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“Nigeria should appeal against Bakassi judgement” – Prof. Wole Soyinka
Soyinka said this at the commemorative lecture of rights activist, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, at 79 in Lagos on Monday.
He said Bakassi remained a testing ground for Nigeria’s corporate integrity, stressing that the government should know what the people of Bakassi needed.
Soyinka said, “The crucial question that the International Court does not appear to have considered remains this: what do the people of Bakassi want for themselves? To become Cameroonians? To become Nigerians? Or simply to remain Bakassians? Bakassi became a focus of interest and desire only because of her oil reserves and the greed of state corporations – presented as national interest.”
“So, let the next act commence. The final date of appeal is still ahead. It is within legitimate rights that the Nigerian corporation should appeal the judgment.
“This time round however, let the suppressed voice of Bakassi’s humanity be heard. There is a certain procedure known as Plebiscite. Simple, straightforward, and full of precedents – a time-tested reversal of the pattern of human deficit! Let us give voice to the people of Bakassi.”
Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Akin Oyebode, described the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan as government of the plutocrats, saying the interest of the poor is not being considered.
Oyebode, a lectuer of International Law and Jurisprudence, University of Lagos, said the planned currency restructuring was self-serving.
He said, “Some people will be made rich. It is a contradiction that a government pursuing cash-less economy is now pursuing a ‘cash-full’ society.
“The coinage is a disaster. It is going to have a dire consequence on the masses as the prices of goods will sky-rocket.”
Oyebode extolled the virtues of Braithwaite, saying he had willed himself to the Nigerian people.
The don said, “Braithwaite is a dogged fighter of the masses. It is fit and proper to honour our heroes when they are alive. But what we find all over the place is the hypocrisy of people pouring eulogies on people when they are dead.”
The President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, said the commemorative lecture was to give honour to an “indefatigable defender of the oppressed.”
She said, “We celebrate Braithwaite because in doing so, we are also calling attention to his struggle, travails, triumphs, challenges and the unfinished business of a nation in agony.”
Braithwaite said human beings were in this world to help others, stressing that “if you do not help others your life will be meaningless. Fela did, Mandela did, Fawehinmi did and many others”.
He urged Nigerians to challenge corruption and oppression and to take their destinies in their hands.