Opinion: Atiku Abubakar, a Cameroonian by location

Opinion: Atiku Abubakar, a Cameroonian by location

Editor's note: Mixed reactions have continued to trail the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)'s request to the election petition tribunal strike out the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)'s Atiku Abubakar's petition because he was not eligible to contest the Saturday, February 23, presidential election since he is not a Nigerian.

In an article sent to Legit.ng, Ogunwoye Samson Gbemiga, of the department of political science and international relations, University of Abuja, writes about the lingering crisis on Atiku's citizenship.

Yes! No doubt about the fact that by the virtue of location, I totally agreed with APC's lawyers that Atiku Abubakar was a Cameroonian, but interestingly, by the virtue of birth, Atiku Abubakar was/is a Nigerian.

I keenly followed the ruckus that erupted after APC legal team accused Atiku Abubakar of not being a Nigerian by birth but a Nigerian by plebiscite. This has generated heated arguments from different quarters as several interpretations have been made about the bone of contention.

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Most interesting, Section 131(a) of the 1999 Constitution clearly states that ‘a person shall be qualified for election to the office of the president of Nigeria only if he or she is a citizen of Nigeria by birth.’

Historically, if Atiku was to be born before 1945, he might have been so unlucky to be Cameroonian by location and by birth, but the fact that he was born in 1946, he fortunately escaped the fate of being Cameroonian by birth.

The end of WWII in 1945 saw Germany as vanquished, Adolf Hitler was reportedly killed and Axis Forces surrendered to their allied counterpart, as one of the punishments melted on Germany for being responsible for the War that brought untold hardship to the world population, all the colonies under Germany were taken and given to the Allied Forces.

Cameroon among others was one of the colonies taken from Germany and partitioned between British and France. Southern Cameroon was under France while northern Cameroon which some parts of Adamawa were located was given to Nigeria under Britain.

From 1945, a year before Atiku was born, northern Cameroon was directly administered by Britain Government in Nigeria, guided by the rules, regulations and policies made in Nigeria, just like every other parts of Nigeria, Northern Cameroon was under the direct supervision of Northern Nigeria governor and they shared every rights and duties as a Nigerian.

No wonder when NCNC as the first political party after WWII was created, with its acronym, it was National Council of Nigerian and Cameroon.

The northern Cameroonians had all the rights, privileges and duties to vote and be voted for like every other Nigerians. In fact, with NCNC, northern Cameroon was been represented at Nigerian legislative Assembly.

This simply affirmed the fact that Northern Cameroon placed under the British did not have a separate Administrative system from Nigeria, rather, it was been administered with Nigerian standards, so, Atiku Abubakar was born after northern Cameroonians were already Nigerian by Birth. Therefore, Atiku Abubakar is a Nigerian by birth.

In 1961, immediately after the independence, northern Cameroon was to decide the fate of their location, the northern part of British Cameroon decided to collapse their location with Nigeria while the southern part of British Cameroon decided to align with the main French Cameroon.

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Between 1945 to 1961, all the people that were born in British Cameroon administered under Nigeria government were Nigerians by birth, but Cameroonians by location, but after the plebiscite of 1961, the northern Cameroon became Nigerians by location and birth, while the southern Cameroonians that were born between 1945 to 1961 continued to maintain the status of Nigerian by birth but not by location.

Finally, I like to conclude that before 1961, Atiku Abubakar was only a Nigerian by Birth, but after 1961 when the Plebiscite was conducted, Atiku became a Nigerian by Birth and Location.

The views expressed in this interview/article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.

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