not quite gone into limbo, but seemed to be losing the steam worthy of relations between neighbours sharing some 2000 kilometers of land and maritime boundary. Moreover, the Greentree agreement of June 12, 2006 between Nigeria and Cameroon on the Bakassi dispute, prescribed regular consultations and other actions that can build confidence between the two countries and visits like the one made by President Biya fall squarely in this category.
The visit also gave a booster to the joint efforts being carried out by the two countries to fight the obscurantist Boko Haram sect and the final communiqué issued at the end of the visit emphatically “noted with satisfaction the successes achieved so far in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency and condemned the murderous activities perpetrated by the group in the two countries and the other countries of the Lake Chad Basin”. An important gain during this visit was about the strengthening of economic cooperation with the institution of a business forum which has long taken root with one each organized in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and Douala, Littoral Region.
The two Presidents also decided to strengthen the Cameroon-Nigeria Joint Commission so as to give it pore leverage with regard to the coordination and implementation of all signed agreements and MoU between the two countries. A very concrete example of stepped-up cooperation was the decision to build a bridge to over the River Tiel to link Belel in Nigeria and Demsa in Cameroon. Proof of improved relations can also be found in the fact that less than two weeks after, he was back in Abuja; this time for a regional summit on security in the Lake Chad basin.
Beyond diplomacy, there is a visible increase in the movement of people between Cameroon and Nigeria; a good sign that relations have gathered considerable clout with the arrival of President Buhari at Aso Rock.