‘All AFCON’ without work makes us dull citizens

By Charlie Ndi Chia

See what they have done to Mr. President! He was upbeat. He kept insisting that Cameroon will be ready to host the 2019 edition of African Football Cup of Nations, AFCON. He swore without any prompting in practically every policy speech he made that every piece of relevant infrastructure would be in place as and when due for the hosting of this foremost continental jamboree.

But the last time we checked, ‘AFCON Cameroon 2019’ was an opium dream. Cameroon had been ignominiously stripped of the hosting rights for very obvious embarrassing reasons we wouldn’t want to bore you with for now. As we write, the chances of the Indomitable Lions partaking at this year’s AFCON due to take off in less than three weeks, are hanging in the balance. The Comoros Islands insists that Cameroon lost the legal right to partake, and have gone to equity with hands that may be cleaner than Yaounde would want to accept.

Egypt was readier at very short notice, much more so than Cameroon that had several years to prepare for the event. Media reports claimed that while Mr. President bleated about how he would personally ensure that the event holds in Cameroon as and when due, he never [even for once] [personally] visited a single AFCON project site during the entire period of his sweet pep speech making. Looting from the AFCON project budget reportedly went “nuclear,” with certain vote holders and some other individuals concerned with the realization of the project, grabbing and eating until they were regularly vomiting on their shoes. Justice is yet to hold those responsible for scuttling Cameroon’s right to host the biggest continental sporting event. Certain purportedly corrupt individuals identified and fingered instead got promoted shortly after the Confederation of African Football, CAF’s, disqualification bombshell.

Cameroon must have juggled and demonstrated ‘diplomatic contrition,’ because instead of punishing her outright for desecrating the continent’s ‘football tabernacle,’ the Ivory Coast was foxed out of their 2021 hosting rights to give football legend Samuel Etoo’s country another quick opportunity to make amends. Whether this chance would be taken is left to be seen.

Some Six months after Cameroon was shut out of the hosting, the country is busy carrying out a bloody war against Boko Haram and separatists. No doubt, the war project is costing the nation billions monthly, plus international credibility. About a month ago, work was said to have grounded at the ‘Paul Biya’ Stadium, in Olembe near Yaounde. Protesting workers complained that they had not been paid for many months. So did the foreign contractors handling the project. Elsewhere, the road infrastructure linking the hosting venues are either dilapidated or whatever work being carried out here is at snail speed.

Roads, power supply, hotel and health infrastructures, all prerequisites for hosting are inadequate by FIFA and CAF requirements. They just might not be there come 2021. And even as Mr. President has been bleating in his speeches about the nation’s already harnessed electric power potentials, what is visible on the ground is a nation virtually groping in darkness. Last week Yaounde was facing a serious water crisis and the excuse the water board gave for the embarrassment was that there was lack of electrical power supply to gravitate water in the pipes from an Akonolinga catchment.

In most parts of the Northwest and Southwest Regions, including Bamenda and Buea, a running tap is practically celebrated with wine and beer. Certain parts of the two Regions, including major cities like Kumba and Bamenda celebrate a shining bulb. Mamfe is lighted by the national grid for about four or five days in a month. The list goes on and on and applies to many other parts of the Republic, including those that were supposed to have been hosting AFCON in less than three weeks from now. The speeches keep being sweetened. They continue to reassure, and implore us not to believe the evidence of our own eyes as it were.

And we ask ourselves, is it prudent or possible for a nation to prosecute a raging war, moot an elusive dialogue, host a continental soccer jamboree, handle multiple elections, purport to fight poverty to a standstill and strive to remain one and indivisible in just a matter of months? Is it possible for Cameroon to host AFCON without working to curb inertia, ineptitude, corruption and warmongering and still claim not to be dull citizens? The answer is blowing in the wind.

The negotiation PM – Can he fix the damage?

The appointment of Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute as PM is strategic and circumstantial, perhaps with little weight placed on his achievements in his previous role at the Presidency and more on his negotiation skills and network as the longest serving Minister Delegate in charge of the Commonwealth and his role in the allocation judgment of the contested Region of Bakassi Peninsular by the European Court of Justice in favour of Cameroon. Like it or not, Cameroon, once considered as one of the safest countries in Central Africa is at a very delicate point at home and beyond, and there is a desperate need for a ‘Negotiation Prime Minister’ with international legal experience to be the ‘Handy-Manny’ of a shattered country increasingly surrounded by national and international enemies and a few friends of self rather than collective national interest. The President and indeed, the government needed a ‘new’ face and reliable personality with experience of the root causes, culture and people of the two English speaking Northwest and Southwest Regions.

It appears H.E Dion Ngute maintains a long standing network with the UN and other potential stakeholders who would be key in any final negotiation settlement to rescue the country or at least repair SOME of the big damages that Cameroon is struggling to cope with, including the ongoing dirty war between government forces and Ambazonia armed separatist fighters and the shocking withdrawal of the 2019 CAN hosting rights.

The deteriorating ‘Anglophone Conflict’ requires a meaningful and effective peaceful negotiation before active fighting spills over to other Regions hosting Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. All sides must now realize that this horizontal war cannot be won by either side using military tactics even if sustained for decades. Innocent citizens and ordinary Cameroonians are paying the ultimate blood price as both sides refuse to unilaterally lay down their arms or withdraw government forces from the affected Regions. The Ambazonia war is taking a different shape, unfavourable to all sides involved. Ambazonia armed fighters initially supported by local and Diaspora communities are controlling huge territory and gradually creating ungovernable spaces in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. Local infighting between Ambazonia armed groups, inexperienced fighters and Diaspora leadership splits is resulting in a disorganized ground fighting, human rights violations, kidnappings for ransom , extortions, beheadings and other dangerous terror related activities that is reversing gained sympathy and support from the local population and the international community. The PM will have to balance these factors carefully when the government decides to engage the key stakeholders of the conflict in a neutral environment.

A meaningful negotiation should commence, one that addresses the real ‘Anglophone problems’ that have kept the country disunited for more than four decades, rather than exclusively addressing the resulting effects in the hope that causation factors will disappear under the carpet. A genuine process will require the participation of carefully selected credible national and Diaspora stakeholders, especially those with ´big dogs in the fight.’

Negative international image

The negative international image hanging over Cameroon, the pressure on the national economy and social life is mounting at high speed and any effective solution requires a head of government with plenty of solution orientation skills. But in the complex circumstances, someone who can distance himself from the immediate scene of the damage and say, ‘it was not me in charge when things hit the fan but I am here to fix the situation, give me a chance.’

This is a strategic Presidential appointment at a time when the key leadership of various Ambazonia armed separatist groups, viz;  Ambazonia Defence Forces, ADF, of Dr Cho Ayaba ; Southern Cameroons Défense Force, SOCADEF, of Dr Ebenezer Akwanga and the Ambazonia Security Council, ASC, of the Interim Government, IG, under Dr Samuel Sako are split over leadership control – rendering a negotiation process even more complex with the potential for spoilers should key stakeholders be left in the cold. The current negotiation dynamics should involve a support pre-negotiation mechanism to unite the ´Ambazonia’ leadership without freezing out either moderate voices or those who prefer armed struggle as the only viable solution.

This is perhaps the last PM under the current centralized structure and his role is the most critical in deciding the future of Cameroon, one that should be embraced with celebrations of business as usual.’

The President, the newly appointed PM, the people of Cameroon at home and abroad and the international community will not rest peacefully until the current conflict is buried below and not above their heads once and for all. It is down to H.E. Dion Ngute to play his best and most challenging role in the history of Cameroon as the ´Negotiation Prime Minister.’

Heaps of garbage, stench of decay

In 2014, President Paul Biya on a visit to the town referred to Buea as a clean, beautiful town. He was even more charitable when he endorsed the “Legendary Hospitality” pet name with which the town had come to be identified. But in the ebbing days of 2018, the Buea mayoral authorities abruptly changed the Legendary Hospitality sobriquet to “City of Excellence.” Unfortunately however, the town didn’t have a facelift commensurate with the status of the city it had been bestowed with.

Workers of the waste disposal company, HYSACAM had downed tools, following the destruction of their garbage trucks by the so-called Amba boys and the fact that it was increasingly dangerous for them to perform their duties freely, without being hurt by the rag tag army. But a newspaper report had it that the Buea mayor had, by his magnanimity, personally funded HYSACAM and gotten the disposal company back to work.

However, despite the claims of magnanimity and all that, heaps of garbage and other waste material still litter the town, constituting a health hazard. Desperate denizens have resorted to burning their refuse, further compounding the risk of respiratory related diseases. Otherwise, refuse is now dumped at every other street corner. Certain people The Rambler approached thought that municipal authorities ought to have reverted to the pre-HYSACAM era, during which refuse disposal in the town was handled directly by council workers. At that time they claimed, the town wasn’t suffocating from the stench of decay surrounding residential houses as is presently the case.

On a similar note, residents of the town have intensified their criticism of the so called monthly ‘Keep Buea Clean’ campaigns which entails devoting one or two Wednesdays per month for everyone else to come out and clean the town. It should be recalled that on such days, civil servants keep off their offices for at least four hours, ostensibly to participate in keeping the town clean. All business places stay shut while taxis are forbidden from plying the streets.

However, it is an open secret that these special Wednesdays have more or less been converted to public holidays. Offices stay closed throughout; hardly any one engages in the cleanup campaign and the only beneficiaries are local administrators who are known to provide special dispensations for certain cabs to ply the streets against prescribed amounts of money paid, but which is widely believed to be unaccounted for.

It was expected that with HYSACAM’s job of clearing garbage having been compromised by marauding gangsters in the name of an army of liberation, the ‘Keep Buea Clean’ campaigns should have been upgraded and closely supervised to make up for the shortfall. But that is not quite the case. And the situation is gradually but surely getting out of hand. Instead, the only visible form of development in the municipality is the mushrooming of boutiques, courtesy of the local council. Someone recently joked that one out of every three residents of Buea can now be said to be a trader, selling one commodity or the other, going by the uncountable number of boutiques with which the council is littering the town.

Elsewhere, running water is a luxury. Long lines of children and other denizens are often seen trekking long distances to fetch water from brooks and streams. Access roads are practically nonexistent. Respective neighbourhoods are known to contribute money with which they grade their own roads or open up new ones. The banning of commercial biking in the town has made transportation, especially in the peripheries a big social headache. The town council has been conspiratorially silent in the midst of all of these social constraints. But it has been sporadic in ensuring that cars and other automobiles are not carelessly parked in the public space or along the roads as to block free circulation. Those in charge are known to clamp poorly parked automobiles, only having them released against a fee of FCFA 25,000.

That said, if the Buea municipal authorities are really serious about lifting the town to the status of a city and ensuring that it is one of excellence, then they face the urgent challenge of taking crucial lessons in waste management. In which case, the collection, transportation, disposal and recycling of waste ought to take precedence over the proliferation of boutiques.

Why they are fuelling a war without end

Prior to and on December 31, 2018 many Cameroonians were all ears and speculating. They hoped that Biya’s traditional address to the nation would calm tested and frayed nerves and end the stupid two year long war in which uncountable lives have so far been lost and the economy mangled. Biya loyalists eventually, expectedly hailed his address which they said reflected the president’s “wisdom and deft approach to governance.”

But the teeming masses, especially those directly affected by the war thought otherwise. As far as they go, Biya and his advisers have been tactlessly intransigent. Biya’s threat to “neutralize” militants who didn’t drop their weapons was a thoughtless riot act, very unnecessary at a time the country was steadily buckling under, with countless of her teeming youths either killing or being killed. Biya, they insisted, ought to have been fatherly, softer, especially considering that his iron fist approach to solving the problem is hurting everyone else, including teeming Cameroonian masses in general and the soldiers and civilians being mowed down like disposable animals.

A public affairs analyst noted that the intractable nature of the conflict would have been mitigated, had regime hawks not been fuelling and deriving direct socio-economic gains from it. According to him, claims by Ambazonian separatists notwithstanding, the situation has been further worsened by bad governance, epitomized by social injustice across the board, maladministration and intolerance.  He said that resorting to denial, time buying and heaping of resources on propaganda was merely postponing the evil day. “You don’t solve a problem by pretending that it doesn’t exist.” Rather, he noted, it is often advisable to invite the complainant, sit down with them and put the cards face up on the table. Papering visible cracks and forming money guzzling commissions is tantamount to playing the proverbial ostrich, he warned.

The Rambler investigations revealed that rather than douse the raging fire of war, Biya’s vow to exterminate militants intensified the latter’s resolve to fight on. A source said that some 40 Ambazonian militants out of an estimated three thousand have so far surrendered to the disarmament commission which Biya created late last year. Some others are said to be still considering how and when to negotiate safe access to the commission. The 40, we learnt, are being debriefed somewhere in Bali.

On the other hand, limited sections of the population are reportedly cooperating with the regular army entrusted with the mission of routing or “neutralizing” the rebel fighters. The reason we got is that the biting effects of the ‘ghost towns’ on the people, the kidnappings and extortion of ransoms plus other acts of incivility on the part of the militants is turning the tables of trust from “faceless liberators” to a “visible elements of law and order.”

But the military, who themselves have on occasion gone berserk, raping, killing, looting and burning homesteads are not having it easy defeating the militants outright. Relatively, they are still having a hell of a time containing the determined “Amba boys” on the one hand and completely winning the confidence of the people on the other. This is further explained by the fact of people saying that “Biya’s New Year address was a mere babble. That it were best he kept quiet instead of saying the things that he said in the address. According to this class of individuals, “the war would be fought to the end and won.”

Meanwhile, the Northwest, like most of the Southwest Region is almost in complete shutdown. Only two Sub-Divisions out of the many in the Region are still functional in the true sense of the word. They are Bamenda l and Santa. Roads have been dug up, bridges destroyed and other vital infrastructures ruined. Most school gates remain tightly shut.

Elsewhere, administrative buffoonery and other forms of ineptitude continue to be perpetrated. Certain government officials are busy fanning the embers of war with a naïve view to being seen as punishing “enemies of the state.” They take ridiculous decisions that include denying access to food and other forms of basic assistance to detainees connected with the Anglophone crisis. An example is that of the charity going by the name Ayah Foundation, known to have taken succour to refugees in most parts of the English speaking Regions and Nigeria. But at the Yaounde Maximum Security Prison where about a thousand of the people are being detained reportedly under poor conditions, the provisions were rejected by prison officials and foundation members ordered to beat a hasty retreat.

Other reports talk of sleazy practices, whereby some local administrators and elected municipal authorities have been stealing relief materials, including food items, while those for whom the government destined the items are pining away at internally displaced people’s camps and in the bushes.

Any how one looks at the situation; it becomes only clear that many top brass are ironically working for the war to continue and not the other way round. Because they are benefitting from the misfortune of fellow citizens in many ways.

By Charlie Ndi Chia

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

Who rules the roost? ‘Amba’ or army?

“Even though I was scared stiff, my journalistic instincts remained alert. At least, I was able to establish that there were 10 of them. They brandished sophisticated guns, which nozzles they trained tauntingly at us. One of them said: ‘this car has a CE registration number, so it must be from Yaounde. You are the people we are looking out for. You have put us in this mess and must pay accordingly.
“We pleaded, explaining desperately that even though our car was matriculated in the Centre Region, we don’t necessarily hail from there. We are actually from this part and we came to bury one of our brothers.”
This was part of a difficult conversation with ‘Ambazonia boys’ last week in Boyo Division, Northwest Region. Like elsewhere in the English speaking Regions of the country, they now man checkpoints, check passengers and in some rare cases collect small ransoms from them. Occasionally they would pick out an unfortunate security operative or saboteur/informant and abduct him to their camp.
Barely some two kilometers from here, the once bustling Belo town that was sacked some two months back by regular security forces is as dead as a graveyard. But for patrolling troops in armoured cars, it is difficult to see any sign of life here. The tens of thousands of inhabitants have fled into the bushes. Many others were brutally killed by the forces, reason it is claimed, the ‘Amba boys’ decided to constitute their militia.
Very often traffic between Fundong, the chief town of Boyo Division and Bamenda is blocked by the ‘Amba boys.’ They only open it to travelers when “Biya’s soldiers behave themselves by not harassing the innocent,” someone told this reporter.
Ironically, regular soldiers are stationed less than two kilometers away from their ‘Amba’ opponents. From the look of things, the soldiers are aware of the activities of this militia, but are rather reluctant to confront them for reasons best known to them. What they perpetrate, which annoys both the militia and villagers is that they shoot to kill anyone on motorcycle, regardless of whether the one is a certified member of the militia or not.
A middle aged lady by name Juliana Fung called The Rambler from where she said was her hiding place and claimed that her eldest son was summarily executed by regular soldiers who also burnt down homesteads in the Sub-Division.
“I am now in hiding with my other children, especially as I witnessed how a man and his entire family were burnt alive in their own home,” she claimed.
Narrating his ordeal further, the Yaounde based journalist who was home to bury a departed relation said the ‘Amba boys’ requested that every adult passenger in his car hand over their voter’s card. “We all said we didn’t have any but they would not believe and almost proceeded to body-search each and every one of us. It was then that I quickly pulled out my national identity card and presented it to them. On seeing that it was preserved in a CRTV folder, they got even more furious.
“So you work at CRTV? We have to go to the palace where your case would be determined by our boss. They added for effect in Pidgin English ‘… na dat Yaounde people dem dis wey we di fine am. Why wuna want disgrace we so?’”
He said although this lasted for some five minutes only, it appeared as though the whole episode had taken a life time. “We were apparently saved when upon sighting an oncoming vehicle, their attention was divided. The one who looked to me like their commander instructed that the vehicle be intercepted just in case it had on board a military man or anyone else in uniform.
“Then he turned his attention back to us and without as much as raising his voice he requested: ‘give the children water.’ This was a euphemism for a bribe or tip. My wife took out a FCFA 10,000 note from her purse and stretched it. They politely asked that it be placed on the ground. And then with the admonition; ‘God bless you, wuna waka fine ya, they let us go.
The Rambler learned that a member of the newly constituted Constitutional Council was, during the same period a victim of the militia. That he had to both sweet-talk and buy his freedom from the boys. While members of the regular army are said to have gone haywire, looking out for whom to brand and summarily execute, the ‘Amba boys’ have seemingly had employment in compiling names of potential ‘elite sponsors’ of their ‘independence project.’
Fung Juliana quipped: “The military have killed my first boy child and I won’t wait here with my other children to be also brutally murdered. Neither would I wait to be caught in the eventual crossfire of ‘the boys’ and soldiers.

Governor asks refugees to come out of forests

Feigning indifference to the persistence of turmoil emanating from the current crisis pitting Southern Cameroonian separatists against the Biya regime, Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai has declared that his Region is under control even as he acknowledged what he terms manageable disturbances that call for collaboration from the entire population to put an end to violence and embrace dialogue. He was speaking in Buea during a recent Regional administrative and security coordination meeting.
He referred to the meeting a traditional ritual, aimed at assessing the administrative and security situation in the Region. “We have had exchanges with Senior Divisional Officers and the Regional Chief of Defense forces and I will say the Region is under control. There are some disturbances but with the collaboration of the entire population, people of goodwill, traditional rulers, political leaders, the elites and the media, I think we will overcome all the challenges,” he said. Okalia added that preparations for future events are already underway given that the current school year will soon be over and, preparation for the next school year must be embarked upon because all the activities begin now, which circumstance justifies the presence of all SDOs in the Region and other collaborators.
In this connection, the Governor said: “We wish to continue in sensitizing the population to be aware that the truth is for them to come back to their homes; the forces of law and order are there to protect them against all acts of terrorism, hence they shouldn’t be afraid of the forces of law and order; rather they should be confident and be reassured in the presence of the military.
“We are inviting the elites, traditional rulers to come back and continue to work and sensitize their children especially, those who have been misguided and are now in the bushes for them to return home because dialogue is on the lips of everyone and we cannot dialogue with people who are in the bushes; let them return and the administration is there to exchange with them so that the situation should return to normal everywhere in the Region.”
Emphasizing further on the need for refugees to come out of hiding, the Governor added that, at the grassroots, traditional rulers, all leaders including family heads, elites, should return and go to the village to discuss with some of the children or the young men who to him are misguided and are now in the bushes. He said that what they are doing is detrimental and has no future emphasizing that it is the discussion with the entire community that can solve the problem.
Okalia assumed that it is only when people will return to their respective villages that dialogue would continue and one would be able to meet with the hierarchy for possible solutions. He also, appealed for violence to be put to a halt and “things returned to normal, before any other initiative because today the entire society is disturbed by the prevailing violence.” He talked of the Head of State having allocated many projects to the Region, many of which portend much hope to the population.
All the assurances notwithstanding, the governor admitted that the meeting was taking place within a peculiar context “that continues to be marked by the socio politically tense environment which is now commonly referred to as the Anglophone crisis.”
The governor acknowledged that the nation has registered the loss of many defense and security forces, school authorities, traditional rulers and even denizens assassinated under various circumstances by what he dubbed “the so called Ambazonia Defense Forces.” He however, appreciated the authorities present who have despite the harsh and tense atmosphere carried out their duties smoothly.
By Relindise Ebune

Rampaging military destroying lives, property

Consciences have been hardened, defiled by the warring factions. The ruling class is, by and large, hell bent on ensuring that coercive state authority triumphs over good governance, political reality and compromise. “Diaspora separatists” look to have vowed that “their people” will die on their feet rather than live on their knees.
Foreign interests appear not to be very clear yet, where to definitively pitch their tents of corporate greed. Militias are growing by the day, with unemployed radicalized youth eking out a living by kidnapping for ransom and bullying for cash handouts.
Rural populations, especially have melted into the forests, retreating from the regular soldiers who are not only burning down their homesteads; they are also shooting at unarmed men, women and kids. Most towns of the two English speaking Regions now look like conquered territory. The military are, by and large, calling the shots, especially in the Regional capital of Buea. They seem to be having their way all the way, and beyond what whatever specific tasks have been assigned them by the ruling class.
Armoured personnel carriers drive through the town recklessly, and in wanton disregard for rules of the road. The safety of other individuals using the same road means little or nothing to the soldiers. BIR soldiers especially drive without care and attention, purposely disregarding the safety of other persons or property. Many cars and other automobiles are being bashed in Buea and Kumba. Pedestrians have been wounded, at times fatally through such dastardly acts of military bravado.
Yet, none of the rampaging drivers in military fatigues is known to have ever been cited by the police for driving unsafely on the highway or in crowded municipalities. The apparently lawless men in uniform would not even stop to see if someone was hurt following their reckless driving patterns. Only on one occasion did they bash someone’s car on the Likomba hill from Tiko and after driving off for about one kilometre, they made a u-turn back to where they had done their worst and had their bewildered victim kicked and taunted.
A similar case of recklessness was recently recorded in Kumba, during which a military truck reduced a taxicab to twisted metal on the bridge near the Town Green.
Last week at the Molyko neighbourhood of Buea, chief town of the Southwest Region, the BIR soldiers were at it again. Driving at breakneck speed and in total disrespect for traffic rules, their personnel carrier almost killed a newspaper Publisher and the lone occupant in his car. But rather than atone for their crudeness, they rather drove on, wielding their weapons and mocking their traumatized victims and other onlookers.
From every indication, there isn’t just a breakdown of law and order, with sophisticatedly armed soldiers having a field day unperturbed. Fidgeting, scheming political elite are looking the other way. Consciences, especially those of soldiers whose lives are effectively jeopardized as they fight separatist forces have at best been defiled. Part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt is to say the very least, dead in these boys.

Kumba still cut off from Buea

Routing the Ambazonia militia from their stronghold near Ekona in Fako Division must have been pretty good news for the regime. Freeing certain important abductees, including a Police Superintendent would have been equally relieving to the regular forces and their paymasters. But somehow this seeming edge over the separatist fighters may turn out to be but a pyrrhic victory for the Government or at the very best, a good joke in bad taste.
Vehicular traffic from Kumba, Meme Divisional chief town, to the Southwest Regional capital, Buea has, for almost a week, been completely disrupted. The dislodged militia is said to have blocked the highway with heaps of sand and other obstacles, totally disrupting movement to Kumba and vice versa.
It is also alleged that the Amba boys went haywire, and have since been physically stopping every single automobile from getting into or leaving Kumba. Consequently, thousands of visitors who entered Kumba from Fako Division are all stranded here. Others who came in from Mamfe, hoping to proceed to Muyuka, Buea or Victoria are reportedly still stuck in this Meme chief town. The same goes for those that were trying to reach the popular K-town from Yaounde, Douala or even from abroad.
A source informed The Rambler that the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, Moderator Emeritus, the Most Rt Rev, Nyansako ni Nku is one of those stuck in the small village of Bombe. He was said to be on his way to preside at a memorial service for a prominent PCC Christian in Victoria when he was caught up in the melee. We were told that the army opted to improvise some means of getting him out of the seeming captivity and enable him carry out to his Pastoral duties but that the former Moderator would rather be holed up with the rest of the stranded crowd in the tiny village.
By midday on Tuesday, June 19, bulldozers, escorted by heavy military tanks left Kumba, ostensibly to clear the road and make for traffic to start flowing. But by nightfall, on the same day, not even a single automobile had arrived Fako from Meme or vice versa. Hundreds of anxious passengers were still eagerly waiting on both sides of the divide.
Elsewhere on the streets trucks carrying foodstuff destined for other parts of the country from the agriculturally rich Meme Division were stranded, packed in long lines on the highway. Some of the foodstuff was, of course, rotting away.