President Muhammadu Buhari has called for more good neighborliness and mutual understanding among African states to enhance trade, security and promote development on the continent.
The President, represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, during the commissioning ceremony of the joint Nigeria/Cameroon border post and bridge, said the 1.5 km project would enhance the interconnectivity of “our people and our communities, improve the standard of living , reduce barriers to inter-regional trade and enhance border security. ”
“It is with great satisfaction that we witness the official joint commissioning of the 1.5 km Mfum/Ekok Bridge and Joint Border Post (JBP). Let me begin by congratulating the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon who worked closely together to realize this project, as well as the African Development Bank (AfDB) which financed the execution and completion of this joint 1.5 km border project, he said.
President Buhari noted that the projects will deepen the inextricably linked cultural and traditional brotherly bonds that already exist between Nigerians and Cameroonians living around the border communities.
“Let me also stress that in order to maximize the benefits of these projects, the Nigerian and Cameroonian officials who would be entrusted with the responsibility of managing the joint border post, in particular, must act in the most professional manner, as well as in accordance with global best practices, effective as of today,” he added.
President Buhari said the completion of the project has brought joy to Nigerians and Cameroonians living in the area.
“Such excitement symbolizes the determination of our peoples and governments to stay connected despite our seemingly artificial borders.
“The completion and commissioning of this project could not have come at a more auspicious time than when Nigeria signed and ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. Therefore, we hope that the commissioning of this joint bridge and border post will not only strengthen the existing cordial relations between Nigeria and Cameroon, but also strengthen the cooperation between ECOWAS and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
“As part of the AfCFTA, this project has the potential to increase the volume of economic activities in our regions, as well as facilitate the free movement of people, goods and services within countries, along of the hallway. It would also serve as a vital link between the West and Central African regions.
“The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also expects this border post and bridge to enhance security patrols and facilitate effective cooperation in this part of our border with the Republic of Cameroon. While expressing our confidence that this project will achieve the stated objectives, we also hope that it will complement the current efforts of the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon to combat the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism in our region.
“It matters because the activities of violent extremists have continued to present major challenges to the development of our countries and regions,” he added.
The President said that the threat of insecurity has continued to threaten economies, hamper the maximization of our countries’ strategic potentials as well as cause political upheaval and threat to our sub-region.
“Therefore, we hope that the commissioning of this project will accelerate the efforts of our valiant security personnel who are already doing very well in securing our territories.
“We also pray that this project will strengthen the interconnectedness of our peoples and communities, improve living standards, reduce barriers to interregional trade and strengthen border security. We are confident that these projects will deepen the inextricably linked cultural and traditional brotherly bonds that already exist between Nigerians and Cameroonians living around the border communities,” the President said.
He noted that the project, which was part of the ongoing Nigeria/Cameroon Multinational Highway and Transport Facilitation Program (NCMH&TFP), will remain a visible testimony to the continued cooperation and good neighborliness between the two countries, as well as the regional economic communities. .
“This bridge and joint border post is proof that when African countries work with African institutions, exceptional, people-centered, cross-regional development projects can be achieved in record time,” he said.
The President thanked all the Institutions and Agencies that made the project possible.
“I recall in this regard that the Government of the Republic of Cameroon cooperated with us to grant a joint waiver to expatriates who were employed by the construction company that managed the project, despite the global COVID-19 lockdown. The cooperation and support of HE President Paul Biya, as well as the government and people of Cameroon, made it possible to complete this project on schedule.
“Let me also express the gratitude of the government and people of Nigeria to the African Development Bank for the role it has played in financing these projects. Under the leadership of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the Bank has become, by all standards, a reliable beacon of support in all matters pertaining to Africa’s development. Indeed, we are very proud of the performance of the current management of our Continental Bank which has confirmed that we truly have “African solutions to African problems”.
“Let me also commend the leadership and staff of ECOWAS and ECCAS for their tireless efforts to ensure the timely completion of this project. It is necessary to emphasize that visible projects such as these, as well as other critical and life-changing infrastructure, are the type of projects that the citizens of our sub-region have longed to see. It is the hope that under the leadership of Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, ECOWAS will continue to meet the expectations of our citizens.
“Finally, allow me to conclude by expressing our deepest gratitude to the contractors, CGCOC, who demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the execution and delivery of this high quality project, within a reasonable time frame. to all of you who have contributed in one way or another to this momentous and momentous occasion, I convey my warm appreciation,” President Buhari said.
In his address, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the value of the new bridge transcends the connection between Nigeria and Cameroon, boosting the wider effort to connect Africa.
He said efforts will be sustained to improve networking among Africans, something ECOWAS and the African Union have been pursuing for many years, with earlier plans dating back to 1969.
Fashola said consistency in building roads and bridges will improve relations between African countries, where people can drive from Lagos to Mombasa.
The Cameroonian Minister of Public Works, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, who represented President Paul Biya, appreciated the contributions of the various stakeholders in the project, assuring that the Nigeria/Cameroon relations will explore more partnership possibilities.