By Tanko Yakasai OFR
Before 1st of October, 1960 both Southern and Northern Cameroons were trusteeship territories under Nigeria in accordance with Article 76(b) of the United Nations Trusteeship Agreement of 1946. This situation dated back to the period of the First World War. Prior to that war, some part of the old Adamawa Emirate were occupied by the Germans.
Southern and Northern Cameroons were part of the territories colonized by the Germans along with Togoland, Tanganyika, Southwest Africa we now call Namibia. That was after the partition of Africa in 1884/85. After the conquest of Germany in 1919, territories under German occupation were taken over by the newly formed League of Nations and were assigned to different colonial powers as mandated territories.
Tanganyika, Southwest Africa and Southern and Northern Cameroons were mandated to Britain. Citizens of the mandated territories were accorded the same rights and privileges as citizens of the colonies. Britain decided to administer its mandated Cameroons as part of Nigeria. Their citizens of the colonial mandated had the same rights and privileges as citizens of colonial Nigeria.
In 1946, with the demise of the League of Nations and the emergence of the United Nations, the mandated territories were taken over by the new world body and reassigned to the same colonial powers as Trusteeship Territories. Still Britain continued with administrative structures of the territories as same.
Before Nigerian independence many citizens of the trusteeship territories held important public offices both at federal and regional levels in Nigeria. Other than the fact they were elected members of parliament and regional Houses of Assembly, making laws for Nigeria, holding Nigerian International Passports, they also served among other things as Nigeria’s federal and regional ministers and other civil service and public offices in the country.
After independence, they both decided their future in plebiscites. Those in the Eastern Region chose to merge with the Republic of Cameroon, while those in the north decided to remain with Nigeria. The area of northern Cameroon after the plebiscite were declared as the 13th province of northern Nigeria. The province chose a name for itself. The name adopted was Sardauna Province. Jada together with other areas formally known as Northern Cameroon Province now became known as Sardauna Province.
Atiku an indigene of Adamawa whose father was an indigene of Sokoto and his mother a bona fide indigene of Adamawsnand many indigines born before and after him have been accorded full recognition as Nigerians.
1960 Constitution conferred recognition to the entire people born in the trusteeship territories as Africans born in Nigeria before independence if any of their parents is a citizen of British colonial territory in Africa or is a citizen of West African descent.
Indigenes of both southern and Northern trusteeship territories in Nigeria contributed their quota immensely to the development of Nigeria in various capacities before and after independence. Some of such people were Endeley, Foncha and Muna in the southern territory, and Mallam Abba Habib, Malam Abdullahi Damburam Jada, Ambassador Buba Malabu , Ambassador Mahmud Bello, Alh. Hayatu Kojoli, Mr. Phillip Maken, etc. Indigines of the former trusteeship territories which chose to be part of Nigeria are equal in all respect to every Nigerian in terms of patriotism, citizen rights and privileges.
It is therefore strange for leaders of the ruling party in Nigeria, the APC to claim that former vice president Atiku Abubakar is not qualified to seek to be the president of Nigeria. This is a display of ignorance of the highest order of Atiku’s status as enshrined in our constitution.
In fact APC is the least among political parties in Nigeria to make such unpatriotic statement. There are people sponsored by the party who contested and won elections to elective offices and are today occupying such positions. Atiku is equally or even better qualified to hold any public office in Nigeria than some of such people.
Tanko Yakasai OFR is a Nigerian politician, human rights activist and former Liaison Officer to late President Shehu Shagari on National Assembly Matters and a founding member of Arewa Consultative Forum