Man rapes brother’s children to death

A man is currently behind bars at the Nkongsamba Gendarmerie brigade for allegedly raping his two nieces to death over the weekend.
The children’s father had travelled out of town while their mother had gone for a night vigil on Friday, when Joel Tanko, 31, took advantage to commit his act, eyewitness at the Ngang neighbourhood in the Nkongsamba II District said.
According to the Divisional Delegate for Communication in the Mungo Division, Clovis Tchamabo, the perpetrator drugged his brother’s two children aged seven years and six months old respectively before preying on them.
It was only early on Saturday morning when mother had returned from the vigil that she got worried of the unusual calm in the house. The two were “deeply asleep.”
According to her, the house is always buzzy in the morning with the cries and noise from her children who are normally awake very early.
This calm struck her mind and pushed her to immediately check on them. This is when she found the babies “deeply sleeping” on their bed.
As she struggled to wake them up, she realized the six-month old baby had passed away while the seven-year old was immediately rushed to a nearby medical facility where she was also declared dead with medical reports showing they had been raped.
Police investigations led to the arrest of Joel Tanko who first denied having a hand but will later give in when he was undressed with signs of blood found on his underwear.
In the heat of the matter, it was revealed this was not the first time Joel was committing such acts but has always been protected by some family members who decide to solve the matter internally until last weekend’s incident.
What awaits Joel Tanko?
If found guilty of rape, Joel Tanko could face a heavy jail term and fine. Under Article 296 of the Cameroon Penal Code, rape is punishable with imprisonment of from five to 10 years.
The sentence can be increased to life imprisonment if the victim is under the age of 16 and the perpetrator had authority over the victim, was a public servant, or a religious minister, or was assisted by others.
By Francis Ajumane

Inside the dark heart of personality cult

Penultimate Friday, the country was awash with news of a magic wand cabinet reshuffle, at least, from the perspective of CPDM cronies and official media. This is intriguing for an issue that had evoked no novelty in regard to its content or form although unlike in previous times, an element of surprise inhered in the fact that he had kept Cameroonians waiting and guessing until they lost interest and transferred their attention to more pertinent national issues like the simmering Anglophone crisis.
For the benefit of doubt, we can say that he avoided the customary embarrassment stemming from the fact that his ensuing cabinet in terms of persons and portfolios would have in normal times already been public knowledge before official announcement. To that extent, his deification by hangers-on and official media can therefore be understood within the context of a man whose proneness to megalomania has attained astronomical heights that warrant such revelry. Moreover, as Head of State, his actions are worthy of attention, no matter how impertinent they might appear, given that all previous efforts to consign him to the dustbins of history have failed, woefully, owing to our natural predilection for toadying.
The above notwithstanding, whatever status Cameroonians choose to ascribe to their Head of State, what is certain is that the heightening infusion of the persona of the First Lady, Chantal Biya into the national psyche is becoming very worrisome. It is worrisome for two reasons. The first has to do with the fact that our statecraft hinges on a very fragile foundation that gives room for even frivolities like personal aggrandizement instead of the rule of law to come into play.
Secondly, the rate at which sycophants and pseudo-patriots are wishing the first couple immortality makes it possible for us to get up one morning and discover that a presidential decree has transformed Chantal Biya to heir apparent to her husband’s throne. This assertion is in no way casting aspersions on the humanitarian proclivity of our First Lady. Far from it! Who can gainsay her involvement in uplifting the drudgery imperiling the lives of underprivileged Cameroonians? Who has not been taken aback by the stunning feats midwifed by her humanitarian stables that include CERAC and Chantal Biya Foundation?
Nevertheless, the recent hullaballoo occasioned by her participation during last week’s International Day of the Woman conjures the possibility of her elevation to a constitutionally recognized figure in the country. To buttress this assertion, we need to just throw our minds back to the overdrive the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency and the Ministry of Communication went into, just to ensure that her presence during festivities commemorating the event reflected reverence for a goddess. Not only were journalists supposed to subject themselves to official accreditation, but more importantly, her presence during the quasi-official event was made to assume the status of a presidential outing.
We should not forget what happened in Zimbabwe where ousted Robert Mugabe had contemplated handing over power to his wife. Moreover, the insipid conference to drum support for a constitutional provision to make the First Lady position a national emblem under the tutelage of no other than Fame Ndongo, University Professor, CPDM ideologue and Higher Education Minister is still fresh in our memories.
This warning is being sounded here on account of what the excesses of a 48-year old woman can do to an 85 year-old man. In terms of natural charm, Biya is said to have turned down all dissuasions from his supposed cronies against marrying Chantal. This, on its own, bespeaks the visceral grip she has on a husband not known to exert manly control over his wives.
This means that she can invoke any stunt to ensure that she is the prime source of inspiration to all her husband’s actions, be they official or private. As a matter of fact, the grapevine even has it that such influences have sometimes extended to determining who gets appointed or fired as Minister. But to be fair to Chantal, she is only taking advantage of the weaknesses of a system prodded by individuals instead of institutions.
This daughter of a timber merchant was certainly born with a golden spoon in her mouth. For her mother to have been chosen among the many women in the heart of the equatorial rainforest is not an issue to be dumped at the feet of providence. Mr. Vigoroux, her father, ordinarily would have seen many more beautiful and even better educated women, but he opted for Chantal’s mother just like Biya has opted for her. That is the work of God. It is also, gratifying to know that her charitable works have earned international acclaim, thereby bringing honour to Cameroon. However, it is nevertheless, no guarantee that her excesses, even if extolled by her somehow doting husband ought to be tolerated. Furthermore, is there any endowment fund from which she taps the resources that she uses to engrave her persona on the minds of Cameroonians and the international community?
More so, in a country where no distinction is made between the public till and the Head of State’s personal accretions from investments, the exploits of CERAC and the Chantal Biya Foundation may have been smokescreens to pamper the ego of a woman who has taken advantage of porous governance to establish herself as Cameroon’s Mother Theresa. For all we know, the cronyism and opacity that characterize her husband’s governance is highly present in both organizations.
Have we, at any time, stopped and reflected on the management of these institutions? Who are their auditors? Well, these might just be opportunities for sophisticated money laundering. The type that one of his current enfant cheri ministers had indulged in before coming into combined prominence and notoriety.
While extending kudos to the First Lady for at least putting smiles on the faces of many needy Cameroonians, the fear is that her undue intrusion into public space may be sending the wrong message, if at all it has not already done so. We are in a country in which unemployment is galloping. Citizens are increasingly finding it difficult to provide basic necessities like water, light, food and shelter for themselves and their families. It is therefore, unfathomable that each time she leaves the country, her retinue whose sole purpose is to massage her ego costs the country a fortune.
Mama Chantal, you can help Cameroonians by telling your husband that he is overdue his stay at the helm of state and, by that token, must take an honourable bow from the stage for the emergence of a new and rejuvenated Cameroon. Can Cameroonians count on you to foster their liberation from their current Catch-22?
By Ngoko Monyadowa

Motorbike ban cripples economy of Anglophone Regions

Inconsistency in Government policy is beginning to catch-up with its purveyors as an estimated 2,000 youths in the Northwest and the Southwest Regions whose fate had been tied to commercial motorcycle riding that even the Head of state had glorified as immediate solution to unemployment now face the possibility of a rudderless fate, following administrative decision banning their circulation outright.
The vicinities affected include Batibo, Widikum and Balikumbat Sub-Divisions of the Northwest Region and Mundemba, Ekondo-Titi, Mbonge, Konye, Kumba II and III under the Southwest Region. The decisions were signed by the Governors of the respective Regions.
According to the indefinite order, the circulation of motor bikes is suspended and any violators shall be prosecuted according t the laws in force. The same order tasks the Senior Divisional Officers, SDOs, of the affected places as well as security operatives are charged with the implementation of the order.
The ban has raised eyebrows across Anglophone Cameroon as many fear it shall go a long way to radicalize the youths who have already been asked to stay home every 8pm and resume work only at 5am.
According to Stanley Timo, economics teacher in Bamenda, the Governors’ decisions need a rethink. “My exposure to the two Anglophone Regions shows that since the coming of the motor bikes, every Sub-Division has embraced it as a major means of transportation with over 150 youths in each Sub-Division indulging into the sector to make a living. If now the Governors sign orders banning such activity, which many now look up to as means of survival I think they are just out to inflict more misery and pain on the youths.
Philemon Tih, a councillor in Bamenda thinks that it is a blow to the politicians. “It is a major blow to the politicians. Many of them often use these bike riders in campaigns and noise making. Given that we are in an election year and the governor banning bikers in some of the Sub-Divisions is a well calculated move to completely radicalize these youths, trigger voters’ apathy and completely discourage them from voting in the upcoming elections.
Like, Philemon Tih, Susana Nimbu, resident of Travellers neighbourhood says such administrative decisions are unfriendly to women and to the households. “How can they come up with such a decision at this time? Bikes have been able to transport labouring women to the maternity at midnight. They transport foodstuff to the market, beating inaccessible roads to all corners. Parents have been able to send children to school, take care of their wives and pay school fees, thanks to the coming of the bike sector.
“When you now say, no bikes will the same Government do all these?,” she wandered.
In Ndian Division, the only means of reaching Toko Sub-Division from Mundemba is by commercial motorcycle. The same holds for the maritime areas as the roads have been impassable for normal vehicles in the past three years.
Some have been quick to aver that this is an indirect way to deprive opposition politicians from campaigning. But this might unfortunately have a boomerang effect during elections of sovereign import like presidential, municipal and parliamentary, when the now alienated youths will seek their pound of flesh.
By Jean Marie Ngong Song

When a dog eats its own puppies

When a bitch begins to eat her own puppies you can tell one of three things is happening – famine has hit on a life-and-death scale, or she has lost control either of the litter, or she has lost her mind.
Cameroon has become that weirdo of a bitch that is voraciously devouring its own puppies, and it is anybody’s guess which of the above catastrophes has befallen it. We dare suggest that may well be a combination of all three.
When Ahidjo razed down Bamileke and Bassa villages in the early sixties it could have been argued that it was not the decision of a head of State. He was a surrogate of France, handpicked to read speeches about a nation he knew little about, and had Hobson’s choice when it came to implementing pro-French, anti-nationalist polices. He saw Cameroon through glasses tinted by French exploitative deceit, and the spirit of Cameroon as a nation did not inhabit him until the last decade of his stint in power.
Biya, like his peers of the pré-carré, is still under the thumb of the Elysee, though he cannot lay claim to the same excuses as Ahidjo for continuing to serve French rather than Cameroonian national interest.
He has had the benefit of a good education and greater pre-service exposure to statesmanship. He inherited a nation that was no longer just a geographical expression but a complete socio-political reality. So what will excuse him before history for repeating Ahidjo’s mistake? When people are arrested, they are often told they have a right to remain silent, as whatever they say may be used as evidence against them. How can President Biya ever exculpate himself for unleashing a genocidal war on the people of Southern Cameroons, especially if he sees them as an integral part of what he calls an indivisible nation?
Now let us look at the possible reasons a bitch can be eating her own puppies.
1. Loss of control over the litter. Because he devoted too much of his resources to living it up abroad, to the utter neglect of complaints that threatened the integrity of the nation, he finally lost moral authority over the complainants. To subdue them, and indeed any other form of dissent, the only trapping of power he has left is military brutality. But the heartlessness with which he is going about that suggests that the malaise may be deeper. African wisdom says rats in the same house fight with their tails rather than with their teeth. It is virtually impossible to convince anyone that the calamity being visited on the people of Kembong, Kwakwa, Ebonji, Batibo or Mofako is the work of the security forces of their own country and not that of some savage foreign invaders. President Biya has to take responsibility for these outrageous acts, whether the perpetrators are acting on his instructions or he has lost control of them too. And the scorched earth policy they seem to be implementing cannot but lead to ultimate loss of control over the victimized populations, unless it will be control over the land after having exterminated the entire Southern Cameroons population. Every new day that breaks, every new house that is burnt, every new person that is shot, makes reconciliation between them and the Biya regime that much less conceivable.
2. Acute famine. The war in Cameroon may well be a response to the threat of famine, especially from a “chop-broke-pot” regime that is used to eating without thinking of tomorrow. By famine here we refer to general economic mayhem. The prospect of losing Southern Cameroons causes the specter of famine to loom, given that that is where the breadbasket is. Even before this crisis, and perhaps more as a result thereof, Biya’s henchmen, rather than help him produce more and consume less, have shifted into higher kleptocratic gear – shamelessly stashing billions away in their ceilings and wardrobes where they cannot cart them abroad. And send a thief to catch a thief.
So SCEXIT is bound to usher the lean cows into Etoudi, and when Yaounde sneezes, Paris cannot but catch the cold. France makes no bones of the fact that without the exploitation of its African pré-carré it will become a third world country. With increasing nationalists awaking in Africa, that pre-carre is coming apart and that puts the French economy in dire straits. So the fear of famine must account for the planting the French are alleged to be doing in Kembong. Ironically, they are said to be planting either landmines or motion detectors, not cassava or plantains.
The crowning irony about this war is that instead of saving Yaounde from famine, it will exacerbate it. It is doing so already. And a hungry soldier is an angrier man, and eventually no soldier at all. This may be the link between the famine and the loss of control.
3. Brain damage. You may lose your livelihood and control over your family, but to end up eating your own children, you have to have lost something else – your mind. When this last loss comes in the form of senility due to age, it is best to withdraw from public life and manage it in the dignity and intimacy of one’s family. When it is the after-effect of …, sensible people submit to medical help for catharsis. They don’t wait until they hit the streets in the “Emperor’s new suit.”

Dangote workers end strike action

Work has resumed at the Douala-based cement factory after a three-day strike action staged by drivers to denounce what they termed poor working conditions.
Work only resumed on March 8, after authorities at the factory convinced the workers a solution would be found to their problems in the next 10 days (beginning the 08 March).
The drivers had taken the company by storm on Monday, February 5, by grounding tools at their garage, located opposite the factory at the banks of the River Wouri in Douala. For three days, no truck left to distribute cement to the various distribution chains across the country. The drivers had filed their grievances to the Governor of the Littoral Region with a copy to the Labour Inspectorate.
“We are paid FCFA 138,000 a month and it is up to us to cover up several expenses. We have no advance salaries, no salary increase,” said Aliko Tanko, a spokesperson of the striking drivers.

“We supply Dangote cement to all 10 regions of the country. Each truck carries 640 bags, or 32 tons. If a driver returns with bags of damaged cement, he incurs the loss. But this cement will be crushed to be resold,” laments Hervé M., one of the disgruntled drivers.
He proceeded by saying they are threatened by hierarchy with potential sacking whenever they complain.
“In addition, we pay the “motor-boy”, we wash their trucks with money from our pockets, and we are also responsible for carrying out repairs on them. We have written several petitions to hierarchy without any favourable response,” he said.
Other workers complain of working round the clock and extra hours for little or no bonuses while others say they suffer from respiratory problems because of the toxic powders absorbed due to the lack of safety equipment. But the most pills to swallow, was the company’s decision to deduct weighing fees from the drivers’ salary.
The logistics director of Dangote Cement Cameroon met the striking workers on Tuesday, March 6, at the protest site where he assured them that all their grievances will be looked into. He also asked them to set up a six-man delegation for proper dialogue and negotiations to take place.
The group, however, granted a deadline to the company to provide an answer to their various grievances.
Later on Wednesday, March 7, a meeting between the representatives of the group of drivers of Dangote Cement Douala Cameroon and the managers of the cement plant dragged into the late hours of the night and resulted in a temporary suspension of the strike action. This was only possible after the company requested and obtained a 10-day moratorium to find solutions to the problems posed by the 203 drivers who had grounded tools.
“We have reached an agreement (to return to work). But if the deadline passes for our conditions to be met, we will resume the normal strike action,” said Aliko Tanko, the staff representative, who reluctantly called on his colleagues to resume work that fateful Thursday morning.
While waiting to see the outcome of the moratorium, the drivers of this cement factory, owned by Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, were able to arrive at certain compromises with the administration. The costs of the weighbridge and the damaged cement (hard cement) which were slashed on their salaries were suspended till further notice. A memorandum of understanding was also signed between the two parties. However, the drivers will be more focused on the outcome of the negotiations in 10 days.
In about 27 months of proper activities in Cameroon, this is the first real strike action staged at the Dangote Cement factory owned by the Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote.
By Francis Ajumane

UN can’t package and deliver ‘Ambazonia’ independence

By conviction or political deftness, he has consistently displayed faith in the eventuality of a broad based national dialogue on the Anglophone problem.
The erudite and politically savvy Dr. Simon Munzu’s interest in a constitutional solution to the headache dates back to the 1990s when, as part of the triumvirate of Elad, Anyangwe and Munzu, he played a very active role in convening the All Anglophone Conference, AAC, and thereafter charted a road map for Anglophone emancipation.
Today, the troika has succumbed to dissuasive subterfuge of the Biya regime with Barrister Ekontang Elad vacillating between support for the Anglophone cause and neutrality. Prof. Carlson Anyangwe, on his part, has thrown his weight behind Ambazonia separatists, leaving Munzu as sole purveyor of a return to a two-state federation via dialogue.
Munzu, in his characteristic candour, has advocated frank, inclusive and comprehensive dialogue as the only viable solution to the Anglophone conundrum.
Going by his consignment of counselling to Cameroonians and the powers that be, nobody should be left out, including those who are now advocating separation.
He has, also, warned Anglophones not to be carried away by the illusion of United Nations, UN, support for a separate Southern Cameroons as is being bandied by some compatriots instead of heightening pressure on the Biya regime to see reason in advocacy for a return to Federalism as obtained in the immediate aftermath of the Foumban Conference.
The alluring prose and endearing witticism, coupled with strengthening conviction for a project that defies solution, makes The Rambler’s interview with one of Cameroon’s finest legal scholars, a cocktail to be savoured with relish.
(See page…)

You have consistently advocated a national dialogue since the current Anglophone crisis gathered steam in October 2016. Why the sing-song on dialogue when it looks like President Paul Biya is working on an alternative to the much parroted dialogue?
It is generally recognised that a frank, inclusive and comprehensive dialogue is the best pathway to a lasting solution to the Anglophone problem and to the current Anglophone crisis. The dialogue must be frank. This means that the parties to it have to be sincere to each other and that neither should set out to fool, trap or cheat the other. It must be inclusive, meaning that all stakeholders, regardless of the outcome that they are seeking, including independence for Southern Cameroons, should be invited to the dialogue and allowed freely to state their position. The dialogue must also be comprehensive. By this we mean that it must touch on all aspects of the domination, marginalisation, assimilation and takeover of the territory and people of Southern Cameroons (the Northwest and Southwest Regions) that Anglophones have experienced in the last 56 years and which they are complaining about today. The dialogue cannot be limited to just education and administration of justice, the two sectors that sparked off the current crisis in October and November 2016. A comprehensive dialogue would have to cover all areas of governance in our country – political, administrative, economic, judicial, social, cultural, etc. in which Anglophones experience domination, marginalization, assimilation and takeover, so that the grievances felt by Anglophones in all these domains can be addressed once and for all.
Since everyone recognises dialogue as the best way to sort out the mess in which our country is right now, many voices at home and abroad have repeatedly and insistently called for it. Prominent among them is President Paul Biya, notably in his New Year messages to the Nation of 31 December 2016 and 31 December 2017. It is disturbing to note, however, that even though the President recommends dialogue, he has, as you point out in your question, done nothing to initiate meaningful dialogue. He considers as dialogue the negotiations between the Government and the teachers and between the Government and lawyers that took place in December 2016 and January 2017 within the framework of the two Ad Hoc Committees that were set up by the Prime Minister. We all remember that those negotiations ended in the arrest and imprisonment for eight to nine months of some teachers’ and lawyers’ leaders, while others were forced into exile. That was not a dialogue. It did not lead the parties to a mutually agreed end to the crisis. President Biya also considers as dialogue the delegations of members of Government, political and traditional leaders and senior office holders that were despatched to the Southwest and Northwest Regions in October 2017 to ‘dialogue’ with the population of these two Regions. We all know that, in view of the manner in which those delegations conducted their mission, no meaningful dialogue took place on those occasions. These forms of ‘dialogue’ have not ended the Anglophone crisis. They could not have done so because they were not frank, inclusive and comprehensive. We still need to have a meaningful national dialogue on the Anglophone problem in Cameroon.

Can violence and dialogue go together in the search for a solution to the same problem?
Obviously, dialogue and violence cannot be applied at the same time to resolve the same problem. All conflicts can be resolved through dialogue. Therefore, every effort should be made to resolve all conflicts peacefully through dialogue. Those who resort to violence to resolve a conflict always find that, after a long or short period of loss of lives and livelihoods for many citizens, often the innocent, they still have to dialogue in order to arrive at a final resolution of the conflict. If, after using violence and causing so much loss of life, destruction of property and massive violations of human rights, the protagonists still end up engaging in dialogue, why not engage in dialogue at the outset and thus avoid all those negative consequences of violence, many of which affect innocent citizens? No, violence and dialogue cannot go together in the search for a solution to the same problem. In all situations, dialogue, not violence, should be used to resolve the conflict.

Is the belief that the ‘international community’, the UN and some big Western nations are going to step in and ‘grant independence’ to Southern Cameroons just a dream? Is such a belief justified, plausible?
Such a belief is unjustified. It is just a dream that may never come true. Some Anglophone Cameroonians are clamouring for the ‘restoration’ of the ‘independence’ of British Southern Cameroons. They rely on a distortion of the history of decolonization of the British Southern Cameroons and claim that the 1961 union between the Anglophone territory of British Southern Cameroons and the Francophone territory of Republic of Cameroon has no legal basis. They blame the international community, especially, the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France, for the fate that has befallen the territory and people of British Southern Cameroons since October 1, 1961. Paradoxically, these are the same persons who deceive our people that the international community will come in and grant independence to the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon. This is just an illusion and a deliberate lie. For the international community, the people of British Southern Cameroons voted in a valid plebiscite on February 11, 1961, to achieve independence by joining Republic of Cameroon. On the same day, the people of British Northern Cameroons voted in a separate and valid plebiscite to achieve independence by joining the Federation of Nigeria. Northern Cameroons joined the Federation of Nigeria on June 1, 1961 and thereby achieved independence. Southern Cameroons joined Republic of Cameroon on October 1, 1961 and thereby also achieved independence. On that same day, both Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroon gave up their respective independence in order to form a new independent and sovereign state, the Federal Republic of Cameroon, within which they both became two federated states of equal status, the federated state of West Cameroon and the federated state of East Cameroon, respectively. The international community considers everything that has happened thereafter in the territory of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, including the change of name of the territory and all modifications in its constitutional and administrative arrangements, as an internal matter for Cameroonians. Southern Cameroons gave up the independence that it achieved on October 1, 1961 when on that same day it opted to become the Federated state of West Cameroon within the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The international community is not going to come in, nearly 60 years later, to ‘restore’ that independence. Those who want to ‘restore’ the independence of Southern Cameroons know that they can only achieve their objective by waging a war of secession from the union that came into being on October 1, 1961. The international community is not in a position to grant independence to the former British Southern Cameroons for a second time.

In a recent message that you addressed to the people of Cameroon, especially, those of the Northwest and Southwest Regions, you harped on the need to save the union and to work towards a federation rather than complete break-up of the union. Are you, as far as the ‘Ambazonians’ are concerned, not just crying in the rain?
The persons you call ‘Ambazonians’ stand for the break-up of the 1961 union of Anglophone British Southern Cameroons and Francophone Republic of Cameroon and the ‘restoration’, as they call it, of the ‘independence’ of the territory of the former British Southern Cameroons that they have renamed ‘Ambazonia’. Considering that the two territories of the former British Southern Cameroons and the former Republic of Cameroon have lived together for nearly 60 years since they united on 1 October 1961, we need not go to the extreme of breaking up the union. We should insist upon a return to the original intent of administering the union as a federation in which the two founding territories have equal status. If we succeed to obtain this, we will end the domination, marginalization, assimilation and impending takeover of the territory and people of the former British Southern Cameroons. We will do this without having to break up the union. I am convinced that if you ask the people of the Southwest and Northwest Regions to choose between a peaceful return to the federal system through dialogue and negotiation and obtaining independence through years and even decades of war, they would choose a peaceful return to federation. To die-hard ‘Ambazonians’, anything short of breaking up the 1961 union may sound like just crying in the rain, as you put it. But to the overwhelming majority of our people, it sounds differently.

Very recently, President Biya reshuffled his cabinet, appointing Anglophones to full minister positions in two key ministries – territorial administration and secondary education. Does this measure address the grievances of the Anglophones?
These appointments are a clear indication that the governing elites in Yaounde are feeling the effect of the relentless peaceful resistance that the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions have put up for 17 months now and which they are prepared to continue until the ‘Anglophone problem’ is addressed through a genuine and meaningful national dialogue. Prominent among the grievances of Anglophones is the phenomenon of ‘marginalization’, which involves keeping Anglophones away from decision-making centres at all levels – national, Regional, Divisional, local. One of the manifestations of marginalization lies in the fact that, in 56 years since the union of 1 October 1961, no Anglophone has ever been appointed as a full minister at the head of any of the strategic ministries, whose importance is depicted by the French expression of ‘ministeres de souverainete’, in charge of domains such as defence, territorial administration, finance, external relations, economy and plan, etc. On Friday, March 2, for the first time since 1 October 1961, an Anglophone was appointed to head a ‘ministere de souverainete’, namely, the Ministry of Territorial Administration. This appointment was undoubtedly prompted by the pressure exerted by Anglophones through the protracted peaceful resistance that they have pursued without interruption since October 2016. Does it address the grievances of the Anglophones? No, it does not, for at least two reasons. First, there is the controversial character of the person who has been appointed to that post. As is well known, the flames of this crisis were stoked from the very beginning by the provocative and dismissive rhetoric of Mr Paul Atanga Nji, who vehemently denied, and continues to deny, the existence of the ‘Anglophone problem’. No one who denies the existence of a problem can be relied upon to solve it. Secondly, as I said in reply to one of your earlier questions, the grievances of the Anglophones relate to domination, marginalization, assimilation and takeover in an array of domains of our country’s governance. Therefore, an isolated act such as the appointment of one or two Anglophones to head key ministries is far from sufficient to address the grievances of the Anglophones.

Put in Mr Biya’s position, what would you do to address the current Anglophone crisis?
In the position of the President of the Republic and Head of State, I would be guided in my approach to the current Anglophone crisis by the paramount necessity to hold the nation together while effectively addressing the genuine grievances of the Anglophones. First, I would have to deduce from the long, peaceful resistance by the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions that there does, indeed, exist an ‘Anglophone problem.’ To get an understanding of the full measure of Anglophone grievances, I would convene a national dialogue on the Anglophone problem in which I would personally participate. I would ensure that the dialogue is frank, inclusive and comprehensive as I explained earlier, and that it is conducted in such a manner that Cameroonians come to fully understand the ‘Anglophone problem’ in all its dimensions. From a full understanding of the problem I would direct that a solution be proposed that would bring about the cessation of the domination, marginalization, assimilation and takeover of the territory and people of the Southwest and Northwest Regions in all spheres of public life and institutional governance. Recognizing that this would entail a return to the federal system of Government in our country, I would engage and quickly complete the process for such return.

Is President Biya constitutionally empowered, or by any means right when he unilaterally declares that the present structure of the nation is not negotiable?
The form the state is governed by the Constitution, not by the President of the Republic. The Constitution that is in force today provides in Article 1 (2) that “The Republic of Cameroon shall be a decentralized Unitary State.” Like all other articles of the constitution, article 1 (2) can be modified at any time to provide for any form of the State that the Cameroonian people choose to have. For example, it can be amended to provide that Cameroon shall be an empire or a monarchy or a federation or a Centralized Unitary State, if the Cameroonian people so choose. Let’s not forget that, following Reunification in 1961 Cameroon became constitutionally a Federation. In 1972, the constitution was amended to make Cameroon a centralized Unitary State. If the Cameroonian people so desire, they can alter Article 1 (2) of the constitution in 2018 to make Cameroon a Federal Republic again.
In a democratic republic, any constitutional reform that affects the form of the state is preceded by a general public debate among citizens. Cameroon is a democratic republic as stipulated by Article 1 (2) of our constitution.
Furthermore, the constitution guarantees Cameroonian citizens freedom of expression. They are exercising this freedom when they publicly discuss the form of the State. Under our law, the President of the Republic, who is neither a monarch nor an emperor, is under, not above, the constitution. He must act within, not outside it. Neither the constitution nor any other law of the land gives the President of the Republic power to deprive Cameroonians of their constitutional right to discuss the form of the state with a view to amending Article 1 (2) of the constitution that is subject to amendment like any other article of our country’s constitution.
Interviewed by Charlie Ndi Chia

Arrogance, looted cash haunt former GCE Board registrar

“…They should not look for trouble where there isn’t, or looking for lice on a bald head; my head is bald, so they should not look for lice on it.”
This is how metaphorically Humphrey Ekema Monono, the immediate past Registrar of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board, CGCE BOD, elected to refer to the arrogance, sleaze and underhand deals that purportedly characterized his headship of the examination outfit, especially in his ebbing days in that office.
Yet, The Rambler sources were categorical when painting a picture of what they described as the former registrar’s “trademark arrogance, bloated ego and propensity to denigrate others.”
The sources that that spoke on the sidelines of the installation last week of the new GCE BOD Chairman, quoted highly placed authorities in Yaounde as saying that the unusual rush to have Monono replaced at the helm of the examination outfit was strategically meant to keep him off some FCFA 1,7 billion earlier disbursed to facilitate business at the BOD.
The Rambler was told how President Biya had, months before Monono was replaced, ordered the disbursement of FCFA 1,9 billion for the BOD, to ease the conduct of examinations and payment of marking dues to teachers. This was supposed to be one strategy of warding off the disturbing schools and examination boycotts that were particularly rife in Anglophone Cameroon at the time.
The cash was duly made available to the Prime Minister, PM, who, in turn, handed it over to Secondary Education Minister, Jean Ernest Messina Ngalle Bibehe, with firm instructions. The Rambler learnt that Bibehe proceeded to disbursing the GCE BOD cash piecemeal. That he gave the former BOD Chair, Peter Alange Abety, FCFA 25 million “for his back pocket” and FCFA 100,000 million to Monono, the out gone registrar.
Part of this subvention, The Rambler learnt, must have precipitated a widely publicized press conference in December, 2017, at which it was gleefully announced that GCE markers who had since not been paid, would finally receive their dues in a matter of weeks. Yet, as we write, teeming numbers of these markers are yet to be paid a dime, despite Biya’s near FCFA 2 billion lifeline which was duly passed on by the Prime Minister.
News of grumbling unpaid markers and apparently misapplied cash disbursement is said to have gotten to the PM. Yang summoned Monono to his office to explain the “ding-dong” with public funds, unpaid markers and shoddily run examination BOD. The then registrar reportedly passed the buck, onto his minister, Bibehe. Equally summoned by the PM, Bibehe is said to have accepted that only FCFA 100,000 of the FCFA 1,9 billion had been effectively paid to Monono.
Yang instructed that the rest of the money be immediately wired to the GCE BOD account. But then, our sources, quoting “their antecedents,” said the authorities decided that the former BOD managers could not be allowed access to the remaining FCFA 1,7 billion “for obvious reasons.” It is for this reason, we were told, that PM Yang hurriedly effected the change at the helm of the GCE BOD “without due process.”

The cash discrepancy apart, Monono was also accused of influence peddling and laying undue claims to political protection as it were. This attitude, the subordinates alleged, was responsible for his “arrogance towards the Minister and the new BOD Chair when it came to last week’s handing over and installation ceremony.”
“He was clearly seen to be trying to downplay the dignity of the BOD Chair while giving impetus to the Registrar.” He is quoted as telling the Minister that he (minister) is supposed to conduct the handing over between the two chairmen in his (Monono’s) office and go out only to install the registrar in the open which is not supposed to be so. The Minister is said to have been taken aback and blasted him; questioning why he should place the Prime Minister’s decree over the Head of State’s, given that the BOD Chair is appointed by a Presidential decree and the Registrar by a Prime Ministerial decree.
According to Monono’s protocol arrangements at the installation ceremony, the incoming chairman was allegedly assigned an inferior seat, while the incoming registrar had a prominent place. “But the Minister opposed such protocol and told the BOD Chair, Professor Ivo Tambo Leke that it was his occasion and so put him on his rightful seat. Monono refused to come out for the installation and stayed locked inside his office.”
FCFA 1,9 billion rears ugly head again
Inside sources claimed that Monono may be facing the anti-corruption body, CONAC, once again in connection with the FCFA 1,9 billion cash which might not have been put into the right use and for which the PM summoned him and his supervisory authority. “The Head of State made available this huge sum, ostensibly to fight off this current crisis. It was FCFA 1,9 billion, confirmed to have been for the GCE Board and a similar amount for the BAC Board. Out of the money, the Minister gave Monono FCFA 100 million to start with. But he is said to have held a council meeting and told councilors that money had not yet come but was going to come. He did not mention that he had received FCFA 100 million,” our sources stated. Repeating the obvious, one of our sources noted:
“When the Prime Minister learned that Monono didn’t as much as mention that he had received money, he was surprised and called him to Yaounde for questioning and Monono told him the Minister gave him FCFA 100 million and gave the BOD Chair FCFA 25 million. The Prime Minister then invited the Minister and gave instructions for him to go and prepare the rest of the money, that is some FCFA 1.7 billion and send to the GCEB.”
Our source added; “the PM knew that if he waited for the council to meet, elect a registrar and go through the various processes, it would take time and the money might enter unsafe hands. That’s why he went ahead to appoint a new registrar since he now had the problem of who will come and handle the money in Buea since Monono had not explained what he did with the FCFA 100 million.”
It would be recalled that certain elites, including the teachers’ trade unions petitioned the Prime Minister for violating the GCEB and an Anglophone institution text at this time of the year and at this state of the nation. But the PM’s office acknowledged their fault and after revealing the above situation to some of them.
Some of Monono’s collaborators are of the opinion that he has also “spoiled everything for the chairperson.” As they put it, the BOD Chair’s office is like a small stall, with scanty furniture, while the registrar has a very big office that even the minister cannot boast of.
Notwithstanding, the aggrieved complainers are convinced that as long as the new Chairman, the Minister and the Prime Minister have realized that a mistake was made, the GCEB text was violated, the BOD is not in danger as many might have thought.

Monono claims lice free bald head
Asked if and why he boycotted the installation ceremony of the new BOD Chair and if it was as an act of arrogance and insubordination to the Minister, he replied; “I wasn’t at the incoming BOD Chair installation ceremony because I was busy somewhere else.”
Asked if he was insolent to the Minister, dictating and directing his boss on the procedure to be adopted during the handing over exercise, Monono spat out:
“Who was there with me when I was talking to the Minister? Well, if you are looking for excuses for the Minister, be sure that I wasn’t rude to anybody. The Minister and I had cool words in the session, a peaceful handing over. I was not at the ceremony because I obtained permission from the Minister. I was also carrying a teaching lesson; we were to select invigilators that afternoon and collect their textbooks which were instructions from the Central Committee as simple as that; and that is why I went to see the Minister to obtain permission that I wasn’t going to be able to be at the ceremony. So who is putting salt and pepper? Or is it because I took permission?
“Even if I have left the office, it is not the right time to look for trouble. I would repeat and accept that I wasn’t at the installation ceremony because the Minister and even Prof. Tambo were aware of the reason why I wasn’t at the ceremony. I said it in front of him and the new registrar and the secretary general that we have this meeting of collecting electoral applications which were instructions from the Central Committee. How could I have divided myself to be at both events probably at the same time?”
He continued: “If I didn’t hand over, then that could have been a different thing. But I handed over in peace and tranquility. We had a working session the day before. The new registrar came and he met me when I was preparing to receive senators’ files. That day I think up to about 8:00pm, I was still working with him. I left from one office to another. I was quite patient to listen to anybody who wanted my attention. What does it mean that I was impolite to the Minister?
“Saying that, I set out to diminish the new BOD Chair’s integrity by dictating and directing which procedure to be adopted or not, I say it is false. The Minister has his own procedures and I cannot go against his modus operandi. He is a Minister in Government; and whatever principles I have in my head, remains in my head. I don’t see how I should be above the Minister. If I am above him, then tomorrow, I would certainly be above the Prime Minister and the President. What my ideas are should not override the Minister’s position; he is my boss and if he says handover, I should do it. Did your source say I refused to hand over?” Monono asked laughingly.
Hear the former registrar: “Oh my God! So people are busy looking for reasons as to why I wasn’t at the installation ceremony? They should not look for trouble where there isn’t or looking for lice on a bald head; my head is bald, so they should not look for lice on it.”
On the issue of the alleged mismanagement of FCFA 100 million, Monono stated; “Few months back, the Minister of Secondary Education gave me FCFA 100 million and I have given him the papers and statements of what I used. The documents are still in the office where I left them; you can either go back to the office I left or ask the Minister if I have justified the use of the FCFA 100 million he gave me. Before I even took the money, I had given him a plan on how to use it and he approved it before I used it. So, what is the trouble? It is well accounted for. Anyone who took any farthing from the money signed. The catholic mission secretaries were part and they all signed and gave me attachments to the documents that were handed to the cashiers. So please, my management cannot be faulted for FCFA 100 million.
“The documents for the money are there. I know that justification papers may be signed by anybody or you can ask anyone to give you a receipt, but this one, people to whom I paid the money signed for and are not traders who signed the receipts. The people who signed for the money are there and can be questioned.”
Asked if he sees CONAC revisiting him anytime soon, Monono said he was a Cameroonian and I saw nothing wrong with CONAC revisiting him after his term of office. Hear him:
“Visiting me woll the papers for all the money that I have spent for the last 12 years and above. Anyway, CONAC visited me, they were there a few months ago, did uld depend on the records that they have; if they are not sure of what I did, my accounts and justification… But the office that I have left has acontrol. In 2013, it was already news that I was in prison; but when they checked their records they found me faultless and let me go and I ruled the board after then for five more years. I think as a Cameroonian I’m free to be audited or interviewed, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

By Nester Asonganyi & Relindise Ebune