One of the elementary lessons learned from second-year physics by those lucky enough to have gone to school when secondary education had not been reduced to banality or ‘ashwabi,’ is inertia. The teacher, in our case, was an old English lady whose hair exuded a very repellent odour as we excitedly crowded around her for experiments in the physics laboratory. The odour originated from an avowed disdain for early morning shower. Of course, the temperature in Buea at the time kind of vindicated her decision, given that facilities like water heater and indoor heating customary in her native England were luxuries the Catholic Mission could hardly afford.
Back to our physics lesson, we were taught that Work is equal to force multiplied by distance. It is also in the course of this lesson that the notion of inertia was introduced to us. She imparted to us that there are two types of inertia; Inertia that causes a stationary body to remain immobile and inertia that prods a body in motion to persist in mobility.
Surprisingly, in spite of this rudimentary lesson, our Head of State, Paul Biya has, over the last decade been amplifying the erroneous notion that inertia is responsible for the non performance of Government machinery without specifying the type. Why he has chosen to dwell on the inertia of stationary body is best left to him to answer. Be that as it may, such unqualified statement coming from a person of his stature flies in the face of conventional wisdom. He is certainly mistaking the current generation of Cameroonians for those he met in the immediate aftermath of his return to Cameroon in 1962. Inertia of a body in motion would have put us in permanent movement, particularly, towards achieving economic buoyancy.
This has, however, not been the case, as intervening variables including corruption, greed, chronic nepotism and cronyism- all signs of incompetent coordination by Mr. Biya, have conspired to be permanent features of our statecraft. We have, in consequence, been reduced to a pariah state in the midst of plenty. This sad reality stares us in the face, despite the fact that barring the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are very few countries in Africa that would outclass Cameroon in terms of endowment with minerals, whether it is viewed from the angle of quantity or variety.
It is ironical that the same person who is supposed to incarnate the spirit of change for a brighter future in Cameroon is the one promoting impunity and profligacy in the conduct of Government business while brandishing inertia as scape goat. To the extent that laid down regulations are thwarted with sneering disregard, it can be posited that the lip service paid to the fight against corruption is, indubitably, a concealment of scores-settling against those with perceived political ambition, especially, if such is directed towards the presidency of the country. ‘And the beat goes on,’ as one of the popular American funk groups of the early 80s “The Whispers” titled one of their hit songs.
Oh yes, it is only in a country where change is anathema that a Head of State would persistently award failed marks to members of Government and, in the same breadth, continue to have them adorn the corridors of power. When a country’s foundation rests on individuals instead of institutions, the tendency is for the privileged few who are called upon to be part of the national assemblage of spoilers to owe allegiance to the one who brought them into the fray rather than those who are supposed to be the real beneficiaries of their services. Given that human greed knows no bounds, a situation arises wherein personality cult and deification of ordinary mortals becomes a national past time. For this ego pampering to entrench itself, individuals are singled out from communities and made emissaries to the bloodsuckers’ national team.
In the event, the same people are recycled like worsted metals in assembly plants without any qualms. Without calling names, a perfunctory look at the persons that have been making the rounds in the political sphere in Cameroon can be very telling. There are those appointed in 1975- the same time our current Head of State was elevated to Prime Minister. They are still lurking around either as Prime Minister or members of one money guzzling Para-public corporation created more for their comfort than the good of Cameroonians or the other. These are the people who have never imagined that there is need for the country to move ahead to a higher pedestal commensurate with the dictates of android age. Their dizzying slogan is that it is better to move slowly and avoid the cataclysmic experiences of some African countries.
These same people harbour the illusory view that brute force is the sole antidote to recrimination against their misrule instead of improved governance. Yes, when people complain that they are not feeling the impact of being part of the geographical expression called Cameroon owing to abject neglect triggered by over-centralization their answer is cosmetic attention via creation of a Ministry in charge of Decentralization.
Mr. President, what the people are interested in is the content and not the container that can be discarded at any time. What the people want is for the money produced in a given locality to be felt in such vicinities. Let a determined fraction of proceeds from Meme cocoa be used to develop Meme, while Ndian oil is used for Ndian and so on. Let Governors be elected such that the local people can have control over their actions to induce them espouse transparent and accountable governance as credo of their tenures.
It is daft for someone of our Head of State’s standing in terms of education and experience to be of the illusion that he is bamboozling morons each time he comes up with his inanity of inertia slowing down Government machinery. Mr. President, if you are still in the typewriter era, most of your compatriots had since moved to the android age as you rightly mentioned in one of your addresses to the youths. The exigencies of the android age require some one made of sterner stuff in relation to capacity to adapt to, and, adopt change to think out of the box. This far, you have unfortunately exhibited in 35-yearsof misrule that you do not deserve any other chance. Do not mind the prodding of sycophants and hangers-on whose sole enterprise is to ensure they hang on to the fringe benefits that being around you offers.
Mr. President, for the sake of Cameroonians who still believe that this country is not beyond redemption, could you please leave us alone and carry along your coterie of leeches to a deserved retirement so that fresh blood that believes in inertia of a body in motion can take over the captaincy of Cameroon’s ship of state? At least you owe your fatherland this feat of much needed patriotism as legacy to those who will be around to witness the materialization of your much touted vision 2035.
By Ngoko Monyadoa