After reading Tem Martin article on Federation as being a poor bargain, Mr. Tem Martin quoted Nigeria Federation as poor because it does not solve marginalization of the Delta and Biafra states. We think that what matters is the type of Federation. There are many successful federal countries in the world such as USA, Canada, Australia, Belgium etc.
Nigeria Federation is different because Nigeria had independence with all its states together. The situation in the Cameroons is different. La Republique had its independence without Southern Cameroons.
The problem with Southern Cameroons Federation with La Republique is that it was poorly bargained from the start with no credible structures. Nigeria Federalism cannot be same to that of Southern Cameroons because Nigeria federalism brought states which had independence as a single unit compared to the Cameroons where two independent countries will be coming together. In the Cameroons situation, these are two independent states with two distinct cultures coming together. It is not a plural federalism as in Nigeria or USA, it is a bicultural federalism as in Belgium and Canada which brings two different people with two cultures French and Dutch as in Belgium, English, and French as in Canada. The type of Federation in these countries have been superb and if Southern Cameroons must go into Federation with La Republique, these are models which can be looked into. Yes, Federalism is not a poor bargain. It, therefore, boils down to the type of Federation
There are two kinds of federation, however; aggregative and segregative
A Segregative Federation is a mode of governance by a sovereign state to resolve political, economic or cultural problems within the state – it is not recognized in international law – its members are generally called autonomous regions, provinces or districts: they are not states as defined by the international law. And in international law they cannot quit the federation because they are an integral part of the national territory. Nigeria for example form part of this Federation
An Aggregative Federation is the form of federation the Southern Cameroons voted for in the 1961 plebiscite – it is formed by sovereign states which have internationally recognized boundaries. Although the Southern Cameroons was not a sovereign and independent state, at the time of the plebiscite, it had its international legal status as a UN Trust Territory which allowed the Southern Cameroons to form an aggregative federation with La Republique du Cameroun. That was the reason why the UN could not simply ask the Southern Cameroons at the plebiscite to integrate itself into La Republique du Cameroun.
It was on this legal ground that the UN envisioned the workout of a Treaty of Union for the projected federation according to the international law on Treaties. So one wonders why La Republique du Cameroun calls the Southern Cameroons a province of its territory. Members of an aggregative federation are called the Federated States: each of them has the right to quit the federation. Examples of aggregative federations are Federation of the Federated States of Micronesia in the South Pacific.
The majority of federations around the world are segregative federations: Brazil, India, Nigeria, Argentina, Australia, Germany, etc. However, although independence (the right to self determination) remains the best option, the types of Federation also matters. Thus, we should aim high so that if we are brought to the center we shall engulf it by streamlining the specific type of federation to engage in. The constitution should be the bed rock.
Conclusively, for Southern Cameroons to form any Federation with La Republique, the treaty of union between La Republique and Southern Cameroons must be made legal according to the UN Charter which brings countries together because as it stands, Southern Cameroons and La Republique has no treaty of union- this is why the union between both Cameroons is still contested by all Southern Cameroons Independence groups. The more reasons the people of Southern Cameroons have called for any dialogue with La Republique to take place only in the presence of a third party such as UN or AU because the legality of the current Union with La Republique is illegal and non-existent.