We are all refugees

There were muted protests in a local church recently, when a guest worshipper was introduced as a refugee. A resident of one of the over 60 communities which Government troops have razed to the ground, she had fled through the bushes and is sheltering with relatives in Limbe. For many in the congregation, designating her as a refugee was hard to accept.
Now, there is a paradox to this kind of reaction. On the one hand, a people for whom human solidarity is more than a religion can only find it repugnant that anybody be called a refugee, meaning homeless, as long as others have homes, or be said to starve while there is food in any house. That is why many can’t believe the insensitivity of their churches which have reduced solidarity with victims of this crisis to mere symbolism.
In some, distant dates have been set to raise a solidarity basket, whereas the need for food, clothing and medicines is dire, immediate and continuous. In the meantime the churches raise their usual collections for church building and support to the far less needy. Now, who will worship in those big churches if people are left to die in the bushes? Is the church about people or buildings?
This growing insensitivity, even in the most unexpected places, is a testament to how far the mores with which English speaking Cameroonians were raised have been polluted by contact with a culture of egocentrism and a very fuzzy sense of community – a culture where the notion of res publica is dead and buried, and individuals can loot billions from the public purse without a single compunction.
It is, perhaps, this pollution that explains the other side of the paradox; that in a city like Limbe with huge business and cultural influence from across the Mungo, many have not yet lost a wink of sleep since this crisis erupted – except when phone calls from their home villages announce new shootings and burnings.
For most inhabitants of some of these sleepy towns the whole thing feels like a distant dream. When Assad went mad and started butchering Syrians it sounded like a distant horror movie. After watching the harrowing images on TV, we could zap channels, flip the page and get on with our own lies. Today it is happening in real life and close to home. It is our own children who are being summarily executed, our old grandparents who are being burnt alive in their homes while their families take shelter in the bushes. Let’s face it – these people are refugees, be they in Nigeria, in the forests near their villages or in neighbouring towns. And wherever you live, as long as the lunatics remain on the rampage, you are a potential refugee.
Now there is a third category of actual refugees living not only in English speaking Cameroon but even in the seemingly safe and peaceful cities and countries. To be fair, this category includes Francophone Cameroonians who are revolted by what the regime is doing to their English speaking counterparts, purportedly in their name. To this category belong all those decent human beings who no longer feel at home in a world where sensible countries and the world’s most powerful institutions can afford to look the other way while lunatics are butchering people.
These are people who wonder daily where to take their children to, so that they don’t grow up with this sense of hopelessness that pervades our world. Our children are all potential refugees in a world where human life is constantly devalued by monsters in the name of leaders. No wonder they would rather perish on the high seas trying to flee a hopeless existence in what we have been trying to teach them to call home.
And do you still wonder what Boko Haram or other terrorist groups offer young people to turn them into suicide bombers? They don’t need to offer them anything. The dejection generated by the madness we call governance is more than enough to radicalise them ten times over. In the case of English speaking Cameroonians, they have been wrestling on a daily basis with demonstrations of hate from the very pit of hell.
For one thing, if you cohabit with a man-eating monster, you very soon cross the threshold of fear, because you expect to be eaten anytime. Many English speaking Cameroonians are crossing that threshold daily. Many have accepted their potential refugee status and will not be surprised anymore when it comes. Many are carrying their own coffins in their minds. They have constituted themselves as refugees in the land of the living dead.
Finally it may not be far-fetched to describe even Biya’s as a refugee regime taking refuge in power and other crude acts of terror, in the hope they could escape the spectre of retribution for the atrocities they have already visited on the people. They know that once they are stripped of the trappings of power, Karma will come knocking, and there may be no place to hide.
That may explain the jitters over the few statements the US ambassador made recently. The frenzied, unguarded, undignified and unstately ejaculations of the Minister of External Relations could be seen as a normal reaction to the sighting of a spook – the spook in this case being the prospect of their refugee cover being blown.
You can’t think of the refugee syndrome in Cameroon without recalling the massacre of the innocent in the Bible; First Pharaoh’s decision to stop the increase in the population of the Israelites by ordering the killing of all their male children. We recall that that is why baby Moses became a refugee in a basket among the bulrushes where he was found and adopted by the Pharaoh’s own daughter. Then we recall that soon after birth baby Jesus became a refugee in Egypt because Herod had ordered the killing of all boys of two years and less in Bethlehem.
They may think they have what it takes to decimate a whole generation of Cameroonians, but they must think of where they in turn will find refuge when the seeds of hate they are now sowing will sprout and bear fruit.


Paix Travail-Patrie

Peace- Work-Fatherland

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On Wednesday 30, Thursday 31 May and Friday 1 June 2018, the President of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism (NCPBM)H.E. Peter MAFANY MUSONGE, accompanied by the Members of the Commission as well as the Secretary General of the Commission undertook a “Listen to the People’s” mission to Bamenda, headquarters of the North West Region. This Mission follows that which took place in Buea in April 2018.
The main objective of the exercise is to collect information of any nature likely to
enable the Commission to know the state of affairs on the practice of bilingualism, multiculturalism and living together in Cameroon, with a view to developing a National Strategic Plan for the promotion of bilingualism, multiculturalism and living together.


The mission to Bamenda began on Wednesday 30 May 2018 with a working session between the NCPBM and the local administrative authorities headed by the Governor of the Region.

The launching proper took place in the Multipurpose Hall of the PCC Ntamulung neighbourhood in Bamenda on Thursday 31st May 2018, chaired by the President of the Commission in the presence of the Governor and his close collaborators, traditional, religious and political leaders and a cross section of the population.

After the singing of the National anthem and prayers by Muslims and Christians, the meeting began with a speech from the President of the Commission who
expressed gratitude to the participants for their massive turnout, proof of the fact that the population approves of the meet-the-people initiative. He called on all present to freely express themselves on bilingualism, multiculturalism, living together and on any issues they deemed important, especially the current crisis rocking the Region. He equally requested for possible and concrete proposals that could be implemented so as to hasten the end to the present stalemate, which is hurting the social and economic development of the Region. He concluded that the suggestions that would emerge from the meeting would be faithfully channeled to the President of the Republic.

The President of the Commission then informed the participants that the Commission will be in the Region for two days and will be receiving individuals and groups privately after the morning session of the deliberations.


After the opening ceremony, the practical phase of the exercise, moderated by the President of the Commission himself began in earnest. The floor was then given to whoever wanted to take it, among the more than 800 persons in attendance.

Over 35 (thirty five) participants, amongst whom were the Chairman of the SDF, Members of Parliament, university dons, traditional rulers and religious leaders, bike riders, “bayam sellams”, journalists, the youths, members of the civil society, businessmen, etc. took the floor in plenary and in all freedom, expressed their views on the various issues of the day.

Most speakers of the day appreciated the creation of the Commission and expressed the wish that the come-together would not be just another waste of time, because they feel that several of such meetings have been held and petitions forwarded to hierarchy but which have not yielded any fruit as of now. They however thanked the NCPBM, for coming to listen to them, in their own base.

Issues raised hinged on:

-The distortion of the political history of Cameroon;
-the poor practice of bilingualism in our country with a predominance of the French language;
-the lack of patriotism in the behaviour of some leaders;
-unemployment of qualified youths;
-lack of infrastructural development in the Region;
-bribery, corruption, tribalism and nepotism;
-marginalisation of English speaking Cameroonians;

-the feeling of not being loved by their French speaking brothers;
-injustice against English speaking Cameroonians;
-harassment by some members of the forces of law and order;
-harassment by some unidentified armed groups:
-the taking of Anglophones for granted;
-arrogance in the management of the crisis;
-the transfer to the Region of military and police —officers who speak only the French language;
-the absence of equal opportunity in the access to public office;
-the tendency to neglect the Anglophone sub-system of education in government competitive examinations;
-the lack of respect for Anglophones by certain Administrative Authorities;
-the superiority complex of Francophones towards Anglophones;
-the complete absence of industries in the Region;
-the clarification of the notions of terrorists, secessionists etc

The second part of the deliberations that started in the afternoon at the AYABA Hotel was devoted to audiences granted by the President of the Commission as well the three Working Groups (Bilingualism, Multiculturalism and Living together), to individuals and groups.

They raised a series of pertinent issues as to the state of affairs on the practice of bilingualism, multiculturalism, living together and most especially, the current crisis in the Region.

The participants equally made several useful verbal and written suggestions on the possible ways of promoting bilingualism, multiculturalism and living together, and especially on ways of bringing a speedy end to the crisis, which is wreaking untold hardship on the population of the North West Region.

Among the proposals made were pleas to government to:
-provide an enabling environment for internally displaced persons to return to their homes;
-examine issues concerning federalism in our country;
-urgently address the basic concerns raised for peace to return;
-organise frank, sincere and inclusive dialogue between the government and the Anglophones, including those of the Diaspora for long-lasting solutions to the current crisis;
-revisit the management of teachers who are caught between their hierarchy and the armed groups;

-speed up infrastructural development in the Region;
-repeal the law on terrorism;
-grant general amnesty to those people within and out of the country jailed or in exile in connection with the crisis;
-seek solutions to enable the villagers in hiding to return to their homes;
-instruct Public Corporations and Establishments to conduct and transact business in the two official languages;
-bring back to the country Cameroonians who are refugees in Nigeria;
-make sure that patriotism is the watchword of all public officials;
-give the possibility to Cameroonians abroad to have double nationality;
-make sure that the unity of the country is based on equity and fairness;
-let the NCPEM effectively put in place the devolved -services in the organigram;
-revisit the history of Cameroon;
-instill change of attitude in the management of public affairs;
-bring back the remains of the former President AMADOU AHIDJO to the country, etc.

A clarion call was made for the President of the Republic to come to the Region and address “His children”.

The second ‘stage of the Listen to the people mission ended on Friday 1st June 2018
Done in Bamenda on Friday June 1st 2018

2018 Presidential: MINAT rules, ELECAM reigns!

The recent strategic movement of personnel at Cameroon’s election management body, ELECAM has been linked by wary observers to manoeuvres meant to perpetuate President Biya’s rule via the upcoming presidential election, which the head of state has insisted on advancing his candidature despite growing dissident voices advising the octogenarian to quit the stage before what is left of any ovation completely dies down.
The signs are apparent, even glaring for any discerning observer to see. Pundits read the intension behind the recent move as paving the way for the new Ministry of Territorial Administration, MINAT, currently manned by a Biya fanatic, Paul Atanga Nji to run the election with ELECAM barely fronting.
They claim that listing of the recent appointments by the head of state and internal schemes bespeak wholesale dumping of ex MINTAD upscale functionaries on the election management body. From the Director General Erik Essouse and his assistant Abdel Karimou to internal arrangements that brought in Zang III, retired Fako SDO to replace Barrister Okha Bau Okha as Head of Division of Electoral Operations and Referendums and the Head of Administrative and Finance Division headed by another MINTAD veteran Ngole III Patrice, the stage is said to have been set for manoeuvrability to ensure victory for Biya.
While admitting that simmering incompatibility of attitude to management of public affairs between the Board Chair Enow Abrahms Egbe, another MINTAD old-timer and the former Director General Abdoulaye Babale had reached a head with persistent recourse to the Presidency for solution not yielding any dividends, there is, nevertheless, reason to believe that Babale fell prey to a well-orchestrated plan by opening his flanks to the MINTAD and ENAM boys’ onslaught through opaque management of the institution.
Many informed observers contend that Babale was too much of a neophyte to have lasted in such a sensitive position in the prevailing circumstance of must-win for Biya in the upcoming presidential election. With his henchmen at the Presidency, he kept harbouring the illusion that he could weather the tsunami ENAM boys had prepared against him.
Unfortunately for him, there was someone, a hatchet man, who sorely needed to ingratiate himself to the head of state. And, that person, we leant, is the current Minister of Territorial Administration Atanga Nji Paul, who is alleged to have personally carried the grievances of the Board members and a well-articulated petition by ELECAM staff to the head of state.
The staff demotivation aspect of the petition was deliberately played up to read ploy by Babale to perturb victory for Mr. Biya during the looming presidential election. It is this fear, pundits reckon, that caused the dramatic exit of Babale, warranting his office and those of key associates to be sealed with immediate alacrity and paving the way for the MINTAD and ENAM boys to have a free lease over ELECAM.
When Enow Abrams Egbe, former Governor and Inspector General in charge of Elections at MINTAD was appointed Board Chair of ELECAM sometime last year, it was with a clear mandate to deliver on promise the upcoming presidential elections no matter the odds. This explains why Zang III and Ngole III Patrice were immediately drafted in as Research Officer and Technical Adviser in the Board Chairs’ office respectively, awaiting the opportune moment to ram them down the throats of other board members and staff.
With a serene atmosphere of ENAM classmates and former colleagues at MINTAD prevailing at ELECAM, the stage is reportedly set for manipulation of the electoral process to secure victory for Mr. Biya, whose desperation to perpetuate himself as head of state has been pushing him to ignore the constitutional provision that supports postponement of elections in a situation of heightened insecurity as currently obtains from a war he personally declared against Southern Cameroonian separatists.
By Sampson Esimala

AZONG-WARA’S DAUNTING MISSION: Rescue GCE Board from politicians’ crumbling weight

However he is perceived, Azong-Wara Andrew remains a strong propagator for the redemption of Anglophone educational values. He knows how, where and when to unleash veritable killer punches to his opponents.
He employs appropriate, apt methods to ensure the inviolability of the Anglo-Saxon sub system of education which has been a recurring decimal in the tortuous relationship between the regime and resolute educationists.
And, he does so with the right pedigree that spans leadership positions in the National Union of Cameroon Students, NUCS, in Nigeria, fire-spitting President of Teachers Association of Cameroon, TAC, and pioneer Registrar of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education, GCE Board.
By some pendulum swing of fate, he was also, among the privileged crew Government solicited to draft the statutes of the GCE Board with Sylvester Dioh, seasoned and hors-pairs educationist who, coincidentally, emerged as pioneer Chair of the Board.
In this interview that is rooted in one of his ‘uppercuts’ unleashed on the current administration of the Board, Azong Wara casts aspersion on the cavalier approach to the management of the institution he and many parents and students risked their lives to bring to fruition.
He also takes a swipe at managers who are of the erroneous belief that pandering to the whims of political authorities instead of asserting the independence of the institution will guarantee longevity of tenure. This, to him, has led to cowardly disregard and eventual erosion of safeguards to unwarranted intrusion by political hustlers into routine management of the institution.
Personal ordeals emanating from his nature as someone driven by altruism rather than the lure of perks that go with appointments, is also highlighted in an inexplicable vow by his erstwhile friend and university schoolmate to ensure that he serves jail time, besides being disgraced out of office. Surprisingly, it is his avowed tormentor Minister of Education, Robert Mbella Mbappe, who ended up holding brief for him.
It is, yet, one of those compulsory reads that can only come from The Rambler stable.

We must establish that this interview has been inspired by the open letter you wrote to the Chairman of the GCE Board. You pointed out in what looked like a treatise that the Board is in a topsy-turvy. You feared the eminent transfer of its Headquarters to Yaounde. Since there is hardly ever any smoke without fire, how founded is this transfer claim?
From the beginning we thought that since the GCE Board was positioned in Buea and the whole of the Anglophone public had fought for it especially, in the Northwest… We have to be frank about that. The fight was very much intense in the Northwest than anywhere else. It happened that when it was created, we started thinking openly of compensating people and places where the Board had actually been fought. The idea was that to facilitate the functioning of the Board, we had to create liaison offices around the country. We thought that we should create a regional office in Bamenda to take care of the Northwest Region, one in Yaounde to take care of all the other eight Regions of the country which were not English speaking and the Head Office in Buea. It was a very difficult task for us because the Chairman of the GCE Board coming from the Southwest Region, being an elderly man who had spent time within the education cycles and known what had happened in the past, thought that idea was trying to carry to carry the GCE Board from Buea to Bamenda. He was citing CCAST Bambili which as he said, was originally meant to be CCAST Kumba. He blamed Foncha and others for taking CCAST to Bambili instead of Kumba. He thought that this idea of creating a Regional office was a second attempt to take the GCE Board from Buea to Bamenda, so he stood very powerfully against it. However, we reasoned together and opened a Regional office in Yaounde and one in Bamenda. The two Regional boards were kept away from the ministry so as to give them an autonomous status.
But when I left the GCE Board, Dr. Omer Weyi Yembe, who took over, decided that those Regional offices were unnecessary; he was the first person who scraped the one in Yaounde but he found it difficult to scrap that in Bamenda. He placed the one in Yaounde under the Ministry and left the one in Bamenda at the Credit Union building. Under Abety and Monono, it was moved to the Regional Delegation of Education where they were not paying rents. The Regional Delegate of Education was now like a boss of the office. They didn’t move into it as if they were renting the premises, so it made the delegate like the boss. So that’s how the first step of moving the Board was.

Let’s refocus the transfer issue. Your open letter said Yaounde…
And to Bamenda, yeah; the idea of transferring the Headquarters of the Board had been rumoured all along even within our own education cycles. People have been saying that the GCE Board is being invaded by the Ministry of Education and the idea is that when it is not working, they will then take it to Yaounde especially, now with this stalemate in the educational process, if we are not operating properly, they can say okay, since the Northwest and the Southwest are in turmoil, let’s just transfer the GCE Board to Yaounde and if a Francophone is administering the Board at that time, it will be a simple thing.

It would appear you are taking these flying rumours hook line and sinker.
They actually have their bases from the GCE Board itself.

Are you not being unnecessarily apprehensive?
The first thing is that some workers have come to the GCE Board from the Ministry of Education and they have been known to say in corridors that they are the ones who are supposed to administer the Board since they are the ones paying for the running of the place. Slangs like these have been making the rounds and have raised a lot of hairs because they filter out to the public. During our education forum we discussed these things.

Whose bidding would you imagine, GCE Board authorities are doing in a case like this one? The government or the mass of young Cameroonians whose foundation it is charged with laying?
It is clearly the Ministry of Education which we can then class as Government.

That is what the Board authorities are doing?
Yes, they are taking their instructions and doing exactly what the Ministry is saying because the text of the Board makes the Council of the Board the supreme governing body. The Ministry of Education exercises only supervisory authority so, all decisions of the Board are taken by the Council and not Minister. Minister in his supervisory authority has 15 days within which to reject or send back the resolution to the council for reexamination else, it becomes law. For instance, if the Council decides to introduce a technical examination scheme for examining say shipbuilding; when they take that decision and have a syllabus already, they now inform the Minister in writing. The Minister has 15 days within which to write back and say; yes, I accept that you should do shipbuilding or you should review the decision. If he doesn’t reject or send it back for review within 15 days, he cannot challenge it again.

But given the regime’s authoritarian antecedents, could you think of a precedence whereby the Minister, [mere supervisory authority] instructed the Board authorities to comply or be fired?
Yes, there has been especially, at the time when I was the Registrar.

And did you capitulate?
I introduced Technical GCE in 1995/1996. I submitted the Council’s resolution to the Minister, then Robert Mbella Mbappe. He wasn’t prudent enough to read and reply because he never wanted the GCE Board to have anything to do with the technical examinations at all.

He didn’t want the GCE Board at all. It is on record that he said it would be created over his dead body.
Yes. He didn’t want it created in the first place and then in the second place would not accept that the GCE Board should get into exams like the technical education. So when the council took the decision in 1995 to start Technical GCE, I submitted the resolutions to the Minister but being a very sluggish and lazy man, he did not read them. So, when the exams were coming up, Mr. Ntoko was Delegate of Education in the Southwest, Chief Martin Fobuzie was Delegate of Education in the Northwest at the time. We submitted this and then we met at the Ministry and since he did not reply, we went ahead and issued the syllabuses for the examination. When we met in the Ministry a few weeks to writing the GCE and the two Delegates betrayed us by giving reports to the effect that we were now trying to organize the GCE Technical which was not within our competence. The Minister then discovered that so these fellows are trying to do GCE Technical, where did it come from? We quarreled with him. When he later asked ‘how did you come about the Technical GCE?’ I said I submitted the resolutions to you, he removed his file from the drawer and the resolution was there. I showed him the text of having to reply within 15 days. After quarreling with me, he sent instructions down that we should not proceed with the Technical GCE. But we went ahead and conducted the GCE Technical and published the results. He was saying that the certificate should not be recognized. We took it up with the Prime Minister and when it was going to create a problem in the country, he now compelled him to issue a different statement stating that the exams would be accepted but that a new syllabus would be revised and a new decree made for it. That’s the way we actually succeeded in getting it.

But there is also the practice of the GCE Board Registrars rushing like school boys to get the Minister of education to declare results. Is this not childish? Doesn’t it go against the grain of the so called autonomy that the Board is purportedly enjoys? The Minister is political, the Board technical, literal.
One of the provisions of the text says that the Council publishes results of the GCE Board. It gives authority to Council to publish results. The first results that were published in 1994, we exploited that text and Mbella Mbappe was in Yaounde and only heard Radio Buea reading the results. I followed the provisions of the text and summoned a press conference in Buea and the next day the results were appearing in the English speaking media.
The Minister called me; he had heard Radio Buea reading the results. He called me to Yaounde and said ‘what is this?’ I am supposed to declare results and I hear results being read on the radio. I just opened the text and said it is the Council and not you Sir; He asked, ‘how can I be the Minister of Education and not be associated with the results?’ I said it is the Council that declares the results. He was now quarrelling with the text but the results had gone out.
When the subsequent Registrars came, they now decided that they would be obeying the Minister; whenever the results were ready they would go to the Minister present before they publish so that they do not have problems with the Minister. That is how the Minister came into the situation; otherwise, it is the Council of the GCE Board that declares the results.

Even though subsequent Registrars cut the tragic figure of errand boys of the Minister, back in the Regions they were demi-gods. Howbeit, they would decide that if CRTV Yaounde hadn’t had it, it would be like nothing was published. Other media like newspapers, especially the private ones, practically crept on all fours to get the results. They would be “reluctantly” sold to them for cut throat amounts. Don’t you find this as mean, even stupid?
My position on that is that it was stupid for people to try to give preferences to press for publication of results. Some of them thought (Registrars after me) that Yaounde was the centre and that as the saying goes; when Yaounde breathes the rest of the country is whatever. I think they thought that by going to Yaounde and having the thing read that their potential would be higher than using local radio and…

We think otherwise. We think that they were reinforcing their visibility to their paymasters as opposed to the students whose interests they are supposed to be serving unreservedly.
That seems to be the case with everything that goes on here. Even the ordinary Delegations of Education feel that when they talk from Yaounde they are more important than when they talk from their own local areas.

We are saying that they could be out to please a clique of greedy individuals, not the teeming numbers of young Cameroonians put under their care.
I don’t think that for the students it matters who is giving results. All they care about is to have their results.

It matters to us. If the GCE Board provided every single candidate with a transistor and compelled them to tune in for their results on a given day and time, then we’ll understand. If the Board compelled state controlled radio to practically cover every single village in Cameroon, we’ll equally understand. What is wrong in us agreeing that these fellows are often more concerned with upgrading their potential of being given a bed in office as it were.
I think I should let you understand that the idea of publishing GCE results on newspapers, reading on the radio is a publicity idea. GCE results are the property of the children and the Board. In the days of London, your results were sent to your school which gave you your results. They were not sent into any…

London was better organized.
But the idea was that the result is your personal property …

But the probability is that the London results, despite the inadequate technology that existed at the time was more likely to get to students faster than the GCE Board…
Yes, because Cameroon adopted the position of publishing the results through news media. London did not send them on the day the results were ready. They took the disposition to send the results to the centres well in time so that when they were announced, they were also already at the centres. If for instance GCE is ready in the first week of August, they print all the results and place them at the centres and announce at the beginning of the second week that the GCE results are now made public. The students rush to the centres and pick their result. But if you announce on the day the results are ready that they are ready then you have to turn it out newspapers to turn it to students very fast.

Whichever way we look at it, publishing the way that they are doing; targeting a few pampered media houses and handing them the results much earlier and for free is, to us, outright centralization and corruption. To give ‘Media A,’ for free and compel ‘Media C’ and the rest to cough out sums ranging from FCF 300,000, to FCFA 600,000, that is appalling.
That is rotten. If you decide to publish the results by giving to the press, let every press have it, and let every press have it at the same time.

There is further stupidity in how the results were diffused. If, as you say, it was a personal thing meant for the organizers, then you don’t as a Registrar, arbitrarily decide that every candidate must possess a phone and proceed to publish via MTN or Orange networks. We see this as absurd, if not outright fishy?
That is also very absurd and again it is rotten because they use it to make money which is not supposed to be the case. The students paid the fees for the examination and that fee is comprehensive enough for them to get their results. If you want to give it out through the press, it should be given out to every press at the same time so that the failure of a press to carry it to the field should be their failure and not that of the GCE Board or say the GCE Board was bias.

Away from results, those we would want to refer to as sycophants and Judases; those who fought fiercely against the GCE Board creation later made themselves available for positions at the institution. Did this strike you as odd?
Yeah, that happened especially, when the board was created. We were aware of it. We knew that there were people who carried the question papers while the fight was going on and went and dropped them in Bamenda. We know that there are people who took them overnight and sent them to Yaounde. We knew all of those people. When the marking started in October 1993, we also knew that there were people who went to the Ministry when the teachers had decided not to mark until the GCE Board was created. They went to the Ministry and followed the Minister’s instructions like ghost markers; we knew all of that.

Including the principal who purportedly prevented his school premises being used as a marking centre…
Exactly, but when the GCE Board was created, I, as the leader made a statement. I said we have all fought, some positively, some negatively but the important thing is that the Board has been won, so let us not go chasing… and it is on that basis that I recruited one of the people who ferried questions to Yaounde. I recruited him and worked with him, although he turned out to believe that he was recruited because of his expertise; but I recruited him because I did not want anybody to feel left out that he or she did not fight.
Later on, some people started apologizing. When the first GCE was being marked, the teachers came up saying; ‘no, this one was a ghost marker, this one was a pirate, you have to leave them out or we will not mark the exams at all.’ At that time, we didn’t have money and were relying on the benevolence of the teachers; they said ‘since we are coming to do the job since we have fought for this thing, we will not allow anybody who had fought negatively to be on the marking list.’ If they do that we will not mark. I actually called some of them and told them to withdraw but they didn’t take it kindly. They went to the Minister to report me that I had tried to stand against them. The Minister knew that he couldn’t fight and so he told them to go away and stay quiet. They didn’t ever come back to the GCE Board. There are people like that, but today, those ideas have been forgotten to the extent where somebody can just sit in Yaounde, go around the Minister, go around the Prime Minister and without even coming to the Council of the GCE Board, without even lobbying with the Councillors to get appointed, the next day you get the Prime Minister signing a decree that this man has been appointed to the Board. You have even Ministers who have passed through the Ministry and left, who signed decrees and sent to the Board which are being implemented. Like the decree signed in February by the Bibehe now Minister of Transport; he signed a decree in February and in May some Regional Delegate picks it up and is acting on it when there is a new Minister in the place. So, these are roundabout ways of getting into the Board and everybody knows that it is not right. If they are doing it, it is because they cannot come through the right means. The Registrar of the Board or Chairman or anything has to be somebody who is highly knowledgeable in the English education system.

Have all these intrigues and indecent lobbying compromised the standards that were set from the onset of this Board?
They must have compromised somehow because at the beginning all the officers who were appointed went to court and took an oath. Justice Macaulay administered the oath at my behest. All of us went to court and took that oath of trust to maintain the authority of the GCE Board, its integrity, its sacredness and everything else about the Board. We took an oath to do that but now nobody takes oath any longer. So now if you had to go to court and take such an oath, you can be prosecuted immediately for any illegality. But now there are people there who… I mean how you can imagine that the chairman is not there and an authority of the Board just appoints some people. The Registrar of the GCE Board has authority to employ ordinary staff of the Board but functional positions of the Board must pass through the council of the GCE Board. He has no authority to appoint administrators of the Board without passing through the council. But it is happening, so the integrity of the Board has been compromised.

Maybe as purse holder the Registrar might have dangled the tempting carrot, getting the Chairman to fall for it.
But we should decry things like that because if the chairman sees a purse and sets his responsibilities aside, then we must… no, it is not correct. That Board must be such that those things should not take precedence.

But how can you decry that and succeed with an overwhelming centralized system that operates from Yaounde and nowhere else?
I think you have a point there because the difficulty that we have now is that the teachers and the teachers’ unions are no longer functioning like TAC was functioning when the GCE Board was created. The Council of the GCE Board is supposed to have Councillors representing teachers and after every discussion at the Council, they are supposed to go back and summon their peers and say this is what the GCE Board has decided upon, this is what they want to do; and receive authority from them to go back and do it or otherwise… But this is no longer happening because in such a situation, the administrator of the Board who is the Registrar will find difficulty convincing the council of 16 people or 17 to do things according to his will. That is where you can easily dangle carrots around these people and you find that the representatives become gullible and they just take.
For instance, we are in the rainy season; a councilor can build his house and is waiting for money to buy corrugated roofing sheets; the registrar wants to put something into the GCE Board, he just summons them and before you sit in council, you stop at the finance office and sign for envelop. It can be something near what you need for roofing sheets in your house, so you sit in council and you are guarding, caressing your envelop. You are asking yourself when the council meeting will be over so that you can rush and buy the roofing sheets for your house. You are no longer concentrating; your integrity has been compromised, it has been imprisoned by the envelope.
Those things happen. It is not only in the GCE Board. In Parliament, when Cavayé Yeguié Djibril, wants to pass a law, he reads it and he wants to find out whether there is any objection just for formality. He puts his head down and asks if there is any objection. People are putting their hands up, they want to speak, but his head is down. As soon as he is tired, he gets up and says since there is no objection, the law has been passed. So, it is not only at the GCE Board, it runs across the entire country.

Have the teachers’ unions by any means been infiltrated, compromised in the hope of their leaders landing lucrative positions at the Board or elsewhere in Government departments?
Yes they have. It is a pity they have actually, and you cannot say no, you cannot run away from that, they have been compromised. When the Registrar is to go out for the conduct of exams; he wants to go to Batibo, Nkambe, he puts the president of the teachers’ union on his entourage. He is not a member of the Council of the GCE Board. So the teachers’ unions which had to come out and cough that there is something wrong, are already party to Registrar’s politics of stuffed pockets. As I say, teachers’ representatives have never even come back to general meetings of teachers to say this is what is going on at the Board. So, somehow, the two of them who have been there for 23 years have all been members of CATTU. I know my friends of CATTU will not be happy with me for this statement but that is the truth. They have been handpicked by the Executive Secretaries so in order to continue to stay there; they come back and give their reports to the Executive Secretary. It is the Executive Secretary that has to call the teachers together and say this is what these people have brought. But for 23 years, they have never done that. The same people have been there meanwhile the text says that they are elected for three years renewable but they have never been renewed. So, it is a compromise.

As we speak, the GCE is being written under very disgusting conditions; with gunfire here, military armed to the teeth prowling. We understand that many candidates are not turning up to write because they are afraid for their lives. We recall that long before Cameroon started witnessing the disgraceful burning of schools or before the educational pattern was compromised you had raised an alarm. Where you like prophetic? That is, you were part of a group that addressed a memo to the PM, requesting profound reforms in the best interest of the educational system of the country. Did the regime falter, bringing Cameroon to this messy state?
That is both a very interesting and difficult question. The first thing I will like to tell you is that deep down in me I have stood the grounds that this revolution we have in Cameroon today, however good it may be it has used the ‘no go to school, no examination’ as a weapon and I have made the point on several occasions that it was a bad weapon. We have a point…

Maybe it was a weapon that was handed over to whoever was using it by a failed authoritarian leadership.
I am building up to that. But why did we even get to that situation? We have the ‘Cameroon Education Forum’ which we registered in Limbe. We prepared a 53 page memorandum in which we chronicled all the problems that have beset Anglophone education since 1961 and proposed solutions; about 23 possible solutions which were scientific. We had nothing to do with the political ‘whatever.’ We took this to the Prime Minister in January 2016. By June 2016 we had no reply or acknowledgment from him. We built this thing on a decree because we had an education forum in the country in 1995. This forum led to the promulgation of decree April 14 1998. That decree by the Head of State recognized two sub-systems of education in Cameroon; the English speaking sub-system and the French speaking Sub-system and gave authority for these two sub-systems of education to exist side by side with all their independence, with each one practicing its own inheritance. That is in the decree and it allowed for the creation of an education board which will implement that decree. We saw that the PM could now proceed to create two separate education boards; one in charge of the English speaking sub-system and one in charge of the French speaking sub-system. In that case, whatever reforms are being carried out in the Anglophone sub-system, those reforms are being brought by an education board. The GCE Board will now be examining what the education board has put together while the BAC Board will be examining what the French education board has put together. Nobody has bothered to create this thing. We reminded the PM, create it, now. The teachers were part of this forum that made these proposals, and we all signed this thing together. So by the time they were meeting the PM in November of 2016, this document had been sitting with the PM for one whole year almost and nothing had happened. If this document had been addressed because all the points that were now being put up in the Ghogomu commission for study, were the exact points that were gave in January of 2016.

We see it as either one or more things: Either that the regime is deliberately deaf to advice even from well-versed persons, experts; that there is over centralization with everything revolving around Yaounde which may spillover to an overdose of responsibility and too much work in the hands of the PM or that he might have been waiting for hierarchy to instruct him on what to do or not with the document.
I think over-centralization is one factor. But you see, what happens in this country is that when anybody is given an appointment, it is like he has been told… they write down something and put down his mind, that this is what you should say. Somebody is given an appointment in ELECAM for instance, which is supposed to be an independent body and he starts by thanking the Head of State who is a candidate for elections that will fall under him. And when he makes a speech out there he says ‘as the Head of State said.’ The language is like that. The Minister of Territorial Administration sees a boulder cracking on a Yaounde hill. He goes there as the Minister of Territorial Administration and says he has received instructions from the Head of State to go and see a boulder that is cracking. What is his function; to go and see that a boulder has cracked somewhere in Yaounde and he is going to report that from high instructions from the Head of State, he has gone to see a…

That could be understood; he is an appointee of the Head of State. How about those that are supposedly heading the Parliament? They are known to start every speech by ‘thanking the Head of State…’
That is what I mean; that type of thing has gone down the person, after all, who is the President of the Senate? Is it not just an appointee of the Head of State? He is not an elected president, so he must thank the Head of State. The man of the National Assembly before he is made president… he does not put up his candidature and say I want to be president, elect me. The Head of State sends a candidate to parliament and he is elected, so he thanks the Head of State. Somebody goes out to Congo, South Africa and wins an election and he comes back and is thanking the Head of State for that. That is how the system has been structured and…

Looks like a system in which millions of able bodied married adults are spoon-fed by a single tin god.
That is how the system has been structured and to speak the truth, I don’t think that the Head of State has given instructions to anybody that ‘when you go out to say something you must flatter me.’ I don’t think the instruction has been given to anybody but the system has evolved that way. So everybody thinks that if they don’t say that it is the Head of State, his counterpart on the other side will come and catch him for not saying that it. But the Head of State doesn’t even hear you saying those things. He doesn’t even hear that you have said those types of things. I don’t think that the Head of State saw the boulder cracking and assigned Atanga Nji to go and inspect it. I don’t think so.

We imagine you to be encumbered by a “lingering taste” of sour grapes. Maybe because you midwifed the GCE Board more or less but you were allowed enough time and the means to see your vision through. On the other hand, sycophants who fought to have the project aborted are hovering around and being more Catholic than the Pope.
It would be dishonest of me to answer that question in the negative. When I left the GCE Board, I felt very bitter; not bitter because I had left, but because Mbella Mbappe, after everything was a very understanding person. He waited for three years, when I finished my three years; he wanted me out because I was stubborn. So, the Council of the GCE Board met and got Yembe in and they wrote a text which the Minister had to sign. It read ‘Omer Yembe replacing Azong-Wara who had messed up the Board.’ That is what my friend Herbert Endeley as Chairman actually wrote. That was supposed to be the term of the decree that Mbella Mbappe was to sign. When I got that I was very hurt and I thought that I had put in a great effort which was not yet completed. But when this decree went to Mbella Mbappe, he said ‘what? Do you want to kill the man?’ That is Mbella Mbappe who was like my main antagonist; he said ‘no, you can’t do that to a man.’ So he sat on his table and changed that decree and said ‘replacing Azong-Wara who had come to the end of his term of office.’ They came back and they now summoned a kind of audit committee when I had left the Board; that they should audit my financial inputs at the Board. They did an audit and decided that they were going to sue me for financial mismanagement and Herbert Endeley again; my own close friend was bent on getting me into jail. He said it over and over that ‘that man is a jail man’ even in the club. So he took this resolution after he had gotten the Council to sit, he took it to the Minister of Education, still Mbella Mbappe at the time. And the Minister looked at it and said ‘what? Again?’ He called Herbert Endeley in his office and said, ‘you said this man stole money; did you give him money?’ I gave him money. I gave him FCFA 241 million for three years and you say he stole which money? I am even surprised how he managed the Board. Take the thing and go away.’ So, it hurt me.

You were not saved through due process in court then?
There was no court again; it was the Minister who saved me.

Probably if it had gone to court, someone might have convinced their Lordships to have you jailed.
I felt hurt that as an Anglophone who had put in that kind of effort which was not yet complete. I had that kind of treatment from persons, most of whom I left behind at the Council, because if they took a decision that they should send me to court… for that reason, I felt hurt.
Then it moved to my own allowances that were supposed to be paid. When Yembe came, he vowed that he will never pay those allowances. We even went to court. In the end Yembe thought that he could trick me. He suggested for us to have a discussion, to withdraw the case. The court at that time was headed by Ayah Paul. Ayah Paul said ‘no, this is not normal; if you people are talking of an amicable settlement, let us adjourn the case, you go and finish amicably and you come back and tell me that you have settled amicably. Then, I will strike it off.’ Yembe asked him to strike it off. He said we will go and discuss and settle amicably. So, Ayah Paul asked me; ‘are you comfortable with that?’ My interest was the Board. I didn’t want the Board disturbed, so I said yes. Ayah cancelled the case. But, Yembe changed his mind, insisting that I was a thief.
It was only several years later that Monono came into the Board and in spite of our own disagreement here and there, Azong Wara reason prevailed and he paid me the money.
You see that I have reason to be angry. These things have hurt me, and now that I was that hurt, I want to be sure that these kinds of things do not happen to other people because it is not what we built, it is not what we wanted. Now that people are beginning to come in through the window, where a Prime Minister can just sign a decree and appoint somebody and the person can sit and sign his own orders and appoint people at the Board, I don’t think that is what we want. Those things hurt me and I want to straighten them. That is all.

Given the trend things have taken so far, can the Board survive, do you think? Surviving as a credible institution; with set values that were meant to be attained?
First, as a Board I think it will survive because as I pointed out, there is a presidential decree that created that Board and placed it in Buea. That Board cannot move from Buea unless President Paul Biya signs a second decree. That is why I say these fears of transferring the Board are just rumours. It will never move from Buea.

Are you saying it will never move or that it should never move?
Well, I don’t know why I am so optimistic that it will never move because the President’s signature is there. Unless Biya gets up one day on the wrong side of the bed and signs a decree without thinking … But to be on the safe side, I should say it should never move from Buea.
Secondly as to the Board following its objectives and attaining its mission, the text that created it must be followed very closely and precisely. That is why I hang around so that when I see things going wrong, as a founding person, I have the intention to inform the Anglophones that something is going wrong; and happily I still have a lot of credibility among the Anglophones. If something is going wrong, the Anglophones must get up to protect it and that is why beginning from now, they must correct those things that have gone wrong there and that is why in my open letter to the Chairperson, I prayed him to reject all the decisions of the Registrar that do not conform with the text. They should be rejected.

Finally, do you see the ranking administrators of the GCE Board bending the rules or breaking them for parochial exigency?
There are two things that have been broken and in very quick succession; the way they have been appointed. They have no hand in that. They have gone through the back door and they have succeeded by way of their appointment. So, there is no way we can fault them on that because if you are a good dribbler; you dibble from the back door and enter, that’s your credit. But it is wrong. That is why I am telling the man who did it that it is wrong.
The second thing is that they are now asking Delegates of Education to elect representatives of the Board. There is a sinister…

Does that amount to bending or breaking the rules?
That is bending the rules or both of them because the rule says that it has to be the teachers or the parents. So, they are first of all breaking it for their own personal gains. So, when those fellows will come into the Board, you will now have the possibility of the Minister of Education having seven representatives in a council of 16 alone. So he can just do what he wants. If he can turn around and convince one other minister, say minister of finance that his representative should vote for me for this decision. At the council, the teachers’ representatives know that they have been sent by the delegate, if they don’t vote, the delegate can take them off, parents’ representative know that, eight people can just automatically vote from one source and overturn anything that the GCE Board is wanting; which is what we sought to avoid. We needed the opinion of objective Anglophones to protect decisions of the council of the GCE Board, that is why we built it that way and it must be that way. Once you start changing those people and you have money along the way which will add to their purses to bend or change things, then it is very easy to destroy the integrity of the Board.
Interviewed by Nester Asonganyi & Charlie Ndi Chia

Shredded Cameroon can still be recuperated – Nico Halle

Barrister Nico Halle is not a run-of-the-mill personality that can be cajoled into an interview if he perceives that long earned and nurtured reliability is on the line. The current Bar General Assembly president and international peace crusader was recently in Buea for a private function.
However, his concern for immediate return to peace and by extension social justice and equity had the better part of him, leading to acquiescence to an interview to edify Cameroonians on some very burning issues pertaining to the current crises in the country and governance as a whole.
Judging by his discourse, he eschews confrontation like a plague and sees no reason why other Cameroonians should not make it part of their personal mottos, if only as contribution to a society of enduring peace and stability.
He agrees that issues have been allowed to deteriorate to current levels because of mutual display of irreverence for the word of God that is encapsulated in love for one another and country.
Nevertheless, as gloomy as the prevailing circumstance may seem, he sees Cameroon coming out of the present doldrums fired by confidence, determination and love. The peace crusader in him makes him exude an aura of implacable optimism in the eventuality of reason prevailing over the current irrationality being exhibited by protagonists in the war of attrition pitting Government forces against alleged separatists with obeisance to a yet to be midwifed Ambazonia Republic.
As euphemistic as his pronounced modesty and training as lawyer could permit him to come across, his narrative is inexorably, suffused with a consensual and urgent need for Cameroonians to sit around a table and dialogue, akin to typical Bantu cosmogony of solving intractable issues under the shade of a tree in the village square.
As usual, it is a pot-pourri of dexterity in handling complex issues in a very readable manner that can only emanate from The Rambler stable. (See inside pages)
Cameroonis on fire.If you agree, would you want to discuss how things became this bad?
For about close to 20 months there has been tension in the two Anglophone Regions,so it is not news to anybody. You know so well as a peace crusader, spanning more than 28 years, I am saddened, disturbed, troubled and worried by the situation. Since the eruption of the crisis, everybody knows I have been on the field preaching peace, preaching harmony, preaching serenity and also praying that God almighty that created this great nation, Cameroon, should look down with pity and instruct his children, Cameroonians how they can come out of this quagmire. So that is what I have been doing and requesting also that all the stakeholders; that is, Cameroonians of various orientations should act with restraint. I have, since the beginning, condemned the killing of civilians, policemen, soldiers and gendarmes, I have condemned the destructions; all the property that is going belong to Cameroonians; those who are dying are our brothers and sisters. That is why I have been pleading with Cameroonians to go on their knees, reason better and come up with lasting solutions because nobody ever benefits from violence. People benefit from peace and I always say peace is the weapon of the strong,while violence is the weapon of the weak. In my peace crusading, I have also highlighted the importance of love, justice, equity, the rule of law, the respect for human rights and liberties, patriotism, accountability, transparency, the fear of the Lord.
These are all what we call core spiritual values which will constitute the platforms for peace to exist. That is my mantra. I stand on that and there is no problem without a solution.
You just reeled out, peace, justice, fear of the Lord and all that… The common assumption is that nature doesn’t entertain a vacuum.By the same token, if there is no justice, equity, rule of law, then nature would most likely fill up, make up foran apparent collapse of leadership so to speak…
When you talk of leadership in terms of…
Wherethere is good leadership, there would naturally be a concomitantwilling followership…
I am thinking of leadership in terms of all Cameroonians. All Cameroonians are called upon to contribute towards what we might call true leadership and it is true that there are people who might be in leadership positions starting from their homes, from schools and universities. Mayors, parliamentarians, ministers, senators, the justice system and all of these are leadership positions. If each of these groups were to perform their duties with love, justice, equity, respecting the fundamental law which is the constitution, what we have just described as a falling situation would be reduced to the barest minimum. There is no perfect system in the world but there are systems that are good.Good for me, is not perfect. So, when we talk of leadership, we should look at leadership holistically. You are a leader in your office.Youare interviewing me. I am in Buea for a thesis defencebut, I am being interviewed now because you approached me. You are the leader, the way you approached me showed that you are a leader. You were cordial, you were welcoming, you were nice and that is leadership.I am thinking of leadership in terms of people who have control over units, those small units globally now make the entire nation.
One istempted to think that in Cameroon, crass authority has taken precedence over humble leadership.Leadership is serving; it is serving the people humbly and not leading haughtily. But we are like stuck with a clique of people calledparty leaders, ministers, governors, et al, dictating to the people, breathing down their necks. We think that is the reason for the protests, the uprisings.
That is another way of looking at it and you do have the right to that approach. I am looking at leadership from a holistic point of view because itis this conceptualization that brings about passing the buck.If all the homes were being well managed… I remember when I was very active as Ntumfor, I did indicate that if each village were well managed in Cameroon, Cameroon will have no problem. But if some villages are well managed and others are not, there is trouble. So, I am looking at leadership from a macro point of view because in my house, I should be able to assume responsibility.But I should understand that my wife has a role to play, my children have role to play for serenity to reign in my house. If Nico Halle alone wants to install peace in my house, it will not work; my wife must say ‘yes, we need peace,’ the children also must be part of it, my cooks too must be part…
Which is why we think, we don’t have leadership per se; rather we are stuck with a clique that is to say the very least, assuming ownership of Cameroon.
Again, that’s the way you look at it, but another way of looking at it is informing the people that each and every one of us has a role to play for that kind of leadership that is in your mind to function because leaders cannot succeed when the people whom they are leading are not contributing their own quota.
We insist that the typical Cameroonian leaderinsists for everybody else to shiver and pander; offices must shut down, road must be blocked for hours when he is moving from one point of town to the other. It is a tin god phenomenon.
Thank you very much for that take. If it is a tradition or usage that when you must move certain arrangements must be made to enable you move because you are representing the people, if the people accept that from their will, then that is what they are practicing. The only way we can depart from that is by coming up with some other form that is better than what you are describing.
Are you in effect endorsing a situation whereby a woman in labour must postpone bringing forth her babyor that access to hospitals should be blocked for hours,because a leader is about to drive by?
No, definitely…
I don’t know any system that will…
But that is what obtains in Cameroon.
If you have taken note of that…
Yes, we have,
Then it is unfortunate but I don’t think that it is proper.
Or,that state institutions should stop functioning because a leader ismoving from pillar to post?
Again, I get back to what I said.How did we get to that? If it has been in vogue, how did we get to it and why must we not depart from it because we are moving modern. Why can we not depart from it? Can we depart from it? These are the questions…
Ok, we love that and we hasten to ask you; how did Uganda get to the stage of inventing an Idi Amin? It is either Ugandans were heckled or suppressed to a stage where they couldn’t do their own thinking or, they became such sycophants, that they couldn’t point out to Amin that he was naked; they might have been cheering him all along until he inevitably stepped on a banana peeling and kismet decided his fate. The same could be said of Romania’s NicolaeCeausescu, Slobodan Milosevic of Bosnia Herzegovina and the like.The dustbin of history is full of such impulsive tyrants.
Well, you have a mastery of…
Not exactly;What we are indicating here is thatCameroonians have cultivatedthis cringing culture of deifying ordinary mortals who should be their humble servants.
We don’t mean to flatter you, Barrister Halle, but you radiate humility, your social status notwithstanding.Candidly, to get rid of the collective suicide that Cameroonians are steadily committing, we think that something has to give sway somewhere and that is a clear cut moral, leadership restructuring. It is our honestview,Sir.
Yeah it is your observation
This question may have been addressed above, but maybe for emphasis, how, do you think, the arson that has so far been visited on some 70 Anglophone Cameroonian villageswith hundreds of people murdered be checked?
I don’t know. I am not privy to those statistics but I said and continue to say that there is no problem in the world without a solution. I just think we have to take our destinies into our hands, to be honest to ourselves, get together and chart way of getting out of this situation which you have just described. Of course, this problem which you have described could have been taken care of if we had love, justice, equity; if we loved this nation, you and me and all those who have gone down to say this cannot happen. But I am sure you know so well that there are people who are not happy when there is peace because they exploit this kind of situation for political or financial gains. I really ask myself where these kinds of people are coming from. People who don’t espouse peace, who don’t promote peace, who are comfortable in violence, who are comfortable in conflict, in quarrels, in misunderstandings; they can create chaos in order to take advantage and pull fast ones. With all of that, it accounts for what we have just described. So, it is possible that we can bank on what is done.Scales have fallen off our eyes, the masks have fallen too.Let us sit down.It is the moment for us to tell ourselves that we love each other; we are our neighbor’s keeper, we doesn’t deserve what is happening; that people are being killed, there are burnings, there are destructions, refugee migration problem.It is only sordid; it should not happen to a blessed nation like ours.
Barrister Nico Halle, this is a very pointed question.It is assumed that forces of law andorder are trained to be exceptionally disciplined and more methodical that the ordinary civilian. But when at the drop of a hat, they loot, rape, kill and burn villages it is dangerous for the polity, don’t you think?
No, nobody would say it’s normal. Nobody in their right senses would say it is normal so…
Would you then advise someone in distress to run to a gendarme, soldier or policeman for protection? That would be tantamount to nursing suicidal instincts, right?
I think I have said earlier on, that situations like this are exploited.Either way, the gendarmes are dying, the police and the army; the civilians are also dying in their numbers from what…
Unfortunately, hundreds ofinnocent, hapless, unarmedcivilians are being slaughtered like chickens;not the ragtag army that is said to be fanning the embers of secession.Note that those who are fighting the bush war hardly have houses anywhere.They are in the bush fromwhere they sporadically attack…
What I am saying is that the situation is very painful. I have said that whether a gendarme, a police, an army or a civilianis dying, they are all our brothers and sisters, who should notdie. They are burning property, whether private or public.It is our property, so, we are taking ourselves many years back. When people are displaced, it usually very difficult to…
By the same token you are stating that nobody should kill.
You can be sure. Nobody has the right to take the life of any person.
And the forces of law and order, how do we bring them back to start playing their constitutional role of protecting that life and property?
I have condemned this from Day One,that whether it is the forces of law and order or the civilians, nobody has the right to take another person’s life. You don’t deserve to die. I have said this across the board. So I look at it globally; I don’t go into specifics. I will tell you that for the past 13months, I don’t sleep.Anybody who goes to bed and sleeps in the face of this situation lacks love because when I watch certain images my heart bleeds.I am one person who is empathetic and sympathetic. I am compassionate; I don’t like to see a drop of blood. I don’t want to see a corpse; a corpse of natural death, fine, but when it comes from bullets, when it comes from rough handling and all of these, that tells me… and if you have noticed,I look emaciated. I do not sleep. It is not just because I am a Cameroonian but because of my role as a peace crusader. As a peace crusader, I am asking myself questions; why can all of us in Cameroon not be converted into peace crusaders?
Are we agreed that one or two institutions, whether traditional or corporate of our country have failed in their mission, in their assigned mission to Cameroonians, which is why people are being shot at, people are not listening, people are getting into the bushes, some people are burning down others’ homes?
Unless and until our mindset is changed and unless I start looking at you as my brother with love; I am not talking about brother from the same Region, no!Brother from the same nation, we are all brothers. That is how I look at it. Now, some people like I said when they go to bed they can sleep, they can eat, I lose appetite. When I just hear that there is burning in this part, no appetite and my day is shattered, my week is shattered. And that justifies why I am permanently on the field. Last time up to including December, I used to go… but I was advised, ‘take note Nico Halle, you are doing a great job, people are appreciating what you are doing but not everybody is happy that you want this situation to stop because of what they are benefiting from it. Please don’t announce your goings and your comings, just go.’ So now, I just target groups and I go, they don’t know where I am going.
Have your interventions and preachments paid off?
They have paid off. You know if I were not peace crusading, you shouldn’t even ask that. If I have reconciled journalists, families, traditional rulers, politicians, pastors, lawyers that you know, then you can imagine. If I were not on the field,… I am not blowing my trumpet, but maybe the situation would have escalated; it might have been worse. So, it is paying off and I thank God for that. I am sure that the fact that people appreciate what I am doing because they know the impact that my peace crusading has had in all of these.
Would you say the present imbrogliohas stainedwhat ought to be the immaculate canvas of legality in Cameroon? We are asking this based on the fact that security forces are on record as having beaten up Lawyers seized their wigs and gowns, muddied them; in short, desecrated the judiciary?Has this pristine act of the khaki boys compromised the third estate of the realm role of the judiciary in this country?
I did condemn that act very cogently,
We are asking if it has watered down legal prestige.
I am saying that these were people; these were lawyers who were asking for what is good for the nation. When you saw the grievances of the lawyers there was no trifling item in their grievances; they were asking for the OHADA Law to be in both languages…
And something else
And a few other things, ok, and then for them to have been vandalized, rough handled… I came out with communiqués condemning that and I still consider that that was not proper because nowhere in the world are lawyers treated that way. I think that things have escalated beyond just the lawyers and the teachers grievances to other proportions which God alone knows and so, to be very honest with you, I have not ceased condemning in the hardest of terms the behaviour of some of our Cameroonians; be they in the civil, in the army, in the forces of law and order, I have condemned that. It is on record that I have been very constant as far as that is concerned.
You have this antecedent of checking, attending to moral, social and why not, political values;ensuring that they are on course. In crusading for peace and changing mindsets, have you approached those who referred to other Cameroonians as ‘rats and cockroaches’ that ought to be exterminated and the local authority that repeatedly referred to a cultural entity in Cameroon as ‘dogs.’Have you reached out to change the hearts of those who assembled at the Buea Mountain Hotel and preached Rwanda-type xenophobia? Remember some of the xenophobes were rewarded with appointments to top national offices.

All of that is unacceptable. You will agree that it is decadence.
Have you been to them?
I don’t …
Let’s be blunt. We are talking about the ranking Regional administrator who kept calling people of a particular cultural expression dogs.
Did I need to go to the administrator? When I condemn a situation, when I condemn the violence and disproportionate words used, I don’t need to call… if the cap suits you, wear it. If I must name, then it is unfortunate. But you know what I have been doing and that is non-negotiable. I don’t compromise when it comes to the crime decadence. You know me and you have been following up and so, it is not about names.
But we thought if you don’t confront them, face to face, it would be like tacklingdisease symptoms and not the disease itself.
If I were to indicate that all of that including others is unacceptable, do I need to come to tell you that the words you used were inflammatory, were out of proportion? Otherwise, then I must visit every Cameroonian who has made a statement.
No, symbolically you might visit one or two persons, I think Jesus did it.
But do you know that I have visited people in Cameroon? When they talk of peace crusading, it means meeting people, meeting groups of people; using papers, interviews, making pronouncements on television and on radio. Once, you do that, you reach out to so many people and they understand my take on this whole thing. I think there is hardly any Cameroonian who up to, and including now has not known Nico Halle’s position.
We are also saying that interpersonal communication can only reinforce mass communication; if you came to me directly and said, ‘what you said go back and unsay it,’ you would have touched a heart.
You see, that is your own approach. I am Nico Halle and having my own approach. My approach is not confrontational. Peace crusading is not confrontational, that is the difference between Nico Halle and others. They will go confrontational, but Nico Halle is peaceful. There is no day you will hear me insulting anybody or promoting violence and it starts from my house, it starts from my office, it starts from wherever. I know that the fact that my stand for the truth is unbendable, uncompromising causes people to smear me, persecute me and blackmail me and each time I see that, I am happy, it means that I am doing something.
Would you die ready for it, if you died crusading for peace?
I am sure you know that in November, December 2017 when it was bad on the ground and I was out for two weeks in the Northwest and Southwest, I went to Mamfe; that was the boiling period.Just the day before, they had killed two gendarmes. I went to where the killings took place against all counsel. I went to all the military bases and I spoke with them. I told them that we need to respect our human rights. I prayed with them and I asked that the Lord should enable them do work for the nation. I went around; I met politicians in the Northwest, met some in Southwest and these are the two Regions that are greatly affected.
If you were to ask me if I will die, if I left Bamenda and everybody who heard I was going to Mamfe said don’t go. In any case I told them I will die eventually, if I die communing, fellowshipping with my people of the Southwest, I will not care. But I went and met the people; they embraced me and that impacted. The fact that somebody had showed concern at that time… I could have been shot if they wanted to, but to be very honest with you, they embraced me in the Northwest and the Southwest Regions where I went to.
Have the authorities recognized and appreciated what you are doing,whichothers could only set out to dowith blaring sirens in tow and for mouth watering per diems?
I want to let you know that, across the board, I have been appreciated and that is what for me is the motto; that is what motivates me to do more, because I have been appreciated for what I have been doing for peace to reign in this nation; not only in the Northwest and Southwest. My peace crusading is not limited to the Northwest and Southwest. You are aware that of recent, I had an international award for peace crusading not just in Cameroon, Africa but the entire world. It means that the ripples of what I have been doing are worldwide.
And has that included perhaps reaching out to the Diaspora Cameroonians who are like fanning the embers of the separatism?
When you preach peace, you are preaching peace for all. You don’t say this peace or what I am preaching should go for this people and this should go for the other people. You preach peace for all, because peace is good for everybody and that is my take on that. I am preaching peace and I will continue to preach until peace returns.If peace does not return, I will continue to preach. I am praying and I know sooner or later, peace will return to this nation. It is a beautiful nation blessed by God. God cannot allow Cameroon to be shredded and the state at which it is, it, can still be recuperated. I think that we just need to be confident, determined, and love and have confidence in each other, we will come out of this situation. I am very optimistic and positive.
On that comforting note, Barrister Nico Halle, we want to thank you for accepting to talk to us.
Thank you very much, may God bless you and bless The Rambler.
Interviewed by Nester Asonganyi & Charlie Ndi Chia

May 20 boycott hits new high

One more May 20 mock celebration. One more opportunity missed for Paul Biya to speak to the soul of the nation he claims to lead. One more proof that his “one and indivisible” Cameroon was intended to include former Southern Cameroonians not as citizens whose lives count and whose feelings and aspirations matter, but as slaves or captives. One more demonstration of his “get-lost” attitude towards anyone who expects him to streamline his lifestyle to the state of the country.
This year’s commemoration came in the wake of a fiendishly bloody war he declared on them.
Biya sailed imperially into and out of the ceremonial grounds in his new-fangled toy – a bullet-proof Sentinel Range Rover jeep valued at upwards of half a billion CFA, a state-of-the-art limousine first seen worldwide at this year’s auto fair in Geneva.
Even the habitually obsequious “other-language” papers could not pull their punches at his revolting flamboyance in the midst of his country’s wrenching penury.
They published elaborate pictures of the car alongside taps spouting muddy water, buses stuck on impassable roads and soldiers grounded for want of transport. For Southern Cameroonians, however, this seems to have become a neighbour’s cup of tea. They appear to have flipped the page on Biya’s antics and to Francophones used to grumbling in their armpits.
To both groups, however, Biya’s core message seems to be, “Get lost!” The bloke appears to live his life in a bubble, totally impervious to the feelings of his detractors and loyalists alike.
There he was at the May 20 Boulevard, basking in the glamour of his high office, mindless of the fact that thousands of former Southern Cameroonians have been spending weeks in the forests fleeing from the soldiers that should be protecting them; mindless of the thousands now homeless after over 70 of their villages have been reduced to ashes by the same soldiers; even mindless of the gory pictures that the whole world has been seeing lately – pictures of the most unsightly ways in which his troops are killing, torturing and abusing unarmed civilians in this embattled area.
Despite all this, his vassals on the ground have been at pains to force the surviving members of these families, still mortified by the loss of their loved ones, homes and property, to come out and march to celebrate May 20. In fact the regime seems to have been so desperate to have people march that local administrators instructed Churches to close Pentecost Sunday services before 8 a.m. Behind this order, the population was quick to detect a plan by the regime to swoop on Christians during or after Church services, and force them to the parade grounds. It turned out they had accurately read the Government’s mind, for that is precisely what happened in Buea and other places – all of this in a bid to hoodwink the world that this was a happy, united nation in celebration.
Well, only a world of morons would be taken in by such window dressing, flooded as it is with videos of the carnage being visited on the same people by the same regime. And it has to be the very sickest level of sadism to require young widows and orphans to bottle up their grief and go marching for the pleasure of those who ordered the killing of their husbands and fathers. However, the story of this year’s May 20 boycott defies all window dressing. Many even see the Sunday evening accident on the Tiko-Douala road as divine visitation to hired marchers who were returning from their mission in the Southwest.
Meanwhile, driving back home in his roaring motorcade, Biya cut the picture of a man pathetically insulated from the country he claims to lead. A normal human being would have understood that enough has happened to turn May 20 into a day of national mourning. Even God, the Almighty Creator, can afford to say to erring humans, “my people, come, let’s reason together.” And in a transport of remorse after destroying the world with the flood in Noah’s time, God took an oath, materialised by the rainbow, never to repeat what He had just done. With the spirit of God so manifestly absent in Mr. Biya’s leadership, no wonder many consider all his actions inspired by none but the prince of the abyss himself.
That is a most scary threshold for any people to cross – to be convinced that the devil holds the helm of their country. From that moment you can expect evil in any form.
The most disturbing twist to all this is that very few rumours of the regime’s macabre designs against former Southern Cameroonians have turned out completely unfounded. That should explain the recent palm oil fever. Rumour had spread that a device had been exploded in Lake Awing with purpose to gas the surrounding population to death. Since the population could not put this regime beyond such wickedness, they took to massive consumption of palm oil, believing it would neutralise the toxic effect of any gas.
A visit to the lake by the Fon of Awing eventually reassured the population that nothing of the sort had happened. However, there being no smoke without fire, grapevine maintains that the alarm was triggered by leaked Intel about a gas attack planned for later. One can only hope and pray, that even if this demonic plan were actually in the works, it would be aborted now that its cover is blown.
Last weekend, the gorgon reared another head in Mile 16, Buea. An SOS from a weeping young man in hiding took us back to the Old Testament when the Egyptians sought to depopulate the Israelites by killing their male children from age 13. This story appeared to signal the implementation of another leaked plan which we dare hope regime intelligence will debunk, or expose and foil.
This is to say nothing about the blood letting on the so-called national day itself. Soldiers of the regime are paid to do the bidding of their commander-in-chief. In so doing they put their lives on the line. Young former Southern Cameroonians radicalized by the unjustifiable killing of their loved ones, have taken up arms to defend their kith and kin, driven by the desire to be in a country where their lives, opinions and aspirations are respected. Armed clashes between these two sides are an unfortunate but logical unfolding, because when you take up arms you are ready to kill or be killed. But if Mr. Biya were a normal human president one would ask him why all those unarmed civilians deserve to die, and for how long he intends this to go on. Is he aware that the more blood he sheds the more remote the prospects of reconciliation? This thing is the ultimate test of his mettle as a leader and it is only human, when you fail, to step aside.

Fake Certificates Saga: Ekema backpedals, withdraws legal suit

Pundits perceive Esunge Patrick Ekema’s withdrawal of a legal suit in which the Buea mayor was praying the court to inter alia; perpetually restrain the University of Buea, UB, from interfering with academic degrees awarded him by the institution as strategically foxy.
They imagine that he might have literally placed a banana peeling, expecting that his opponents would step on it and tumble, legally. He would then be in pole position to play a strong, hidden joker should “The Place to Be,” proceed to effectively revoke his certificates.
The court granted Ekema’s request on Thursday, May 24, against frantic efforts by the defendants to have the matter entertained all the way, preferably by a collegiate bench of three judges. This action at the behest of Ekema is what lends even stronger credence to the belief that the mayor has thrown in the towel (“with intent”) and is now ready to see his academic certificates which he purportedly acquired fraudulently withdrawn.
That notwithstanding, in upholding Ekema’s right to withdraw his own claims against UB and the State of Cameroon as First and Second Defendants respectively, His Lordship Mr. Justice Ako Kenneth noted that the legal history of the suit was enriched when on May, 7, the First Defendant filed a motion on notice soliciting as follows:
That the suit be heard by a collegiate bench of three judges and that they would be seeking to establish that the prayers sought by the plaintiff, are outside the competence of “this High Court and within the jurisdiction of a competent administrative tribunal.”
The Judge recalled that on May, 16, the Plaintiff filed a motion of discontinuance, praying the court to note that their intention to discontinue against all the defendants was hinged on Suit N0: HCF/015/WOS/2018, as well as their motion on notice that was hinging on that suit. Counsel for the First Defendant, Barrister Eta Besong Jr. would have none of this. He did not see what the court was adjourning to rule, for, according to him, he has only brought information before the court and not any application. Before then, the Barrister had reiterated the legal principle that in law, a substantive suit cannot be attended to before an interlocutory application.
The Judge consulted ‘Black’s Law Dictionary’ which defines discontinuation as “the termination of a law suit by the plaintiff.”
Citing Order 44 of the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules Cap 211 of the Laws of Nigeria Revised Edition 1948, the Judge noted that Volume X enacts that if before the date fixed for a hearing, the plaintiff decides to discontinue any suit against all or any defendants or to withdraw any part of his claim, he must give notice in writing of discontinuance or withdrawal to the Registrar and to every defendant with or from whom he desires to discontinue or withdraw. He said that according to the Learned author, Akinola Aguda in “Principles of Practise and Procedure” the effect of discontinuance is that the suit ceases to exist.
The Judge further invoked several other judicial precedents before noting that once an application for discontinuance is made, the things to be considered by a trial court is the stage the application was made.
According to Mr. Justice Ako, it was crystal clear that with a notice of discontinuance such as the one before his court, which is discontinuance before the hearing on the merits, “this suit is automatically terminated.”
He said further: “The operative word here is ‘a matter be heard.’ This presupposes a situation at the onset of the hearing of the suit. I do not believe that it should be interpreted to mean that the matter being heard already by a single judicial officer shall at a later stage be transformed into a hearing of a collegiate bench.
“This question must be addressed and resolved at the onset of the hearing of the suit. One suit cannot at the same time be commenced by a single judge and later be entertained on the same issues by a by a collegiate bench again…
“Thus, the application appointment of a collegiate team to hear a suit is a rule that does not overcome the discontinuance of the suit. That suit is terminated automatically as we have taken time to demonstrate especially as in the case if it is done before the date fixed for hearing.
“No suit still exists here and so too, all the pending interlocutory applications there also collapsed with the notice of discontinuance having been filed at the appropriate time…”
Origin of legal battle
When news of the fake certificate saga involving the Buea mayor first broke, it spread like wildfire. UB that initially put to question the mayor’s requisite qualifications did not ask that criminal charges be pressed on him for the purported fraud. Rather, it was Ekema, who, through his lawyer, Barrister Emmanuel Nkea approached the court, seeking to halt the university from releasing further information about his academic history to the public.

Then he backpedaled and on Thursday, May 24, after a spirited legal battle the court ruled in his favour.
Unlike the previous court session on May 17 when the plaintiff was “unjustifiably absent,” this time, he gave power of attorney for someone to represent him. Even though counsel for the defendant raised an objection on grounds that under the provision of section 117 of the Evidence Ordinance, the document granting power of attorney ought to be executed by the law before a notary court and authenticated by a notary court. Barrister Eta Besong Jr. argued that the document tendered did not state that it was executed before a notary court; neither did it state that it has been authenticated by the notary court.
He pointed out that Law No 90/059 is what governs practice at the Bar and does not deal with power of attorney. He concluded that the word ‘seal’was different from ‘executed before’ and ‘authenticated by’ and so, the document was inadmissible under section 117 of the Evidence Ordinance and should be rejected.
Barrister Nkea, counsel for the plaintiff reminded the court that according to law, advocates practising in the Northwest and Southwest can perform the functions of notary court. Therefore, if he had sealed the document as notary, it is acceptable; otherwise there would be nothing that makes them notaries in this part of the country. He said his opponent’s arguments were dilatory in nature and should be discarded. “The document before you is duly signed. There is this notion of form which my learned friend has brought up and it is a technical issue that should not stand before the execution of justice,” Nkea stated.
The presiding judge held that the rules of the court relating to forms are rules and the duty of the court is not to adhere to such forms but to do substantial justice and prevent undue appearance to technicalities. He said what is important is that the document was done before a notary court, and so, whether it was sealed or not, the significant issue is that both ways lead to Rome and the mission is to get to Rome. As such, he said the document granted power of attorney to the plaintiff and is admitted.
By Nester Asonganyi

Internal frictions at ELECAM may jeopardize elections

A rift between a faction loyal to the Board Chair and another firmly behind the Director General could plunge the electoral board in confusion ahead of crucial elections later this year.
The tussle had been boiling within the corridors of ELECAM for the past months but came to the limelight at the weekend when board members held a meeting in Yaounde to pass a vote of no confidence on the Director General Abdoulaye Babale, accusing him of mismanaging human and financial resources.
According to a communiqué signed by the board chair of ELECAM Enow Abrams Egbe, the Director General has been found wanting amongst others, repeated failure to attend statutory sessions aimed at harmonization ahead of the upcoming elections.
According to the communiqué, Mr. Babale’s comportment has de-motivated ELECAM staff, inflicting a serious dent on the body’s image on the eve of elections.
However, the Board could only fall short by establishing the gross misconduct charge on Abdoulaye Babalaye with the decision to fire him resting on the Head of State who was at the time reported to be in Mvomeka’a for the burial of his nephew who perished in a military accident in Limbe a couple of weeks ago.
Babale’s fight back
Abdoulaye Babale had already read the handwriting on the wall even before Friday’s event and in an attempt to win part of the ELECAM staff to his side, organized a seminar for all ELECAM staff nationwide between the 22-24 May in Douala, Garoua and Yaounde.
According to an ELECAM insider, they were all placed on mission allowances and financial benefits which was the first time such was happening under Abdoulaye Babale.
During the three-day seminar aimed at training ELECAM workers on handling elections in a democratic setting, Abdoulaye Babale announced that 253,000 news voters had been registered on the electoral lists as of May 10.
He used the opportunity to distribute 720 new electoral kits to ELECAM Regional heads which would in turn be distributed at the various Divisional and Sub-Divisional levels.
Babale also addressed the status of several ELECAM staffers that were set to go on strike either because of their status within the organisation of their financial benefits. He blamed the situation on administrative bottlenecks and hitches which he inherited from his predecessor but promised them their situation would be normalized before the elections.
While Babale was giving assurances to ELECAM staff on May 24, the Board was thus meeting to charge him with gross misconduct.
Analysts hold that this tussle between the Board Chair and the Director General might seriously jeopardize the organization of elections in the country given that it has created two camps within the institution.
This is not the first time ELECAM is witnessing a tussle at the helm with Samuel Fonkam Azu’u and Mohaman Sani Tanimou swept aside from the organisation after they failed to settle their differences.
Many have since been suspecting that Babale would be swept away from the house following his publication of first figures of Senatorial results on the night of the polls only to be pressured into publish contradicting figures less than 24 hours later.
Whoever comes out on top in this latest soap at ELECAM, the real battle however lies on the field, especially in the two English-speaking Regions where violence could pose a big threat to the conduct of the elections.
By Francis Ajumane

GCE exams take off in relative calm

Despite threats from yet to be identified individuals under the canopy of ‘Ambazonia Freedom Fighters to rubbish this year’s GCE examination and counter threats of retaliation by Government, the exercise has begun hitch free in some centres in the Southwest and Northwest Regions.
Like in the 2016/2017 academic year when threats from the same sources to stymie its conduct had abounded, the atmosphere has not been very different in the 2017/2018 session. Even though there is a remarkable drop in the number of candidates registered in the two Anglophone Regions, the general figures nationwide are still encouraging.
It is worthy of note that the Ministry of secondary Education had infused fresh impetus to the examination process by extending the closing date for registration to the end of March, following the appointment of Pauline Nalova Lyonga, as Minister of Education.
Government has been hard put to project the perception that despite the acrimonious tinge that characterizes its relationship with former West Cameroonians, all is well as business is moving on unperturbed despite the overwhelming disparity between this view and reality in most schools in all of the 13 Divisions that constitute the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
It would be recalled that as part of the threats, two principals of Government High schools in Mile 16, Bolifamba and Muyka all in Fako Division were kidnapped for being ardent supporters of the anti no school slogan championed by separatists.
It is the hope of many parents and their wards that as the writing session has begun on a good footing in the restive Northwest and Southwest Regions; it will sail on smoothly to the end.
By Nester Asonganyi

Last kicks of a dying regime

Professor Elvis Ngole Ngole seems to be regretting the fact that he had seemingly atoned for his erstwhile gaffe when he pitched his tent in the camp of those who had refused to acknowledge the Anglophone problem and its poignant existentialist essence for the corporate survival of Cameroon. His dismal outing on Cameroon Calling where he was pontificating as professor of political science evoked the impression of motorcycle rider handling an issue in rocket science. In a desperate attempt to justify the puerile outing of the Minister of External realtions in the matter pitting the American Ambassador against paul Biya, Ngole Ngole chided the former interferring in Cameroon’s internat affairs and even went to the extent of saying tthat Cameron as a sovereign state is legally and ligitimately correct to use any means to subdue insurrection within its territorial confines.
Unfortunately for the man who passes off for Professor, he had set his own question different from what was in issue, which is that the American ambassador’s grouse with the Biya regime was not on the legality or otherwise for it to quell a rebellion that is threatening its territorial integrity. On the contrary the ambassador, being the representative of a country in skies where due process or the rule of law is accorded its deserved primacy, is miffed by the fact that extra judicial killings, burning looting, maiming and even rape had become customary to the manner the regime was proclaiming its unilateral declaration of war against his citizens whose only crime is expression of discomfiture against palpable misrule.
In riposte to the above, some public commentators say the embers of cold war between CPDM genuine and pseudo intellectuals and Cameroonians with integrity should be stoked. By their reckoning, the protagonists are seeking strategic positions to facilitate accession to power given that Biya’s exit is already immutable. However, such hypothesis tends to diminish the strong presence of world acclaimed intellectuals like Achille Mbembe who have been clamouring for the departure of Mr. Biya and shining light on his horrendous misrule over the years for no other reason than altruism. His recent outing on the excesses of the regime, particularly, its reaction to chiding cum counseling by the United States of America via its Ambassador to President Biya is very telling. In his opinion, the best option for Mr. Biya is to make peace with the Americans and seek a peaceful exit from power rather than the perilous trajectory into which his hawks are pushing him.
Be that as it may, there is every reason to opine like Achille Mbembe and many other Cameroonians. Prevailing circumstances in the country do not require a crystal ball for the outcome to be discerned. The fall of the Biya dynasty is very imminent. Otherwise, how does it happen that a man, be him American Ambassador, with whom Biya was negotiating how to repatriate Cameroonians suspected of stoking the flames of “Southern Cameroon spring” in the US would turn around and instead use euphemism to the effect that Mr. Biya has done his best and it would be ungentlemanly for him to still be seen as wanting to advance his candidacy for the upcoming presidential. No matter the angle from which it is viewed, this is a blow intended to send our head of state to the surgery for some scrotal repair that may not be successful, given the might with which it was inflicted.
We can worry our self to hell and back regarding the territorial infringement undertone of the ambassador’s outpouring, but one thing is certain. We did not cover our flanks and with open flanks every enemy has free entry. Did the head of state and his advisers need the American Ambassador to tell them that what they have embarked upon in the guise of a war against citizens who were simply complaining against incontrovertible evidence of misrule is barbaric and smacks of callousness? Did it need the presence of the ambassador at the Unity Palace for Biya to know that more than 60 villages in the Northwest and Southwest regions have been torched by soldiers acting on the instructions of their high command? For God’s sake the regime should spare us ignominy inherent in this puerile drama being acted for a disinterested audience. We are certainly worth more and by extension deserve better perception in the comity of nations.
Indeed, the impression being evoked by the delirious outbursts of regime apologists only lends credence to the view that their days are numbered and since they cannot continue in their profligate revelry they must leave the country in an orgy of genocidal chaos. Oh yes, this is very evident in the callousness and opulence that panned out from May 20 celebrations in Yaounde. It is certainly not amusing that an old man in the last days of his sojourn on earth still finds pleasure in riding in a car whose cost is the equivalent of at least 10 well equipped Health Centres. And, on top of this, an integral part of the country is enmeshed in wholesale misery inflicted by forces loyal to the regime. This deos not mean anything to the head of state who bandies national unity. The American ambassador had to be the one to remind him that his inept governance has caused no fewer than 25000 Cameroonians to be languishing in refugee camps in Nigeria with another 200000 acceding the repugnant status of internally displaced people.
Mr. President, the American ambassador was simply echoing the fact that your misrule does not fit in a world that has advanced to android and other cutting-edge technology. It will not encourage our youths to come up with the much vaunted start-ups that government expects of them. Mr. President, you do not need the American ambassador to feel for your compatriots who are living in bushes owing to destitution brought into being by marauding soldiers who were supposed to have been their protectors. Mr. President, conventional wisdom would have informed you that cowards stand alive to point at the houses of stubborn heroes. What the American ambassador was politely telling you Mr. President is that you have not only mismanaged the current crisis pitting your regime against separatist Southern Cameroonians but, your tenure as head of state is overdue apart from being unmitigated disaster to Cameroon. What indeed, do you want to achieve that 35 years of free lease on the country has not permitted you?
Mr. President, did you expect respect from the American Ambassador when you had publicly declared that you are the best student of another head of state? Oh, common, spare us all this avoidable disgrace. What the American ambassador is telling you is that call your soldiers to order, make peace with your aggrieved compatriots and exit the political scene very quietly to avoid the wrath of the people that is already gathering and may reach a boiling point any time soon. You said in France in the early 90s that you will want to be remembered as the man who brought democracy to Cameroon.
It is difficult to fathom how what is going on now in the country can be likened to democracy. A war of attrition occasioned by greed, callousness of your regime and inexplicable intransigence is suffocating your compatriots but, you are sticking to your unshakable believe in the use of force. Mr. President, posterity will certainly hold you and your hirelings accountable for the chaos you have inflicted on our heavily endowed country in terms of human and natural resources. Repent and be on the right side of God’s eventual judgement.
By Ngoko Monyadowa