Bakassi Stand-off Not Over Yet- Soyinka Tells CrossRiverWatch

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Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday accused the Federal Government of being inconsiderate to the wishes and interests of the people of Bakassi while trading off the disputed Peninsula.

Soyinka spoke at a lecture “Corporate Gains and Human Deficits”. The lecture was organised by a Women Rights group ‘Women Arise’, in Lagos as part of activities marking the 79th birthday of prominent Lawyer and Activist, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite.

The event which was chaired by former Vice Chancellor of University of Ado-Ekiti, Professor Akin Oyebode also had other prominent Nigerians in attendance including former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Mrs. Priscilla Kuye, National Conscience Party (NCP), National Chairman Mr. Yinusa Tanko, Afro beat crooner, Femi Kuti amongst others.

Soyinka who took time to speak extensive on the Bakassi Peninsula imbroglio, said that the matter is a testing ground for corporate integrity. He decried the manner the disputed settlement in Cross River State was traded off to Cameroun by the Obasanjo administration.

Africa’s first Nobel Laureate expressed doubts about whether the wishes, feelings and interests of the people of Bakassi were considered by the International Court of Justice sitting in The Hague, Netherlands before reaching their conclusion.

He said “the attachment to the land by the displaced people supersedes the government’s desire to trade off the settlement”.

Soyinka rejected the argument by some pundits that military action is the panacea to the stand off, warning that it could be the beginning of protracted crises.

He insisted that: “There must be a plebiscite to decide where the people want to be. What the people of Bakassi want for themselves. Do they want to be Nigerians or Cameroonians? The people must be given a voice to express themselves”.

By the sidelines of the lecture Prof. Soyinka told crossriverwatch in a chat that “the last has not been heard about that Bakassi standoff. The inhabitants, who were not consulted, were seriously injured, will still need to take up this matter along with men and women of goodwill to the United Nations. The UN has respect for the people’s dignity and feelings”.

Chairman of the occasion, Professor Akin Oyebode hailed the celebrant Dr. Tunji Braithwaite saying: “He had a mission to exterminate rats and mosquitoes from Nigeria. What he meant by that were the ‘10 percenters’, and exploiters who had let Nigeria down. Although, the Nigeria Advanced Party (NAP) did not fulfill its mission, he made his impact. But rats and mosquitoes have continued to fester. Corruption is on the increase”. Prof. Oyebode observed that, despite his noble birth, Braithwaite joined the struggle for the liberation of the masses.

The University Don hailed Women Arise for to honouring Braithwaite, stressing that it is better to celebrate heroes when they are still alive.

In her remarks, President of Women Arise, Dr. Okei-Odumakin described the celebrant as a great activist, legal icon, role model and life wire of the civil rights movement.

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