The Niger Delta

Monday, August 28, 2006

Nigeria Exit From Bakassi, Right or Wrong?

Have you ever been given an ultimatum to vacate your house or choose another parent? No, I guess. But if you were, what would you do?

Indigenes of the Bakassi peninsula were told something like that in 2002 by the International Court of Justice when it conceded Bakassi to Cameroon,

so, what did they do?
Poor them, what can they do. The court ruling triggered a lot of agitation in Nigeria.
Indigenes could not believe it, how can they leave the country of their birth their land, lives, relations and everything?

Compare this to asking the people in Miami to leave the United States and join Cuba……of all places?

The International Court’s ruling was largely based on a pact signed between Germany and Britain in the early 20th century.

“This is neo-colonialism” an indigene was alleged to have said, “The ruling was done by people who had neither visited the peninsular nor had the courtesy of asking the opinions of the Bakassi indigenes”.

The Bakassi Indigenes, of course from the court ruling, do have options;
They can choose to remain in Bakassi and become Cameroonians or they may migrate to Nigeria with full green cards and loose their land.

The option for those who will remain may not be very juicy in the long run, not that Cameroon is not good, infant Cameroon is just like Nigeria; they both have ranked next to each other (and sometimes exchanging positions) on global corruption statistics – Worst and Second Worst.
But in the past, some of the Bakassi indigenes have helped Nigerian troops fight the Cameroonian forces over the Bakassi, now that Nigerians are gone, you don’t expect Cameroonians to just clap for them, do you?

Nigerians pleaded with the Nigerian government not to obey the International Court’s ruling.
The pleadings notwithstanding, the Nigerian government, earlier this month, announced plans to withdraw from the peninsula and on the 14th of this month, the final withdrawal from Bakassi peninsular was done.

Frustrated about their future, some of the Bakassi indigenes had earlier declared a republic of their own; if Nigeria could not help them, maybe they could help themselves. Their question; “Where is the UN? Where is Amnesty international? Don’t we have rights”?
Sure they do, you’d say, but all animals are not equal.

Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday, August 22nd said the reason for the pullout was peace, and he announced that government had commenced plans on resettling the immigrants - AFTER THE PULLOUT?

“History will remember that we opted for peace instead of war” he said, but I can only imagine the war their resettlement will cause in the region; imagine thousands of people in small tattered boats ferrying the Atlantic over to Nigeria leaving their worlds behind, on whose land will they stay?

Many have said the Nigerian government made a wrong decision, that by leaving Bakassi; it failed to live up to its responsibilities which includes; Protecting Nigerian territory and indigenes.

Let me hear from you, what would you do if you were in Bakassi, and what do you think your country would do?



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