Where are we?

So, the new football season is beginning with the hitches characteristic of what some people will describe as bungling amateurism. Several questions come to mind when one observes the ongoing drama with stranger than fiction characters.

When the Bohemian discussed the football realities this side of Heaven with some well meaning people in the land considered by the multitude as the New Jerusalem, they wondered whether he was talking about a novel he had just read.

Is there anyone in this land of our forefathers who can explain why there is no calendar guiding match fixtures? No one knows what could happen any day anytime.

The Bohemian’s boozing buddy Okamotomakan Dibong would say “why don’t they simply announce that there is no championship, this season?”

Some say prayers will help, others say a particular political party could provide the magic wand; others still, prefer a security operative because of the discipline of the corps. The truth is, the great majority of us are required to live a life of constant systematic duplicity.

I tell you, your health is bound to be affected if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune. The people distrust their media; they feel abandoned by their clergy, frustrated by their politicians and have lost confidence in their security operatives. When you talk to the man on the street you hear declarations inspired by their severe bitterness. They say the top ranking and their associates are the real criminals, that they will be prisoners of their past inaction and present impotence, wrapped in safeguarding of their false public image, whereby the simple opportunity for the perfect crime arises.

So with all these in mind, I the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in the land of the proud people, by the shores of the Atlantic, this day declare; it is time for all of us to read the writings on the wall and sit up, in the best interest of our fatherland, instead of pretending that the swashbuckling audacious youths are simply vandals and good for nothing delinquents. Look at those who pull the strings in the local football scene. I wonder, do they bray like an ass just to make a noise or they really are morons – where are we?

Erratic mayor grounds business in Buea

Lawlessness is certainly not the preserve of notorious criminals or jailbirds. This assertion has recently been ascribed credence by Buea Mayor Ekema Patrick Esunge, who has decided that the wrath from his inability to wrestle Ambazonian separatists to a standstill on the issue of suffocating ghost-towns, has to fall on businessmen and cab drivers.

To the extent that indiscriminate shutting down of business premises and seizure of driving licenses and vehicle documents from township taxi drivers as a means to force them defy ghost town edicts has become customary, highly placed government functionaries and masters of the law have begun trading legal punches in regard to the desirability or otherwise for Mayor Ekema to unilaterally seal business premises without regard to governing statutes.

Pundits aver that his malignant display of insensitivity to the plight of the residents of Buea municipality infringes onSection 19 sub A of the Cameroon penal code, which gives only the court powers to hand down such decisions and eventual enforcement.

Mayor Ekema on his part holds fast to his draconian measures, claiming to be politically correct, in a bid to battle with the ghost of intransigence.

According to Chief Barrister Eta Besong Jr., who broke the seal placed on the doors of his chambers, the actions of the mayor are illegal, untenable and bad. “The first thing we have to find out is whether what is being done is in accordance with the law, or it is in violation of the law. I believe what is going on now, is in total violation of the law. The constitution says that everybody has inalienable and sacred rights, and if these rights are violated and swept under the carpet, you don’t expect the people to say Amen! Draconian measures have never solved any problem in the world. Draconian measures create only resistance,” he noted.

 He further explains that, “the constitution says no person may be compelled to do what the law does not prescribe, the same constitution says no person may be punished except by virtue of a law enacted and published, again the constitution says no person shall be harassed on grounds of his beliefs,” he stated in a local television programme.

In accordance with the law, if a business operator believes that it is not in his interest to open on Mondays, you cannot punish him, otherwise you would be going against the constitution. He explained that “leadership is abiding by the rules and regulations of a country. There is a distinction between what the mayor says and what a municipality says. The mayor is not the municipality; municipal decisions are taken during council sessions and must be forwarded to the supervisory authorities for a visa.”

What the mayor is doing is both criminally liable and civilly liable because he is acting in contravention of the laws. You cannot be legally wrong and say you are politically correct. Is closure of establishments and impounding of taxis a solution?

“I am asking the Mayor to read section 19 sub A of the penal code, which talks about the closure of establishments. That is an accessory penalty, it says that, that measure cannot be taken except by a decision of a court and it is only enforceable by a court decision. The mayor has no court decision and is acting outside of the law. The mayor has to be told enough is enough and end this wild goose chase that would never lead to legality.”

Monday morning saw Bonduma to Great Soppo sealed, while cab drivers flocked to the Buea council, demanding the release of some 200 taxis confiscated the previous night by council thugs, aided by security forces at the behest of the Mayor. According to field reports, they were offered bribes and other cajolements like gallons of petrol, to work on Mondays. These drivers stood their grounds saying, they would only operate on Mondays if there is maximum security and if passengers would be available, which was very uncertain.

Tuesday saw council thugs and heavily armed policemen, picking up some business owners and sealing their shops, on grounds that, they did not operate on Monday. Sealing continued from Checkpoint down to the Total gas filling station in Molyko. It is also important to note that, some business operators along the major highway revealed that, some of them squeeze in some money into the hands of the thugs, before their businesses can be spared from sealing.

This reporter carried a tour and met many of these business people, who described the mayor’s actions as inhuman, because of the fact that, even people’s makeshift businesses along the road side, were sadistically destroyed. All of them revealed that, they cannot operate on Mondays because of a high the level of insecurity, which some of them noted even the military cannot give them assurance.

In recent times, many business premises have been burnt down by unidentified men for operating on Mondays, taxis set on fire, businessmen and cab drivers threatened.

Nathaly Mojoko,  a makeshift business owner along the roadside says “the mayor walks with the world’s security, which even follow him to his house and guard him 24\7. What about poor people like us? My brother who works with the CDC is almost useless now after his hands were chopped off by separatists. I would only operate on Mondays if only I see the mayor walking alone on Mondays. I cannot be deceived, my life is more important,”she ended.

By Atembeh Ngewung Lordfred

Taxi drivers will work on Mondays if security is assured

Taxi drivers have recently been caught in the web of Separatist fighters (their cars burnt) and Government officials (taxis impounded) whether or not they ply the road on Monday. It is in this light that taxi drivers in Buea have reaffirmed their decision to work on Mondays only if their security would be guaranteed. They jointly spoke recently during a meeting decrying the fact that taxi drivers have been placed at the centre of political issues in the country.

Akwe Edwin, President of the National Syndicate of Taxi Drivers in Cameroon, SYNTACAM, said he decided to invite drivers and hold a discussion with them because of the prevailing insecurity and dicey political situation in the country.

After a brief deliberation, they resolved that they are willing to work on Mondays but that due to insecurity, their operation doing so could become very risky. They, however, appealed that the administration should do something as far as peace is concerned in the country.

“I think that there is no one who loves the country more than another. We are all Cameroonians and we believe that if we have to play our role, it is to support whoever stands for peace so that peace should reign in the country, especially in the two English speaking Regions,” Akwe noted.

He said the message is that taxi drivers need peace. “We are appealing to the Government to do something about this problem. It is not really easy because when we talk of insecurity, it is not possible to leave our homes when we are not sure of our security. He stood on the fact that most administrators are moving with the military or police guards, while they (drivers) don’t have a guaranteed security but are expected to ply the road on a risky day like Monday.

“They have burnt so many cars in Buea and last time we had a meeting with the mayor, I personally asked a question to the mayor on what the council has done to support those drivers whose vehicles were burnt because they worked on Monday, but no concrete answer was given. If there is peace and security, I think everyone will resume their duty.”

Samuel Molombe, another branch President of S/N SYNCHTACAM stated that he was very impressed about the meeting after a series of crisis recently which really affected township drivers. “As Presidents of the various taxi drivers’ syndicates we are not politicians but out to defend our drivers to fight for their problems. We are praying that God tempers justice with mercy. Our drivers should be allowed as far as the crisis is concerned” he implored. Molombe prayed that God should step in and touch the leaders of Cameroon, so that they should go deep into the problem so that this issue should be resolved emphasizing on the much needed peace and dialogue.

“Drivers are saying that they should stop using them because they are not politicians and which that message has to flow” he indicated. On whether they will be working on Mondays, he said security is the best, for without security, he has nothing else to say. He added that he was just the president and drivers have their proprietors, so the decision has to come from drivers and their proprietors.

Denis Musumbe, an elected President of Buea SYNCHTACAM also held that ‘Ghost town’ wasn’t spearheaded by taxi drivers syndicates but that it appears the blame is being placed on them or they are being put at the centre of the crisis. As a president, he recounted that he has been a victim of the burning of taxis which till date he hasn’t a car with which he could go out and work. “Even though our security may be guaranteed when we work on Mondays,” Musumbe stated, the problem is that those burning cars don’t burn taxis during the day but at night and in some cases, even kill drivers.

Another driver who spoke to The Rambler revealed that, on a certain ‘ghost town’ Monday while he was working, he came across a BIR official who asked him where he was going and whether he wasn’t scared of his life. This, according to the driver reveals that even if they work on Monday, their security cannot not be guaranteed because if a military personnel could say such to him, it means they themselves know the risk on the ground and are not ready to protect drivers.

Many of the drivers who attended the meeting, noted that a meeting was held at the council during which the Mayor emphasized that taxis that don’t work on Mondays will not be impounded but if those who did not work on Monday decide to do so from Tuesday and beyond, then a penalty shall be slammed on them.

This according to the drivers will rather intensify the ‘ghost towns’ because if all drivers receive a penalty for working on Tuesday and not Monday, then they will continue the ‘ghost town’ by not working at all.

By Relindise Ebune

Poverty, insecurity, lawlessness crippling Cameroon

The biting poverty currently being experienced in Cameroon in general and the two English speaking Regions in particular is without doubt an offshoot of the regime’s decision to go to war instead of parleying. Following this war project is palpable insecurity, lawlessness and impunity across the board.

The average English speaking Cameroonian is caught in the web of a rag tag army of separatists. They restrict the freedom to attend school, do business and move freely. They kidnap and extort ransoms and sometimes kill their victims outright. They have ghost towns imposed on the territory with most key sources of the people’s livelihood destroyed. On the other hand, local administrators, especially in Buea have gone haywire, criminally sealing private business premises. They are finishing off what is left of an economy already in a coma.

Security operatives have, unfortunately, also adopted the bad sadism of brutalizing, putting people through lots of psychological and physical stress by randomly torturing, looting, killing and extorting from a people that are barely surviving, not living.

Even as a swashbuckling mayor of Buea is making the rounds, forcing people from their homes on ‘ghost town’ days, on the frivolous basis of the town having been “secured” the rag tag separatist fighters are still wreaking havoc. Two lawyers, Messrs, Wilfred Shribe and Ndetan Victor were kidnapped in Buea last week. Shribe wrote on social media shortly after he was released days later:

“I was abducted at about 2 pm from my home last Wednesday at Mile 16 just after I returned from the office and was and was heading to a funeral. They were four armed men and three of them were younger than my son who will be 23 in March.

“I was taken to their base, tortured both physically and mentally. I also paid some ransom. My phone seized but my sim card was given back to me. I was released on Friday and I got home at exactly 2pm same time that I was taken from my home.

“My family and I want to thank FAKLA and the entire Bar for the prayers and whatever assistance you made towards my release…”

Barrister Ndetan Victor is still being held by his captors nearly a week after he was abducted. Meanwhile the mayor’s thugs were yesterday, Monday and aided by security operatives intimidating individual businessmen to open their doors for business. On Sunday, they were afield, commandeering taxicabs and locking them up at the council premises. The cabs would only be released on Monday, against an undertaking that its drivers or owners must beat the ‘ghost town edict.’

On Monday however, Buea streets were still deserted. All school doors, including the University of Buea,UB, remained tightly shut. The mayor is not known to have visited private homes to, in characteristic style, forcefully take away children from their parents or have teachers report for teaching duty. He didn’t go anywhere near the university to maybe force the VC and lecturers to get into empty lecture rooms.

Elsewhere, traveling on the nation’s highways has become something of a bazaar. Passengers, especially those using commercial transport are routinely made to step down at the multiple checkpoints that litter the highways. Their national identity cards are collected by the security operatives manning what has been described as illegal toll gates and only returned against a bribe of FCFA 1,000 each.

On Sunday, January 27, a lady in her late fifties decided that she would abandon her identification document with the police at a checkpoint after Dschang in the West Region than pay the compulsory bribe of FCFA 1,000. The thieving cops held it back. And when she approached a cop wearing a higher rank at the checkpoint, to complain about what had just happened to her, the cop merely shrugged and beseeched her to “go and pay something.” That is how much impunity and a general moral turpitude taken root in Cameroon.  

Military brutality getting out of hand

It is no longer news that the military assaults or even kill civilians in the Anglophone part of the country for very incomprehensible reasons; what is strange is the fact that, they no longer molest only the energetic young men but just anybody. They now accuse just anyone of being an accomplice of their opponents; ‘Amba boys.’ It is either they accuse one of supplying them with food stuff, arms or simply having something to do with them.

On Thursday, January 24 in Muea, a locality in Buea Sub-Division, the military indiscriminately molested civilians; the young, the old, men and women alike on the very casual unverified excuse that they have ‘something’ to do with the ‘Ambazonian Fighters.’

Going by Gerald Alioh, one of the victims, it was about 9:30am when his dad and he were heading to a relative’s house in the Muea neighborhood when the soldiers, dressed in mufti stopped their car, ordered them out. They were made to sit on the ground and tortured. Alioh explained, “They asked me out of the car and before I could step out, one of them kicked me on my buttocks, the other fetched for a solid stick and gave me serious lashes on my back. They also made my dad who is over 65years old to sit on dust after one of the soldiers slapped him on his jaw. My dad suffered an injury in his mouth because for some time now he has been having problems with his teeth.”

The Buea city dweller noted that, like others, the militia accused them of working in collaboration with the ‘Ambazonian Forces’. “They said it was elderly people like my dad who are sponsoring ‘Amba boys’. After interrogating us, the military boys insisted that we must bring to them the person to whose house we were headed. We had to reach him on phone and he came, and that was when they left us, not after they had also beaten that my uncle up too for no reason,” the victim stated.

Another victim of military brutality, Emmanuel Neba told ‘The Rambler’ that, he was walking past when the men in uniform called him and just started commanding that he should provide the ‘Shut Gun’ which he was in position of. He said he was lost because he had no idea of what they were talking about but they didn’t listen to him. On the contrary, he said they started beating him, claiming that they have been told that he is the one transporting weapons to the ‘Amba boys.’

“The more I tried to explain that I was innocent, the more they got annoyed and were kicking me on every side; it was God who rescued me from them otherwise, they might have even killed me and no one will ever know what happened to me,” Neba said.

Such cases abound. There are also times when the military will just invade a neighbourhood and arrest randomly; those arrested will in the end pay FCFA 25,000 each, at least before regaining their freedom. The people say their only wish is for God to intervene so that a lasting solution is found to the ongoing crisis.

By Nester Asonganyi

Anglophone journalists mistaken, branded as spies

Journalists in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of the country greatly hit by the ongoing Anglophone crisis, say it is gradually becoming almost impossible for them to do their job effectively and efficiently. They revealed their ordeals to this reporter on Thursday, January 24 in Buea.

They say they are facing trials from many fronts; administration, police and the general public. “It is very difficult now to gather news because access to information has been stiffened more than ever before; even if you get to a source to enquire newsy information that is not even connected to the Anglophone crisis, they are not willing to talk. Everyone is just linking everything to the Anglophone crisis even if it is not connected,” Isidore Abah, journalist and Desk Editor of ‘The Post Newspaper’ Buea lamented.

According to him, most people don’t want to talk at all to the press even on issues that concern them hence, making it very difficult for a journalist now to have quotable quotes. Abah added that even the few who accept to talk, will do so on conditions of anonymity, but he said the challenge is that when one over uses anonymity, the readers tend to doubt one’s credibility as they think the stories are being cooked up in the newsroom by the reporter. He continued, “Also, the police are not helping; when they see a journalist they think he is a spy. In fact, they are always mistaking journalists for spies and it makes it very difficult for information gathering. There’s intimidation too even from officials. They tell you, ‘we don’t want to talk, if we talk you will misquote us and you know what this dispensation means.’ And if somebody requests anonymity, you have to grant their request because it is their right. We must also do so in order to keep the newspaper going given that, alternative sources are not even there we just have to keep digging until we have the information,” he stated.

“I think that journalists are not out to destroy the country, so the military should see journalists as partners in the construction of the republic. It is our right as journalists to bring the societal challenges to the fore. If we don’t say it, people will not understand. It is by doing what we do that Government can step in to better the situation. I am also hoping that journalists don’t give up, but stay positively aggressive.”

The Editor furthered that, it is not easy but they have to keep doing the job because being aware of the fact that it has ever been difficult gaining access to information, his appeal to the Government or the parliament is for them to come up with a bill proposing an information act granting journalists access to information. A bill, he said, he is certain will go a long way to help journalists nationwide.

On her part, Relindise Ebune of ‘The Rambler Newspaper’ Buea recounted how the news gathering process is getting more difficult by the day. She said even the news events that used to happen have drastically reduced as she has discovered that people are now scared of organizing any news-making event in a place like Buea due to insecurity. “Remember that it is sometimes from these news events that one gets other news ideas but, that is no longer the case. There is news drought and if one tends to rely on public events, then there will be no news.

  “An official during a recent public event which recorded a very low attendance whereas it was a meeting which ought to have brought together participants nationwide told us that, participants from Yaounde had even proposed that the meeting be hosted in Douala because to them, Buea is a war zone but, they insisted and hosted it in Buea and the turnout was really discouraging. If it was taken out of Buea, it means, the journalists in Buea would have had no news to cover,” Ebune noted, proposing that the many obstacles preventing journalists West of the Mungo from effectively executing their duties can only be surmountedif a solution to the socio-political crisis plaguing this part of the country is found soonest.

By Nester Asonganyi

Government by horsewhip, for rough riders and opportunists

They call us dogs. But they prevent us from lying down when we fall asleep. They decreed that we are dogs, but opted to ride us like the proverbial willing horse to… They, the overlords loathe barking dogs, even though we bark because we are hungry, angry. Our riders pull and push us from both ends, they scream and lash out. Amba militias and those we purportedly voted into office expect us to run with the hare and hunt with the dogs, our administratively designated cousins.

Amba militants have decreed that we keep every Monday “holy.” They burn our shops; they trim our fingers and occasionally behead us especially when we venture to also obey those they love to hate. Amba opponents seize our cars, they seal our shops and other business premises when we perceive that venturing out of our homes could mean having our automobiles burnt to ashes or our fingers sadistically chopped off by psychotic militias.

We, the People have become the grass upon which two bullish elephants are clumsily fighting for political space and advantage. Whereas Amba chieftains have commandeered the social media through which their “commanders” and “generals” reel out Sharia-like edicts, their “elected” opponents swear at us via the insipid speeches and obnoxious propaganda they routinely force-feed us with. When they are not disconnecting the internet to return us to technological childhood so we become social cannon fodder, they are tacitly employing circus animals to chase us around for their evening television entertainment.

As we write, the buffoonery is playing out in Buea, chief town of the Southwest Region. “The army is here to protect us,” by way of providing rock solid cover for drugged street urchins, hired by the local council to seal the hundreds of business places that failed to open their doors on “holy” or “Amba” Monday if you will. Many shop attendants (mostly young girls) have been arrested and held in detention because they dared to reopen their shops; such shops as were illegally and criminally sealed in the first place. A select few have been left open either because their owners are “connected” or because a small bribe was paid to a member of the mayor’s prowling gang.

Like was the case in the American Wild West many years back, a Quixotic mayor, guarded by fully armed military personnel regularly parades the streets, barking out orders and threatening whosoever fails to fling open the doors of their business places. Even if one traveled out of town; even if one took ill and couldn’t open on a Monday, one’s shop was sealed. Television cameras follow the mayor for effect. Hundreds of taxicabs are commandeered and taken to the Town Hall. They are only released against an undertaking that their owners would be out on Mondays, daring the ubiquitous rag-tag militias.

As it stands, we, the People have become playthings on the chessboard of Amba militias and the very “infallible” state authority.  We get tossed about and along like a bad coin in the market. Occasionally, we are slaughtered like chickens by both state and separatist fighters.

The prevailing socio-political climate in the Anglophone Regions particularly gives room for much trepidation. In Buea like elsewhere, morally bankrupt state authorities are making hay, feeding fat from what is clearly a bloody, sordid situation.  Despite the dire times, residents of the so called town of excellence are chipping in money to fix their own roads and provide their own water. The hundreds of commercial bikers chased off the streets late last year have either been “baptized” into the Amba confraternity or at the very worst breaking and entering at night. The only visible sign of municipal action in Buea is seen in the clusters of boutiques practically taking over every side walk and green space and said to be realized on a “Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT, agreement. Otherwise what also constitutes development here is the television appearances of gallery eye servants spoiling to rule the roost.

The incidence of unemployed youth, miserable looking internally displaced individuals in addition to the dehumanizing poverty has more than obliterated what is left of human dignity. We are virtually in an era where deviance across the societal board is fast becoming normal, with law and order irretrievably headed for the brink with each passing day. Those charged with local leadership, including a quixotic mayor have virtually turned themselves to devouring monsters and parasites who feed on the misery of the mass populace.

The typical selective amnesia notwithstanding, those we call our leaders are invariably courting a national crisis of unimaginable proportions. The highest authority in the land is quoted millions of times daily, his name conveniently dropped by quislings eager to conceal their repugnant dross. And they do this with a creeping determinism. Despite the tough talk including a rather ostrich approach to solving the raging crisis, separatist agitations, virulent criminality and extreme insecurity persist. Summary executions by both the regular army and Amba boys are carried out with a devil-may-care abandon.

There is a progressive collapse of the organizing principles of society, loss of fraternity, empathy and confidence. And political scavengers and other cringing cattle egrets are hovering around the dung of misfortune, expecting to feed from crap at the expense of the common good.

Last line…

The pyramidal heap of corpses, especially of innocent, harmless English speaking Cameroonians keeps piling. Starvation and poverty in capital letters is clearly etched on the average English Cameroonian’s forehead.

Speech makers keep swearing fire and brimstone. Soldiers and other gun toting operatives are transforming their guns and other weapons of coercion into meal tickets. “Dog whistlers” are ironically lashing out at their beasts of burden with sadistic relish while convincing the tin god that horses are meant to be ridden roughshod until they qualify for the knackers.

Selective amnesia prescribes that they forget about what hit the good old Bob of Zimbabwe.

Cheers, and let’s keep suffering and smiling!

By Charlie Ndi Chia

156 athletes participates in Mt. Cameroon test race

156 athletes from all 10 Regions of Cameroon have taken part in the first test race in preparation for the 24th edition of the ‘Mount Cameroon Race of Hope; scheduled for February 23, this year.

The race on Saturday January 19 which kicked started at 7:20am saw all participants taking part in one category from the Molyko Stadium to the Intermediary hut. Tangwa Stephanus representing the Southwest Governor presided over the event with his kickoff whistle.

After 2hrs 26mins of run, Ndangeh Simplice emerged as winner of the race, followed by Lambu Elizah Kangha with a 10 minutes difference while vetran Sarah Etonge’s son, Lyonga Essombe Samuel attained the third position covering the distance in 2h 41 minutes.

According to Nlemba Roger, Secretary General of the Athletic League, Southwest Region, the path of the mountain is well secured with a medical team in place already for any health eventuality. This to him makes them set for the race, come January 23.

The athletes who took part in this year’s test race however testified that the race course is not yet ready as ‘pasture’ could be seen on their bodies.

With the notion of serious insecurity issues in this part of the country which Cameroonians in other Regions and those out of the country are made to believe, the number of athletes and the turnout of the population this year as many believe would drastically drop if care is not taken.

By Relindise Ebune

Power gear shifts at SONARA

Personnel and other stakeholders of Cameroon’s lone refining company, SONARA, are easily credited with succeeding over the years in shifting every precise gear with the utmost care and with a view to sustaining the sterling industrial qualities with which the enterprise is noted. But when the gears shifted last week, it happened administratively. Managerial power changed hands.

A new BOD chairperson replaced Mr. John Ebong Ngole, who had held the position for 25 years. She is Mrs. Ndoh Bertha née Bakata. Named to that office by the head of state, her appointment was endorsed by the SONARA Board of Directors, following an extraordinary BOD meeting at the premises of the refinery.

Similarly, the task of keeping the command, nay, pivotal gear working for optimum productivity shifted from Ibrahim Talba Malla to Jean Paul Simo Njonou whom the BOD, still following the head of state’s decision, endorsed as the New General Manager of SONARA. Njonou is aged 54. Talba Malla, who was named on January 4, to be Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in Charge of Public Contracts will now fully settle down in that office, knowing relief that he and Ebong Ngole have handed over the baton of continuity to competent hands.

Following an hour long conclave, the Minister of Water and Energy, Gaston Eloundou Essomba, officially installed the new officials into their new offices.

Mrs. Ndoh Bertha, who hails from Meme Division, Southwest Region, is a Journalism and Mass Communication expert. She served for several years as a Lecturer at the Journalism and Mass Communication, Department, JMC, University of Buea, UB. But since 2003, she has been serving as a Special Advisers to Cameroon’s Prime Minister and Head of Government.

 Her appointment on Monday, January 14, as SONARA Board Chair was just one more feather that was stuck on her scarf of performance.

She takes over an office that was so far exclusively occupied by men ever since the refinery was commissioned some 38 years ago in 1981. Njonou who hails from the West Region steps onto the managerial cockpit as only the fourth indigenous General Manager to manage SONARA since its birth.

The late Bernard Eding was the very first Cameroonian General Manager. Charles Metouck replaced him and reigned until 2013. The outgoing GM, Ibrahim Talba Malla took over on February 15, 2013, and on January 4, after five years of service, he was elevated to the rank of a Minister with office at the Presidency of the Republic.

The Minister of Water and Energy, especially, congratulated the outgoing Board Chair, John Ebong Ngole and the outgoing GM, Talba Malla, for a job well done.

He said the successful completion of the first phase of the modernization and expansion of SONARA, in November 2018, was proof of the enormous work the duo of John Ebong Ngole and Talba Malla did to ensure that SONARA maintains its enviable reputaion as a going concern, a success story.

He especially, noted that even when there were difficulties, Talba Malla did his best to improve on the customer base of SONARA, successfully steering the execution of the first phase of the Expansion and Modernization project to completion with utmost satisfaction. This, he said, led to the expansion of SONARA’s refining capacity from 2.5 million tons per year to 3.5 million.

“For these great achievements, I do extend to you the hearty congratulations of the Government for the appreciable and loyal services you rendered to the nation,” the Minister noted.

To the new GM and the Board Chair, Minister Eloundou said he was in no doubt confident of their abilities to deliver, notwithstanding the fact that the task ahead of them is enormous.

He, nonetheless, gave some guidelines of what was expected of them.

He, especially, called on the new GM, Njonou, to be proactive, most especially in assuring the proper maintenance of the new production units of the Refinery, ensure transparency of management and also assure fluid collaboration between his office and the BOD.

Above all, the new GM shall have to ensure that work on the second and final phase of the expansion and modernization project is done and completed with same success as that of the first phase.

Before being appointed GM, Njonou, who holds a Diploma in Public Administration was said to have already put in 32 years of service in the public service. He was, before his date of commissioning, Head of the Department of Economic and Financial Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic. He was also a Board Member at SONARA, representing the Presidency.

After the commissioning, Messrs. Ndoh Bertha and Njonou both thanked God and the head of state for their appointments. Hear Ndoh:

“It was with joy and excitement that I received the news of my appointment as the new Board Chair of SONARA. I want to give God all the thanks and also the head of state, for the confidence he has accorded to me to this prestigious establishment.”

She pledged her readiness to carry on in her office, in accordance with prescribed texts. “Everybody is looking up to us and we are not going to fail.”

The New GM on his part said: “I want to thank God for the grace He has given me up till this day. I want to thank the head of state for the confidence he has placed on me to become the new General Manager of SONARA.”

SONARA workers were all beaming with happiness when their new GM was presented to them.

“We are today very happy. When we got the news of the appointment of our former GM, we were kind of scared. But today, at least, the anxiety has calmed down. We are happy that we have seen our new General Manager,” Mrs. Shu Ntamag Rachel, a staff at the general Affairs Department said.

The February 11 challenge

While Government is battling to bring to a halt the imposed ‘ghost town’ days in the two English speaking Regions, the Youth Day celebration which is fast approaching imposes a double challenge for them to combat with as it falls on Monday; a day observed as ‘ghost town.’

Unlike the previous years when taxis could ply the road on such a day, this 2019 comes with an increase in the momentousness of respecting an imposed ghost town due to the upsurge of threats, occasional torture and even execution of some innocent Cameroonians who dared going against such a restriction.

With the severity with which ghost towns have been respected recently by the vulnerable population in these Regions, the Youth Day Celebrations on February 11 comes with much uncertainty in as far as the turnout of youths to give the day the grandeur it deserves is concerned. Though at the level of preparations by officials, it was revealed recently that Buea will host just one marching centre and that nursery pupils won’t take part in the march past this year adding to other amendments, the safety of the children who will turn out on that day as of now is still a concern to most parents.

Regarding the high rate at which students are being abducted, with some having their fingers chopped off, some parents which The Rambler spoke with noted that they are not certain if their children would be taking part in this year’s Youth Day manifestation. Ejang Celestin, a Buea based parent said it would be better for his child to eventually serve any punishment that may come up as a result of it not participating in the Youth Day march past than to participate and end up sustaining injuries, abducted or even killed outright.

Others like Ejang wondered about the security of their children. “Getting first to the marching ground is already an issue since taxis don’t circulate on Mondays in Buea and even if transportation is made available for children participating, what of the security of that child away from the ceremonial grounds? We know these boys are always civilian wears, hence it would be difficult to identify them” Ashu Brenda, a mother worriedly stated.

Though many are not in support of the imposed ‘ghost towns’ which have very seriously impoverished the Regions, making life hellish and unbearable to its occupants, respecting embargo they stated, is mainly for the fear of the unknown. Hopes are however high especially on the part of the organizers and Government top brass that the Youth Day celebration would be a success with the expected population.

By Relindise Ebune