Mission to Kodengui

Sunday, 19th May 2019, the Yaounde caucus of ‘Hut 2’ paid a visit to the Kondengui Principal Prison to visit the incarcerated members of the Southern Cameroons’ (Ambazonia’s) leadership. On arriving there, well before mid-day, we learned that we had undertaken an impossible mission because, since the previous week, there had been strict instructions from the Presidency that no one be allowed to visit the detainees. The strict instructions had been issued following the visit of Eric Chinje to the prison. The ‘Presidency’ is said to have been highly embarrassed by a video Eric promptly released in the world media following his visit to Kondengui.

However, since “le Cameroun c’est le Cameroun” we did not immediately give up our mission and return home. One of us knew very well some of the warders who advised that we should buy something like pallets of bottled water and, on getting there, say that we had come to see Reverend Father Andrew. Father Andrew is one of the Ambazonians who had already been sentenced (to eleven years with hard labour, I think). As a prisoner, as distinguished from a detainee, he has a right to receive visitors.  The little conspiratorial plan was that, once we were let in on account of the priest, we would then use the opportunity to see Sisiku and co. We proceeded accordingly, little knowing that our little secret was known to all the warders along the whole path. The one at the first gate, who took and registered our ID cards insisted that it was not Father Andrew we were going to see, that he knew who we were going to see and we should tell him. Whereupon I said that I wanted to see Father Andrew whom I had not seen since he was imprisoned and also a family member of ours, Shufai  Berinyuy, whom I had visited before. In fact, Shufai’s younger sister was with us and had narrated what difficulties she had encountered in recent times coming to see him.

In LRC all procedural problems with government regulations can be solved by putting your hand in the pocket; a veritable racket as everyone concerned gets to get his/her due share of the booty. So we were able to get in to the second waiting room. There was absolutely no going beyond this point but our co-conspirators had gone in to fulfill their part of the bargain and informed Sisiku and Shufai, who at the time were at some religious service, that we were there to see them. They shortly emerged, looking healthy, fit and in good spirits.

We had to discuss there in the waiting space in the presence of all the warders and other waiting visitors within the very short discretional time allowed, scarcely 10 minutes, all told. We rapidly told them about Hut 2 and our main mission, emphasizing the fact that one of our admission criteria insists that members must have no direct ambitions of a political or economic nature in the emergent Ambaland, so as to enhance objectivity and fair-mindedness.  That the group had sent us to sound them regarding the recent releases of the President on the IG. That the said releases had shaken the grassroots on GZ and, on balance, from the point of view of perception, had been generally highly unfavourably received. That the Hut wanted to contribute towards managing the situation. That they at Kondengui are certainly the face of the Revolution and that nearly everyone conceded that but, could the President, please, stay calm and keep a low profile while the challenges elicited by his releases are handled, in view of the fact that the Revolution  seems to be inexorably approaching the finishing line?

Our President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, responded more or less as follows. He is very happy that we come. That the recent actions he has taken were long overdue, but there is no time to tell us the whole story. That in prison, they are very well informed, more informed than most people outside and, with scarcely any distractions, they are focused on the revolution full time. They have been communicating constantly with many people including the diplomatic community some of whom have come several times to commune with them in prison. That they had a lot to do with the recent moves and actions of the European Union, USA and the UK. That the Revolution had come dangerously close to total collapse owing to the incompetence and corruption of the IG. That it is highly impossible for them to betray the revolution; that in fact each of them is so committed to our getting to Buea that, if an offer were made to kill one of them so that we get to Buea, there would be a scramble among them for who should bear that supreme sacrifice. He understands what we are saying about perception but that, because he is so sure of the rightness of his actions on behalf of the Revolution, he is holding on to them even in the face of receiving 90 percent blame or condemnation. That appearance is very different from reality and when we do get to Buea and lay the facts before everyone, some of us will thankfully fall at the feet of some of the people who are roundly being condemned today and look askance at some of those receiving high praise. That the Hut should please just give him the benefit of the 10 percent margin of doubt that remains in our mind.

Many questions remained to be asked but we had to go. Shufai, however, took our telephone contacts and it appears they are able to make calls from in there.  

Gobata (for the Yaounde Hut 2 Caucus)

Government by horsewhip, for rough riders and opportunists

They call us dogs. But they prevent us from lying down when we fall asleep. They decreed that we are dogs, but opted to ride us like the proverbial willing horse to… They, the overlords loathe barking dogs, even though we bark because we are hungry, angry. Our riders pull and push us from both ends, they scream and lash out. Amba militias and those we purportedly voted into office expect us to run with the hare and hunt with the dogs, our administratively designated cousins.

Amba militants have decreed that we keep every Monday “holy.” They burn our shops; they trim our fingers and occasionally behead us especially when we venture to also obey those they love to hate. Amba opponents seize our cars, they seal our shops and other business premises when we perceive that venturing out of our homes could mean having our automobiles burnt to ashes or our fingers sadistically chopped off by psychotic militias.

We, the People have become the grass upon which two bullish elephants are clumsily fighting for political space and advantage. Whereas Amba chieftains have commandeered the social media through which their “commanders” and “generals” reel out Sharia-like edicts, their “elected” opponents swear at us via the insipid speeches and obnoxious propaganda they routinely force-feed us with. When they are not disconnecting the internet to return us to technological childhood so we become social cannon fodder, they are tacitly employing circus animals to chase us around for their evening television entertainment.

As we write, the buffoonery is playing out in Buea, chief town of the Southwest Region. “The army is here to protect us,” by way of providing rock solid cover for drugged street urchins, hired by the local council to seal the hundreds of business places that failed to open their doors on “holy” or “Amba” Monday if you will. Many shop attendants (mostly young girls) have been arrested and held in detention because they dared to reopen their shops; such shops as were illegally and criminally sealed in the first place. A select few have been left open either because their owners are “connected” or because a small bribe was paid to a member of the mayor’s prowling gang.

Like was the case in the American Wild West many years back, a Quixotic mayor, guarded by fully armed military personnel regularly parades the streets, barking out orders and threatening whosoever fails to fling open the doors of their business places. Even if one traveled out of town; even if one took ill and couldn’t open on a Monday, one’s shop was sealed. Television cameras follow the mayor for effect. Hundreds of taxicabs are commandeered and taken to the Town Hall. They are only released against an undertaking that their owners would be out on Mondays, daring the ubiquitous rag-tag militias.

As it stands, we, the People have become playthings on the chessboard of Amba militias and the very “infallible” state authority.  We get tossed about and along like a bad coin in the market. Occasionally, we are slaughtered like chickens by both state and separatist fighters.

The prevailing socio-political climate in the Anglophone Regions particularly gives room for much trepidation. In Buea like elsewhere, morally bankrupt state authorities are making hay, feeding fat from what is clearly a bloody, sordid situation.  Despite the dire times, residents of the so called town of excellence are chipping in money to fix their own roads and provide their own water. The hundreds of commercial bikers chased off the streets late last year have either been “baptized” into the Amba confraternity or at the very worst breaking and entering at night. The only visible sign of municipal action in Buea is seen in the clusters of boutiques practically taking over every side walk and green space and said to be realized on a “Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT, agreement. Otherwise what also constitutes development here is the television appearances of gallery eye servants spoiling to rule the roost.

The incidence of unemployed youth, miserable looking internally displaced individuals in addition to the dehumanizing poverty has more than obliterated what is left of human dignity. We are virtually in an era where deviance across the societal board is fast becoming normal, with law and order irretrievably headed for the brink with each passing day. Those charged with local leadership, including a quixotic mayor have virtually turned themselves to devouring monsters and parasites who feed on the misery of the mass populace.

The typical selective amnesia notwithstanding, those we call our leaders are invariably courting a national crisis of unimaginable proportions. The highest authority in the land is quoted millions of times daily, his name conveniently dropped by quislings eager to conceal their repugnant dross. And they do this with a creeping determinism. Despite the tough talk including a rather ostrich approach to solving the raging crisis, separatist agitations, virulent criminality and extreme insecurity persist. Summary executions by both the regular army and Amba boys are carried out with a devil-may-care abandon.

There is a progressive collapse of the organizing principles of society, loss of fraternity, empathy and confidence. And political scavengers and other cringing cattle egrets are hovering around the dung of misfortune, expecting to feed from crap at the expense of the common good.

Last line…

The pyramidal heap of corpses, especially of innocent, harmless English speaking Cameroonians keeps piling. Starvation and poverty in capital letters is clearly etched on the average English Cameroonian’s forehead.

Speech makers keep swearing fire and brimstone. Soldiers and other gun toting operatives are transforming their guns and other weapons of coercion into meal tickets. “Dog whistlers” are ironically lashing out at their beasts of burden with sadistic relish while convincing the tin god that horses are meant to be ridden roughshod until they qualify for the knackers.

Selective amnesia prescribes that they forget about what hit the good old Bob of Zimbabwe.

Cheers, and let’s keep suffering and smiling!

By Charlie Ndi Chia

The February 11 challenge

While Government is battling to bring to a halt the imposed ‘ghost town’ days in the two English speaking Regions, the Youth Day celebration which is fast approaching imposes a double challenge for them to combat with as it falls on Monday; a day observed as ‘ghost town.’

Unlike the previous years when taxis could ply the road on such a day, this 2019 comes with an increase in the momentousness of respecting an imposed ghost town due to the upsurge of threats, occasional torture and even execution of some innocent Cameroonians who dared going against such a restriction.

With the severity with which ghost towns have been respected recently by the vulnerable population in these Regions, the Youth Day Celebrations on February 11 comes with much uncertainty in as far as the turnout of youths to give the day the grandeur it deserves is concerned. Though at the level of preparations by officials, it was revealed recently that Buea will host just one marching centre and that nursery pupils won’t take part in the march past this year adding to other amendments, the safety of the children who will turn out on that day as of now is still a concern to most parents.

Regarding the high rate at which students are being abducted, with some having their fingers chopped off, some parents which The Rambler spoke with noted that they are not certain if their children would be taking part in this year’s Youth Day manifestation. Ejang Celestin, a Buea based parent said it would be better for his child to eventually serve any punishment that may come up as a result of it not participating in the Youth Day march past than to participate and end up sustaining injuries, abducted or even killed outright.

Others like Ejang wondered about the security of their children. “Getting first to the marching ground is already an issue since taxis don’t circulate on Mondays in Buea and even if transportation is made available for children participating, what of the security of that child away from the ceremonial grounds? We know these boys are always civilian wears, hence it would be difficult to identify them” Ashu Brenda, a mother worriedly stated.

Though many are not in support of the imposed ‘ghost towns’ which have very seriously impoverished the Regions, making life hellish and unbearable to its occupants, respecting embargo they stated, is mainly for the fear of the unknown. Hopes are however high especially on the part of the organizers and Government top brass that the Youth Day celebration would be a success with the expected population.

By Relindise Ebune

Dion Ngute rises politically from the ashes of his burnt palace

It is a new phenomenon in Cameroon. It started off with the burning of schools by members of dissident groups claiming an independent state of ‘Ambazonia.’ Regular soldiers took the relay baton and reduced whole villages to ashes. High profile victims of arson include Professor Paul Nchoji Nkwi, member of the Constitutional Council of Cameroon. His village home in Njinikom in Boyo Division of the Northwest Region was burnt down by soldiers, barely months after his appointment to that council. Another is Doh Jerome, Secretary of State in charge of Penitentiary Administration in the Ministry of Justice. His home in his native Bali in Mezam Division was burnt by suspected Amba boys. We are told that Fon Chafah, a Senator and traditional ruler of Bangolan in the Northwest Region also lost his palace to separatist fighters.

On January 3, it was the turn of Chief Dr. Dion Joseph Ngute of Bongongo Barombi 1 near Lobe in Ndian Division of the Southwest Region. Some 24 hours after arsonists suspected to be ‘Amba boys’ torched his palace, a presidential decree appointed him Prime Minister and Head of Government.

The modern structure, constructed  in his native Bongongo 1 village,  in Ekondo-Titi subdivision of Ndian Division in the Southwest Region which also  serves as his palace alongside some trucks used in his palm plantation are were reduced to ashes.

Pictures which circulated on social media showed a building whose windows and some house hold equipment have been reduced by flames. Like the proverbial phoenix, Ngute rose from the ashes of misfortune or better still of his burnt palace to be named Prime Minister and Head of Government, taking over from Philemon Yang who had served in that capacity for slightly over nine years.

The incident also came barely two days after President Paul Biya addressed the nation vowing to restore peace in no distant time in the restive Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon. Biya had went the extra step to state how he was going to order the army to annihilate militants who failed to surrender to the newly created commission for Disarmament and Rehabilitation. But as if to dare the head of state and show their defiance for the commission, suspected separatists set the house of the one he was about to name as Prime Minister on fire.

  Dion Ngute is a long-serving time Cabinet Minister in the Biya Government. He served for over a decade and a half as Minister Delegate at the Ministry of External Relations in charge of the Commonwealth. His last “Ministerial port of call” was Minister of Special Duties at the Presidency of the Republic. 

Meanwhile other Ministers whose village homes have been torched during the ongoing war in the two Anglophone Regions include Victor Arrey Mengot of Manyu and Paul Tasong of Lebialem.

One of the most daunting tasks facing the new occupant of the Star Building would be seeking a permanent end to the raging war that has destroyed both precious lives and countess property in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon.

BY NGENDE ESTHER

The negotiation PM – Can he fix the damage?

The appointment of Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute as PM is strategic and circumstantial, perhaps with little weight placed on his achievements in his previous role at the Presidency and more on his negotiation skills and network as the longest serving Minister Delegate in charge of the Commonwealth and his role in the allocation judgment of the contested Region of Bakassi Peninsular by the European Court of Justice in favour of Cameroon. Like it or not, Cameroon, once considered as one of the safest countries in Central Africa is at a very delicate point at home and beyond, and there is a desperate need for a ‘Negotiation Prime Minister’ with international legal experience to be the ‘Handy-Manny’ of a shattered country increasingly surrounded by national and international enemies and a few friends of self rather than collective national interest. The President and indeed, the government needed a ‘new’ face and reliable personality with experience of the root causes, culture and people of the two English speaking Northwest and Southwest Regions.

It appears H.E Dion Ngute maintains a long standing network with the UN and other potential stakeholders who would be key in any final negotiation settlement to rescue the country or at least repair SOME of the big damages that Cameroon is struggling to cope with, including the ongoing dirty war between government forces and Ambazonia armed separatist fighters and the shocking withdrawal of the 2019 CAN hosting rights.

The deteriorating ‘Anglophone Conflict’ requires a meaningful and effective peaceful negotiation before active fighting spills over to other Regions hosting Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. All sides must now realize that this horizontal war cannot be won by either side using military tactics even if sustained for decades. Innocent citizens and ordinary Cameroonians are paying the ultimate blood price as both sides refuse to unilaterally lay down their arms or withdraw government forces from the affected Regions. The Ambazonia war is taking a different shape, unfavourable to all sides involved. Ambazonia armed fighters initially supported by local and Diaspora communities are controlling huge territory and gradually creating ungovernable spaces in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. Local infighting between Ambazonia armed groups, inexperienced fighters and Diaspora leadership splits is resulting in a disorganized ground fighting, human rights violations, kidnappings for ransom , extortions, beheadings and other dangerous terror related activities that is reversing gained sympathy and support from the local population and the international community. The PM will have to balance these factors carefully when the government decides to engage the key stakeholders of the conflict in a neutral environment.

A meaningful negotiation should commence, one that addresses the real ‘Anglophone problems’ that have kept the country disunited for more than four decades, rather than exclusively addressing the resulting effects in the hope that causation factors will disappear under the carpet. A genuine process will require the participation of carefully selected credible national and Diaspora stakeholders, especially those with ´big dogs in the fight.’

Negative international image

The negative international image hanging over Cameroon, the pressure on the national economy and social life is mounting at high speed and any effective solution requires a head of government with plenty of solution orientation skills. But in the complex circumstances, someone who can distance himself from the immediate scene of the damage and say, ‘it was not me in charge when things hit the fan but I am here to fix the situation, give me a chance.’

This is a strategic Presidential appointment at a time when the key leadership of various Ambazonia armed separatist groups, viz;  Ambazonia Defence Forces, ADF, of Dr Cho Ayaba ; Southern Cameroons Défense Force, SOCADEF, of Dr Ebenezer Akwanga and the Ambazonia Security Council, ASC, of the Interim Government, IG, under Dr Samuel Sako are split over leadership control – rendering a negotiation process even more complex with the potential for spoilers should key stakeholders be left in the cold. The current negotiation dynamics should involve a support pre-negotiation mechanism to unite the ´Ambazonia’ leadership without freezing out either moderate voices or those who prefer armed struggle as the only viable solution.

This is perhaps the last PM under the current centralized structure and his role is the most critical in deciding the future of Cameroon, one that should be embraced with celebrations of business as usual.’

The President, the newly appointed PM, the people of Cameroon at home and abroad and the international community will not rest peacefully until the current conflict is buried below and not above their heads once and for all. It is down to H.E. Dion Ngute to play his best and most challenging role in the history of Cameroon as the ´Negotiation Prime Minister.’

ELECAM Board Chair prescribes courage, optimism against insecurity

Last week’s outing by Enow Abrams Egbe, ELECAM Board Chair and Erik Essousse, Director General of Elections to the Southwest turned out to be a crusade by avowed optimists and Pastors’ sons to overturn the impossibility of holding elections under ambient insecurity in the Region. In the opinion of the Board Chair, he is an impenitent optimist and, propelled by such mindset, he sees no reason why elections should not hold in the Region.
Enow Abrams was reacting to a welcome address presented by Mewanu Divine Mokoto, newly appointed Interim Regional Delegate for the Southwest wherein he had catalogued a plethora of adversities that had been plaguing the smooth functioning of the elections management body here.
In this connection, he had euphemistically concluded that “with the current scenario of mutual animosity between separatist forces and the regular army that has induced massive exodus from the rural areas where fighting is most endemic, only a spectacular turn-round of circumstances shall permit ELECAM to organize, manage and supervise any of the scheduled elections this year in the Southwest Region.”
But, the Board Chair seems to have been viewing matters from a different perspective, underpinned by an entrenched desire to ensure that no circumstance; not even the prevalent insecurity in the Region shall prevent elections from holding on scheduled dates.
As encouragement, he counseled staff in the Region to be optimistic and collaborate fully with the administration in their various Council and Divisional Branches. He assured that strategies to be revealed at the appropriate moment have been conceived to circumvent some of the hurdles engendered by the current political upheaval in the English speaking Regions.
As reassurance to staff who had already been de-motivated by the opaque management of his predecessor, Abdoulaye Babale, the Director General announced a series of palliative measures intended to induce renaissance in the morally sapped working force of the Region. The goodies from the Essousse generosity consignment include realignment with the National Social Insurance Fund, NSIF, from which workers had not been benefitting from family allowance and maternity allocations for more than three years even as their contributions were regularly deducted on a monthly basis. Worse, even is the fact that those proceeding on retirement were to have found payment of their pension imperiled. Workers were assured of immediate regularization of the situation. Other allowances and gratifications also, came under review, including issuance of irrevocable salary transfer attestations to banks to facilitate loans suspended under dubious circumstances for more than three years and bonuses for registration and successful conduct of elections. These, the Director General of Elections assured, are not promises but measures already activated.
As part of the catalogue of impediments to hitch-free organization, management and supervision of elections in the Region, the Interim Southwest Regional Delegate posited that activities have been completely shut down in some localities. To concretise his assertion, he revealed that Konye and Mbonge Council Branches in Meme Division, Alou, Menji and Wabane in Lebialem Division, Tinto, Eyumojock and Akwaya in Manyu Division, Nguti in Kupe-Muanenguba Division, Muyuka in Fako Division and Toko and Dikome Balue Coucil Branches in Ndain Division have been deserted by their staff due to unbearable persistent insecurity caused by marauding militia in these areas. As a result, there has been a drastic drop in registration and card distribution figures, restriction of movements to hinterlands due to far flung distances between villages and polling stations and also, interferences by assailants who see the forests separating villages as convenient hideouts.
“Other factors that impede efficient and effective acquittal of our bounden duty include hostility towards ELECAM staff that have materialized in the kidnap of staff of Tinto Council Branch, and arson attempt on Kupe-Muanenguba Divisional Branch, Nguti Council Branch and Limbe II Council Branch and restrain from open sensitization and registration exercises. Your working visit nationwide will definitely reinstate confidence amongst the personnel,” he stated.
The delegate regretted the fact that there has been complete rejection of and heightened apathy against ELECAM by communities in distress, just like civil disobedience epitomized in the boycott of major national events like Youth Day, Women’s Day, Labour Day, National Day by the population hence, stalling their targeted massive registration given the difficulty in movement of staff and electoral materials owing to administrative edicts barring movements in most parts of the Region.
“Given our current situation of lined-up elections this year, the current rolling stock (vehicles and motorcycles) cannot meet up with the magnitude of tasks.
On behalf of the Southwest ELECAM family, he hoped the resolve of the Chairperson of the Electoral Board, Enow Abrams Egbe and the Director General, Dr. Essousse Erik to embark on a joint working visit on the heels of his recent appointment underpins exceptional stewardship and a crusading determination to curb some of the deficiencies that had been robbing ELECAM of the natural shine that it was supposed to radiate. Mokoto added that their “current action evokes palpable zeal, strengthened by concern for your immediate collaborators, the entire ELECAM family and our beloved nation Cameroon; all the glory of God through servitude, competence, transparency and reliability that will certainly result in total satisfaction for all.”
By Nester Asonganyi

Election deferral bill smuggled into parliament after statutory deadline

The draft bill to initiate postponement of House of Assembly and Municipal elections statutorily due this year has finally reached the House of Assembly after it fuelled speculations and debates among Cameroonians and on the social media. Tabled to the National Assembly for deliberation and eventual enactment into law five days behind statutory deadline, the bill takes root from an earlier presidential edict to the Speakers of the Senate and House of Assembly and President of the Constitutional Council intimating them of his intention to postpone elections into the concerned bodies by one year, effective from October 29, 2018.
The decision to postpone the elections although justifiable at face value judging by the ambient insecurity in the Grand North, Northwest and Southwest Region, which has provision in the constitution, appears to be linked more to a national treasury afflicted by chronic and acute impecuniosity.
The president’s edict relies on the closeness of the three elections that evokes probable skewedness in handling them and the possibility of disenfranchising many eligible voters as well as triggering disenchantment among those who might feel slighted by a poorly handled national assignment of sovereign dimension.
Cameroon’s constitution has provision for the president of the republic to postpone elections in the country for up to 18 months in the case of elections into national assembly and municipal councils. For this to happen, he must consult the presidents of the constitutional Council, National Assembly and the Senate. This is precisely what Mr Biya has done, even as his action is ultra vires, having exceeded the deadline of Thursday, June 21 by five days. According to the constitution, this was supposed to be within 40 days of the expiry of the mandate of the beneficiaries.
However, many wary observers have begun gainsaying the president’s current posturing, predicating their assertion on the fact that the prevailing circumstances in the country also affect election into the office of the President of the republic. Why then would the president choose to postpone elections that have to do with the welfare of grassroots Cameroonians and those who would have been mandated to represent them at the national level? They read in the president’s decision, a ploy to perpetrate his unenviable regime that has brought sorrow, tears and blood to Cameroonians in the last 36 years.
The bill shall be defended by Amadou Ali, Vice Minister in charge of Relations with the Assembly, whose passage will just be a formality given the cavalier approach to the examination of bills at the CPDM dominated National Assembly.
Interestingly, there is a complicit silence being maintained by opposition parties, including those that have candidates vying for the upcoming presidential elections.The contention from the public is that those currently aspiring to be president of the republic have adjudged themselves unfit to unseat Biya and have resigned to fate, barely waiting for the elections to be done with so that they can get their campaign money. They give teeth to their assertion by evoking the fact that it is more than two weeks since Mr Biya sent the memo to concerned parties but, there has been no reaction from political parties.
However, another school of thought leans on the fact that the bill was yet to reach the Assembly where its passage into law is a fait accompli. In furtherance of this opinion is the claim that political parties ought to be given the benefit of doubt, pending when the bill shall have been passed into law for them to react.
Be that as it may, one thing is certain and it is the incontrovertible fact that Mr. Biya is out to perpetuate his stay in power and intends to die in office. At over 85, he still gets his kick from being cajoled by court jesters who deceive him that he is “infallible and invincible,” thereby imbuing him with an aura of inflated importance that makes him feel he has been elevated to deity.
By Sampson Esimala

Who rules the roost? ‘Amba’ or army?

“Even though I was scared stiff, my journalistic instincts remained alert. At least, I was able to establish that there were 10 of them. They brandished sophisticated guns, which nozzles they trained tauntingly at us. One of them said: ‘this car has a CE registration number, so it must be from Yaounde. You are the people we are looking out for. You have put us in this mess and must pay accordingly.
“We pleaded, explaining desperately that even though our car was matriculated in the Centre Region, we don’t necessarily hail from there. We are actually from this part and we came to bury one of our brothers.”
This was part of a difficult conversation with ‘Ambazonia boys’ last week in Boyo Division, Northwest Region. Like elsewhere in the English speaking Regions of the country, they now man checkpoints, check passengers and in some rare cases collect small ransoms from them. Occasionally they would pick out an unfortunate security operative or saboteur/informant and abduct him to their camp.
Barely some two kilometers from here, the once bustling Belo town that was sacked some two months back by regular security forces is as dead as a graveyard. But for patrolling troops in armoured cars, it is difficult to see any sign of life here. The tens of thousands of inhabitants have fled into the bushes. Many others were brutally killed by the forces, reason it is claimed, the ‘Amba boys’ decided to constitute their militia.
Very often traffic between Fundong, the chief town of Boyo Division and Bamenda is blocked by the ‘Amba boys.’ They only open it to travelers when “Biya’s soldiers behave themselves by not harassing the innocent,” someone told this reporter.
Ironically, regular soldiers are stationed less than two kilometers away from their ‘Amba’ opponents. From the look of things, the soldiers are aware of the activities of this militia, but are rather reluctant to confront them for reasons best known to them. What they perpetrate, which annoys both the militia and villagers is that they shoot to kill anyone on motorcycle, regardless of whether the one is a certified member of the militia or not.
A middle aged lady by name Juliana Fung called The Rambler from where she said was her hiding place and claimed that her eldest son was summarily executed by regular soldiers who also burnt down homesteads in the Sub-Division.
“I am now in hiding with my other children, especially as I witnessed how a man and his entire family were burnt alive in their own home,” she claimed.
Narrating his ordeal further, the Yaounde based journalist who was home to bury a departed relation said the ‘Amba boys’ requested that every adult passenger in his car hand over their voter’s card. “We all said we didn’t have any but they would not believe and almost proceeded to body-search each and every one of us. It was then that I quickly pulled out my national identity card and presented it to them. On seeing that it was preserved in a CRTV folder, they got even more furious.
“So you work at CRTV? We have to go to the palace where your case would be determined by our boss. They added for effect in Pidgin English ‘… na dat Yaounde people dem dis wey we di fine am. Why wuna want disgrace we so?’”
He said although this lasted for some five minutes only, it appeared as though the whole episode had taken a life time. “We were apparently saved when upon sighting an oncoming vehicle, their attention was divided. The one who looked to me like their commander instructed that the vehicle be intercepted just in case it had on board a military man or anyone else in uniform.
“Then he turned his attention back to us and without as much as raising his voice he requested: ‘give the children water.’ This was a euphemism for a bribe or tip. My wife took out a FCFA 10,000 note from her purse and stretched it. They politely asked that it be placed on the ground. And then with the admonition; ‘God bless you, wuna waka fine ya, they let us go.
The Rambler learned that a member of the newly constituted Constitutional Council was, during the same period a victim of the militia. That he had to both sweet-talk and buy his freedom from the boys. While members of the regular army are said to have gone haywire, looking out for whom to brand and summarily execute, the ‘Amba boys’ have seemingly had employment in compiling names of potential ‘elite sponsors’ of their ‘independence project.’
Fung Juliana quipped: “The military have killed my first boy child and I won’t wait here with my other children to be also brutally murdered. Neither would I wait to be caught in the eventual crossfire of ‘the boys’ and soldiers.

Digression from matters of the moment

Penultimate week, the social media was awash with reactions to what has now come to be termed the Messanga Nyamding challenge. The substance of this gibberish is the self-acclaimed Biyaist’s contention that Southern Cameroonians are supposed to be grateful to President Biya whose so called magnanimity has permitted them to enjoy the luxury of elite professional schools whose doors would ordinarily not have been opened to their dim-witted tribe. My take on it is to refer all those who feel their feathers have been ruffled to the anecdote in one of Chinua Achebe’s novels that throws up the scenario of a mad man in rags who went into a stream where villagers usually bathe and carried away the hanging clothes of someone who had gone into the steam. The narrative continues that instead of reflecting for a while on the issue so as to come up with a palatable solution, the victim jumped out of the stream and set out behind the mad man in his nakedness.
The account continued that, the madman ran into a crowded market with his pursuer valiantly behind him. Note that in African mythology the simple act of a mad man entering a market automatically renders his affliction incurable. To aggravate issues, mad man was known all over for his weird attitude but, the victim whose clothes he had taken from the improvised hanger at the stream had been known to be a rational being. However, his appearance in the market in Adam’s suit conjured up no other explanation than that he too, had suddenly gone mad to the point where he had entered the market and cannot be cured. The lesson here is that when somebody who is supposed to have been educated up to a certain level suddenly opts to rant using statements that cannot withstand the cannons of incontrovertible data especially, if such a person more than usually associates himself with the CPDM, the conclusion is that very little rationality should be ascribed to him.
Not being inclined to waste useful time on worthless name-droppers and mean attention seekers like Messanga Nyamding the suggestion here is to redirect our energy to more poignant issues that foretell grave danger to Southern Cameroonians if requisite attention is not brought into play. The issue is of course, is Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo’s revelation on Radio France International, RFI, that the CPDM party is ready to discuss federalism with the aggrieved component of Cameroon. Straight-out nonsense! What a cheap form of digression! Where has the indivisibility of Cameroon been consigned? Are they now willing to negotiate with terrorists? Or, like the Southern Cameroonians who have opted for separation as worst case scenario in their quest for greater autonomy they too, are giving the impression of embracing federalism to entice moderate Southern Cameroonians.
Without subscribing to the extremism of those who want out of Cameroon, the temptation nevertheless arises to query the sudden capitulation? And, why is it that it is coming from the ruling party and not the Government even though such a distinction is irrelevant in our skies underpinned by politics of next of kin. If there is any realism in Fame Ndongo’s claim, then it must be borne out of avowed impossibility of imposing their will on Southern Cameroonians. Should this be the case, then its import must be relied upon heavily in the event of any negotiations for a federal system of Government in Cameroon. They shall be negotiating from a position of weakness and so must not be accorded the privilege of dictating the pace of deliberations. The worst case scenario of a return to the status quo antes 1972 but, without the one party system instituted by Ahmadou Ahidjo in 1966 must be relied on as our pathfinder.
While conceding that this might be the first step towards an armistice in the current mutually devastating hostilities, the fact that this is coming so suddenly and more than half a year since President Biya declared war against unseen terrorists, floats the perception of weary warmonger pretending to be inclined to peace when the reality is that underestimation of the opponent has occasioned a drastic reversal in fortunes. In the event, what Southern Cameroonians had begun clamouring for since the late 70s, and followed up in the 80s and 90s is now being proposed on the airwaves of a foreign radio.
Our president is too big or has surrounded himself with an aura of inflated importance such that he cannot address the nation on the issue. A lesser being must be the one assigned to talk down on people he still considers second class citizens. How unrepentant and daft!
Granted that a modicum of seriousness can be ascribed to Government intention to discuss federalism; did it have to take so much loss of lives and property for the regime to be jolted to reality? How are the mighty fallen! Fame Ndongo, of all people in Cameroon was the one saddled with the announcement that the regime is disposed to engage in discussions on federalism after he had derisively posited that “Southern Cameroonians are just two cubes of sugar in a basin of water, ” meaning their grieving voices do not count. Nevertheless, circumstances including resilience of Southern Cameroonians and pressure from the international community even though not enough is rubbing off on the abysmal callousness that the Biya regime has brought to bear on governance and conflict resolution in Cameroon.
When international observers voice what trenchantly reflects its modus operandi of their governance, the regime opts for trading insults with an organization that will still do the same thing the next time the opportunity arises. Driven by a disposition that sees every issue as being susceptible to quick fix provided a reasonable wad of money comes into the fray they had hoped Amnesty International would succumb to fleece bait. Unfortunately, for them, not having their umbilical cords buried in our skies, the same indicting reports with corroborating evidence have kept rearing their heads to the chagrin of an irredeemable regime mired in ruthless abuse of the rule of law.
The desperation is clear. What is certain is that the country is down and out! Stone broke! But this does not seem to mean anything to an old man whose very close association with an avaricious wife has induced puerility and outright freebooting into his mind-set. And, so no matter the hue and cry out there, he is steadfast to clinging onto power until his dying day. He wants to see the stadium named after him go operational like a kid anticipating new dresses at Christmas. A man who chooses to host Africa in a sports fiesta whose alternative is many more hospitals, schools, houses and improved livelihood for every Cameroonian is certainly not in tune with the prerequisites of android-age governance. He wants to be adored, venerated and even pampered. Too bad, the nimbus clouds are gathering and soon the storm will appear with a ferocity whose end will be difficult to determine.
Oh yes, the diversionary tactics will not change what God has reserved for those who have wholeheartedly embraced the devil and are occasioning avoidable pain on ordinary citizens whose only request is an enabling environment for peaceful living. Nemesis has decreed retribution and the price shall be incalculable.
By Ngoko Monyadowa

Cavaye dribbles MPs on elections delay bill

Against a backdrop of effervescent anticipation from the public in general and lawmakers in particular emergent from a Presidential edict to Senate and House of Assembly Speakers urging them to facilitate postponement of parliamentary and municipal elections, Speaker, Cavaye Yegue Djibril took lawmakers and the lone Government Minister in attendance on Tuesday during deliberations at the National Assembly complex completely off guard when he instead announced the lone item on the agenda to be a bill authorising upward review of the 2018/2019 budget.
The surprise evoked by failure or deliberate eschewal of discussion on the much anticipated bill stems from the monumental import it ill will eventually have on Cameroon’s political landscape and, more significantly, the fact that Government statutorily had up to yesterday midnight to table the bill to the national assembly for eventual deliberation and promulgation into law. This is in addition to common knowledge of the eventuality of such a discussion, given that it had already been posted on social media and by that token would be accorded priority.
In the event, pundits are lost in contemplation as to whether a regime not known for respect of constitutional provisions will keep to its requirement that the head of state consults the National Assembly and Senate presidents for such an issue to be discussed and eventually given quietus for enactment into law.
Cameroon’s constitution, the supreme law of the land provides for postponement of elections under special circumstances including palpable insecurity and acute treasury malaise that may impinge on hitch free organisation of the ecercise. In the event that the constitutional provisions are met, the head of state has the prerogative to postpone elections for up to 18 months. And, this must be done 40 days before expiry of current mandate of the body whose mandate is to be extended or abridged.
This currently being the case in Cameroon, it is not surprising that the head of state had to write to the Presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly intimating them of his intention to postpone parliamentary and municipal elections for a period of one year, predicating his decision on the impossibility of organising three elections of universal suffrage within a month.
However, badmouths have been adroit in gainsaying the president’s inclination on grounds that he was very much aware of the task ahead of Government and confirmation of this is his allusion to it during his end of year’s message on December 31, 2017. How come it is only now that he is realising it shall not be possible?
They further contend that Biya is just a trickster who is seeking legality to perpetuate his stay as head of state after being convinced by prevailing circumstances in the country that he has lost legitimacy. More so, they continue that given the intensity of the crisis pitting his regime against Southern Cameroons separatists, Boko Haram insurgence in the Northern Regions and dire straits financial standing of the national treasury, he ought to have also, postponed the presidential poll.
The general impression is that postponement of the elections although justifiable at face value is a ruse to keep afloat a moribund regime that has been disavowed by the citizenry. They give teeth to their contention with occurrences like the invasion of the social media by a memo from the presidency that was yet to be acted upon by those to whom they were directed.
The president is said to have even been dumped by staff of his office who are supposed to have maintained a level of confidentiality commensurate with its stature and status. It is upon realisation of this uninviting turn-around of events and his avowed determination to cling to power until death that he has resorted to the current election roguery.
By Sampson Esimala