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

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

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

Open letter to GCE Board Chairman

Dear Mr. Chairman
Violation of GCE Board Texts
I write to you in my capacity as
1. The Emeritus founding President of the Teachers Association of Cameroon, TAC
2. The undisputed leader of the Anglophone movement that wrestled the Cameroon Government in 1992-1993 for the creation of the Cameroon GCE Board
3. Member of the Prime Minister’s Committee of reflection on the organization of the GENERAL CERTIFICATE OF EDUCATION, GCE, BOARD
4. The Pioneer Registrar of the General Certificate of Education, GCE, Board
5. Self-proclaimed Examinations Consultant to the GCE Board.
Many Anglophone Cameroonians have floated fears that the Government has plans to transfer the GCE Board from Buea to Yaounde. These fears are based on erroneous decisions taken by your predecessors to move the Board’s Regional Offices in Bamenda into the Regional Delegation for Secondary Education and Yaounde into the Ministry of Secondary Education. The Board’s silence and indifference in responding to matters of concern to the public about the function of the Board seem to bolster these fears. It is common knowledge that for more than 22 years the representatives of teachers and parents on the Council, through whom the teachers and parents can be informed, have made no effort to meet with their peers to educate them on resolutions taken in Council.
I believe that it is your responsibility to dispel these fears and rumours by reminding us that the all-important decree No. 93/172 of 01 July 1993, signed by the Head of State himself, President Paul Biya, states categorically in Article 2(2) that the seat of the GCE Board is in Buea. Only another decree of the Head of State can cause a change of that seat and we have not yet found a reason to suggest that this should happen.

The GCE Board Council
The Council of the GCE Board of which you are Chairman is, by Section II Article 7 of decree No. 112/CABPM OF 12 OCT 1993, the supreme governing body of the Board. Its composition is defined in Article 9(1) to include
i) The Chairperson
ii) The Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea or his representative
iii) One representative of the Presidency of the Republic
iv) One representative of the Prime Minister’s Office
v) One representative of the Minister in charge of Higher Education
vi) One representative of the Minister in charge of Finance
vii) Two Inspectors General of Pedagogy (Secondary General and Technical Education)
viii) The Director in charge of Examinations in the Ministry of Secondary Education or his Deputy
ix) Two representatives of parents
x) Two representatives of teachers
xi) Four representatives of the organizations of private education
This gives a total of 17 Councilors.
Article 9(3) specifies that representatives of parents, teachers and private education shall be elected for a period of 3 (three) years renewable. A closer look at this list tells us that the Government has 9 (nine) Councilors and, if we take the Councilors of private education to be the People’s Councilors, the People have 8 (eight). In a full Council session where decisions are taken by a simple majority the Government will willy-nilly have its way. It will even find it easier if the elections of the representatives of parents, teachers and private education were organized by agents of the Ministry of Secondary Education (RDSE).

The Gentleman Agreements
Mr. S. N. Dioh of blessed memory and I were members of the PM’s committee which drafted this decree and, whether by chance or by design, we were appointed pioneer Chairman and Registrar respectively. Realizing that the text left out the method of election of the representatives of parents, teachers and private education and that, in its current form it could be exploited by ill intentioned administrators to the disfavor of the people, we got the first Council meeting of the GCE Board to enter into what has come to be known as the Gentleman Agreements.
The first of these agreements spelt out the method of election of the representatives of the parents, teachers and private education. Representatives of Catholic Education would be appointed by the Bishops alternating between the Northwest and Southwest Regions while representatives of Protestant Education would alternate between the Presbyterian Church and the Baptist Church. The representatives of the Islamic Faith would be appointed by the corresponding education authorities. Lay Private Education would follow the same alternating procedure. The selection of the parents and teachers representatives was to be the reserve of the Confederation of Anglophone Parent Teachers Association of Cameroon, CAPTAC, for the parents and Teachers Unions for the latter. The method of selection was to be determined by these bodies with the proviso that the two Regions had a balanced representation. The respect of this agreement would ensure that the concerned organizations participate consciously in decisions of the Council of the GCE Board. The responsibility of inviting these various organizations to renew their Councilors every three years and, therefore giving fresh impetus to the Council, is that of the Chairman. When Regional Delegates begin to take it upon themselves to cause councilors to be elected under their supervision it is a travesty and creates an unhealthy environment for you.
The second of the Gentleman Agreements was that the positions of Chairman of the Council and Registrar of the Board would alternate between the Northwest and Southwest Regions. By this agreement no one Region could hold the two positions concurrently. The same applied to the two Deputy Registrars; they had to be selected one from each of the two English Regions.
These two agreements constitute what is known in GCE Board language as the Gentleman Agreements. Although they are unwritten, they have served as boulders to the GCE Board’s texts and have kept the Board running smoothly for the past 25 years. By June 2016, charlatans, pirates et al, started scheming for a share of the Board’s apparent wealth and, finding it hard to enter through the right process, went round the text and the two agreements above. Perhaps, bugged down by these charlatans, the Prime Minister Head of Government, H.E. Philemon Yang invited me to his office on 17th June 2016, for a briefing on the spirit of the Gentleman Agreements.

THE APPOINTMENT OF THE CURRENT REGISTRAR
Mr. Chairman, I welcomed your appointment as the 4th Chairman of the GCE Board, an appointment which conformed to the Gentleman Agreement as did all other appointments before then. However, whilst the Anglophone community which is served by the GCE Board was waiting for your installation and the holding of your first Council meeting which would elect and propose a new Registrar in conformity with Article 21(2) of the PM’s text of application, I was surprised that a new Registrar was installed simultaneously with you. The dust raised by this appointment had not yet settled when I learnt that the Registrar had proceeded with the installation of a Deputy Registrar for Technical Services even before you had had the opportunity to meet in Council to exercise your functions in this respect as required. (I would be doubly surprised if this was done with your blessing).

Election of Parents and Teachers Representatives
I am reliably informed that on Wednesday 23rd May 2018, the Regional Delegate of Secondary Education, RDSE, for the Northwest Region organized elections for representatives of parents and teachers on the Council. This action again violates the GCE Board texts and the long standing and very useful Gentleman Agreement. Should the RDSE for the Southwest Region also proceed with similar elections, the Council will have 13 Councilors for Government and only the 4 representing private education for the People. Mr. Chairman, this is unacceptable.

Conclusion
In total respect for the person of the Prime Minister, I have accepted the appointment of the current Registrar which, as I have stressed, violated Article 21(2) of the text of application, even if it respected the Gentleman Agreement in respect of the Region of origin. But to allow the administration of the Board to take advantage of this action of the PM to perpetuate illegality is totally irresponsible and unacceptable. Therefore Mr. Chairman,
1. I am encouraging the Teachers Unions and CAPTAC to formally elect their representatives to the Council under your chairmanship
2. I am urging you to
a) Reverse all the decisions of the present Registrar which do not conform with the text and the Gentleman Agreement and
b) Declare as inadmissible the elections conducted in violation of the Gentleman Agreement by the RDSE for the Northwest Region and advise his counterpart in the Southwest Region not to fall to the temptation to exercise power which does not belong to him.
Mr. Chairman I believe that such a stance by you will restore public confidence to the Board and its administration. I am consequently taking the liberty to make this message I am addressing to you public because I have written it in the overall interest of the GCE Board to which Anglophones, who I led, sacrificed their all to have created.
Yours truly

Azong-Wara Andrew

STEM prize for scientific innovation launched

The second edition of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, STEM, Prize has been launched in Yaounde.
The competition launched by the Denis and Lenora Foundation seeks to encourage young Cameroonians and Africans, especially young girls to map out a career in the STEM that brings together young researchers from secondary schools and institutions with the potential to conceive and build life-changing projects in the society.
Presenting the project to the media on Friday, Melaine Nsaikila, Senior Policy Analyst at the Denis and Lenora Foundation said it seeks to contribute in innovation and technology so as to meet up with the ‘2035 Vision.’
“We have decided to initiate this to encourage young Cameroonians, specifically women, to participate in both studies and in terms of project proposals and implementation in STEM,” Nsaikila noted.
“Africa is still lagging tremendously behind in terms of investments in science, technology as well as in education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, so the STEM prize is all about the process to demystify science and come up with solutions to their problems.”
The competition is open to students between the ages of 13 and 21 but encourages a massive participation of young girls to ensure that they have the opportunity to showcase their skills in this domain, the organizers said.
Thus the organizers have recommended the presence of at least a girl in each group of five that will submit their project but hope to see more girls-dominated groups.
The competition
The competition that was officially launched online on April 16, shall receive applications from students all over the country and Africa till July 30, when a panel of judges will shortlist the best projects.
The top five winners would be awarded prizes worth over Five million francs CFA during a gala night on October 26.
It was equally an opportunity for former laureates of the competition to present their projects and inspire would-be competitors on what their projects could look like at this year’s edition.
That was the case with Mimfolo Cédric, student of Lycée Nzamangoué in the Centre Region who was part of a group of five that won the second prize worth FCFA 1 million at the last competition through the solar and renewable energy project.
“We proposed a project to build a locally-made solar kit and solar lamps that will help electrify rural communities that do not have access to electricity. The money won from the competition was used to buy materials which we used to build the kit while part was used to develop other renewable energy projects,” the student said.
By Francis Ajumane

National Employment Fund set to curb unemployment

Encouraged by imminent possibility of some solace to the ambient unemployment in the country even if minute, job seekers within the Southwest Region have for five days converged on the National Employment Fund, NEF Limbe, for the third edition of the Job Discovery Days. Apart from coming to grips with the various activities of NEF during these days, they, also listened to career talks with some spontaneously recruited by a number of companies present during the event.
According to a Director of the National Employment Fund, Ndziga Obama Open Days is an opportunity to showcase to the people what they do daily. During such ceremony, he stated, there is usually graduation for those who enrolled and were trained at the NEF. He added that those graduating were trained based on the needs of the job market. This, he said is to be sure that when the graduates are going out, they should be ready for the job market since the modus of their training makes them fit for the job market. He revealed that this is the third edition of the new version of their Open Days.
Going by him, they usually had youth employment week but, they have moved to a new version which is Job Discovery Days. He added that, the only criterion to be part of the programme is to be a job seeker, registered in their data bank. From there, the Director stated, they would place the job seeker depending on their profile and as soon as the training programme is set, such persons would be called to the training centre.
On job seekers who complain of submitting files but, not being called after some years, Ndziga Obama stated that it all depends on the profile of the candidate and the job opportunities which comes. He explained that they are not the ones giving the jobs but a link between the job seekers and employers. He revealed that if a job seeker drops his files without seeking counsel from the counselors, such a person may find herself in such fate. He added that it is a process and the job seeker should be part of it.
Ndingi Cyprian, a trainee of the National Employment Fund said he was overwhelmed with joy because during his one year- training and internship, he has gathered so much. Ndingi noted that though he studied electricity in school, he was trained at the NEF in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning from which he has learned a lot. Before his training, he continued, he had the passion to prior to his graduation. He has in consequence, been in the struggle to be self employed from the place where he carried on his internship. He hoped that with the skill acquired and the help of God, he would be self employed.
However to Esunge Mokoko Richard, a vibrant youth who came for the Job Discovery Days as a job seeker stated that, it was quite challenging but more colourful the moment he came to the National Employment Fund. In his opinion, he discovered their unimaginable during the training which actually motivated him to get in touch with one of their objectives- financing of projects. He said that it was very beneficial because it helped to enlarge his employability and with the financing by the NEF he discovered he could easily realize his projects. Furthermore, the NEF by his reckoning has some undeniable qualities like funding 50 percent of one’s salary which has never been heard of anywhere. This would also motivate companies to employ those registered in the NEF. He however, called peers to rush to the NEF and take advantage of what they offer whether skillful or not for the institution has what it takes to boost their employability.
By Relindise Ebune

Cameroon is in a pathetic comma – Former Bar President

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.

Who?
Who?

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

UB VC launches treatise on Public Administration

Pontificating against the backdrop of lapses and decaying public administration in Africa and Cameroon in particular, Professor James Arrey Abangma under the patronage of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea, Professor Ngomo Horace Manga, launched a book, titled, Comparative Public Administration, Theory and Behavior on Thursday April 25. This 12 chapter- book to him will feed public administrators, students, politicians and any other group of interest. Cameroon will fall under the French system with the English system neglected. Cameroon is still undergoing a transition because it is the emergence of two cultural groups all practicing the French system of administration.
According to Professor James Abangma, the problem the book seeks to address is that, “if the administrator is left on his own, his power will be unlimited. So what measures have been put in place to cub the power of the administrator? So he examined the parliament, the cabinet of ministers, Pressure groups, the court, and all other organs.
During an interview with The Rambler, in reaction to chapter six of his 12 chapter’s book, which talks about feudalism, patrimonialism and others, Professor Abangma, insists that, Cameroon will fall under the French system with the English system neglected. “Cameroon is still undergoing a transition because it is the emergence of two cultural groups all practicing the French system of administration,” he noted.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor appraised the initiative of the author but, pointed out that Professor James Abangma, was a little timid in bringing out the flaws of the public administration, during the question and answers session or did not want to criticize the public administration which he has served in.
Nevertheless, Professor James Abangma, said, his book, seeks to fill all the loopholes in public administration while the Vice Chancellor insisted Abangma’s work should not only be consumed and kept, but should serve as a source of inspiration for other people to produce their own books or why not improve on the book.
By Atembeh Ngewung Lordfred

Foolish war ripping Cameroon apart!

It started with a handful of “the nation’s leaders” declaring that it is anathema to as much as dream of changing the constitutional architecture of Cameroon. Bogus reasons were advanced. “Founding fathers’” wishes were exhumed and spread out as reason why even at the risk of being killed by selfish parochial interests, Cameroon must remain “one and invisible.”
Greedy Spin doctors were invited from friendly diplomatic quarters to join in the refrain of condemning “the evil of thinking about sitting like one big family to restructure Cameroon, such that every corporate interest counts.” Jail accommodation was augmented and the proverbial Big Brother went to work overtime, watching; pointing out and having real and imaginary dissidents deftly isolated and unwillingly accommodated in Kondengui and other fetid jails.
The “dialogue” refrain was intoned. Political scavengers settled for it and sang their voices hoarse, even as the vicious guns of power belched and coughed regularly… on command, leaving hundreds of protesters sprawling in their own blood. The operators of the killer machines were hailed in insipid speeches as patriots, fighting to contain extremists, terrorist prophets of doom. Poor soldiers are also dying, avoidably.
Cameroonians living in the English speaking Regions are being routinely subjected to “litanies of curfews.” Thousands of businesses have so far been destroyed in this part of the country. The economy this way now resides in the extensive care unit, to say the very least. Bullets, hunger and general poverty are felling the weak and innocent. Daily. For once, Cameroonians have become refugees in foreign climes.
Others yet, have taken to the forests either because their ancestral homesteads have been burnt to ashes or direly resorting to pristine ways of living to stay alive. Very few schools are functional. Educational standards in those that dare to hold are by and large, shoddy. Kids are taking to the bushes in droves, patronizing the drug industry. They are, out of sheer frustration and radicalization, joining militias, some of them dangerously murderous.
Governors and other Government ranking brass now don bullet proof jackets, with caskets to compliment. Denizens of the two Regions under review are living like rat moles, ever ready to pop out from invisible but handy corners and flee to safety. Kidnapping, which was absolutely alien to Cameroonians in past decades has become a regular thing. No one is safe. Not even those who are, by their actions indicating that dialogue could be a euphemism for “decreeing peace”, barking out orders and not listening; being guarded round the clock by soldiers who, by no means are not the solution to a problem they did not start.
The so called international community and “world bodies” are making brisk business from hawking their ‘AK47s’ and pellets. They are protecting their neo-colonial interests and minding those they have decided should protect their overseas interests, provided they don’t holler like the talkative Zimbabwean Bob whom they love to hate… They may well be waiting and watching, in no haste to show any obedient servant the door. Not just yet.
But one thing is clear. Cameroonians are dying in droves, unnecessarily. Thousands are joining the radical militia. A dear, lovely nation is being taken back to childhood, before our very eyes! A foolish, avoidable war is ripping Cameroon apart. And the leaders have decided that they are not our servants, but overlords! Apalling!

Murdered student laid to rest

The mortal remains of Emmanuel Galega student of Saint Benedict Comprehensive College Widikum, SABEC, who was brutally assassinated in school on March 27, was recently laid to rest in his native village of Bali Nyonga. He was interred after a requiem Mass concelebrated by the Archbishop of Bamenda His Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua and 16 other Priests at Saint Francis Xavier’s Parish Church Bali.
The funeral was a moment of sorrow and grief for the students and staff of SABEC, family members and friends who could not hold back their tears. They were wailing for a young student and child who died as a result of the socio political stalemate in the two Anglophone Regions of Cameroon. But what exact circumstances led to the death of this student?
“This student was killed not because there was no security but he was killed by those who had come into the college and wanted to burn down the college and the students were running for safety but they continued to pursue them and one of those who wanted to burn down the college and who was pursuing the students was recognized by the late Emmanuel as a former student who has been a drop out. And they shot him,” Archbishop Esua narrated. In his homily during the Requiem Mass, he heralded the significance of education.
“I think the message should go home. If children are not educated, they would become like the one who killed. Therefore, we have to choose, we have to stand for the truth and justice. That is why we shall continue to do our best, to continue to educate the children in order to guarantee their future tomorrow and we ask our parents to collaborate with us. Violence does not solve any problem and we have to do everything to avoid violence. It doesn’t matter whether we are right or wrong.”
It was yet another moment for the Bishop to insist on the need for frank dialogue so that things could return to normal. “We want to seize this opportunity once more, to call for a genuine and inclusive dialogue with all the stakeholders. A dialogue which is frank and fair and we call for the respect of human life. Human life is sacred because man was created in the image of God. The divine injunction thou shall not kill, Exodus Chapter 20:13 remains valid even in our prevailing situation and it applies both to the forces of law and order and to civilians. I think the situation in which we are living now demands for each and every one of us a lot of reflection and prayers on getting our bearings right. Therefore, while we are trying to find solutions to our problems, we must make sure we continue to live and carry out the responsibilities we are supposed to carry out,” he ruled.
The late Emmanuel Galega was described by his Form Three mates and teachers as a jovial, lively and promising student. They spoke of him as one of the holy innocents and martyrs brutally murdered in the face of the ongoing crisis where people are being arrested, tortured, and kidnapped and the indiscriminate burning of villages and houses rendering its inhabitants refugees in and out of their country. In consoling words, the Proprietor of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese, enjoined the bereaved to accept the tragedy with faith in the Risen Lord and pray for the repose of Emmanuel’s soul.
Late Emmanuel Galega was born on the December 14, 2002, in Kumba, to the family of Ba Tita Mac Nelson Galega and Ma Rose Bekuna. He attended primary school at Chrub Bilingual Primary School Kumba where he obtained the FSLC. He went to GBSS Batibo and later to Saint Benedict Comprehensive College, Widikum.
By Mildred Ndum Wung Kum