Interests and Identities in Peace Negotiations: Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Bakassi Peninsula
For close to fifty years, the territorial dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon continued over the region along their border known as the Bakassi peninsula. The dispute almost led to war in the mid-1990s, was settled by the International Court of Justice in 2002, and resulted in hand-off of the territory by Nigeria to Cameroon in 2008. Content analysis of newspapers from Nigeria and Cameroon for the year 2010 revealed underlying identity-based needs that had been left largely unaddressed. Analysis of Nigerian newspapers showed a prevalent discussion of unfulfilled identity needs and an unresolved identity-conflict potential. Analysis of Cameroonian newspapers revealed the fulfilling of a new identity as the Bakassi region was proactively populated with Cameroonian citizens, culture, and connectivity to the rest of the country. The Bakassi dispute resolution was heralded as a success by state leadership, but it was not perceived in the same way by the general population as evidenced in the content analysis. Public opinions expressed in the media were less reflective of a cooperative result and more reflective of a zero-sum negotiation result with a clear winner and a clear loser.