It is sensitive and commendable for the Senate to have written to the president to revisit the Bakassi case. But having done that, it is time for both the Senate and the president to quickly rescue the burgeoning debate on Bakassi from the embarrassing ignorance that has characterised it so far. Many of the premises of the debate simply advertise Nigeria as a country of people who make no distinction between international and municipal law.
Above all, the debate is doing a disgusting havoc to history in the conscience of all who happen to know what happened. Whatever reservations we may all have about Obasanjo as a former Nigerian leader, the point is that, on Bakassi, he is a national hero. Nigeria would have been so humbled by the outcome of the Bakassi case if not the ‘diplomacy’ of Obasanjo, T. Y Danjuma and General Aliyu Gusau at the time and in the manner they did it. Bakassi hurts because it belongs to Nigeria but that hurt can never be an excuse for denigrating the sacrifices of OBJ, T. Y Danjuma and General Aliyu Gusau in particular. They went beyond the call of duty and made Nigeria the winner of the Bakassi case except that the areas of victory do not include the physical Bakassi which is the concern of the Nigerian.
Were OBJ, T. Y Danjuma, General Aliyu Gusau, Sule Lamido, Musa Elayo and Dubem Onyia not constrained by the unwritten rules of statesmanship as to agree to open up, many of the people shouting authoritatively on Bakassi today would keep quiet for the rest of their life. The echoes of Bakassi in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in those days suggested that Elayo, the then Minister of State for Justice was doing magic in managing the prosecution of the case at the International Court of Justice.
Now, I don’t see what anybody can do on Bakassi without calling a joint meeting with the triad. I have given the reason for this already. The only problem is how to get OBJ and T. Y Danjuma to sit together today without the Third World War breaking out from there, except if they have decided to unite, even if fleetingly, for Nigeria once again. Or except if President Jonathan and Senate President, David Mark, have a magic wand on that.
Whether they do or do not, it is important to realize that Bakassi is still with us ten years on because it encapsulates the major realities of our existence viz the reality of colonialism and imperialist cartography; the reality of big power politics, the reality of our under development militarily and the reality of the complicated nature of national interest when it involves two African countries.
All said and done, there is a major question to ask: why haven’t the people been resettled ten years on? Talk, talk country!
…Kperogi’s Detractors: Up Against the ‘Collective’
Farooq Kperogi can be said to be the American face of the collective. (It was entirely his personal decision to seek the Golden Fleece in the United States but it became a collective concern). We are not a collective in any formal sense of the word but we know ourselves. We are many and widely spread but those of us in this ‘collective’ who went to Bayero University, Kano benefited immensely from either the subtle but powerful influence of Comrade Y. Z Y’au aka political engineer or M. M. Yusif, aka Mallam and the late Professor Usman Jalingo who never taught any of us formally but whose hira sessions offered some of us more than any lectures could. Jalingo was a NEPU-PRP Democratic Humanist through and through except for the brief period when he contested governorship of Taraba State under the defunct National Republican Convention, (NRC) in the early 1990s and it was a tactical rather than a strategic choice. Till today, the group consciousness manifests in many things we do. For instance, the naming of this column Writeclique which means a column written/run in conformity with the expectations/standards of the clique or the circle.
We pride ourselves as a group defined by an uncommon commitment to basic honesty as a response to the impossibility of hiding falsehood and evil on the long run. But we are not messianic about this until someone rubs us on the wrong side, individually or collectively, as Phrank Shaibu has done to Farooq Kperogi now. In a society caught in the throes of lilliputianism, we are intensely happy that we have relied on nothing but the liberatory power of knowledge as our armour against corner cutting preferences. We have tried at great costs to maintain this, whether in Journalism, academia, labour, NGOs and even in Government Houses throughout the country. If there has been no propaganda stunt to this relative to what other poster boys of elite hypocrisy have been doing in the newspapers, it is only because of our modesty. Otherwise, any of us can make any claims without apologies.
It is this background which explains our consternation when some 419nish cranks had the temerity to allege that Farooq Kperogi had plagiarized someone else. Ordinarily, an allegation of plagiarism against the Kperogi we have known is something to be dismissed off handed. This is neither because he nor any of us is an angel. And it is not a moral or ideological reflex but our discomfort with the burdensomeness of such self humiliation. Imagine the self humiliation of being a sycophant even though sycophancy pays very handsomely in our country.
This allegation of plagiarism against Kperogi was not dismissed outrightly only because the crooks provided what looked plausible in plagiarism. How could we have known that their crookedness had reached the level of applying the ‘cut and paste’ approach to a Search machine like Google to produce bogus evidence of plagiarism?
Anyway, Farooq has replied them and put them where they belong. In Farooq’s essay in his Sunday Trust column last week, it turned out that it was those Shaibu’s defender and rogue collaborator said Farooq plagiarized who actually plagiarized Farooq’s expressions. This is aside from the point that plagiarism is not just the structural correspondence of one or two sentences in two different works but also in line of thinking.