War and divorce: Two sides of a coin

By Buma Bronhilda Wasa*

Cameroon is presently fighting a war against secession as a result of which thousands of families have been split, divorced so to speak. Countless women are found in the bushes, cut off from their spouses and in certain cases children and wards. The war has pushed men into inadvertently fleeing into the hands of “new/emergency” spouses to the chagrin of their legal partners. The children and wards are the worse for it.

A case in point is this case of a family of eight that fled the war in Ekona in Fako Division to Loum in the Mungo Division of the Littoral in search of safety.  A local television programme portrayed how the woman was crammed into one dingy room with all the kids while the husband was off to God knows where, trying to do odd jobs for them to survive by daily eating tapioca (garri) soaked in cold water. But this is not as touching as the woman’s claim that she may have lost not only the typical warmth of a bed with a man on it but also her husband to a woman of easy virtue whom she is so sure has seized the legal father of her eight kids. By her own account, her marriage to her man is like over because the war has divorced them, so to speak, giving a hawk of a complete stranger wreck a union she nurtured for close to two decades.

 This is divorce inadvertently triggered by typical poor governance that begot the war in the first place. Many of such cases abound today especially in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon. Some people we interviewed attested to the fact that many conjugal unions have been broken as a result of the ongoing war. The worst hit is workers of the now completely ravaged Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, who have not been paid for the past two years, thereby stampeding some spouses into abandoning their husbands for who can see to their upkeep financially. Unverifiable information is to the effect that a similar trend is taking place in PAMOL.

Elsewhere in the two war ravaged regions, marriages have crashed alongside business enterprises. This is to say little of members of militias, aka, “Amba boys,” some of whom have abandoned the wives they were legally married to, for cozy relationships with younger, “vibrant” girls they cajoled and now have as mistresses.         

Come to think of it. Ordinarily, marriage almost always initially brings about lots of joy and exuberance.  But then, every social activity that is not properly nourished and nurtured is bound to face diminishing returns and ultimately crash like a deck of cards. By the same token, conjugal relationships often start off with desire and promise. Promise to paddle it or to swim to the ultimate safe shores of matrimony even if those involved have imbibed little knowledge of swimming as it were. Couples are blind to realities, ready to sink together. And then the bitter truth sets in, undressing both couples and exposing the true pimples that were conveniently ignored at the onset.

We are thinking here of issues like infidelity which would have been initially swept under the carpet at the on start. And what brings about infidelity? Like the saying goes, money touches everything. Lack of money to provide needs for one’s spouse and children can cause lots of stress in the mind of the spouse which might push her to get the money through any other means and if this means has to come from a man, she might have no option than to go for it which will result to infidelity and hence a divorce will happen.

 Poor communication between couples, resulting in avoidable arguments and quarrels is another potential divorce reason. Communication between spouses is very important especially being able to communicate on time. This is especially so in this time of stress, induced by a silly war. Hence, avoidable squabbles.

           Inequality between couples can cause a divorce. When one of the spouses feels that he/she needs to always be heard or any decision taken has to be final, it may cause resentment in the relationship, if you are unable to deliberate on any issue with your spouse and keep on taking decisions on your own there is bound to always be disagreement in the relationship which may lead to a divorce.

The crisis has really taken its toll on homes according to our findings. Some wives have been forced to look elsewhere for support because their men were economically and socially impotent.

When a wife starts getting obese on account of lack of activity, losing shape, looking shabby around the house, maybe dresses differently, or the husband starts developing a pot belly, looking unkempt, maybe he becomes disabled due to an accident it might result to less physical attraction by the couples. And when there is lack of physical attraction there is lack of intimacy which might lead to a divorce.

As already indicated above, living at different places, staying apart for a period of time, not eating together, having no sexual relationship and sleeping in separate rooms may result to a divorce. A couple ought to stay together, eat together, sleep together, to keep the relationship fun. Staying away from each other can result to lack of communication attention and intimacy which may lead to a divorce.

Getting married at an early age or without adequately preparing one’s mind on what one is getting into, might lead to a divorce. When couples get married at an early age, they always get into financial issues early because they didn’t plan well and also because they were not yet established in their careers. When financial issues begin to pop up, things start falling apart which can lead to a divorce.

A sudden change of feeling can spark up a divorce too. A spouse may all of a sudden stop having the same affection and feelings like they had before getting married. This may come as an effect of physical changes like size and a change in style. Passion changes over time which may cause a divorce.

*UB Journalism student on internship

Dion Ngute’s rendezvous with fate

 By Ngoko Monyadowa

Like his father with whom he shares everything except skin complexion; God has not endowed Cameroon’s Prime Minister Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute with towering physical presence. However, what he lacks in terms of stature is vastly noticeable in out-of-proportion intelligence and sense of humour that make him good company any time, be it in University amphitheatres where students acclaim his brilliance in imparting elements of the Law of Tort or conversation when hors pair infectious and affectionate bonhomie and camaraderie illumine otherwise drab moments. Indeed, nature and nurture have conspired to implant greatness in him. This explains why barring a short spell in Presbyterian Boys School Kumba Town, where he cut his teeth in the turbulent enterprise of purposeful learning, he has always been a child of providence or living on public till.

By the tender age of 12, he had wriggled his way into one of the early badges of illustrious youths admitted into the Federal Bilingual Grammar School in Man-O War Bay, Victoria. This marks the period when the seeds of “one and indivisible Cameroon” began taking root in him since many of his school and classmates had come from the other side of the Mungo. The grain of “living together” continued to blossom as he trudged on to the University of Yaounde, where students from the entire country had to exhibit mettle in distinguishing themselves as crème de crème, regarding academics with the possibility of becoming mentors of the next generation. Of course, the big brain that he is endowed with easily came into play as he emerged among those recommended for further studies in European and American Universities.

Five years later, he returned with the worthy feat of being holder of a Doctorate degree in Law. In the event, he went to the University of Yaounde as Lecturer, the obvious choice at the time, even as his former masters were still the only cocks that crowed. He, nevertheless, made another distinction shortly thereafter, by attracting the attention of the Head of State, Paul Biya who was on the lookout for competent and morally upright Cameroonians to assist in materializing a nascent dream of Cameroon swimming with the tides of newfound credo – rigour and moralization.   In the circumstance, Dion Ngute, was catapulted at the tender age of 32 to Deputy Director General of ENAM. He was to be adjudged four years later to have absorbed enough of President Biya’s governance ethos and appointed Director General of ENAM.

Nine years at the helm of ENAM may be said to have been years of mixed blessings. While being devoid of latter-day admission scandals that have rocked the erstwhile elitist school in the aftermath of his departure on promotion as Minister, its products have not done much to project the moral uprightness highlighted during his stay as head of the prestigious institution. Badmouthing alludes to the putrid pottage served to Cameroonians by those who have had the privilege of going to ENAM at the time Chief Ngute was Director General. Take it or leave it, they are managers of today’s Cameroon in all spheres of national life. Some may say they are at the receiving end, merely executing orders decided upon at higher quarters. Unfortunately, that is not what reaches the eyes of ordinary Cameroonians. They are seen daily at Divisional Offices, Treasuries, Taxation and Customs. Their services reek of acquisitiveness and sleaze!

Furthermore, as Minister Delegate in Charge of Commonwealth Affairs, his undisclosed assignment consisted in dousing the embers of Anglophone irredentism that had begun rearing its head in the early 1990s. The climax of this trouble-shooting assignment was during the seizure of the African Court of Arbitration in Banjul, Gambia, by the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC and other groups advocating better governance in Cameroon regarding respect accorded the 1961 Foumban agreement. Of course, the services of a brilliant lawyer with international exposure readily thrust itself on government and the choice advertently or inadvertently fell on Dion Ngute. His “brilliant” performance in postponing the current political turmoil in Cameroon evoked the semblance of a “done deal.” Unfortunately, the verdict was not respected. The court had asked the Biya regime to dialogue with the leaders of aggrieved Anglophones. This, incidentally, was ignored because they were termed terrorists. Today, Cameroon is politically marooned!

In the circumstance, it is not surprising that being a chip of the system and having transmitted same to his students, the choice of Prime Minister had fallen on Dion Ngute on January 4, 2019. His emergence on the political scene at this critical moment is timely. Timely, in the sense that he needs all the savvy inherent in his big brain to convince Southern Cameroonians that what he had embarked on, 11 years ago in Banjul, has ceased trailing him. Yes, there has to be concrete evidence that he will not bring the government bias he took to Banjul to bear on his current assignment as Chair of the recently decreed “Major National Dialogue”. He must per force, induce confidence in Anglophones that they are not just going to Yaounde for a Safari trip-that there is much in stock for them in terms of improved governance. Indeed, he has to dispel all alienation traceable to the Foumban and Tripartite accords- cris de guère of Anglophone irredentism.

Such improvement, ipso facto, includes a complete overhaul to cordon-off the current over-centralized system of governance by complete devolution of power through transparent elections for President, Governors, Mayors and Councilors. This should, also, be preceded by a recant of the current electoral architecture by taking on board independent candidatures and proscription of the list system in favour of individual candidatures. Moreover, a two-round Presidential election characterized by limited mandate of five years renewable once, should be considered in tandem with revenue generation and allocation benefiting from autonomy at the regional level such that only an agreed percentage goes to the central government while the remnant stays to foster development at the grassroots level. On top of this, revenue allocation being the fulcrum on which development revolves should respect the principle of derivation. This means each locality that generates revenue by whatever means, deserves an agreed percentage of same for livelihoods improvement.

Another thorny issue that must be uppermost in the mind of the Prime Minister is land tenure. The current system that ascribes land ownership to government instead of Chiefs and local communities should be considered moribund. The icing on the cake in this case, will be once and for all trashing of the issue of dual nationality in favour of current victims of unwarranted vilification.

On the whole, the task is daunting even for someone with acclaimed intellectual prowess and intimidating trouble- shooting capacity.

However, despite the exceedingly faulty premise underpinning the Major National Dialogue, it is the conviction here that Mr. Prime Minister’s big brain can handle all of this and even more. The view that he is merely fulfilling a coordinating role without final say is acknowledged but given the aura of urbaneness that surrounds him, it is possible to convince Mr. Biya that a change in the governance architecture of Cameroon has become a categorical imperative. This is an opportunity to have his name written in gold just like failure to live up to expectation will obviously relegate an otherwise brilliant career of service to the nation to the repository of turncoats whose disservice to Cameroon  remain indelible.

End to the Anglophone crisis? A contribution to national dialogue addressed to the Right Honorable Prime Minister

By Daniel M.Ojong

Dear Sir,

 I most humbly address to you in the pages that follow my modest contribution to the Dialogue, based on my personal experience as a long serving senior civil servant, a senior corporate employee, a retiree, senior citizen and Consultant at 81.

Rt. Honorable, your task is a herculean one but you are up to it. Thank God.

Yours respectfully,

Daniel M.OJONG

Residence, GRA Lower Ext. Buea. Phones: 677 69 78 98/ 677 60 39 63

  1. The mood and expectations

the mood was so tense, the silence in the hall we sat was that of a graveyard, then as the hour of eight in the evening struck on that long awaited day of September 10th, 2019 came the National Anthem, “O Cameroon…… land of promise……”

The population was rife with guesses, surmises, affirmations as to what to he would talk about, but the president after three years of hue and cry from Cameroon and the rest of the world, finally spoke out.

  • the speech

The president to the happy expectation of all and sundry opened his speech with the Anglophone crisis of the Southwest and Northwest region. Good, frank and honest talk ending with the announcement of the dialogue at the end of this September 2019 (applause). It was a thirty minutes speech, recounting truly what had been the problem of recent; Lawyers and Teachers’ strife.

  • surprise

Unfortunately, what truly surprised anyone who had knowledge over this Anglophone issue is the president’s outright denial that there has never ever been any marginalization of the Anglophones. To substantiate this denial, he went ahead and cited his act of appointing Anglophone Prime Ministers. With due respect, Mr. President has contradicted himself badly. In his honesty, he had long admitted that there is an Anglophone problem unlike some dishonest personalities who have affirmed now and again that there is no Anglophone problem. One cannot eat his cake and have it or say yes in one breath and say no at the same breath. Here is the multi dollar question, “if there has never been marginalization of the Anglophones, what then gave rise to the Anglophone crisis? Here is the truth: the Anglophone crisis is the result of pent up feelings over donkey years, dating especially from when the president and his predecessor president  Ahidjo, systematically and methodically moved the nation from the dispensation of a Federal Republic of Cameroon to that of a  United Republic of Cameroon and finally to that of Republic of Cameroon. These were cunningly planed acts by Mr. Ahidjo and Mr. Biya. Remember this is what one well known Francophone lawyer said during a debate in one of our electronic media; “Ahidjo a trompe’ les Anglophone, Biya les merprise!” (Ahidjo deceived the Anglophones, Biya undermines them).

  • indelible facts

Here are indelible facts of marginalization for any one pretending not to know:

  1. When Ahidjo was president of the Republic, Foncha (Anglophone) was Vice President. He was later demoted to the post of Grand Chancellor (in charge of issuing medals) by Ahidjo. The Vice Presidency was thus abolished in one fell swoop.
  2. Muna (Anglophone) was appointed Speaker of the House therefore Second in Command to the President.
  3. Then, Ahidjo resigned and appointed Biya as President. (One would have rightly expected his next in command to be his appointee).
  4. In frustration, Muna unable to see the President to whom he was assistant for several years, resigned.
  5. A new Speaker of the House, Cavaye Jibril having been installed became Second in Command.
  6. With time the president of the Senate, Niat was appointed and became Second in Command, while the House Speaker moved down to Third position.
  7. The Prime Minister, an Anglophone was appointed and was now fourth in command. The game is clear to see. The president of the republic himself is the ‘Maradona’. From the above manipulations, the Anglophone is distanced from the presidential palace constructed with funds from the Anglophone Region oil wells.

Oh boy! If this is not a well-planned scenario never to let an “Anglo” rise to the position of President or even be his Vice in a Republic that was unified by two distinct states, then you tell us how!

  • More Proofs

Here are more proofs: At the time Mr. Biya assumed office as President of the Republic, the following statutory corporations or parastatals were fully functioning:

  1. The National Electricity Corporation, SONEL, (2). The National Petroleum Corporation, SNH, (3). The National Ports Authority ONPC, (4). The National Investment Corporation, SNI, (5). The National Railway Corporation, REGIFERCAM, (6). Cameroon Radio and Television CRTV, (7). Cameroon Shipping Lines CAMSHIP, (8). International Telecommunication, CAMTEL, (9).Cameroon Airlines CAMAIR, (10). National Petroleum Corporation, SNH, 11). The National Housing Loan Fund, CREDIT FONCIER, (12). Cameroon Housing Corporation, SIC, (13). The National Water Corporation SNEC, (14). The National Refining Corporation SONARA, (15). The Cameroon National Office for Basic Produce ONPBC, (16). National Petroleum Depot CDP.

These are or were sixteen top economic power houses, how many of them were headed by an Anglophone or Assistant DG? The answer is NONE.

  • Appointment of Anglophone Prime Ministers

The appointment of Anglophones to the post of Prime Minister sounds truly big if they indeed had executive powers. But as it is, it creates the unfortunate impression of yarns being spun over the eyes of the Anglophones. Highly qualified and experienced and hardworking as these appointees are in administration etc, they are not more than toothless bulldogs so to speak. They are appointed by presidential decree, the ministers supposed to be under the PM’s authority are no appointed by him as done the world over, but also appointed by presidential decree. So who of them cares of PM or no PM? They arrogantly behave as though they are answerable only to the president, the head of state, not the PM, the Head of Government. Now and again you hear a minister on tour announcing, “je suis envoye sous les hautes instructions de son Excellence le President de la Republique MR. Paul Biya……………” No mention of the Prime Minister! Recent example: the Prime Minister makes an official Policy Speech; the Minister of Interior, Mr. Atanga Nji goes out of the country and makes a deliberate speech contradicting the Prime Minister. The world gets the impression that, in all his outings, speeches, threats from the date of his appointment as minister of territorial administration and not from the government, where there is a head of government in the person of the Prime Minister but from the state where there is a head of state. One gets the impression that this particular Minister is not under the Prime Minister as Head of Government. The Francophone ministers are the cheekiest and most arrogant. That’s the lot of the Anglophone Prime Ministers.

  • Endless proofs of marginalization

Let’s look at the administrative set up in Buea, capital of Southwest Region (Anglophone zone) : (1) Governor, Francophone, (2) SDO, Francophone,  (3) DO ,Francophone , (4) Military Commander, Francophone,  (5) Gendarmerie Colonel, Francophone  (6) Financial Controller Treasury, Francophone  (7) 1ST Assistant Controller, Francophone (8) 2nd Assistant Controller, Francophone.  (9) Procureur general, Francophone, in a Common law system. What more? Now listen to the meaning of ‘Marginalize’: Make feel as if they are not important, cannot influence decisions or events. Put in position in which they have no power. Reference: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Hear, hear all ye Cameroonians!! Most of these officials are long time sit tight tired retirees! While qualified, Anglophone youths and majors are on the dole.

  • Deliberate dismantling of engineering productive structures

If what is detailed under this sub-heading is not systematically planned wanton acts of destabilization for the purpose of causing wholesale dependence of the Anglophone Regions on the Francophone Regions, by the powers that be, then let any Engineering Expert from any part of the world challenge me and give satisfactory answers to the common Cameroonian. I speak in my proud capacity as one of the first Cameroonian Chartered Engineers amongst a number of others, who manned these installations.

 Question number one, why were the electrical power installations  (clean energy) of Muyuka-Yoke-Malende dismantled during the early years of independence and re-unification. These modest installations generated a minimum of 4.5KVA. Upgrading was possible. This system with proper arrangement could have been hooked to the National grid?

Question number two, why were the huge twin thermal production units in Mamfe Town, Manyu Division dismantled and vandalized. They supplied a good steady amount of electricity to all the services and homes of the town and the surrounding villages? There should be no fictitious reasons or explanations of fuel consumption cost. At the times these installations existed, Cameroon was not yet producing petrol. We lived on imported fuel from the pumps of Texaco and Agip. The cost 1.000 FRS gave you 20liters of super grade petrol or more on premium grade less than 90% octane level. Compare today that we are petrol producers 1.000 FRS cfa. Would give you less than 2 liters.

Whereas these thermal units in the Anglophone zones were closed down, dismantled and vandalized, those of the francophone towns of Nkongsamba and Bafoussam were constantly maintained and running full time until later years that these towns were hooked to supplies from Edea and Songlulu. Yes one would argue that today Mamfe and Bamenda are connected to this same grid. But boy O! Boy, go to Mamfe and taste what we call epileptic supply; blackout for weeks, sudden supply for hours, the sequence continues no factory however small like wood working workshops can thrive, same thing for Kumba.

Question number three: Why were the installations of Limbe-Bota wharf port dismantled. The derricks were dismantled and carted away, the mini dry dock for repairs of tug boats and barges abandoned? The Limbe-Bota Port did a swelling business. Business magnates came all the way from Bafoussam and Nkongsamba for importation, produce from Fako and Meme Divisions were exported through this port. The ocean liner docked a distance away, the Stevedoring Services of the Bota CDC Marines, undertook link-up with the ship captain and crew, the tug boats waters and bringing back imported goods thus contributing immensely to the economy of the Nation State or Cameroon as a whole.

Question number four: Why was the first ever deep sea port in Cameroon-Tiko Port, abandoned in exclusive favour of the Douala Port, forever a dredger port? Even if the Tiko Port berths a ship at a time, should it be abandoned to adventurers? Think of the Kribi Port in the Francophone zone decades back before the advent of our new deep sea port, it was a child’s play. But it was well maintained and exploited, so what’s so wrong with the Tiko deep sea Port on the Anglophone zone?

Question number five: Why are the airports in Bessong-Abang, Mamfe and Likomba, Tiko abandoned and left destitute? These were international airports. The British Overseas Airway Corporation, BOAC, planes landed and took off from here to Ikeja in Lagos and continued to other parts of the world. Some of us flew off from here decades ago, studied and worked for years abroad, came back home and landed on these same facilities. The Bali Airport in Bamenda has fallen into oblivion. The situation is so bad and cannot get any reliable meteorological data for research or development purposes from the weather observatory of these facilities. The equipment is obsolete, outdated, many not available. Yet there is the Ministry of Transport. Oh Cameroon…… why this abandonment in the Anglophone zone?

Question number six: Why have the touristic sites in Fako and Manyu divisions been abandoned and dilapidated? In the whole of Cameroon there is no structural steel Jetty, like the one in the Ambas Bay in Limbe, projecting from the shore of the Atlantic Front to about 100meters into the ocean. It’s dilapidated; the rate of oxidation is near 100 percent. No scrap monger can be interested!! The famous Bimbia slave enclave of no return in Limbe, has any thought or form of serious maintenance ever been undertaken? the Mamfe German grave of war  heroes is fading out , the German built foot suspension bridges over the Manyu River confluence and others on the Akwaya trail are neglected, the floor boards destroyed and flung into the river, some accuse our military truly or falsely, of doing so as a measure to keep away the so called Amba boys. There is a whole Ministry of Tourism whose principal duty is to look into these structures, revamp them and exploit them for the benefit of the nation. But many are they who believe that because these valuable structures or artifacts are in the Anglophone zone, nobody cares a hoot about them?

Question number seven: The Government Technical High School, OMBE, was one of the four technical institutions established by the British Government in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when Southern Cameroons was a part of that dispensation in 1951/52 to be precise. This author was a pioneer student. They were then designated Government Trade Center. This school OMBE is on record and known nationally and internationally to have produced the finest crop of engineer technicians, administrators, educationists, medical doctors, police commissioners, military officers, lord mayors, business moguls, reverend pastors, secretaries general in the Cameroon administrations, university lectures, principals of colleges, Proviseurs du Iycees, journalists, editors, national and international media house moguls…you name it. The other entire three sister institutions created in Nigeria at about the same time, have since long become university colleges of technology etc. What has become of Ombe in Anglophone Cameroon? A crumbling edifice of workshops with obsolete, devastated and vandalized machinery, derelict classrooms devoid of tables or chairs, empty main store for study material, no telephones in principal’s office or general office, no ICT systems. Yet there is the Ministries Education. Now surrounded by bushes, OMBE is a glowing hulk. Poor Anglophones! Is there any such institution in the Francophone zone treated same way? Being Anglophones, our Government is waiting for the Islamic world to rebuild OMBE. This educational institution rather than diminish to the dwarf it is today, would have long since become a giant like her sisters for the betterment of the peoples of Cameroon

Question number eight: Has any official of the Ministry of Tourism ever bothered himself to visit the beautiful sprawling hills and plains of Kupe Muanenguba in the Anglophone zone and see the wild horses? What national wealth! Boy oh boy, get in touch with British diplomatic missions, invite them for visits to see the natural breed of powerful racing horses and the tycoons of the prestigious British Royal Ascot would be so interested. Why this neglect of the Anglophone zone?

  1. “Put down your guns and come out of the bushes.” These words were the exhortation of President Paul Biya to the belligerent ones. “Lay down your guns come and be integrated in the society, in our military or any reformatory of your choosing” he assured. Really? Let the following information be investigated, if found true, it will only go to add to the permanent truth that as concerns the Anglophones, their lot is marginalization. Here goes the information: in around the second Sunday of September 2019, after church service in one of the churches in Buea, some elders of the church, some top Government Christian officials belonging to that church and the pastors men of God, sat down behind closed doors for a church meeting. Before long, to their greatest surprise and shock, appeared before them unarmed young men who are part of the Ambas or separatists or terrorists or whatever you choose to call them, who had surrendered following the president’s exhortation and were lodged in the Borstal institute in Buea. In a peaceful manner they laid their complaints.
  2. Complain number one: They were famishing with hunger. A piece of bread with sardine was their daily ration.
  3. Complain number two: All they had with them was the clothes they had on their backs the day they gave in.
  4. Complain number three: No signs of programmed reformation or integration as promised by the president. End of complaint. Whoa!!Then they concluded with this sad question, “is this not too much punishment and intense provocation for us to go back to the bush and continue our fight?” The information continues that the Governor of the Southwest Region was contacted the top military brasses were contacted. So the authorities that be are in the know. That’s the plight of the Anglophones, lots and lots of them believe so. What if it was so?

The three sets of variables

Cameroon is a democratic nation state we all know and agree. We have the National Assembly which is the Lower House and the Senate which is the Upper House. These two entities form our parliament, so arguably we are a Parliamentary Democracy. The laws that run our nation state come from there. That’s it in theory and even in practice. We are therefore supposed to be governed by these laws. But we have a Republican President who is all powerful. So powerful, he can set aside a law or laws by power of his Decrees. In this respect we now have Governance and rulership. When the president ordered that the opposers, separatists, terrorists, whichever you choose should be gotten out of the way (hors l’etat de nuire) and finally eliminated (eliminer) it was an outright declaration of war coming from a rulership stance, not governance  because it did not go through parliament. This then spells out clearly that the President of the Republic from his rulership stance can order the start of a war as he has done, just as he can order a stop, if he so wishes. In the Nigerian/Biafra war, General Gowon brought an end to it with the words, no winner, no vanquished. President George Bush through Congress declared an unjust war in Iraq. The very him declared an end to the war and America is still pulling out. The same thing goes with Afghanistan. These are not signs of weaknesses on the side of the various governments; rather it is a strong effort for peace to reign. This brings us to three sets of variables on the sub-heading J above. No mathematics involved, just simple clear truth. There are three set of variables in our case. Variables are sets of facts or objects that are varied and don’t go together just like the Yam and the Knife as one set of variables, the Carrot and the Stick as a second set of variable, the Olive branch and the Clenched fist as a third set of variables. In our Cameroon of today and by our rulership pattern one personally holds these three sets of variables. That personality is the President of the Republic of Cameroon, Mr.Paul Biya. He can cut the yam for all of us to eat, he can offer the carrot and drop the stick, he can hold out the olive branch and unclench his fist and like the magician who holds the wan, say, “Hey Presto” and there shall be peace. This is reminiscent of the words from the Holy Scriptures, “By one man the world was destroyed, by one man the world was saved.” In Cameroon this one man is no other than President Paul Biya. Oh yes he can.

We were all there when we heard him say to Eric Chinje in a televised interview, “with the flick of my head (demonstrating) you are no longer there. “Oh yes Paul Biya can. No man is perfect. We were all born in sin. The President of the first Republic of Cameroon, Mr. Ahidjo, in spite f his deception towards the Anglophones, nevertheless handed this  blessed country of ours to the President of the second Republic, Mr. Biya in a platter of gold as the saying goes: a thriving economy, a buoyant treasury, tons and tons of peace and a happy-go-lucky people, we were the jealousy of our neighbouring countries, a good meal a bottle of “jobajo” and life swings, with appreciable justice system especially on the Anglophone zone. But taking stock as of today what do we find?

A country at war with itself, a war declared by the very flagbearer of the nation state. A war that’s tearing the country into shreds, creating artificial scarcities and shortages, causing a great number of her citizens to survive on handouts, a land flowing with milk and honey now flowing with bullets and blood. Take this humble thought from me as author, ‘The development of a nation state is dependent on the flow of the frond of its citizenry not from the flow of blood from their veins because this is Gods created physical world not Satan’s demonic, spiritual world with the proverbial vampire that would cease to live if there’s no more blood to suck so therefore the war can’t stop. The world is no longer living in Napoleon Bonaparte’s type of France in which he said, “A man such as I am cares less about the lives of a thousand men.” But how did he end up? In exile, dying as a hermit in the lonely island of Corsica.” God save our blessed Cameroon.

WAY FORWARD

  1. AMNESTY: Our President Paul Biya and the ruling party which we all helped metamorphose from  CNU to CPDM (yes I say we, as one of the proud founders, still keeping my Carte d’Adhesion and Carte de Cotisation, Section Bassa II dated 18/11/85 in which I happily contributed following my grade as a Director, the sum of 250,000frs) shall go down in the annals of history as heroes, if he, the President, flicked his head and order those in the bushes to come out as he has already done, also order our military back to the barracks, policemen and gendarmes take over peace keeping duties as usual, declare a general amnesty to his political “enemies” sit down on a prescribed dialogue on a one on one, this would  be a magnified act of Heroism and Greatness not of Weakness, he will truly merit the title of ‘Mendiant de la Paix’ which he has attributed to himself but failing this, Mr. Biya will be looked upon by the rest of the world as one playing the same rigmarole of years past. On the contrary Cameroon shall thus return to its original glory and remain a land of promise. Please, Mr. President, listen to us the Senior Citizens, Octogenarians, who gladly put you there, so that peace could return to this blessed land of ours.
  2. FORM OF STATE: The President is a diehard as concerns his stand on the un-touched ability on the form of state. His passion, stance and honour on this issue could be understood and appreciated. As stated on sub head C above page 1, Mr. Biya and his predecessor Ahidjo, have transformed Cameroon from one dispensation to another to what we have today ‘decentralization’ whose application is crawling at snail speed and only the President himself and his cohorts can tell why. However unsatisfactory anyone can feel about this, the deed is done. When one listens to the explanations and arguments of the former Supreme Court Judge, the legal pundit Justice Ayah Paul, who suffered terrible injustice, one but feels sorry for Anglophone Cameroon from the days of Southern Cameroons. Who will carry our case now to the United Nations? Britain, the former Trusteeship Keepers? Forget it.  Which member of the International Community will start a fight for us and for what benefit? It’s a done deal. Ahidjo, the deception, Foncha, the “honest one” and Muna, the “cunning one” capped finally by Biya the finesse one have brought Cameroon to where it is today. We should therefore use the opportunity of this much yearned for dialogue to correct what could be corrected and sail on. All is not lost.
  3. PRIME MINISTERSHIP: We see for ourselves now, and from the past years, that the post of Prime Minister is without doubts the reserved domain of the Anglophones who must never ever dream of being the landlord of the ‘Unity Palace.’ Therefore to avoid tendencies of marginalization, the PM must as a matter of democratic practice be fully executive, i.e. hold full executive powers. All ministers must be answerable to the Prime Minister who is answerable to the President of the Republic. No more arrogant Atanga Nji and the likes ranting of ‘I have been directed by the Head of State…’ The President shall liaise directly with the PM and the PM shall issue instructions to his ministers, hold cabinet meetings with them as per his scheduling and liaise with the President. The Anglophone PM will then pay special attention to the Anglophone problem. Yes, he is Prime Minister for Cameroon but nothing shall prevent his strides for the Anglophone cause. Ahidjo said to SENGA KUO, “I made you Secretary General but take care of your Douala people.”
  4. REHABILITATION OF PRODUCTIVE ENGINEERING STRUCTURES: The PM shall as a matter of urgency set up appropriate commissions for the rehabilitations of the dismantled, abandoned, dilapidated engineering productive structures which were of economic importance to the nation, thus recreating jobs for the trained and untrained Anglophone youths roaming the streets.
  5. Bring pressure to bear on the Ministries of Education for the serious updating of the Government Technical High School, OMBE, and also pressure to bear on the sleepy, sleazy, Ministry of Tourism to refurbish and publicize our touristic structures.

L. Conclusion

No so called developing nation state in this world wishes for emergence (Take-Off) such as Cameroon in 2035 can ever succeed when it is at war with itself. When the trained and untrained youths, who are the intellectual and physical workforce are in the bushes, manipulating triggers, severing human heads, drinking human blood in dastardly cult and burying women alive while our well educated and well trained military are practicing their art in the destruction of their own country, by razing down villages, deliberate and indiscriminate outburst of their gunfire by trigger happy soldiers oh no! We can never get to Emergence that is Tak­­e-off; we shall remain in the unprogressive agrarian society, fumbling with the advancement of the 21st century technology infested by brazen face public thievery and embezzlement of public funds with impunity. it is quite possible to get there at the desired time but we must change drastically and proceed the way the other countries that got there, even if we can get to the threshold, then we are sure to be there otherwise Emergence 2035 would just remain another political jargon like Renouveau, Democratie Advance Hopefully the Anglophone Inclusive Dialogue has come in to solve the Anglophone crisis and the Right Honorable Prime Minister is in charge. But now we hear it is a National Dialogue.  Is this the same thing? Are the Anglophones sure to have a fair deal? Hopefully when the PM shall be done with the Herculean Task, he shall forward the volume to the president and the result shall be anxiously awaited. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for lasting and peaceful solution not the usual, “Je vous ai ecoute.” (“I have heard you.”)

*1st Cameroonian factory Mills Engineer, CDC, Bota, and Limbe

1st Cameroonian Area Engineer, CDC, Bota, Limbe

Chief of service, programming, Ministry of Transport, Douala

Ingenieur Controlleur Principal, EDC, Douala, today SONEL

Director of Equipment, REGIFERCAM, Douala, Seconded from Ministry of Transport

National Dialogue Rounds Up: Biya’s verdict awaited with baited breath

By Charlie Ndi Chia

Government is too good in entering into agreements that it will never fulfill. This is the perception of Cameroonians across the board. The perception is fueled partly by government’s inability or guileless resistance to implement laws adopted by a parliament dominated by the ruling party, years and sometimes decades after such laws were promulgated. It is even driven by the fact that at a given point in time, the regime was selectively applying only those sections of the constitution that appealed to its parochial interests.

It is the case with ‘Article 66’ of the 1996 Constitution, which provides for the declaration of assets by appointed officials. So too it is with the decentralization clause that crawled on all fours, at the snail pace of regime barons for over 23 years, but who only started clutching rather frantically to it when separatists and federalist propagators went to town.

Following the Dion Ngute brokered talks, English speaking Cameroonians, at least the moderates, are hanging onto, waiting with baited breath for what may just be a thin thread of hope that Biya would accent to the proposal exempting the two regions from the contraption of what is being touted as accelerated decentralization.

With Biya’s vow that the constitution will stay politically virgin as it were; given the fact that he can singlehandedly accept or throw overboard the dialogue proposals, including the famous Akame Mfoumou special status proposal, public affairs commentators have been suggesting that Cameroon is operating a government of men rather than of laws. In which case the constitution (supreme law of the land) no longer originates with; that it is not controlled by the people.

Whatever the case and as Dr Simon Elvis Munzu noted after the dialogue, the mooted idea of a special status for Anglophones is a good step. Munzu notes further that what would be of ultimate importance is what would eventually be introduced or put into the “special status” maybe by way of a functional clause.

UNDP to promote financial inclusion in Cameroon

By Beng Humphrey Fang

Unimpressed by the low level of participation by youths, women and the physically challenged people in most communities nationwide, the United Nations Development Program, UNDP, has signed a partnership agreement with three micro finance institutions in Cameroon. Signed at the Yaoundé Hilton Hotel on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, the agreement seeks to promote financial inclusion among the participating financial institutions that include The Savana Islamic S.A based in Ngaoundere, Credit du Sahel based in Maroua, Microfinance de Development.

The three financial intuitions involved in the agreement, according to the representative of the Minister of Finance, have exhibited a lot of actions in the domain of financial inclusion. Speaking to the press after the signing ceremony, the Minister of Finance’s representative explained that the objective of the convention between the UNDP and the three micro financial institutions in Cameroon is financial inclusion. He went forth, that by financial inclusion, “we refer to low level of banking culture in our sub region which is below twenty percent.”

The next issue concerning financial inclusion most specifically, he added, is about social groups and young people that are vulnerable like women, handicapped people who do not have access to financial services. Going by the minister’s representative, the UNDP is coming in to give the micro finance institutions support in the line of making credit for them to dish out loans to women and vulnerable people.

Speaking at the event, the resident representative of the UNDP in Cameroon, Jean Luc Stalon thanked the Cameroon government for organizing the signing occasion for the memorandum of understanding between the said financial enterprises and the UNDP which he hoped will help them provide facilities for financial inclusion of the vulnerable population. According to Stalon, the three financial institutions, as a result of the agreement have received some funds that will enable them have some guarantee to lend small loans to the vulnerable population. In Cameroon, the UNDP Resident said only 37 percent of the population has this opportunity and out of this  about 15 still have no access to financial inclusion, formal or informal.

“All in all, this is a pilot project to help the most vulnerable populations have access to small loans to improve their livelihoods and reduce poverty,” Jean luc Stalon, concluded.

Consultations For Dialogue: Saints and sinners go marching…

It took over three years, thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of refugees, depletion of private and state resources; it took national and international outcries, mediation and refrain for dialogue as a solution to an embarrassing carnage, for Mr. Paul Biya to budge and accept that Cameroonians should start talking to instead of shooting one another.

When he at last announced that dialogue could happen, he assigned Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute to organize and chair it. The latter swung to immediate action, consulting individuals and interest groups. They included hawks and doves, saints and sinners, hardliners and malleable people of every hue. Paradoxically, even regime zealots and others who had sworn that there was nothing like an Anglophone problem and that there will never be a dialogue, were the first to march to Dion Ngute purporting to proffer tips on how the Biya dialogue could or should best be handled.

As they consultation continues, incredible numbers of interest groups, sans the dyed in the wool separatists are marching in and out of the Star Building, soliciting, eager to be part of an imminent dialogue with well defined prescriptions, restrictions, do’s and don’ts. (Continued on Pg 2)   

When the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency of the republic announced that President Biya would address the nation at 8 pm on Tuesday, September 11, the nation immediately went into frenzy. This was not so much because his intervention had been long awaited as the thrust the speech was supposed to evoke. Of course, everybody but regime hardliners was in the know that he had been tardy in addressing the crisis rocking the two English speaking regions of the country. However, the content was not so much in issue as the form of whatever he had to tell the nation. What was nevertheless, certain was that the Anglophone crisis would be the fulcrum on which the speech would revolve and it turned out to be so.

Whatever character the speech conjured up, when President Biya eventually addressed the nation, opinions differed as to its poignancy regarding a definitive solution to the Anglophone crisis. While there is unanimity in the fact that he has, at last, come down from his high horse to decree a national dialogue on the Anglophone crisis, there seem to be apartheid in the perception of the rest of the speech particularly, in its rendition of the Anglophone problem in question. 

Judging by inflexions from a vox pop conducted on the issue, many Anglophones are of the opinion that the president has not acknowledged that there is an Anglophone problem. By derisively referring to Anglophone alienation as “purported”marginalization, the president is overtly siding with the likes of Atanga Nji who read wolf – crying when there is no wolf in the Anglophone quest for recognition as an equal partner in the union that brought together the former East and West Cameroon in 1961.

Furthermore, badmouthing is to the effect that the president is insensitive to Anglophone idiosyncrasies when he justified the absence of marginalization of Anglophones by the persistent appointment of Prime Ministers from the English speaking part of the country since the advent of political pluralism in 1992. Persons of this leaning peg their derision of the speech on the fact that when President Biya was Prime Minister, he was the second personality in terms of state protocol.

They continue that apart from being whittled down to insignificance and choking under the weight of four Francophone appointees, whose ascendancy regarding state protocol is not a moot point,  the Prime Minister is just a ceremonial position, given that de facto authority resides with the Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic. 

Another bone of contention is the fact that the president has arrogated to himself the prerogative to decide on the representatives to the announced dialogue. While admitting that his array of potential participants cuts across a broad spectrum of Cameroonians, some dissidents are wont to say that the approach Christian Cardinal Tumi and his All Anglophone Conference, AGF, were about to bring to bear on the circumstance would have produced participants who are true representatives of their people. After all, they say, the issue in instance is Anglophone alienation by Government and not a national conference. Moreover, they continue that those who now pass off as elected appointed officials had since lost authority to represent their people on account of their being seen as government hirelings.

Perhaps the most vexing issue highlighted by the president’s speech is his nonchalant attitude to the sensibilities of Anglophone separatists. The contention of some of those interviewed is that the president ought to have called for an immediate ceasefire with soldiers returning to their barracks while separatist militias are given a deadline of about three months to completely lay down their arms.

They are also miffed by the fact that their acclaimed leaders Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and his crew of abductees from Nigeria were sentenced to life imprisonment barely a few weeks to the convening of the dialogue. By their reckoning, conventional wisdom would have impelled the head of state to order that all those detained on account of the simmering crisis be released before the commencement of the dialogue.

Be that as it may, the thread that runs through the vox pop is that peace should be given a chance and for this reason let Cameroonians of all climes and skies gird their loins for the D-Day. While admitting that the regime has broken world records in disavowing resolutions reached at conferences to map out antidotes to opaque governance (Foumban, Tripartite, deletion of the prefix ‘United’ from the country’s name etc.), history will certainly judge us to have deliberately stayed away from a golden opportunity to right the wrongs plaguing this country once and for all.

On the other hand, should president Biya and his coterie of court jesters attempt to use this as another opportunity to ride roughshod on Cameroonians, the upshot will certainly be an all-out revolution whose incendiary impact will send Cameroon one hundred years behind.

X-raying Biya’s enigmatic dialogue speech

By Beng Humphrey Fang

Finally, the long awaited dialogue by Cameroonians and the international community as a way out of the armed conflict in the two English speaking regions of the country gets convened. Eyebrows are raised all over from within and without the country to see what the dialogue will give birth to end the war in the Anglophone regions. Reactions from all and sundry, including Anglophones who are the subject of the dialogue have been at variance.

There have been applauds as well as critical readings and interpretations from Cameroonian compatriots on the announced national dialogue due to hold at the end of this month to be presided over by  Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute. Even those who refused the existence of an Anglophone problem feel “born again” by President Biya’s gesture of a national dialogue in his extraordinary speech to the nation on the Anglophone crisis.

Since the outbreak of the crisis, several measures have been taken by the government believed to be solutions or responses to the crying Anglophones in order to close the gap or line said to be tearing Anglophones apart from the government in various spheres of life. These measures were listed fully in the head of state’s speech which many have qualified as defensive of the government before the international community within the context of the crisis in the two English speaking regions of the country. It also, many contend, raises more dust on the issues than cementing the potholes of the road for the vehicle of dialogue to drive through easily.

Creating a common law section in the National School of Administration and Magistracy, ENAM for the training of Common Law magistrates, Common Law Bench at the Supreme Court, National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, are some of the actions Biya bragged in his speech to have been taken to address the Anglophone problem.

 Despite all these existing realities born out of the Anglophone problem, the president confusingly and paradoxically turns around to say Anglophones are or have not been marginalized in his regime. Proof according to Mr President, the post of Prime Minister has been a big bone for Anglophones. Though Biya is not conversant that an Anglophone problem which he apparently accepted before as real, does not exist, he again in another dimension of confusion convenes a national dialogue to discuss the Anglophone problem – marginalization which only creates more doubts over the meaningfulness of the dialogue. No doubt, there was delay in convening of an inclusive dialogue to solve the problem.

Rumours on social media that the speech by President Biya comes amid pressure suggest to the paradox if it is true. Meantime, the president’s speech has rather put heads in political confusion than hopefulness of positive outcome of the dialogue. Though contradictory, it will appear the criticism of the head of state’s speech corroborates the saying that man can never be satisfied. Finally, dialogue comes. The sincerity and meaningfulness of the yet to be held dialogue is the new talking point within the social and traditional media. It is dialogue announced but the conditions and vows made for the dialogue makes it more of a political monologue.

The separatist fighters who have been controversially extended a verbal invitation to come for the dialogue, from the left to the right of the president’s speech are more in the government’s trap than in the opportunity. Those fighters who have been fuelling the crisis from the diaspora, according to the president in his speech will be arrested and punished for their acts. It is not a question any longer on whether separatists in the diaspora who have been instrumental in the escalation of the crisis will be present in Yaounde, Cameroon when the sword of the rule of law and justice awaits them as disclosed by Biya who claims it is time for peace. The appeasement and stigmatization of the separatists by the president closes the debate on if the invitation of the separatists will be respected at the dialogue. The president’s mouthed belief in the rule of law and the urgent need to end the crisis peacefully though without a ceasefire buries his gestures in confusion and poses a threat  to the dialogue opportunity.

With who does the government dialogue, the most asked question by Biya supporters before and now, rhetorically featured shockingly in the president’s speech before subsequently announcing a ‘dialogue-monologue’. The question does not only demonstrate the state of confusion surrounding the president’s dialogue initiative which has been likened to an announced wedding without a groom or bride known. From every indication going by this question, who are the yet to wed couple? However, the question has been regarded as a sarcasm extended to the complaining Anglophone community who are seen as too minor to raise a problem that should be dialogued on. The political wedding is fast approaching but it is still early and sincere to ask who weds who? From another extended reading on the president’s rhetorical question on who do we dialogue with, it could be understood that an end to the armed conflict is not the immediate preoccupation of the government. Rather, the government is projecting to just wanting to perform the dialogue rites which a lot of people have been calling for. Dialogue has taken place, genuine or not, will be the next song of the regime supporters. It is still unclear if the army has been fighting ghosts or spirits in the two Anglophone regions. After stigmatizing and later on calling on separatist fighters to drop their arms and come to the dialogue table is like trying to say you can eat your cake and have it. Of course, it is argumentative.

While the president believes genuine dialogue can take place without the just sentenced to life Anglophone separatist leaders by the Yaounde Military court, it is a matter of wait and see as some people have been reacting. Whether they are useful in the dialogue process or not, the goal and expectation of every Cameroonian meantime is for peace to return to the two Anglophone regions.

Killing fields expand, economy goes into summersault

Slightly more than a month ago talks of Swiss authorities opting to mediate between the government of Cameroon and separatists seeking an independent nation of Ambazonia made news headlines. Teeming victims of the war were more than expectant. The hope was that the shooting war that has been on for three years could possibly end. That hope has practically faded away even as we write, with new tensions rising. More blood continues to be spilled, while properties and villages are razed to the ground.

There is bickering in the camp of the Diaspora separatist propagators. Bandits have infiltrated the ranks of separatist fighters and are wreaking quite some havoc. As reported elsewhere in this edition, gendarmes and soldiers are dropping their weapons and fleeing. According to Barrister Eta Besong Jr, former President of the Cameroon Bar Association, many soldiers are currently being prosecuted in military tribunals for “dropping their weapons and running away in time of peace…” Other information posted online is to the effect that soldiers from a particular ethnic group are grumbling and threatening because they are singled out and sent to the war front to face ubiquitous deadly militias.

But all of this notwithstanding, the economy has clearly gone under, with erstwhile thriving businessmen practically melting under its scotching heat. In short, they are said to be between the hammer and the anvil, the hammer being government authorities and the anvil separatist interests. On the one hand, government is suspicious of some entrepreneurs of English speaking expression funding the separatist venture and on the other, separatists are coercing, even blackmailing them to fund the “liberation war” or face ugly consequences. The story is told of a certain “Commander Ebube” who scammed millions of francs from a Director of one of the bilingual pilot centres dotted in all 10 regions of the country. It did not stop there. Not only was such monies extorted from the man who was at the time lying sick in a hospital bed. But he was also compelled to supply the militia with a motorcycle as “your own contribution to the struggle.” Today, the impoverished man who recently retired from the public service is cursing, while publishing one open letter after the other to the faceless “Commander Ebube.”

The man who has since disappeared from public view is now writing from exile. He is said to have run into trouble with creditors who raised the cash for his ransom. But if separatists blackmail and collect cash from those they consider as affluent, government has as a silent policy to “nip the Anglophone dissent in its teenage bud.” Quoting a top security official, a Buea based lawyer told this newspaper that the regime is not very concerned with elderly dissidents as they would soon peter out. Rather they are very disturbed by vibrant youth who have a potential to upset the political applecart. “The top security operative told me that the strategy is to subdue by all means, fair and foul, all those still bubbling with youthfulness and exuberance; that they are the potential boat rockers and our brief is to deal with them summarily…”

However, Anglophone entrepreneurs, whether young or old, are systematically frustrated out of business. Most of them who do carry out direct government contracts have been systematically asphyxiated, economically speaking. Their bills are either not paid up or they are denied new contracts outright. Alternatively, they are penciled down and physically eliminated.

The story is still being told of a certain Felix Ngang who was murdered at his home early in 2018 in the dead of night. Ngang, like many of his friends was a prosperous businessman, having made his wealth mostly from government contracts. There are many versions of why and who murdered him. One such version states that Ngang’s friend and fellow businessman, Martin Ndenge Che reportedly got a hint from a top security contact in Yaounde advising that he and Ngang should immediately go into hiding because their names were on the regime’s hit list. Che passed on the tip to his friend and advised that they go underground. But that apparently protective of his sprawling business empire and banking on his connections with people in the corridors of power Ngang didn’t take heed and was slaughtered like chicken on the night following.

Yet another version has it that hit men were hired by some of Ngang’s disgruntled relations to do him in. This particular version was even posted on social media by one of Ngang’s daughters studying abroad. She points a direct accusing finger at the late dad’s one time female acquaintance who would have taken advantage of the politico-social chaos in the country to take her dad’s life and unduly benefit from his massive estates.

Whatever the case, Ndenge Che on the other hand let go his own business empire which like many others in Anglophone Cameroon is today lying in ruins. We are told that while at least one of Che’s children, by name Lum Ndenge Che is marooned abroad, unable to continue with her education on account of her benefactor parents’ awful plight, she at least, still has hopes of one day returning to reunite with those parents. Not so for Ngang who lost his life, whose kids are languishing abroad, unable to pay for tuition and whose business empire crumbled following his assassination. By the way, Ngang, Ndenge and others were highly suspected of using what was perceived as their business might to fund the current Ambazonia insurrection. Those who rule the roost, it was bandied about would not be invariably sponsoring traitors. “those who use what we offer them almost for free to backstab us.”

In a separate case, a multi-billionaire who made his wealth from selling imported frozen fish also recently made big headlines in the local media after strong regime interests openly tagged him with carrying out illicit business transactions, evading taxes and funding terrorist activities. This man from the Western region took the bull by the horns, threatened to sue certain individuals and the government to court. But even though the issue seems to have died a natural death, the tycoon’s fortunes have, from the look if things dwindled and he is said to be treading very carefully, just in case familiar unorthodox methods are applied to contain him.

Meanwhile security goons have adopted a subtle, nay, disturbing and clearly illegal methods of getting at regime opponents. They simply abduct close relations of dissidents, hold them in distressful conditions and incommunicado. Such is the case with the 80 year old mother and junior sister of Anu Chris, the US based Secretary of Communications of the “Republic of Ambazonia.” Chris’s family reportedly moved the mother and sister from the insecurity of their village in Anglophone Cameroon to the relative safety of Yaounde. But about a month ago, they were picked up and as we write, they are said to be still the unwilling guests of security operatives.

All in all, hundreds of thousands on both sides of the political divide have been forced into the army of the unemployed. It is worse off in English speaking Cameroon who have seen thousands of her youths either summarily killed or thrown into jail, in most cases without charge. Of course, there are also those thousands whose kiosks and sheds that used to serve as work places have been destroyed in the name of fighting dissidence.      

AMBAZONIA ACTIVISTS TELL JUDGE: ‘You can’t stop us talking’

By Beng Humphrey Fang

“I am facing a death sentence here. You cannot stop us from talking even if you want to charge us for contempt and sentence us. We have the right to talk. It is not a favour given us to talk. I insist that it is not a favour as you are saying there…”

This was Barrister Eyambe, one of those standing trial alongside Sisiku Ayuk-Tabe Julius in a Yaounde military court. It was during their last but one appearance in court and he blurted out to the trial Judge who ordered the accused to keep quiet, stating that the opportunity the accused persons had been given to speak was but a favour accorded them.

But an undaunted Eyambe screamed further: “I cannot be standing a deadly trial and a witness testifies against me in the absence of my lawyers.” The trial of the Ambazonia leaders had taken a dramatic turn after lawyers defending the accused persons staged a walkout of the court hall and which the presiding magistrate described as ‘voluntary and unjustifiable.’

 Having decided to walk out without justification and not reconstituting themselves, said the judge, could not stop the trial from proceeding. But the accused resisted, beckoning on the court to come to knowledge on the fact that they cannot be tried on felonious crimes in the absence of their lawyers and still have a chance to reconcile with their counsel to come back or not.

Citing humanitarian reasons, the accused persons had requested for an adjournment. Che Fidelis, one of the 10 accused persons and two others were said to be sick and could not withstand the rigours of the trial. The situation of Che Fidelis was said to have gotten more serious in the restart of session after the first suspension.  The accused persons earlier on before their counsel’s walkout had through one of them, Professor Augustine Awasum told the court that they were on hunger strike in protest against the ‘abduction’ of over ‘195 Ambazonians’ from the Yaoundé, Kondengui Central prison riot and had suffered protracted illnesses.

“It is just a matter of respect that we came to this court today,” Prof. Awasum told the tribunal. But the government commissioner reacting, rubbished the hunger strike staged by the accused, adding that it was a delay tactic by the accused on the proceedings. Medical problems, as they accused claimed are affecting some of them, are proven in papers or medical reports or documents and not by verbal pronouncements. The accused persons in court had rejected a medical offer by the colonel who is also l medical doctor, brought to testify against them to one theirs, Che Fidelis, arguing that someone testifying against them on dead penalty charges cannot be brought to attend one of theirs.

The court’s call for witnesses against the accused persons to testify sparked a row as the defendants took to their feet insisting that it cannot happen in the absence of their lawyers and one of them who lied sick in court. Barrister Shufai Blaise Berinyuy was overheard while addressing the court saying that the move by the court was clear injustice and questioning how it was possible for the new counsel to cross examine the witness’ testimony presented in their absence.

“I am facing a death sentence here. You cannot stop us from talking, even if you want to charge us for contempt and sentence us. We have the right to talk. It’s not a favour given us to talk. I insist it is not a favour as you are saying there” Barrister Eyambe exploded.

“I cannot be standing a deadly trial and a witness testifies against me in the absence of my lawyers” he added.

 “Why can you not just judge and sentence us in our absence as you want to try us in the absence of our lawyers? Will our brother who is lying sick here get up and know what was testified against him by the witness?” accused persons ferociously questioned calling on the court  to take them back to prison and continue with the case.

“We are pleading that we should be taken back to prison and let the hearing continue. This case cannot continue unless we are taken out and you people continue,” the defendants could be heard shouting out and overshadowing the witness ordered to ride on with the testimony.

The prosecution in their submission after the defense had walked out said the action by the lawyers to walk out was in disrespect of the law and out of ego, warning that “those who want the respect of the law should first of all respect it.” The prosecution had regretted that their clients never had the opportunity which the defendants have to have been tried before being killed but said they are much ready for the prosecution to start while insisting that no interlocutory ruling had ever been passed in the court as the defense claim.

According to the defense on the walk out, their appeals at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court against the court’s interlocutory rulings are still pending examination. Citing the law, they said the military court which is of the first instance is supposed to suspend proceedings on the matter. But the judge had told the court that the appeal does not or cannot suspend proceedings on the matter on grounds that the issues said to have been appealed are not substantive.

After the second suspension the of session for the day at 6:11pm as a result of the accused’s resistance against the attempted trial in their lawyers’ absence, the presiding magistrate noted that the tribunal took into consideration the health situation of the accused and for humanitarian reasons, adjourned the matter to yesterday, Monday, August 19.

As we went to press, nothing substantial had yet filtered from the proceedings.

War In Northwest/Southwest: Soldiers as ‘friendly enemies’

*By Ngam Kellikaina, Carine Enanga, Agnes Tarh, Mariegolder Metuge, Colette Ebwe & Samantha Erica

They are in two distinct camps currently operating in the Northwest and Southwest regions; those whose constitutional duty is to defend the territorial integrity of the state and the ragtag separatist fighters claiming that they have as mission to restore the Ambazonian statehood. Both classes also lay claim to “fighting in the interest of the ordinary citizen.” But what one sees on the ground are unpredictable people in arms, whose actions change like the colours of a chameleon.

This moment they are cuddling a baby and assuring women in distress for television cameras. And the next moment they are either burning down villages or killing unarmed citizens including women and babies. The separatist fighters on the other hand would come out from the shrubs to avenge the burning of villages and other chattels by regular soldiers. But then, at the blink of an eye, the same freedom fighters would have kidnapped hapless citizens for ransom or chopped off the fingers of a CDC worker out to earn his keep.

In such scenarios, those that the both camps purport to protect suffer like the proverbial grass after two elephants would have used it as a fighting arena. Such scenarios have become pretty regular and are better captured when regular soldiers go on the rampage, burning villages and shooting at anything that moves.

Some of them disclosed when interviewed that they often do this out of sheer frustration; frustration at what they say is the populations’ lack of assistance in wiping out the amba boys for peace to be restored. One who spoke on condition of anonymity said most civilian populations in Northwest and Southwest habitats know the amba boys and effectively host and protect them from being apprehended or neutralized, but that they are reluctant to vouchsafe useful information to soldiers, giving the impression that all Anglophones are cast in the separatist mould.

Still, another said they shoot, killing at random because at one minute a soldier could be living, smoking a cigarette and chatting and at the very next minute he would be dead meat in a body bag, having been taken out by a ubiquitous amba prowler. So, he said, “to preserve ourselves and also stay alive to eventually raise families, we shoot at random and in anger, because you never can tell who the enemy is or which civilian will betray you to amba boys…”

“It is either we kill or be killed, so we opt for killing,” he told us. Asked why they very often spray bullets at residential areas in pitch darkness his reply was: “…we have to stay safe; we have to frighten off the prowling ambas whom I must confess understand the local terrain more than we do and catch some sleep as well. After all, we are also human beings before being soldiers. Soldiers too need sleep.” He noted that when they have to exhibit the humanitarian part of the soldier in them, they are quick to do so, if only to solicit the cooperation of local populations.

Despite the accusations of human rights violations often rained on regular soldiers by separatist interests, their own fighters are not better. Several times they have killed government soldiers and had them beheaded. They are known to kidnap men and women alike. They are known to rape the women that they kidnap and put ransoms on the males including clergymen.

They hamper movement of goods and property; they impose ghost towns, thereby crippling the economy and destroying social life. They have so far made life pretty unlivable even for those they purport to be rescuing from the pangs of neocolonialism when they block vehicular traffic on highways and set automobiles ablaze, including those carrying relief materials to needy IDPs. Yet, on the positive side the amba militias have been basically protecting desperate civilian populations from the angst and brutality of military men some of who sometimes look down on Anglophone populations as sub human and expendable.

A lady told us of how amba boys kept them in their safety between Kumba and Mutengene for three days at no charge. She said the military were out to exterminate them and do away with their merchandise but for the timely intervention of the amba boys who ferried them to the safety of their camp in the bush. Another also talked of how amba boys often help in preventing the military form looting; how they would help them evacuate military killing zones in Ekona and effectively head carry their household property away to safety.

Certain denizens of Buea complain that soldiers in mufti have been on and about, spying on people, searching their mobile phones and generally denying them the right to free speech and thought. They often mingle in bars and off licenses, provoke touchy discussions and end up arresting people against big bribes or detention and torture.

Local administrators, some of them elected by the people are also known to use the military to intimidate and torture people of their constituents. This is typical of Buea, where the army participates in either sealing private business enterprises or breaking them open at the instance of a ghost town fighting mayor. Again, in some circumstances, educational facilities have been commandeered and converted to military camps where hideous human rights violations are carried out. It is also an open secret that school premises are highly militarized at the instance of overzealous administrators, giving vent to possible crossfire incidents between the said military and amba boys.

It has been noted by many that the idea of pupils and students studying under heavy militarized conditions is most likely to be counterproductive. A parent who asked not to be equated what he called studying under guns to muslims being basically enrolled and taught at Christian institutions, compelled to attend daily church services. Such pupils or students, he noted, are most likely to be converted into a faith against their wish, he noted.

Another Kumba based educationist thought there was a “negative likelihood” of children invariably enrolling in the army just by sharing most of their time with prowling soldiers. One who said his son was badly influenced by military men guarding Sacred Heart College Bamenda noted that the child has since adopted a violent approach to addressing issues, “because he saw too much of the military on campus and adopted their harsh manner of approaching problems.”

      Going down the lane, statistics now show that the citizens are now scared whenever they hear of the military around. Others say they hate them. “I hate the presence of the military because they almost killed me when I went out with some friends to play at Bakweri town field,” says a worker at a car wash in Buea. They are not here to protect us but rather to scare us away, even kill us.”

Another source said she sometimes forced to give them money, “even when I have all my identification papers on me and have committed no offence.” A man who owns a “parifoot” machine talked of how his customers are scared immediately they spot the military from a distance or around his business place, and how this has brought about a big fall in his business.

         Also, the crisis affecting everyone has made it worse as this military men now break into private homes where they steal and harass people, despite the fact  they have Identity  cards as a proof of their nationality as honest Cameroonians, a Buea based lady told The Rambler. We have several instances with that of taxi drivers as they share their experiences concerning them and the military. A taxi driver gave his experience on how he had to “settle several controls” on the way even when he was yet to earn anything for the day. Another incident occurred on Sunday, July 28, 2019, wherein a taxi driver was struggling to dodge a military control post and in the process one of the soldiers shot at the taxi, the bullet hitting one of his female passengers.

       A good number of military personnel sent to restore peace in the restive English speaking regions have been spotted buying condoms meant for unusual “shooting assignments.” Others yet, rape women and young girls outright.