ELECAM Board Chair prescribes courage, optimism against insecurity

Last week’s outing by Enow Abrams Egbe, ELECAM Board Chair and Erik Essousse, Director General of Elections to the Southwest turned out to be a crusade by avowed optimists and Pastors’ sons to overturn the impossibility of holding elections under ambient insecurity in the Region. In the opinion of the Board Chair, he is an impenitent optimist and, propelled by such mindset, he sees no reason why elections should not hold in the Region.
Enow Abrams was reacting to a welcome address presented by Mewanu Divine Mokoto, newly appointed Interim Regional Delegate for the Southwest wherein he had catalogued a plethora of adversities that had been plaguing the smooth functioning of the elections management body here.
In this connection, he had euphemistically concluded that “with the current scenario of mutual animosity between separatist forces and the regular army that has induced massive exodus from the rural areas where fighting is most endemic, only a spectacular turn-round of circumstances shall permit ELECAM to organize, manage and supervise any of the scheduled elections this year in the Southwest Region.”
But, the Board Chair seems to have been viewing matters from a different perspective, underpinned by an entrenched desire to ensure that no circumstance; not even the prevalent insecurity in the Region shall prevent elections from holding on scheduled dates.
As encouragement, he counseled staff in the Region to be optimistic and collaborate fully with the administration in their various Council and Divisional Branches. He assured that strategies to be revealed at the appropriate moment have been conceived to circumvent some of the hurdles engendered by the current political upheaval in the English speaking Regions.
As reassurance to staff who had already been de-motivated by the opaque management of his predecessor, Abdoulaye Babale, the Director General announced a series of palliative measures intended to induce renaissance in the morally sapped working force of the Region. The goodies from the Essousse generosity consignment include realignment with the National Social Insurance Fund, NSIF, from which workers had not been benefitting from family allowance and maternity allocations for more than three years even as their contributions were regularly deducted on a monthly basis. Worse, even is the fact that those proceeding on retirement were to have found payment of their pension imperiled. Workers were assured of immediate regularization of the situation. Other allowances and gratifications also, came under review, including issuance of irrevocable salary transfer attestations to banks to facilitate loans suspended under dubious circumstances for more than three years and bonuses for registration and successful conduct of elections. These, the Director General of Elections assured, are not promises but measures already activated.
As part of the catalogue of impediments to hitch-free organization, management and supervision of elections in the Region, the Interim Southwest Regional Delegate posited that activities have been completely shut down in some localities. To concretise his assertion, he revealed that Konye and Mbonge Council Branches in Meme Division, Alou, Menji and Wabane in Lebialem Division, Tinto, Eyumojock and Akwaya in Manyu Division, Nguti in Kupe-Muanenguba Division, Muyuka in Fako Division and Toko and Dikome Balue Coucil Branches in Ndain Division have been deserted by their staff due to unbearable persistent insecurity caused by marauding militia in these areas. As a result, there has been a drastic drop in registration and card distribution figures, restriction of movements to hinterlands due to far flung distances between villages and polling stations and also, interferences by assailants who see the forests separating villages as convenient hideouts.
“Other factors that impede efficient and effective acquittal of our bounden duty include hostility towards ELECAM staff that have materialized in the kidnap of staff of Tinto Council Branch, and arson attempt on Kupe-Muanenguba Divisional Branch, Nguti Council Branch and Limbe II Council Branch and restrain from open sensitization and registration exercises. Your working visit nationwide will definitely reinstate confidence amongst the personnel,” he stated.
The delegate regretted the fact that there has been complete rejection of and heightened apathy against ELECAM by communities in distress, just like civil disobedience epitomized in the boycott of major national events like Youth Day, Women’s Day, Labour Day, National Day by the population hence, stalling their targeted massive registration given the difficulty in movement of staff and electoral materials owing to administrative edicts barring movements in most parts of the Region.
“Given our current situation of lined-up elections this year, the current rolling stock (vehicles and motorcycles) cannot meet up with the magnitude of tasks.
On behalf of the Southwest ELECAM family, he hoped the resolve of the Chairperson of the Electoral Board, Enow Abrams Egbe and the Director General, Dr. Essousse Erik to embark on a joint working visit on the heels of his recent appointment underpins exceptional stewardship and a crusading determination to curb some of the deficiencies that had been robbing ELECAM of the natural shine that it was supposed to radiate. Mokoto added that their “current action evokes palpable zeal, strengthened by concern for your immediate collaborators, the entire ELECAM family and our beloved nation Cameroon; all the glory of God through servitude, competence, transparency and reliability that will certainly result in total satisfaction for all.”
By Nester Asonganyi

Election deferral bill smuggled into parliament after statutory deadline

The draft bill to initiate postponement of House of Assembly and Municipal elections statutorily due this year has finally reached the House of Assembly after it fuelled speculations and debates among Cameroonians and on the social media. Tabled to the National Assembly for deliberation and eventual enactment into law five days behind statutory deadline, the bill takes root from an earlier presidential edict to the Speakers of the Senate and House of Assembly and President of the Constitutional Council intimating them of his intention to postpone elections into the concerned bodies by one year, effective from October 29, 2018.
The decision to postpone the elections although justifiable at face value judging by the ambient insecurity in the Grand North, Northwest and Southwest Region, which has provision in the constitution, appears to be linked more to a national treasury afflicted by chronic and acute impecuniosity.
The president’s edict relies on the closeness of the three elections that evokes probable skewedness in handling them and the possibility of disenfranchising many eligible voters as well as triggering disenchantment among those who might feel slighted by a poorly handled national assignment of sovereign dimension.
Cameroon’s constitution has provision for the president of the republic to postpone elections in the country for up to 18 months in the case of elections into national assembly and municipal councils. For this to happen, he must consult the presidents of the constitutional Council, National Assembly and the Senate. This is precisely what Mr Biya has done, even as his action is ultra vires, having exceeded the deadline of Thursday, June 21 by five days. According to the constitution, this was supposed to be within 40 days of the expiry of the mandate of the beneficiaries.
However, many wary observers have begun gainsaying the president’s current posturing, predicating their assertion on the fact that the prevailing circumstances in the country also affect election into the office of the President of the republic. Why then would the president choose to postpone elections that have to do with the welfare of grassroots Cameroonians and those who would have been mandated to represent them at the national level? They read in the president’s decision, a ploy to perpetrate his unenviable regime that has brought sorrow, tears and blood to Cameroonians in the last 36 years.
The bill shall be defended by Amadou Ali, Vice Minister in charge of Relations with the Assembly, whose passage will just be a formality given the cavalier approach to the examination of bills at the CPDM dominated National Assembly.
Interestingly, there is a complicit silence being maintained by opposition parties, including those that have candidates vying for the upcoming presidential elections.The contention from the public is that those currently aspiring to be president of the republic have adjudged themselves unfit to unseat Biya and have resigned to fate, barely waiting for the elections to be done with so that they can get their campaign money. They give teeth to their assertion by evoking the fact that it is more than two weeks since Mr Biya sent the memo to concerned parties but, there has been no reaction from political parties.
However, another school of thought leans on the fact that the bill was yet to reach the Assembly where its passage into law is a fait accompli. In furtherance of this opinion is the claim that political parties ought to be given the benefit of doubt, pending when the bill shall have been passed into law for them to react.
Be that as it may, one thing is certain and it is the incontrovertible fact that Mr. Biya is out to perpetuate his stay in power and intends to die in office. At over 85, he still gets his kick from being cajoled by court jesters who deceive him that he is “infallible and invincible,” thereby imbuing him with an aura of inflated importance that makes him feel he has been elevated to deity.
By Sampson Esimala