Jr. Eta Besong is an erudite, steadfast legal practitioner. He rose to the pinnacle of his profession as Bar Council President. His antecedents as politician within the Social Democratic Front, SDF, and football administrator with Prisons Social Club of Buea ascribed the sobriquet of Mister Integrity, to his persona.
Some teasers or anecdotes that correlate with the integrity insignia in instance include an article he wrote as a Form Five student of the oldest secondary school in Cameroon, Saint Joseph’s College Sasse, challenging the college administration for overturning a laid down tradition of making eggs and sardines part of Sunday meals. For this he was almost dismissed Only the intervention of his aunt transmuted the punishment to a week of grass cutting.
At the Bar Council, his open-mindedness was a source of concern to those who felt that presence at that institution was for self aggrandizement instead of altruistic service.
In an exclusive interview with The Rambler, he fielded questions on many issues including the opprobrium that some misguided SOBANS attempted to inflict on the prestigious institution, the role of the Bar Council in seeking redress to the current political upheavals which he agrees, has been mismanaged by a clique that makes no distinction between power and purpose and the inadvertence of the head of state and international organizations in seeking solutions to the problem between Southern Cameroonians against the Biya regime.
He paints a somber picture of the “Anglophone Spring” and by his reckoning, “this country is in a pathetic comma and until some stimulus is put to wake this body called Cameroon out of its pathetic comma, it might continue to be regrettable.”
He foresees worse disaster than what afflicted Rwanda in the event that the current business as usual attitude of the Head of State who, by the constitution is vested with powers to stop the current turmoil through a meaningful and comprehensive dialogue persists. As usual it is vintage The Rambler sizzling cocktail of alluring prose and fiery declarations.
St. Joseph’s College Sasse is trending in the news, unfortunately, for rather negative reasons. As a SOBAN, are you disturbed by this?
Honestly, I would say, without mincing words that you can’t be an ex-student of a prestigious institution like Sasse College and not feel disturbed by the present trend. So my answer is ‘yes,’ I am disturbed.
Never before has this oldest secondary school in Cameroon been embroiled in negative controversy like now, with contentious factions splitting loyalty to the institution. It took the courts to somehow halt the sinking image of the ‘enigmatic’ Sasse.
Yeah, you are right there. The truth about it is that this happens to be a novelty. I entered Sasse in 1965 and that is a good time now and I have never known of Sasse College getting into this type of muddy waters that it has found itself of recent and I think that if it is not checked, we might get into muddier waters. But as you say, it has taken the courts to halt this; I would say it hasn’t yet taken the courts to halt this; the courts have provided some speed breaks because some people think that the speed breaks are not high enough, so they can continue with the speed they are driving at, or which they began some few months ago. It has not ended yet, but it has been brought to a check somehow.
Why this seeming parochial interest of those you refer to as ‘some people?’ Why would they “brew” problems in a calm, venerated place like Sasse? Could their interest pecuniary by any means?
I don’t think that it is pecuniary…
Is it lust for power?
You know that when you are a member of an institution or group which, outwardly, is looked upon as prestigious and you think that you are in the shadows, sometimes you might want to come out of the woods to be recognized as being part of the prestige of the institution of which you are a member. But I think it is not pecuniary because I don’t see the pecuniary interest in wanting to cause trouble in SOBA. But you know some people believe that if they hold positions in SOBA, they could be taken from grass to grace.
In which side of the divide do you belong? Are you one of those striving to emerge; to be in the limelight, furtively using the Sasse platform to realize a clandestine project?
I must be frank about this and proud that I am SOBAN. And that is how far my pride goes. I am a SOBAN who went to the oldest institution in this part of the country and trying to be in the limelight has never really been my interest not… even in the lowest ranks; that is Chapter level. I have never really wanted to… I am interested in seeing Sasse go ahead as a prestigious institution; my male grandchildren have all been sent to Sasse. But you see, you can’t help when you see what you pride yourself as being a member of being dragged in the mud. So, my position is that I am Counsel to one of the sides to restore the dignity and legality of the constitution of Sasse College.
How “sober” are you or have you remained as a SOBAN in this infighting? More still, since by your own admission you are Counsel, if “Party A” and not “Party B” had approached you for legal expertise, would you have still taken their brief on the simple account of being a non partisan counsel?
No, no, I wouldn’t go in because I am Counsel to support just anything. So, if any of the sides had come to me as Counsel, that is not as SOBAN, and wanted me to take a brief, the first thing I would do and which my profession requires me to do is to find out what is the constitution of SOBA and if I look at the constitution of SOBA and I find out that the brief the party who has consulted me wants me to do runs contrary to the constitution of SOBA, honesty requires that I should turn down the brief. So, I would have turned down the brief if the other side had come to me.
Are you, by any means, guided by morality in law, considered by certain legal scholars to be an integral part of analytical jurisprudence…? By that same token are you telling us that you are a “sombre” SOBAN and that the side you have taken is that to be trusted, persecuted as it were by street wise miscreants?
Let me say this: whether I am “sombre,” is something for somebody else to judge. You know SOBA as an association is registered. It has a constitution. It has operative organs that run it. Now, the people who started all these ‘wahalah’ do not appear and this is where it is regrettable because you will find very senior SOBANS; SOBANS whom I have respected over the years; you find them even on that side…
On the side of mischief, of moral sleaze?
Well, call it mischief, but on the side of ignorance; that is what I will want to call it because, having left Sasse, having been even registered in Sasse for one year…
Blissful or culpable ignorance?
I think it is both, because you see, a constitution of an association is like the law of an association and there is a general principle that is international; namely, that ignorance of the law is no excuse. So, if you are ignorant of the law of your own association, it is both culpable and non-culpable. But to me, it is in the main culpable. You cannot pretend to be in an association and you don’t know the constitution of the association.
It may depend on why one is in it; it may depend on one’s target or even manifest interest.
Well, if you are there only because you want to be called a SOBAN, it’s regrettable…
Or perhaps as a stepping stone to the marble corridors of power…
Yes, but you cannot have power outside the constitution of SOBA. You must look at the constitution of SOBA for you to have the power you are vying to have. Now, if you want to have power outside the constitution of SOBA, then I think a psychiatrist should visit you. That is the way I look at it because you see, the organs of SOBA are so clear; there are four. The people who took this matter to court initially by what we called an ‘ex parte’ application, that is to say they didn’t notify the current executive. They wanted an order behind the back of the current executive which they did not make honest disclosures. They might have had a good purpose but once your disclosures are half-baked, surreptitious, you see that it is mischievous and this is exactly what happened. Secondly, they called a meeting because they said that the current executive had not called a meeting within three years or four years or whatever, whereas they knew a meeting had been called to hold in Douala which they failed to disclose. But they wanted a meeting called in a particular place because they wanted to come in sneakily or otherwise but they thought that was going to be a convenient forum for them where they could come in to achieve their mischievous aims. It is sad, but let me come to the main thing; they held what they called a revival general assembly meeting…
Can you get specific here and name some names? Would you want to name some names because when you say they, they…
As a professional, I would refrain from doing that but they know themselves; those who attended the so called revival general assembly meeting of Sasse Old Boys Association, they know themselves. There were senior SOBANs and junior SOBANs; when I talk about senior, I am talking about senior to me and junior to me. But the unfortunate thing is that those senior SOBANs whom I said before are people whom I had respect for apparently were led by their noses, by their juniors who thought these guys were so old enough that they had forgotten exactly the content of the constitution of Sasse…
Maybe by streetwise juniors…
Maybe. Let me give you an example; you hold a general assembly which you call a revival general assembly; the Sasse Constitution provides for a revival general assembly where the executive has not acted within a given time. The principal of Sasse College can call a revival meeting or a number of branches of Sasse Old Boys Association can call. But that very Constitution says once you call a revival general assembly meeting, that assembly appoints a new national executive; it doesn’t appoint a caretaker committee. So for you to have SOBANs of 50 years standing in a meeting like that and they say that they have appointed a caretaker committee brings to question what they learned in Sasse and what they retained after Sasse.
From hindsight, do you see an element of sour grapes in play here? Some SOBAN who failed to do due diligence and was democratically floored in an election might still not have come to terms with this fact…
There are so many. There are sour grapes; I don’t want to even say there is just one sour grape. I think there are many sour grapes and it is unfortunate that Sasse should produce sour grapes. We weren’t brought up in Sasse to imbibe a sour grapes culture. The education we had in Sasse was holistic; we weren’t brought up in Sasse to covet ourselves… because I have not seen a Sasse that coveted anybody but we have coveted ourselves into sour grapes and it is unfortunate.
By the way, have the courts taken any firm decision on which SOBA faction is the legitimate one?
Yes, the court has. When they had the first motion which was without notice to the existing executive, the executive through its national president consulted our chambers to file in to set aside the initial orders; we did that and the court did set aside its orders.
Temporarily or permanently?
No, permanently. The court set aside its orders permanently and the court said that, the status quo ante; that is, the position before the litigation, remains. So, you see now that by saying that the status quo ante remains, it is recognition of the SOBA executive that those mischievous individuals were trying to put aside.
Who qualifies to banish someone from their Alma Mater? Is it the authorities of the institutions, ex-student associations, the courts or any of the above?
Well, a SOBAN can be expelled from SOBA either by the Chapter or the national executive.
Let me complete my question; what procedure should be adopted to arrive at such a sanction or banishment if you will?
You see, the point is that a Chapter can expel a member if the one does not comply with the constitution of SOBA or if he is of such character that his presence might jeopardize the smooth running or the integrity of SOBA of that Chapter. It is the same thing with the national executive but generally, the person to be expelled would be notified and would be told that an investigation is ongoing. But there are interim decisions which are taken; any institution has a right to take interim decisions. Now, let me give you an example, I am an owner of a school, like the proprietor of Sasse College is the Bishop of the Buea Diocese. So, Sasse and all the Catholic institutions within that Diocese are considered his property.
You just brought in this element of proprietorship… His Lordship the Bishop of Buea Diocese and Proprietor of Sasse must be pretty embarrassed by the fact that SOBANs are like washing their dirty dross in the public.
The Bishop in my opinion, should be embarrassed because the truth about the matter is that, those the Bishop has declared as persona non grata, are people who went to the Bishop; they cannot deny that they went to see the Bishop but they fed the Bishop with lies and he turned around and realize what their real motive was, the Bishop now, declared them persona non grata, and that is correct. The Bishop has the right to say ‘look, Sasse College is my home, I built it, it is my property and I don’t want you here.’ I mean, if I don’t want you in my home, what’s your problem? I don’t want you in my home. You might have been my best friend, you have even been my best student but, I say I don’t want you anymore in my home.
But one thing or the other could [legitimately] propel one to visit a home where he is “unwanted.” In such a case, might the courts not intervene and say ‘ok Bishop, even though this is your home, but because this man has this to take from your home legitimately, let him have access,’ don’t you think?
You might be right there. If, for example, a tenant has left some of his property in the house of his landlord, he might seek redress for entry to take them, but until he gets the order of the court to say you can enter to retrieve what you forgot in your landlord’s house, you don’t have the right; the landlord stops you from entering.
Has the current SOBA executive been so far ineffective, or how did things degenerate to the level whereby, hairs are being split right and left?
I wouldn’t talk for the SOBA executive because as I told you from the onset, I am neither in the Chapter executive nor the SOBA national executive or any of the four organs of SOBA but I think that from my own personal knowledge, the SOBA executive has done a lot. There can’t be all Saints in any society and there can’t be all demons. But the point is, let us have the humility to say; here is somebody who has done something good or this is an executive that has done something good, irrespective of our vicious and personal motives.
You are known to have in the days of yore when you were you, brash and radical declared (I found that out) in Sasse when things were not going well between the student community and the school authorities that ‘Things are falling apart.’ Did you do that and what effect did it have?
I am very happy that you got that because truly, you must have done a lot of research because that is what happened in 1969 and that is nearly 50 years ago, in fact, 49 years ago and I don’t know how you did that and that is exactly what true journalism is all about. I must commend you for that. You know, this is what we must call research before you publish. I want to admit that I did what you said. Before 1969, Sasse was run by Reverend Fathers who in the main were Mill Hill Fathers in the likes of Mulligan, Cunningham, and Flynn. It was in vogue for students in the college to have eggs, chicken and all those niceties which we thought were special on Sundays… I mean we went to the refectory on Sundays expecting something better than Monday to Saturday; unfortunately, in 1969, things changed. Let me first of all state how I got to doing what I did. You know, while I was in Sasse College, I was given a Notice Board to publish articles that I used to write. I used to write articles and my “tabloid” was known as “Sasse Spotlight.” I used to run commentaries on football, write about Sasse College teams and so on. When the first black principal was appointed, the College asked me to carry out an investigation about that person and to put up a write-up.
The college authorities, the proprietor of the college asked you to write or the…
No, the principal who was leaving, the master of discipline and the others; they asked me to write an article about the incoming principal and I spent a long time trying to research because you know, he was a SOBAN. I spent a long time trying to dig into his past and I wrote an article which I headlined “No longer at ease,” no, “No longer at ease” was the second because when I wrote the first article, and put his profile and what I had gathered about him, when he read it, he invited me to his office and congratulated me for the research I had done. When things started going sour, I wrote “No longer at ease” and it brought a lot of trouble in that I was again called in a general assembly meeting of students and asked if cocks lay eggs. We were told that we had eaten all the hens so, we could not expect to have eggs anymore, but that was not true. For that I was asked to go and call for my parents because I was at the verge of being expelled. I told the principal that my father was an auditor with the CDC at the time and was moving from plantation to plantation, so I wasn’t sure he was at home. But unfortunately, the Master of Discipline at the time knew members of my family and knew that I had an aunt in Buea; Lawyer Elad’s mother and asked that I should come to Buea and bring my aunt which I did. She was taken to the Notice Board to read “No longer at ease” and they told my aunt that they were going to expel me. Note that I was in Form Five at the time and my aunt said well, they should give me another opportunity so, I was made to cut grass for one week in the orchard. It was a terrible thing but I was writing what was truthful but it didn’t sound palatable to those who had taken the helm of running Sasse College. That is exactly what happened then.
Were “cocks not laying eggs” a euphemism for the new administration that couldn’t tolerate the eating of eggs by students or students had truly eaten up every hen on campus?
No, all the hens had not practically been eaten. I think that it was just a joker they used in the absence of any other card to throw in so, it wasn’t true. It was just a means to say we are going to curtail the provision of eggs to students. We used to have sardines given us on Sundays but all of those things suddenly stopped because maybe they found out that they were too luxurious for students to enjoy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t shut up my mouth.
This little diversion if you don’t mind. The business of leadership revolves on communication; communicating how you are dealing with the issue, not how you dealt with it, or what decisions you took or what decrees you signed and imposed. How would you put this in the present day context, that is, the Anglophone imbroglio; who has been communicating, who has not? Why all the avoidable intransigence and why not, bufoonery?
The truth is, it is a topic I generally would not want to talk about because I have talked about it so many times. I was the President of the All Anglophone Common Law Lawyers Conference, and then in the conference, I was elected unanimously as the President of the Council. Now, there was the conference and there was the council. The council was like the executive but there were people who were in the council, one or two, I would say one, who thought that my method wasn’t good enough or maybe they should have been there and they were going to be more radical than I was. But we communicated with the Government; we held meetings with the Government, we talked with the Government but unfortunately, some people in that Government thought that their positions were threatened and that if what we were asking for came to fruition, maybe they would be put out in the cold. That is my opinion and I hold that opinion and I would hold it until tomorrow. I was happy, I must say this, I was happy when to meet the lawyer, to deal with the lawyers, the Prime Minister appointed the Minister Delegate in the Ministry of Justice; a level headed fellow to talk with us. You know all what has changed after our meetings are things which he promised he was not going to change. We got that, but that is not the end of the road.
This is where now it is painful; where we are now in Cameroon should have been avoided. It was avoidable but some people have given communication or dialogue a pseudo connotation. It is this pseudo connotation that… it is not by you talking with me that you will say we are dialoguing. You must look at the parties involved in a matter and meet the parties and their representatives and talk to. You don’t go on a frolic of your own and then you call it a dialogue. You don’t go to talk about bicycles and then you say you have dialogued about cars. These are the type of things we don’t agree with and I had said it before that what is happening in Cameroon now might be just the tip of the iceberg. We have seen countries where the things that happen are not half the things that are happening in Cameroon now or they are not as fundamental as what is happening in Cameroon now. My biggest problem is the silence of the person who has the constitutional powers to bring this nonsense to an end.
Let me take you on “the silence of the person with the constitutional power…” to add that apparently, the leaders of Cameroon have traded power for purpose and when power dominates purpose, performance suffers…
You are right there, I agree with you. That is exactly what has been done and there again, I say it is regrettable. Once you have constitutional powers to ensure respect of the constitution that is a super power that you must execute. All other things are subordinate. But you know I want to be truthful even to this individual who has the constitutional powers that he has allowed himself to be misled.
Now, when one’s ‘constitutional powers’ are transformed to a banana peel; when one is flattered to step on the banana peel after having transformed to a tin god, that constitution becomes a malleable, stretchable or bendable sheet of political metal; the constitution becomes subordinate to a little more than a tipsy power monger and broker, and dangerous for the polity, do you think?
It is not just dangerous for the polity. It is mortal. I think it is killing the polity because now in Cameroon, what we find is that some people have become so powerful that they are above the state. It is unfortunate. There are some people in this country who think that they are the untouchable; that they are the people who decide whether Cameroon goes forwards or backwards. It is unfortunate. We should respect the constitution… But coming back to your question on the Anglophone issue, as I said, initially they were Anglophones who were parading the corridors of power who said there were no Anglophone problems but, I have been so surprised that even when the man who has the constitutional powers to rule Cameroon said yes, there are problems, those people have been …
They have not been flushed down the political sewer, or drain pipe.
No, they have not been shown the way out and they have themselves sealed their lips. It is regrettable. Let us be honest; once you have made a mistake, we are all human beings, let those Anglophones who are in the corridors of power come out to the people they misrepresented and tell the people ‘we are sorry and now we are ready to tell the President the true situation of this country.’ Until they do that, they are still living in the woods and don’t want to come out and the president has a responsibility… If they don’t want to come out voluntarily, take them out by force.
Talking about being sorry, what propitiation or oblation would ultimately atone for the sacrilege that was visited upon lawyers by goons, khaki boys? You would recall how they were beaten up, dragged in the mud; their gowns and wigs desecrated and seized…
This is a very touchy issue. But you see, Cameroon is a hybrid. This mixture of the Anglo-Saxon and the civil system has created a hybrid and this hybrid is a dangerous one. So, who will atone for this? Only God knows who will atone for this but it is a dangerous hybrid; we could create a hybrid where we will take the good from each side and make something that will be better. I am not saying that we take it and swallow hook, line and sinker, but we should take the good from this side, the good from the other side and construct what is ours. But once people think that the good can come only from one side that is a fallacy. I mean it is a country wherein I regret to say, I practice a profession which is respected in the whole world but mine. I go out of this country and people see my passport. I am a barrister, I am an advocate. They give me a lot of respect which I don’t have in my country. It is touchy, and well, maybe that is one of the things that make me respect the Bible because the Bible says a prophet is never accepted in his home.
The lawyers are not given their place in Cameroon and I think that it is the reason why the Anglophone lawyers must rethink their steps. The Anglophone lawyers have thought that going to the Bar Council is just for the fancy of being there, no, I would tell you that the Bar Council is the administrative, executive of the Bar. It needs people who can stand up and talk and can be respected and be heard, but for now, whether that is the case, I don’t know.
Are you saying that your Anglophone colleagues of the Bar Council now are mere jokers or puppets?
No, they are not jokers or puppets but you know, first, they are few; we’ve even lost some of them to death but when you have to look across that table, and you see who you are talking to, sometimes you…
Maybe sometimes just to filibusters?
Sometimes the opposite party must doff their hat to you because they respect you, they know what you are talking, they are sensible; the one knows you have been there before him. But decisions at the Bar Council are taken by elections and so long as the Anglophones will remain in the minority, they can only grumble and stay.
One last question except maybe after this you may want to drop in a word or two more. We are living as Shakespeare would put it in “frighted peace,” especially in this part of the country. Do you see this time bomb or the ongoing carnage in Anglophone Cameroon coming to a happy end? That is, will the guns stop coughing? Will somebody somewhere see reason and start talking to and not screaming at those complaining?
Yes, this is another sad part of my living that I don’t see it. Not in the immediate future because what I see in the immediate future is stubbornness, self-preservation, people wanting to protect themselves and keep quiet. I wouldn’t keep quiet; I don’t care whether I would be the sacrificial lamb. I will give you an example. Just before the recent session of the senate, we had a working session or seminar with lawyers of Anglophone extraction. Christopher Tambe Tiku and myself were resource persons and fortunately or unfortunately, I had to talk about elections to the senate, the holding of the position of senate, parliament and national assembly, presidency and all of that. I talked about the incompatibilities in those positions. In that seminar, there were three senators elect and I asked them to go to that session and bring Cameroon back to the respect for the rule of law. And I am happy that Kemende did it. Kemende was one of those at the seminar and I said that it was wrong for one person to handle so many posts. There are many of them in Cameroon; nobody is more Cameroonian than the other. You see, I fear this protectionism continuing that the solution to the current problem seems to be too remote. I have a problem not only with the authorities of this country; I have a problem with the international community. Why is the international community turning a blind eye? Why are they looking somewhere else? Have they forgotten Rwanda, South Sudan and all the places where genocide and retribution have caused bloodshed? Why isn’t it time for them to say Cameroon, call these people to order and stop this bloody nonsense?
Let me put it this way again, leadership as far as I know is the ability to serve, not crass obduracy. You just talked here about self-preservation. Now you have an obdurate regime on the one hand and you have others who think that they must preserve their identity, themselves and enjoy a particular modus Vivendi. How do you think that all of these forces conflicting with one another will not as you just quoted a while ago, not end up in a Rwandan type situation?
It will be regrettable if it ends up there. But you see, we can avoid it if we want to avoid it.
But somebody has to take the initiative…
Yes, the leaders have to take…
But the leadership is obdurate, stone hearted, to say the very least.
Look, let me tell you very frankly, Anglophone leadership if you are talking about the…
No, I am talking about the ‘supreme leader.’
Well, the supreme leader does not think there is a problem yet.
Is he then sleeping the sweet sleep of a baby?
Oh yes, sometimes when you are a leader, you might not even be sleeping but maybe you are in a comma but you need a medical officer to come and get you out of your comma.
Some mental saturation or mental menopause may be at play here…
I would like to say that not being in the medical field, I wouldn’t know whether that is the situation but I think that Cameroon is in a comma. This country is in a pathetic comma and until some stimulus is put to wake this body called Cameroon out of its pathetic comma, it might continue to be regrettable.
Could that stimulus well be the ongoing Anglophone debacle?
The stimulus might be multifaceted, that is why part of my blame goes to the United Nations and to the international community.
Is there any international community with moral scruples? Why don’t we christen it ‘parochial interest community?’
I agree with you because where their interests are, even the wrongs are not considered as wrongs; they are considered as rights. But the international community is governed by charters, rules. If they decide to violate the rules and come at the 11th hour; they should have the humility to say they are part of the causes of the present problems.
Don’t you think that they do sometimes conveniently violate those rules; I mean surreptitiously breed, arm and sustain bloodletting cartels?
They do because, as they close their eyes to the wrongs of those from whom you know they can dig their gold, they can pillage, once they…
And sell their arms, their AK 47s for sure…
Yes, all of those factors. I mean they are numerous and it becomes their interest. There are too many interests involved here but I am taking the international community to task; the British, the French, United Nations, the Human Rights Commission, the Amnesty International, why are they not talking? This country was German from origin, it was partitioned. Why are these people not talking anymore? They are not talking because…
Maybe because they are growing their wealth, making it ready for harvest…
Of course, in fact, they are not making ready, they are harvesting and so, you know we say in all the vernaculars that a mouth that is filled with food does not open to talk or don’t speak.
One very last, quick one, does it take some obdurate power monger and power broker to decide that a country is ‘one and indivisible’ and that the constitutional architecture of the country could only be redesigned when it comes to the personal interest of that person; maybe abolishing office terms, or it should be a matter for the collectivity of “We the People” to decide by way of a referendum?
I am happy you’ve come to that; it is exactly where I was going to land. The constitution provides for a referendum. You remember that in 1972, we had a referendum to change the name of this country. We had it but thereafter, people thought and hand clappers clapped, thinking that because a bill had come from the supreme office, it was good. Why didn’t we say ok, this name was changed by a referendum, let us go back to a referendum. Why don’t we think that way? Why have we distorted our thinking in such a way that when a man coughs, we say he laughs, when a man laughs, we say he coughs, why? And why are the people who are there, the people who say they are representing us… I will ask you a question; how many times have you heard a meeting called by a senator, parliamentarian or people in the national assembly or senate come back to their constituencies to tell them what is happening there?
You are a representative that means you go to talk what the people want you to talk. The bills that come to parliament should be given to the national assembly and to senate before they are even summoned to appear so that they discuss this with their constituents. Is this what we do? They go to Yaounde, they sit there, after four days then they begin to find out what they are going to discuss. Is that how a democracy is run?
No. definitely no, and then again one is shocked that the head of a supposedly independent arm of Government – the Senate, gets up and the first thing he remembers is to kowtow to the head of state; almost like thanking him for the very air that he breathes. Don’t you think that for many, going to the senate or national assembly in Cameroon is a job for opportunists in dire need of food stamps, meal tickets?
No, I don’t believe that going to senate or to the national assembly should be a job for people who want to earn money.
But that is what many of them do there.
That is it, but I am saying I don’t believe that is what should be. It should be a job for people who can move their nation forward. What have other politicians said about things? They have said they would like to leave a country… even President Paul Biya said he would like to be remembered as somebody who brought democracy. Well, whether he has brought it or not, it is for people to judge, it’s not for him to judge. I think it is for the population to judge but I think that those we have in the senate and parliament are just going there because those posts have been created. They are not performing; a few are, but you know, in a country where no private member bill has ever passed, it makes one wonder.
I mean no opposition bill…
Even the Government, you can’t, anyway. For you to be in the CPDM and propose a private member bill should be like you want to commit suicide and I think that parliamentarians; those at the national assembly and those in senate should start asking themselves why they are there and who they represent. The truth about it, none of them represents me because they have never ever called a meeting of those in their constituencies and I have people who are in my constituency who are supposed to be representing me but who have never sought my ideas on issues. So, how can you say you are representing me or speaking on my behalf? You are an attorney, I have sent you there, yet, you go there and you take the decisions without consulting me?
But they have converted you to believe in, and hail the tin god.
They might have converted some people, they haven’t converted me yet. I wouldn’t get converted into nonsense. I think that Cameroonians, whether they want to get to parliament; to national assembly or senate should start thinking again and it is the highest time that people… some people think this is an Anglophone crisis; some people think this is a sectorial crisis, no! It is not…
It rains on every roof
Every roof, the only thing is, let the people speak and once the people speak, you will see that this is not an Anglophone crisis. It is a national problem which is aching every national bone and which is making people unhappy.
Interviewed by Nester Asonganyi & Charlie Ndi Chia