Fire guts minister’s Mamfe home

The house of Cameroon’s Minister of special duties at the Presidency of the Republic, Victor Arrey Mengot has been visited and ravaged by fire.
The incident that occurred during the early hours of Saturday, June 2 in Mamfe has left the Minister now houseless in his native Mbinjong, Upper Bayang Sub-Division, Manyu Division in the Southwest Region. Meantime the source of the wild fire is yet to be identified.
This is happening after thousands in the Region, especially in Divisions like Meme, Lebialem have also lost their homes to arson perpetrated by the military. The only difference is, while these other fires were humanly masterminded, the origin of that which consumed the Minister’s house is yet to be traced.
However, some pundits have been quick to attribute the incident to the ongoing Anglophone Crisis plaguing the Region and the country as a whole. While some are of the opinion that the fire could have been initiated by those commonly referred to as ‘Ambazonia fighters’, others say, his political opponents and ‘witch hunters’ could also be involved. To some persons, the forces of law and order should not be left out of the investigation because, as they put it, they have been noted for committing such acts, especially in this part (Southwest Region) of the country.
An observer noted that even though this could just be a coincidence for such an incident to occur at a time when everything in the country is being blamed on A or B, the people (military or civilian) must both understand that by perpetrating such tragedies, it is the entire society that suffers. He said in terms of development, the country is being taken years back. With the persistence of such disasters especially in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, it is feared that emergence ‘Vision of 2035’ might just be a bogus dream like many others before it.
In which case, analysts have cautioned that by committing such acts, pain is being inflicted not just on the individual but on the entire community and by extension, the country.
By Nester Asonganyi

LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE’S MISSION LAUNCHING OF THE MISSION IN BAMENDA, HEADQUARTERS OF THE NORTH WEST REGION

REPUBLIQUE DU CAMEROUN
Paix Travail-Patrie

REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON
Peace- Work-Fatherland

———- ———-
PRESIDENCE DE LA REPUBLIQUE PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC
———– ———-

COMMISSION NATIONALE POUR LA PROMOTION DU BILINGUISME ET
DU MULTICULTURALISME
————
SECRETARIAT GENERAL

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROMOTION OF BILINGUALISM AND
MULTICULTURALISM
———–
GENERAL SECRETARIAT

LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE’S MISSION
LAUNCHING OF THE MISSION IN BAMENDA, HEADQUARTERS OF THE NORTH WEST REGION

FINAL COMMUNIQUE

On Wednesday 30, Thursday 31 May and Friday 1 June 2018, the President of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism (NCPBM)H.E. Peter MAFANY MUSONGE, accompanied by the Members of the Commission as well as the Secretary General of the Commission undertook a “Listen to the People’s” mission to Bamenda, headquarters of the North West Region. This Mission follows that which took place in Buea in April 2018.
The main objective of the exercise is to collect information of any nature likely to
enable the Commission to know the state of affairs on the practice of bilingualism, multiculturalism and living together in Cameroon, with a view to developing a National Strategic Plan for the promotion of bilingualism, multiculturalism and living together.

LAUNCHING AND DELIBERATIONS

The mission to Bamenda began on Wednesday 30 May 2018 with a working session between the NCPBM and the local administrative authorities headed by the Governor of the Region.

The launching proper took place in the Multipurpose Hall of the PCC Ntamulung neighbourhood in Bamenda on Thursday 31st May 2018, chaired by the President of the Commission in the presence of the Governor and his close collaborators, traditional, religious and political leaders and a cross section of the population.

After the singing of the National anthem and prayers by Muslims and Christians, the meeting began with a speech from the President of the Commission who
expressed gratitude to the participants for their massive turnout, proof of the fact that the population approves of the meet-the-people initiative. He called on all present to freely express themselves on bilingualism, multiculturalism, living together and on any issues they deemed important, especially the current crisis rocking the Region. He equally requested for possible and concrete proposals that could be implemented so as to hasten the end to the present stalemate, which is hurting the social and economic development of the Region. He concluded that the suggestions that would emerge from the meeting would be faithfully channeled to the President of the Republic.

The President of the Commission then informed the participants that the Commission will be in the Region for two days and will be receiving individuals and groups privately after the morning session of the deliberations.

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PARTICIPANTS

After the opening ceremony, the practical phase of the exercise, moderated by the President of the Commission himself began in earnest. The floor was then given to whoever wanted to take it, among the more than 800 persons in attendance.

Over 35 (thirty five) participants, amongst whom were the Chairman of the SDF, Members of Parliament, university dons, traditional rulers and religious leaders, bike riders, “bayam sellams”, journalists, the youths, members of the civil society, businessmen, etc. took the floor in plenary and in all freedom, expressed their views on the various issues of the day.

Most speakers of the day appreciated the creation of the Commission and expressed the wish that the come-together would not be just another waste of time, because they feel that several of such meetings have been held and petitions forwarded to hierarchy but which have not yielded any fruit as of now. They however thanked the NCPBM, for coming to listen to them, in their own base.

Issues raised hinged on:

-The distortion of the political history of Cameroon;
-the poor practice of bilingualism in our country with a predominance of the French language;
-the lack of patriotism in the behaviour of some leaders;
-unemployment of qualified youths;
-lack of infrastructural development in the Region;
-bribery, corruption, tribalism and nepotism;
-marginalisation of English speaking Cameroonians;

-the feeling of not being loved by their French speaking brothers;
-injustice against English speaking Cameroonians;
-harassment by some members of the forces of law and order;
-harassment by some unidentified armed groups:
-the taking of Anglophones for granted;
-arrogance in the management of the crisis;
-the transfer to the Region of military and police —officers who speak only the French language;
-the absence of equal opportunity in the access to public office;
-the tendency to neglect the Anglophone sub-system of education in government competitive examinations;
-the lack of respect for Anglophones by certain Administrative Authorities;
-the superiority complex of Francophones towards Anglophones;
-the complete absence of industries in the Region;
-the clarification of the notions of terrorists, secessionists etc

The second part of the deliberations that started in the afternoon at the AYABA Hotel was devoted to audiences granted by the President of the Commission as well the three Working Groups (Bilingualism, Multiculturalism and Living together), to individuals and groups.

They raised a series of pertinent issues as to the state of affairs on the practice of bilingualism, multiculturalism, living together and most especially, the current crisis in the Region.

The participants equally made several useful verbal and written suggestions on the possible ways of promoting bilingualism, multiculturalism and living together, and especially on ways of bringing a speedy end to the crisis, which is wreaking untold hardship on the population of the North West Region.

Among the proposals made were pleas to government to:
-provide an enabling environment for internally displaced persons to return to their homes;
-examine issues concerning federalism in our country;
-urgently address the basic concerns raised for peace to return;
-organise frank, sincere and inclusive dialogue between the government and the Anglophones, including those of the Diaspora for long-lasting solutions to the current crisis;
-revisit the management of teachers who are caught between their hierarchy and the armed groups;

-speed up infrastructural development in the Region;
-repeal the law on terrorism;
-grant general amnesty to those people within and out of the country jailed or in exile in connection with the crisis;
-seek solutions to enable the villagers in hiding to return to their homes;
-instruct Public Corporations and Establishments to conduct and transact business in the two official languages;
-bring back to the country Cameroonians who are refugees in Nigeria;
-make sure that patriotism is the watchword of all public officials;
-give the possibility to Cameroonians abroad to have double nationality;
-make sure that the unity of the country is based on equity and fairness;
-let the NCPEM effectively put in place the devolved -services in the organigram;
-revisit the history of Cameroon;
-instill change of attitude in the management of public affairs;
-bring back the remains of the former President AMADOU AHIDJO to the country, etc.

A clarion call was made for the President of the Republic to come to the Region and address “His children”.

The second ‘stage of the Listen to the people mission ended on Friday 1st June 2018
Done in Bamenda on Friday June 1st 2018

AZONG-WARA’S DAUNTING MISSION: Rescue GCE Board from politicians’ crumbling weight

However he is perceived, Azong-Wara Andrew remains a strong propagator for the redemption of Anglophone educational values. He knows how, where and when to unleash veritable killer punches to his opponents.
He employs appropriate, apt methods to ensure the inviolability of the Anglo-Saxon sub system of education which has been a recurring decimal in the tortuous relationship between the regime and resolute educationists.
And, he does so with the right pedigree that spans leadership positions in the National Union of Cameroon Students, NUCS, in Nigeria, fire-spitting President of Teachers Association of Cameroon, TAC, and pioneer Registrar of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education, GCE Board.
By some pendulum swing of fate, he was also, among the privileged crew Government solicited to draft the statutes of the GCE Board with Sylvester Dioh, seasoned and hors-pairs educationist who, coincidentally, emerged as pioneer Chair of the Board.
In this interview that is rooted in one of his ‘uppercuts’ unleashed on the current administration of the Board, Azong Wara casts aspersion on the cavalier approach to the management of the institution he and many parents and students risked their lives to bring to fruition.
He also takes a swipe at managers who are of the erroneous belief that pandering to the whims of political authorities instead of asserting the independence of the institution will guarantee longevity of tenure. This, to him, has led to cowardly disregard and eventual erosion of safeguards to unwarranted intrusion by political hustlers into routine management of the institution.
Personal ordeals emanating from his nature as someone driven by altruism rather than the lure of perks that go with appointments, is also highlighted in an inexplicable vow by his erstwhile friend and university schoolmate to ensure that he serves jail time, besides being disgraced out of office. Surprisingly, it is his avowed tormentor Minister of Education, Robert Mbella Mbappe, who ended up holding brief for him.
It is, yet, one of those compulsory reads that can only come from The Rambler stable.

We must establish that this interview has been inspired by the open letter you wrote to the Chairman of the GCE Board. You pointed out in what looked like a treatise that the Board is in a topsy-turvy. You feared the eminent transfer of its Headquarters to Yaounde. Since there is hardly ever any smoke without fire, how founded is this transfer claim?
From the beginning we thought that since the GCE Board was positioned in Buea and the whole of the Anglophone public had fought for it especially, in the Northwest… We have to be frank about that. The fight was very much intense in the Northwest than anywhere else. It happened that when it was created, we started thinking openly of compensating people and places where the Board had actually been fought. The idea was that to facilitate the functioning of the Board, we had to create liaison offices around the country. We thought that we should create a regional office in Bamenda to take care of the Northwest Region, one in Yaounde to take care of all the other eight Regions of the country which were not English speaking and the Head Office in Buea. It was a very difficult task for us because the Chairman of the GCE Board coming from the Southwest Region, being an elderly man who had spent time within the education cycles and known what had happened in the past, thought that idea was trying to carry to carry the GCE Board from Buea to Bamenda. He was citing CCAST Bambili which as he said, was originally meant to be CCAST Kumba. He blamed Foncha and others for taking CCAST to Bambili instead of Kumba. He thought that this idea of creating a Regional office was a second attempt to take the GCE Board from Buea to Bamenda, so he stood very powerfully against it. However, we reasoned together and opened a Regional office in Yaounde and one in Bamenda. The two Regional boards were kept away from the ministry so as to give them an autonomous status.
But when I left the GCE Board, Dr. Omer Weyi Yembe, who took over, decided that those Regional offices were unnecessary; he was the first person who scraped the one in Yaounde but he found it difficult to scrap that in Bamenda. He placed the one in Yaounde under the Ministry and left the one in Bamenda at the Credit Union building. Under Abety and Monono, it was moved to the Regional Delegation of Education where they were not paying rents. The Regional Delegate of Education was now like a boss of the office. They didn’t move into it as if they were renting the premises, so it made the delegate like the boss. So that’s how the first step of moving the Board was.

Let’s refocus the transfer issue. Your open letter said Yaounde…
And to Bamenda, yeah; the idea of transferring the Headquarters of the Board had been rumoured all along even within our own education cycles. People have been saying that the GCE Board is being invaded by the Ministry of Education and the idea is that when it is not working, they will then take it to Yaounde especially, now with this stalemate in the educational process, if we are not operating properly, they can say okay, since the Northwest and the Southwest are in turmoil, let’s just transfer the GCE Board to Yaounde and if a Francophone is administering the Board at that time, it will be a simple thing.

It would appear you are taking these flying rumours hook line and sinker.
They actually have their bases from the GCE Board itself.

Are you not being unnecessarily apprehensive?
The first thing is that some workers have come to the GCE Board from the Ministry of Education and they have been known to say in corridors that they are the ones who are supposed to administer the Board since they are the ones paying for the running of the place. Slangs like these have been making the rounds and have raised a lot of hairs because they filter out to the public. During our education forum we discussed these things.

Whose bidding would you imagine, GCE Board authorities are doing in a case like this one? The government or the mass of young Cameroonians whose foundation it is charged with laying?
It is clearly the Ministry of Education which we can then class as Government.

That is what the Board authorities are doing?
Yes, they are taking their instructions and doing exactly what the Ministry is saying because the text of the Board makes the Council of the Board the supreme governing body. The Ministry of Education exercises only supervisory authority so, all decisions of the Board are taken by the Council and not Minister. Minister in his supervisory authority has 15 days within which to reject or send back the resolution to the council for reexamination else, it becomes law. For instance, if the Council decides to introduce a technical examination scheme for examining say shipbuilding; when they take that decision and have a syllabus already, they now inform the Minister in writing. The Minister has 15 days within which to write back and say; yes, I accept that you should do shipbuilding or you should review the decision. If he doesn’t reject or send it back for review within 15 days, he cannot challenge it again.

But given the regime’s authoritarian antecedents, could you think of a precedence whereby the Minister, [mere supervisory authority] instructed the Board authorities to comply or be fired?
Yes, there has been especially, at the time when I was the Registrar.

And did you capitulate?
I introduced Technical GCE in 1995/1996. I submitted the Council’s resolution to the Minister, then Robert Mbella Mbappe. He wasn’t prudent enough to read and reply because he never wanted the GCE Board to have anything to do with the technical examinations at all.

He didn’t want the GCE Board at all. It is on record that he said it would be created over his dead body.
Yes. He didn’t want it created in the first place and then in the second place would not accept that the GCE Board should get into exams like the technical education. So when the council took the decision in 1995 to start Technical GCE, I submitted the resolutions to the Minister but being a very sluggish and lazy man, he did not read them. So, when the exams were coming up, Mr. Ntoko was Delegate of Education in the Southwest, Chief Martin Fobuzie was Delegate of Education in the Northwest at the time. We submitted this and then we met at the Ministry and since he did not reply, we went ahead and issued the syllabuses for the examination. When we met in the Ministry a few weeks to writing the GCE and the two Delegates betrayed us by giving reports to the effect that we were now trying to organize the GCE Technical which was not within our competence. The Minister then discovered that so these fellows are trying to do GCE Technical, where did it come from? We quarreled with him. When he later asked ‘how did you come about the Technical GCE?’ I said I submitted the resolutions to you, he removed his file from the drawer and the resolution was there. I showed him the text of having to reply within 15 days. After quarreling with me, he sent instructions down that we should not proceed with the Technical GCE. But we went ahead and conducted the GCE Technical and published the results. He was saying that the certificate should not be recognized. We took it up with the Prime Minister and when it was going to create a problem in the country, he now compelled him to issue a different statement stating that the exams would be accepted but that a new syllabus would be revised and a new decree made for it. That’s the way we actually succeeded in getting it.

But there is also the practice of the GCE Board Registrars rushing like school boys to get the Minister of education to declare results. Is this not childish? Doesn’t it go against the grain of the so called autonomy that the Board is purportedly enjoys? The Minister is political, the Board technical, literal.
One of the provisions of the text says that the Council publishes results of the GCE Board. It gives authority to Council to publish results. The first results that were published in 1994, we exploited that text and Mbella Mbappe was in Yaounde and only heard Radio Buea reading the results. I followed the provisions of the text and summoned a press conference in Buea and the next day the results were appearing in the English speaking media.
The Minister called me; he had heard Radio Buea reading the results. He called me to Yaounde and said ‘what is this?’ I am supposed to declare results and I hear results being read on the radio. I just opened the text and said it is the Council and not you Sir; He asked, ‘how can I be the Minister of Education and not be associated with the results?’ I said it is the Council that declares the results. He was now quarrelling with the text but the results had gone out.
When the subsequent Registrars came, they now decided that they would be obeying the Minister; whenever the results were ready they would go to the Minister present before they publish so that they do not have problems with the Minister. That is how the Minister came into the situation; otherwise, it is the Council of the GCE Board that declares the results.

Even though subsequent Registrars cut the tragic figure of errand boys of the Minister, back in the Regions they were demi-gods. Howbeit, they would decide that if CRTV Yaounde hadn’t had it, it would be like nothing was published. Other media like newspapers, especially the private ones, practically crept on all fours to get the results. They would be “reluctantly” sold to them for cut throat amounts. Don’t you find this as mean, even stupid?
My position on that is that it was stupid for people to try to give preferences to press for publication of results. Some of them thought (Registrars after me) that Yaounde was the centre and that as the saying goes; when Yaounde breathes the rest of the country is whatever. I think they thought that by going to Yaounde and having the thing read that their potential would be higher than using local radio and…

We think otherwise. We think that they were reinforcing their visibility to their paymasters as opposed to the students whose interests they are supposed to be serving unreservedly.
That seems to be the case with everything that goes on here. Even the ordinary Delegations of Education feel that when they talk from Yaounde they are more important than when they talk from their own local areas.

We are saying that they could be out to please a clique of greedy individuals, not the teeming numbers of young Cameroonians put under their care.
I don’t think that for the students it matters who is giving results. All they care about is to have their results.

It matters to us. If the GCE Board provided every single candidate with a transistor and compelled them to tune in for their results on a given day and time, then we’ll understand. If the Board compelled state controlled radio to practically cover every single village in Cameroon, we’ll equally understand. What is wrong in us agreeing that these fellows are often more concerned with upgrading their potential of being given a bed in office as it were.
I think I should let you understand that the idea of publishing GCE results on newspapers, reading on the radio is a publicity idea. GCE results are the property of the children and the Board. In the days of London, your results were sent to your school which gave you your results. They were not sent into any…

London was better organized.
But the idea was that the result is your personal property …

But the probability is that the London results, despite the inadequate technology that existed at the time was more likely to get to students faster than the GCE Board…
Yes, because Cameroon adopted the position of publishing the results through news media. London did not send them on the day the results were ready. They took the disposition to send the results to the centres well in time so that when they were announced, they were also already at the centres. If for instance GCE is ready in the first week of August, they print all the results and place them at the centres and announce at the beginning of the second week that the GCE results are now made public. The students rush to the centres and pick their result. But if you announce on the day the results are ready that they are ready then you have to turn it out newspapers to turn it to students very fast.

Whichever way we look at it, publishing the way that they are doing; targeting a few pampered media houses and handing them the results much earlier and for free is, to us, outright centralization and corruption. To give ‘Media A,’ for free and compel ‘Media C’ and the rest to cough out sums ranging from FCF 300,000, to FCFA 600,000, that is appalling.
That is rotten. If you decide to publish the results by giving to the press, let every press have it, and let every press have it at the same time.

There is further stupidity in how the results were diffused. If, as you say, it was a personal thing meant for the organizers, then you don’t as a Registrar, arbitrarily decide that every candidate must possess a phone and proceed to publish via MTN or Orange networks. We see this as absurd, if not outright fishy?
That is also very absurd and again it is rotten because they use it to make money which is not supposed to be the case. The students paid the fees for the examination and that fee is comprehensive enough for them to get their results. If you want to give it out through the press, it should be given out to every press at the same time so that the failure of a press to carry it to the field should be their failure and not that of the GCE Board or say the GCE Board was bias.

Away from results, those we would want to refer to as sycophants and Judases; those who fought fiercely against the GCE Board creation later made themselves available for positions at the institution. Did this strike you as odd?
Yeah, that happened especially, when the board was created. We were aware of it. We knew that there were people who carried the question papers while the fight was going on and went and dropped them in Bamenda. We know that there are people who took them overnight and sent them to Yaounde. We knew all of those people. When the marking started in October 1993, we also knew that there were people who went to the Ministry when the teachers had decided not to mark until the GCE Board was created. They went to the Ministry and followed the Minister’s instructions like ghost markers; we knew all of that.

Including the principal who purportedly prevented his school premises being used as a marking centre…
Exactly, but when the GCE Board was created, I, as the leader made a statement. I said we have all fought, some positively, some negatively but the important thing is that the Board has been won, so let us not go chasing… and it is on that basis that I recruited one of the people who ferried questions to Yaounde. I recruited him and worked with him, although he turned out to believe that he was recruited because of his expertise; but I recruited him because I did not want anybody to feel left out that he or she did not fight.
Later on, some people started apologizing. When the first GCE was being marked, the teachers came up saying; ‘no, this one was a ghost marker, this one was a pirate, you have to leave them out or we will not mark the exams at all.’ At that time, we didn’t have money and were relying on the benevolence of the teachers; they said ‘since we are coming to do the job since we have fought for this thing, we will not allow anybody who had fought negatively to be on the marking list.’ If they do that we will not mark. I actually called some of them and told them to withdraw but they didn’t take it kindly. They went to the Minister to report me that I had tried to stand against them. The Minister knew that he couldn’t fight and so he told them to go away and stay quiet. They didn’t ever come back to the GCE Board. There are people like that, but today, those ideas have been forgotten to the extent where somebody can just sit in Yaounde, go around the Minister, go around the Prime Minister and without even coming to the Council of the GCE Board, without even lobbying with the Councillors to get appointed, the next day you get the Prime Minister signing a decree that this man has been appointed to the Board. You have even Ministers who have passed through the Ministry and left, who signed decrees and sent to the Board which are being implemented. Like the decree signed in February by the Bibehe now Minister of Transport; he signed a decree in February and in May some Regional Delegate picks it up and is acting on it when there is a new Minister in the place. So, these are roundabout ways of getting into the Board and everybody knows that it is not right. If they are doing it, it is because they cannot come through the right means. The Registrar of the Board or Chairman or anything has to be somebody who is highly knowledgeable in the English education system.

Have all these intrigues and indecent lobbying compromised the standards that were set from the onset of this Board?
They must have compromised somehow because at the beginning all the officers who were appointed went to court and took an oath. Justice Macaulay administered the oath at my behest. All of us went to court and took that oath of trust to maintain the authority of the GCE Board, its integrity, its sacredness and everything else about the Board. We took an oath to do that but now nobody takes oath any longer. So now if you had to go to court and take such an oath, you can be prosecuted immediately for any illegality. But now there are people there who… I mean how you can imagine that the chairman is not there and an authority of the Board just appoints some people. The Registrar of the GCE Board has authority to employ ordinary staff of the Board but functional positions of the Board must pass through the council of the GCE Board. He has no authority to appoint administrators of the Board without passing through the council. But it is happening, so the integrity of the Board has been compromised.

Maybe as purse holder the Registrar might have dangled the tempting carrot, getting the Chairman to fall for it.
But we should decry things like that because if the chairman sees a purse and sets his responsibilities aside, then we must… no, it is not correct. That Board must be such that those things should not take precedence.

But how can you decry that and succeed with an overwhelming centralized system that operates from Yaounde and nowhere else?
I think you have a point there because the difficulty that we have now is that the teachers and the teachers’ unions are no longer functioning like TAC was functioning when the GCE Board was created. The Council of the GCE Board is supposed to have Councillors representing teachers and after every discussion at the Council, they are supposed to go back and summon their peers and say this is what the GCE Board has decided upon, this is what they want to do; and receive authority from them to go back and do it or otherwise… But this is no longer happening because in such a situation, the administrator of the Board who is the Registrar will find difficulty convincing the council of 16 people or 17 to do things according to his will. That is where you can easily dangle carrots around these people and you find that the representatives become gullible and they just take.
For instance, we are in the rainy season; a councilor can build his house and is waiting for money to buy corrugated roofing sheets; the registrar wants to put something into the GCE Board, he just summons them and before you sit in council, you stop at the finance office and sign for envelop. It can be something near what you need for roofing sheets in your house, so you sit in council and you are guarding, caressing your envelop. You are asking yourself when the council meeting will be over so that you can rush and buy the roofing sheets for your house. You are no longer concentrating; your integrity has been compromised, it has been imprisoned by the envelope.
Those things happen. It is not only in the GCE Board. In Parliament, when Cavayé Yeguié Djibril, wants to pass a law, he reads it and he wants to find out whether there is any objection just for formality. He puts his head down and asks if there is any objection. People are putting their hands up, they want to speak, but his head is down. As soon as he is tired, he gets up and says since there is no objection, the law has been passed. So, it is not only at the GCE Board, it runs across the entire country.

Have the teachers’ unions by any means been infiltrated, compromised in the hope of their leaders landing lucrative positions at the Board or elsewhere in Government departments?
Yes they have. It is a pity they have actually, and you cannot say no, you cannot run away from that, they have been compromised. When the Registrar is to go out for the conduct of exams; he wants to go to Batibo, Nkambe, he puts the president of the teachers’ union on his entourage. He is not a member of the Council of the GCE Board. So the teachers’ unions which had to come out and cough that there is something wrong, are already party to Registrar’s politics of stuffed pockets. As I say, teachers’ representatives have never even come back to general meetings of teachers to say this is what is going on at the Board. So, somehow, the two of them who have been there for 23 years have all been members of CATTU. I know my friends of CATTU will not be happy with me for this statement but that is the truth. They have been handpicked by the Executive Secretaries so in order to continue to stay there; they come back and give their reports to the Executive Secretary. It is the Executive Secretary that has to call the teachers together and say this is what these people have brought. But for 23 years, they have never done that. The same people have been there meanwhile the text says that they are elected for three years renewable but they have never been renewed. So, it is a compromise.

As we speak, the GCE is being written under very disgusting conditions; with gunfire here, military armed to the teeth prowling. We understand that many candidates are not turning up to write because they are afraid for their lives. We recall that long before Cameroon started witnessing the disgraceful burning of schools or before the educational pattern was compromised you had raised an alarm. Where you like prophetic? That is, you were part of a group that addressed a memo to the PM, requesting profound reforms in the best interest of the educational system of the country. Did the regime falter, bringing Cameroon to this messy state?
That is both a very interesting and difficult question. The first thing I will like to tell you is that deep down in me I have stood the grounds that this revolution we have in Cameroon today, however good it may be it has used the ‘no go to school, no examination’ as a weapon and I have made the point on several occasions that it was a bad weapon. We have a point…

Maybe it was a weapon that was handed over to whoever was using it by a failed authoritarian leadership.
I am building up to that. But why did we even get to that situation? We have the ‘Cameroon Education Forum’ which we registered in Limbe. We prepared a 53 page memorandum in which we chronicled all the problems that have beset Anglophone education since 1961 and proposed solutions; about 23 possible solutions which were scientific. We had nothing to do with the political ‘whatever.’ We took this to the Prime Minister in January 2016. By June 2016 we had no reply or acknowledgment from him. We built this thing on a decree because we had an education forum in the country in 1995. This forum led to the promulgation of decree April 14 1998. That decree by the Head of State recognized two sub-systems of education in Cameroon; the English speaking sub-system and the French speaking Sub-system and gave authority for these two sub-systems of education to exist side by side with all their independence, with each one practicing its own inheritance. That is in the decree and it allowed for the creation of an education board which will implement that decree. We saw that the PM could now proceed to create two separate education boards; one in charge of the English speaking sub-system and one in charge of the French speaking sub-system. In that case, whatever reforms are being carried out in the Anglophone sub-system, those reforms are being brought by an education board. The GCE Board will now be examining what the education board has put together while the BAC Board will be examining what the French education board has put together. Nobody has bothered to create this thing. We reminded the PM, create it, now. The teachers were part of this forum that made these proposals, and we all signed this thing together. So by the time they were meeting the PM in November of 2016, this document had been sitting with the PM for one whole year almost and nothing had happened. If this document had been addressed because all the points that were now being put up in the Ghogomu commission for study, were the exact points that were gave in January of 2016.

We see it as either one or more things: Either that the regime is deliberately deaf to advice even from well-versed persons, experts; that there is over centralization with everything revolving around Yaounde which may spillover to an overdose of responsibility and too much work in the hands of the PM or that he might have been waiting for hierarchy to instruct him on what to do or not with the document.
I think over-centralization is one factor. But you see, what happens in this country is that when anybody is given an appointment, it is like he has been told… they write down something and put down his mind, that this is what you should say. Somebody is given an appointment in ELECAM for instance, which is supposed to be an independent body and he starts by thanking the Head of State who is a candidate for elections that will fall under him. And when he makes a speech out there he says ‘as the Head of State said.’ The language is like that. The Minister of Territorial Administration sees a boulder cracking on a Yaounde hill. He goes there as the Minister of Territorial Administration and says he has received instructions from the Head of State to go and see a boulder that is cracking. What is his function; to go and see that a boulder has cracked somewhere in Yaounde and he is going to report that from high instructions from the Head of State, he has gone to see a…

That could be understood; he is an appointee of the Head of State. How about those that are supposedly heading the Parliament? They are known to start every speech by ‘thanking the Head of State…’
That is what I mean; that type of thing has gone down the person, after all, who is the President of the Senate? Is it not just an appointee of the Head of State? He is not an elected president, so he must thank the Head of State. The man of the National Assembly before he is made president… he does not put up his candidature and say I want to be president, elect me. The Head of State sends a candidate to parliament and he is elected, so he thanks the Head of State. Somebody goes out to Congo, South Africa and wins an election and he comes back and is thanking the Head of State for that. That is how the system has been structured and…

Looks like a system in which millions of able bodied married adults are spoon-fed by a single tin god.
That is how the system has been structured and to speak the truth, I don’t think that the Head of State has given instructions to anybody that ‘when you go out to say something you must flatter me.’ I don’t think the instruction has been given to anybody but the system has evolved that way. So everybody thinks that if they don’t say that it is the Head of State, his counterpart on the other side will come and catch him for not saying that it. But the Head of State doesn’t even hear you saying those things. He doesn’t even hear that you have said those types of things. I don’t think that the Head of State saw the boulder cracking and assigned Atanga Nji to go and inspect it. I don’t think so.

We imagine you to be encumbered by a “lingering taste” of sour grapes. Maybe because you midwifed the GCE Board more or less but you were allowed enough time and the means to see your vision through. On the other hand, sycophants who fought to have the project aborted are hovering around and being more Catholic than the Pope.
It would be dishonest of me to answer that question in the negative. When I left the GCE Board, I felt very bitter; not bitter because I had left, but because Mbella Mbappe, after everything was a very understanding person. He waited for three years, when I finished my three years; he wanted me out because I was stubborn. So, the Council of the GCE Board met and got Yembe in and they wrote a text which the Minister had to sign. It read ‘Omer Yembe replacing Azong-Wara who had messed up the Board.’ That is what my friend Herbert Endeley as Chairman actually wrote. That was supposed to be the term of the decree that Mbella Mbappe was to sign. When I got that I was very hurt and I thought that I had put in a great effort which was not yet completed. But when this decree went to Mbella Mbappe, he said ‘what? Do you want to kill the man?’ That is Mbella Mbappe who was like my main antagonist; he said ‘no, you can’t do that to a man.’ So he sat on his table and changed that decree and said ‘replacing Azong-Wara who had come to the end of his term of office.’ They came back and they now summoned a kind of audit committee when I had left the Board; that they should audit my financial inputs at the Board. They did an audit and decided that they were going to sue me for financial mismanagement and Herbert Endeley again; my own close friend was bent on getting me into jail. He said it over and over that ‘that man is a jail man’ even in the club. So he took this resolution after he had gotten the Council to sit, he took it to the Minister of Education, still Mbella Mbappe at the time. And the Minister looked at it and said ‘what? Again?’ He called Herbert Endeley in his office and said, ‘you said this man stole money; did you give him money?’ I gave him money. I gave him FCFA 241 million for three years and you say he stole which money? I am even surprised how he managed the Board. Take the thing and go away.’ So, it hurt me.

You were not saved through due process in court then?
There was no court again; it was the Minister who saved me.

Probably if it had gone to court, someone might have convinced their Lordships to have you jailed.
I felt hurt that as an Anglophone who had put in that kind of effort which was not yet complete. I had that kind of treatment from persons, most of whom I left behind at the Council, because if they took a decision that they should send me to court… for that reason, I felt hurt.
Then it moved to my own allowances that were supposed to be paid. When Yembe came, he vowed that he will never pay those allowances. We even went to court. In the end Yembe thought that he could trick me. He suggested for us to have a discussion, to withdraw the case. The court at that time was headed by Ayah Paul. Ayah Paul said ‘no, this is not normal; if you people are talking of an amicable settlement, let us adjourn the case, you go and finish amicably and you come back and tell me that you have settled amicably. Then, I will strike it off.’ Yembe asked him to strike it off. He said we will go and discuss and settle amicably. So, Ayah Paul asked me; ‘are you comfortable with that?’ My interest was the Board. I didn’t want the Board disturbed, so I said yes. Ayah cancelled the case. But, Yembe changed his mind, insisting that I was a thief.
It was only several years later that Monono came into the Board and in spite of our own disagreement here and there, Azong Wara reason prevailed and he paid me the money.
You see that I have reason to be angry. These things have hurt me, and now that I was that hurt, I want to be sure that these kinds of things do not happen to other people because it is not what we built, it is not what we wanted. Now that people are beginning to come in through the window, where a Prime Minister can just sign a decree and appoint somebody and the person can sit and sign his own orders and appoint people at the Board, I don’t think that is what we want. Those things hurt me and I want to straighten them. That is all.

Given the trend things have taken so far, can the Board survive, do you think? Surviving as a credible institution; with set values that were meant to be attained?
First, as a Board I think it will survive because as I pointed out, there is a presidential decree that created that Board and placed it in Buea. That Board cannot move from Buea unless President Paul Biya signs a second decree. That is why I say these fears of transferring the Board are just rumours. It will never move from Buea.

Are you saying it will never move or that it should never move?
Well, I don’t know why I am so optimistic that it will never move because the President’s signature is there. Unless Biya gets up one day on the wrong side of the bed and signs a decree without thinking … But to be on the safe side, I should say it should never move from Buea.
Secondly as to the Board following its objectives and attaining its mission, the text that created it must be followed very closely and precisely. That is why I hang around so that when I see things going wrong, as a founding person, I have the intention to inform the Anglophones that something is going wrong; and happily I still have a lot of credibility among the Anglophones. If something is going wrong, the Anglophones must get up to protect it and that is why beginning from now, they must correct those things that have gone wrong there and that is why in my open letter to the Chairperson, I prayed him to reject all the decisions of the Registrar that do not conform with the text. They should be rejected.

Finally, do you see the ranking administrators of the GCE Board bending the rules or breaking them for parochial exigency?
There are two things that have been broken and in very quick succession; the way they have been appointed. They have no hand in that. They have gone through the back door and they have succeeded by way of their appointment. So, there is no way we can fault them on that because if you are a good dribbler; you dibble from the back door and enter, that’s your credit. But it is wrong. That is why I am telling the man who did it that it is wrong.
The second thing is that they are now asking Delegates of Education to elect representatives of the Board. There is a sinister…

Does that amount to bending or breaking the rules?
That is bending the rules or both of them because the rule says that it has to be the teachers or the parents. So, they are first of all breaking it for their own personal gains. So, when those fellows will come into the Board, you will now have the possibility of the Minister of Education having seven representatives in a council of 16 alone. So he can just do what he wants. If he can turn around and convince one other minister, say minister of finance that his representative should vote for me for this decision. At the council, the teachers’ representatives know that they have been sent by the delegate, if they don’t vote, the delegate can take them off, parents’ representative know that, eight people can just automatically vote from one source and overturn anything that the GCE Board is wanting; which is what we sought to avoid. We needed the opinion of objective Anglophones to protect decisions of the council of the GCE Board, that is why we built it that way and it must be that way. Once you start changing those people and you have money along the way which will add to their purses to bend or change things, then it is very easy to destroy the integrity of the Board.
Interviewed by Nester Asonganyi & Charlie Ndi Chia

Anglophone Crisis: Bishops advocate speedy return to normalcy

Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon have called for immediate an immediate end to killings, restraint, and dialogue, saying urgent mediation is the only way out of the crisis stalemating the Northwest and Southwest Regions of the country. The caution of the clergymen contained in a “Cry of the Bishops” Communiqué signed by their President, Archbishop Samuel Kleda recently.
Reiterating that Cameroonians are brothers and sisters, regardless of their Regions of origin, the Bishops, pleaded that the paths of dialogue, reconciliation, justice and peace should be retraced as a matter of urgency, for a speedy return to normalcy.

The Prelates, confessed to be feeling the pinch of the socio-political crisis which has since 2016 been rocking the English speaking Regions of the country. They have stood with them reassuring the victims of violence of their spiritual support.

It should be noted that it is one of several times the Bishops are drawing attention to the irreparable damages caused by the crisis. They have repeatedly noted with dismay that the predicament jeopardizes the lives of people and property, threatens security as well as social cohesion.

Many pundits have, however, been questioning who shoulders the responsibility to initiate dialogue and who is fit or not to sit at the dialogue table.
By Claudia Nsono

Shredded Cameroon can still be recuperated – Nico Halle

Barrister Nico Halle is not a run-of-the-mill personality that can be cajoled into an interview if he perceives that long earned and nurtured reliability is on the line. The current Bar General Assembly president and international peace crusader was recently in Buea for a private function.
However, his concern for immediate return to peace and by extension social justice and equity had the better part of him, leading to acquiescence to an interview to edify Cameroonians on some very burning issues pertaining to the current crises in the country and governance as a whole.
Judging by his discourse, he eschews confrontation like a plague and sees no reason why other Cameroonians should not make it part of their personal mottos, if only as contribution to a society of enduring peace and stability.
He agrees that issues have been allowed to deteriorate to current levels because of mutual display of irreverence for the word of God that is encapsulated in love for one another and country.
Nevertheless, as gloomy as the prevailing circumstance may seem, he sees Cameroon coming out of the present doldrums fired by confidence, determination and love. The peace crusader in him makes him exude an aura of implacable optimism in the eventuality of reason prevailing over the current irrationality being exhibited by protagonists in the war of attrition pitting Government forces against alleged separatists with obeisance to a yet to be midwifed Ambazonia Republic.
As euphemistic as his pronounced modesty and training as lawyer could permit him to come across, his narrative is inexorably, suffused with a consensual and urgent need for Cameroonians to sit around a table and dialogue, akin to typical Bantu cosmogony of solving intractable issues under the shade of a tree in the village square.
As usual, it is a pot-pourri of dexterity in handling complex issues in a very readable manner that can only emanate from The Rambler stable. (See inside pages)
Cameroonis on fire.If you agree, would you want to discuss how things became this bad?
For about close to 20 months there has been tension in the two Anglophone Regions,so it is not news to anybody. You know so well as a peace crusader, spanning more than 28 years, I am saddened, disturbed, troubled and worried by the situation. Since the eruption of the crisis, everybody knows I have been on the field preaching peace, preaching harmony, preaching serenity and also praying that God almighty that created this great nation, Cameroon, should look down with pity and instruct his children, Cameroonians how they can come out of this quagmire. So that is what I have been doing and requesting also that all the stakeholders; that is, Cameroonians of various orientations should act with restraint. I have, since the beginning, condemned the killing of civilians, policemen, soldiers and gendarmes, I have condemned the destructions; all the property that is going belong to Cameroonians; those who are dying are our brothers and sisters. That is why I have been pleading with Cameroonians to go on their knees, reason better and come up with lasting solutions because nobody ever benefits from violence. People benefit from peace and I always say peace is the weapon of the strong,while violence is the weapon of the weak. In my peace crusading, I have also highlighted the importance of love, justice, equity, the rule of law, the respect for human rights and liberties, patriotism, accountability, transparency, the fear of the Lord.
These are all what we call core spiritual values which will constitute the platforms for peace to exist. That is my mantra. I stand on that and there is no problem without a solution.
You just reeled out, peace, justice, fear of the Lord and all that… The common assumption is that nature doesn’t entertain a vacuum.By the same token, if there is no justice, equity, rule of law, then nature would most likely fill up, make up foran apparent collapse of leadership so to speak…
When you talk of leadership in terms of…
Wherethere is good leadership, there would naturally be a concomitantwilling followership…
I am thinking of leadership in terms of all Cameroonians. All Cameroonians are called upon to contribute towards what we might call true leadership and it is true that there are people who might be in leadership positions starting from their homes, from schools and universities. Mayors, parliamentarians, ministers, senators, the justice system and all of these are leadership positions. If each of these groups were to perform their duties with love, justice, equity, respecting the fundamental law which is the constitution, what we have just described as a falling situation would be reduced to the barest minimum. There is no perfect system in the world but there are systems that are good.Good for me, is not perfect. So, when we talk of leadership, we should look at leadership holistically. You are a leader in your office.Youare interviewing me. I am in Buea for a thesis defencebut, I am being interviewed now because you approached me. You are the leader, the way you approached me showed that you are a leader. You were cordial, you were welcoming, you were nice and that is leadership.I am thinking of leadership in terms of people who have control over units, those small units globally now make the entire nation.
One istempted to think that in Cameroon, crass authority has taken precedence over humble leadership.Leadership is serving; it is serving the people humbly and not leading haughtily. But we are like stuck with a clique of people calledparty leaders, ministers, governors, et al, dictating to the people, breathing down their necks. We think that is the reason for the protests, the uprisings.
That is another way of looking at it and you do have the right to that approach. I am looking at leadership from a holistic point of view because itis this conceptualization that brings about passing the buck.If all the homes were being well managed… I remember when I was very active as Ntumfor, I did indicate that if each village were well managed in Cameroon, Cameroon will have no problem. But if some villages are well managed and others are not, there is trouble. So, I am looking at leadership from a macro point of view because in my house, I should be able to assume responsibility.But I should understand that my wife has a role to play, my children have role to play for serenity to reign in my house. If Nico Halle alone wants to install peace in my house, it will not work; my wife must say ‘yes, we need peace,’ the children also must be part of it, my cooks too must be part…
Which is why we think, we don’t have leadership per se; rather we are stuck with a clique that is to say the very least, assuming ownership of Cameroon.
Again, that’s the way you look at it, but another way of looking at it is informing the people that each and every one of us has a role to play for that kind of leadership that is in your mind to function because leaders cannot succeed when the people whom they are leading are not contributing their own quota.
We insist that the typical Cameroonian leaderinsists for everybody else to shiver and pander; offices must shut down, road must be blocked for hours when he is moving from one point of town to the other. It is a tin god phenomenon.
Thank you very much for that take. If it is a tradition or usage that when you must move certain arrangements must be made to enable you move because you are representing the people, if the people accept that from their will, then that is what they are practicing. The only way we can depart from that is by coming up with some other form that is better than what you are describing.
Are you in effect endorsing a situation whereby a woman in labour must postpone bringing forth her babyor that access to hospitals should be blocked for hours,because a leader is about to drive by?
No, definitely…
I don’t know any system that will…
But that is what obtains in Cameroon.
If you have taken note of that…
Yes, we have,
Then it is unfortunate but I don’t think that it is proper.
Or,that state institutions should stop functioning because a leader ismoving from pillar to post?
Again, I get back to what I said.How did we get to that? If it has been in vogue, how did we get to it and why must we not depart from it because we are moving modern. Why can we not depart from it? Can we depart from it? These are the questions…
Ok, we love that and we hasten to ask you; how did Uganda get to the stage of inventing an Idi Amin? It is either Ugandans were heckled or suppressed to a stage where they couldn’t do their own thinking or, they became such sycophants, that they couldn’t point out to Amin that he was naked; they might have been cheering him all along until he inevitably stepped on a banana peeling and kismet decided his fate. The same could be said of Romania’s NicolaeCeausescu, Slobodan Milosevic of Bosnia Herzegovina and the like.The dustbin of history is full of such impulsive tyrants.
Well, you have a mastery of…
Not exactly;What we are indicating here is thatCameroonians have cultivatedthis cringing culture of deifying ordinary mortals who should be their humble servants.
We don’t mean to flatter you, Barrister Halle, but you radiate humility, your social status notwithstanding.Candidly, to get rid of the collective suicide that Cameroonians are steadily committing, we think that something has to give sway somewhere and that is a clear cut moral, leadership restructuring. It is our honestview,Sir.
Yeah it is your observation
This question may have been addressed above, but maybe for emphasis, how, do you think, the arson that has so far been visited on some 70 Anglophone Cameroonian villageswith hundreds of people murdered be checked?
I don’t know. I am not privy to those statistics but I said and continue to say that there is no problem in the world without a solution. I just think we have to take our destinies into our hands, to be honest to ourselves, get together and chart way of getting out of this situation which you have just described. Of course, this problem which you have described could have been taken care of if we had love, justice, equity; if we loved this nation, you and me and all those who have gone down to say this cannot happen. But I am sure you know so well that there are people who are not happy when there is peace because they exploit this kind of situation for political or financial gains. I really ask myself where these kinds of people are coming from. People who don’t espouse peace, who don’t promote peace, who are comfortable in violence, who are comfortable in conflict, in quarrels, in misunderstandings; they can create chaos in order to take advantage and pull fast ones. With all of that, it accounts for what we have just described. So, it is possible that we can bank on what is done.Scales have fallen off our eyes, the masks have fallen too.Let us sit down.It is the moment for us to tell ourselves that we love each other; we are our neighbor’s keeper, we doesn’t deserve what is happening; that people are being killed, there are burnings, there are destructions, refugee migration problem.It is only sordid; it should not happen to a blessed nation like ours.
Barrister Nico Halle, this is a very pointed question.It is assumed that forces of law andorder are trained to be exceptionally disciplined and more methodical that the ordinary civilian. But when at the drop of a hat, they loot, rape, kill and burn villages it is dangerous for the polity, don’t you think?
No, nobody would say it’s normal. Nobody in their right senses would say it is normal so…
Would you then advise someone in distress to run to a gendarme, soldier or policeman for protection? That would be tantamount to nursing suicidal instincts, right?
I think I have said earlier on, that situations like this are exploited.Either way, the gendarmes are dying, the police and the army; the civilians are also dying in their numbers from what…
Unfortunately, hundreds ofinnocent, hapless, unarmedcivilians are being slaughtered like chickens;not the ragtag army that is said to be fanning the embers of secession.Note that those who are fighting the bush war hardly have houses anywhere.They are in the bush fromwhere they sporadically attack…
What I am saying is that the situation is very painful. I have said that whether a gendarme, a police, an army or a civilianis dying, they are all our brothers and sisters, who should notdie. They are burning property, whether private or public.It is our property, so, we are taking ourselves many years back. When people are displaced, it usually very difficult to…
By the same token you are stating that nobody should kill.
You can be sure. Nobody has the right to take the life of any person.
And the forces of law and order, how do we bring them back to start playing their constitutional role of protecting that life and property?
I have condemned this from Day One,that whether it is the forces of law and order or the civilians, nobody has the right to take another person’s life. You don’t deserve to die. I have said this across the board. So I look at it globally; I don’t go into specifics. I will tell you that for the past 13months, I don’t sleep.Anybody who goes to bed and sleeps in the face of this situation lacks love because when I watch certain images my heart bleeds.I am one person who is empathetic and sympathetic. I am compassionate; I don’t like to see a drop of blood. I don’t want to see a corpse; a corpse of natural death, fine, but when it comes from bullets, when it comes from rough handling and all of these, that tells me… and if you have noticed,I look emaciated. I do not sleep. It is not just because I am a Cameroonian but because of my role as a peace crusader. As a peace crusader, I am asking myself questions; why can all of us in Cameroon not be converted into peace crusaders?
Are we agreed that one or two institutions, whether traditional or corporate of our country have failed in their mission, in their assigned mission to Cameroonians, which is why people are being shot at, people are not listening, people are getting into the bushes, some people are burning down others’ homes?
Unless and until our mindset is changed and unless I start looking at you as my brother with love; I am not talking about brother from the same Region, no!Brother from the same nation, we are all brothers. That is how I look at it. Now, some people like I said when they go to bed they can sleep, they can eat, I lose appetite. When I just hear that there is burning in this part, no appetite and my day is shattered, my week is shattered. And that justifies why I am permanently on the field. Last time up to including December, I used to go… but I was advised, ‘take note Nico Halle, you are doing a great job, people are appreciating what you are doing but not everybody is happy that you want this situation to stop because of what they are benefiting from it. Please don’t announce your goings and your comings, just go.’ So now, I just target groups and I go, they don’t know where I am going.
Have your interventions and preachments paid off?
They have paid off. You know if I were not peace crusading, you shouldn’t even ask that. If I have reconciled journalists, families, traditional rulers, politicians, pastors, lawyers that you know, then you can imagine. If I were not on the field,… I am not blowing my trumpet, but maybe the situation would have escalated; it might have been worse. So, it is paying off and I thank God for that. I am sure that the fact that people appreciate what I am doing because they know the impact that my peace crusading has had in all of these.
Would you say the present imbrogliohas stainedwhat ought to be the immaculate canvas of legality in Cameroon? We are asking this based on the fact that security forces are on record as having beaten up Lawyers seized their wigs and gowns, muddied them; in short, desecrated the judiciary?Has this pristine act of the khaki boys compromised the third estate of the realm role of the judiciary in this country?
I did condemn that act very cogently,
We are asking if it has watered down legal prestige.
I am saying that these were people; these were lawyers who were asking for what is good for the nation. When you saw the grievances of the lawyers there was no trifling item in their grievances; they were asking for the OHADA Law to be in both languages…
And something else
And a few other things, ok, and then for them to have been vandalized, rough handled… I came out with communiqués condemning that and I still consider that that was not proper because nowhere in the world are lawyers treated that way. I think that things have escalated beyond just the lawyers and the teachers grievances to other proportions which God alone knows and so, to be very honest with you, I have not ceased condemning in the hardest of terms the behaviour of some of our Cameroonians; be they in the civil, in the army, in the forces of law and order, I have condemned that. It is on record that I have been very constant as far as that is concerned.
You have this antecedent of checking, attending to moral, social and why not, political values;ensuring that they are on course. In crusading for peace and changing mindsets, have you approached those who referred to other Cameroonians as ‘rats and cockroaches’ that ought to be exterminated and the local authority that repeatedly referred to a cultural entity in Cameroon as ‘dogs.’Have you reached out to change the hearts of those who assembled at the Buea Mountain Hotel and preached Rwanda-type xenophobia? Remember some of the xenophobes were rewarded with appointments to top national offices.

All of that is unacceptable. You will agree that it is decadence.
Have you been to them?
I don’t …
Let’s be blunt. We are talking about the ranking Regional administrator who kept calling people of a particular cultural expression dogs.
Did I need to go to the administrator? When I condemn a situation, when I condemn the violence and disproportionate words used, I don’t need to call… if the cap suits you, wear it. If I must name, then it is unfortunate. But you know what I have been doing and that is non-negotiable. I don’t compromise when it comes to the crime decadence. You know me and you have been following up and so, it is not about names.
But we thought if you don’t confront them, face to face, it would be like tacklingdisease symptoms and not the disease itself.
If I were to indicate that all of that including others is unacceptable, do I need to come to tell you that the words you used were inflammatory, were out of proportion? Otherwise, then I must visit every Cameroonian who has made a statement.
No, symbolically you might visit one or two persons, I think Jesus did it.
But do you know that I have visited people in Cameroon? When they talk of peace crusading, it means meeting people, meeting groups of people; using papers, interviews, making pronouncements on television and on radio. Once, you do that, you reach out to so many people and they understand my take on this whole thing. I think there is hardly any Cameroonian who up to, and including now has not known Nico Halle’s position.
We are also saying that interpersonal communication can only reinforce mass communication; if you came to me directly and said, ‘what you said go back and unsay it,’ you would have touched a heart.
You see, that is your own approach. I am Nico Halle and having my own approach. My approach is not confrontational. Peace crusading is not confrontational, that is the difference between Nico Halle and others. They will go confrontational, but Nico Halle is peaceful. There is no day you will hear me insulting anybody or promoting violence and it starts from my house, it starts from my office, it starts from wherever. I know that the fact that my stand for the truth is unbendable, uncompromising causes people to smear me, persecute me and blackmail me and each time I see that, I am happy, it means that I am doing something.
Would you die ready for it, if you died crusading for peace?
I am sure you know that in November, December 2017 when it was bad on the ground and I was out for two weeks in the Northwest and Southwest, I went to Mamfe; that was the boiling period.Just the day before, they had killed two gendarmes. I went to where the killings took place against all counsel. I went to all the military bases and I spoke with them. I told them that we need to respect our human rights. I prayed with them and I asked that the Lord should enable them do work for the nation. I went around; I met politicians in the Northwest, met some in Southwest and these are the two Regions that are greatly affected.
If you were to ask me if I will die, if I left Bamenda and everybody who heard I was going to Mamfe said don’t go. In any case I told them I will die eventually, if I die communing, fellowshipping with my people of the Southwest, I will not care. But I went and met the people; they embraced me and that impacted. The fact that somebody had showed concern at that time… I could have been shot if they wanted to, but to be very honest with you, they embraced me in the Northwest and the Southwest Regions where I went to.
Have the authorities recognized and appreciated what you are doing,whichothers could only set out to dowith blaring sirens in tow and for mouth watering per diems?
I want to let you know that, across the board, I have been appreciated and that is what for me is the motto; that is what motivates me to do more, because I have been appreciated for what I have been doing for peace to reign in this nation; not only in the Northwest and Southwest. My peace crusading is not limited to the Northwest and Southwest. You are aware that of recent, I had an international award for peace crusading not just in Cameroon, Africa but the entire world. It means that the ripples of what I have been doing are worldwide.
And has that included perhaps reaching out to the Diaspora Cameroonians who are like fanning the embers of the separatism?
When you preach peace, you are preaching peace for all. You don’t say this peace or what I am preaching should go for this people and this should go for the other people. You preach peace for all, because peace is good for everybody and that is my take on that. I am preaching peace and I will continue to preach until peace returns.If peace does not return, I will continue to preach. I am praying and I know sooner or later, peace will return to this nation. It is a beautiful nation blessed by God. God cannot allow Cameroon to be shredded and the state at which it is, it, can still be recuperated. I think that we just need to be confident, determined, and love and have confidence in each other, we will come out of this situation. I am very optimistic and positive.
On that comforting note, Barrister Nico Halle, we want to thank you for accepting to talk to us.
Thank you very much, may God bless you and bless The Rambler.
Interviewed by Nester Asonganyi & Charlie Ndi Chia

Fake Certificates Saga: Ekema backpedals, withdraws legal suit

Pundits perceive Esunge Patrick Ekema’s withdrawal of a legal suit in which the Buea mayor was praying the court to inter alia; perpetually restrain the University of Buea, UB, from interfering with academic degrees awarded him by the institution as strategically foxy.
They imagine that he might have literally placed a banana peeling, expecting that his opponents would step on it and tumble, legally. He would then be in pole position to play a strong, hidden joker should “The Place to Be,” proceed to effectively revoke his certificates.
The court granted Ekema’s request on Thursday, May 24, against frantic efforts by the defendants to have the matter entertained all the way, preferably by a collegiate bench of three judges. This action at the behest of Ekema is what lends even stronger credence to the belief that the mayor has thrown in the towel (“with intent”) and is now ready to see his academic certificates which he purportedly acquired fraudulently withdrawn.
That notwithstanding, in upholding Ekema’s right to withdraw his own claims against UB and the State of Cameroon as First and Second Defendants respectively, His Lordship Mr. Justice Ako Kenneth noted that the legal history of the suit was enriched when on May, 7, the First Defendant filed a motion on notice soliciting as follows:
That the suit be heard by a collegiate bench of three judges and that they would be seeking to establish that the prayers sought by the plaintiff, are outside the competence of “this High Court and within the jurisdiction of a competent administrative tribunal.”
The Judge recalled that on May, 16, the Plaintiff filed a motion of discontinuance, praying the court to note that their intention to discontinue against all the defendants was hinged on Suit N0: HCF/015/WOS/2018, as well as their motion on notice that was hinging on that suit. Counsel for the First Defendant, Barrister Eta Besong Jr. would have none of this. He did not see what the court was adjourning to rule, for, according to him, he has only brought information before the court and not any application. Before then, the Barrister had reiterated the legal principle that in law, a substantive suit cannot be attended to before an interlocutory application.
The Judge consulted ‘Black’s Law Dictionary’ which defines discontinuation as “the termination of a law suit by the plaintiff.”
Citing Order 44 of the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules Cap 211 of the Laws of Nigeria Revised Edition 1948, the Judge noted that Volume X enacts that if before the date fixed for a hearing, the plaintiff decides to discontinue any suit against all or any defendants or to withdraw any part of his claim, he must give notice in writing of discontinuance or withdrawal to the Registrar and to every defendant with or from whom he desires to discontinue or withdraw. He said that according to the Learned author, Akinola Aguda in “Principles of Practise and Procedure” the effect of discontinuance is that the suit ceases to exist.
The Judge further invoked several other judicial precedents before noting that once an application for discontinuance is made, the things to be considered by a trial court is the stage the application was made.
According to Mr. Justice Ako, it was crystal clear that with a notice of discontinuance such as the one before his court, which is discontinuance before the hearing on the merits, “this suit is automatically terminated.”
He said further: “The operative word here is ‘a matter be heard.’ This presupposes a situation at the onset of the hearing of the suit. I do not believe that it should be interpreted to mean that the matter being heard already by a single judicial officer shall at a later stage be transformed into a hearing of a collegiate bench.
“This question must be addressed and resolved at the onset of the hearing of the suit. One suit cannot at the same time be commenced by a single judge and later be entertained on the same issues by a by a collegiate bench again…
“Thus, the application appointment of a collegiate team to hear a suit is a rule that does not overcome the discontinuance of the suit. That suit is terminated automatically as we have taken time to demonstrate especially as in the case if it is done before the date fixed for hearing.
“No suit still exists here and so too, all the pending interlocutory applications there also collapsed with the notice of discontinuance having been filed at the appropriate time…”
Origin of legal battle
When news of the fake certificate saga involving the Buea mayor first broke, it spread like wildfire. UB that initially put to question the mayor’s requisite qualifications did not ask that criminal charges be pressed on him for the purported fraud. Rather, it was Ekema, who, through his lawyer, Barrister Emmanuel Nkea approached the court, seeking to halt the university from releasing further information about his academic history to the public.

Then he backpedaled and on Thursday, May 24, after a spirited legal battle the court ruled in his favour.
Unlike the previous court session on May 17 when the plaintiff was “unjustifiably absent,” this time, he gave power of attorney for someone to represent him. Even though counsel for the defendant raised an objection on grounds that under the provision of section 117 of the Evidence Ordinance, the document granting power of attorney ought to be executed by the law before a notary court and authenticated by a notary court. Barrister Eta Besong Jr. argued that the document tendered did not state that it was executed before a notary court; neither did it state that it has been authenticated by the notary court.
He pointed out that Law No 90/059 is what governs practice at the Bar and does not deal with power of attorney. He concluded that the word ‘seal’was different from ‘executed before’ and ‘authenticated by’ and so, the document was inadmissible under section 117 of the Evidence Ordinance and should be rejected.
Barrister Nkea, counsel for the plaintiff reminded the court that according to law, advocates practising in the Northwest and Southwest can perform the functions of notary court. Therefore, if he had sealed the document as notary, it is acceptable; otherwise there would be nothing that makes them notaries in this part of the country. He said his opponent’s arguments were dilatory in nature and should be discarded. “The document before you is duly signed. There is this notion of form which my learned friend has brought up and it is a technical issue that should not stand before the execution of justice,” Nkea stated.
The presiding judge held that the rules of the court relating to forms are rules and the duty of the court is not to adhere to such forms but to do substantial justice and prevent undue appearance to technicalities. He said what is important is that the document was done before a notary court, and so, whether it was sealed or not, the significant issue is that both ways lead to Rome and the mission is to get to Rome. As such, he said the document granted power of attorney to the plaintiff and is admitted.
By Nester Asonganyi

Journalists rally to bid fallen colleague farewell

Following the tragic demise of Elah Geofrey Mbong, journalist, editor and layout person of the Sun Newspaper, journalists in the Southwest Region are making necessary preparations to give their colleague a befitting burial.
Elaborate arrangements are underway for Geofrey’s funeral slated for Friday, June 1. It shall begin with the corpse removal and viewing at Limbe Regional Hospital Chapel has been scheduled at 2pm. At 5:30 pm on the same day, the corpse will be returned to the morgue making way for a wake service at his ‘Mile One’ residence from 6pm.
The funeral continues on the following day, Saturday, June 2, at 6am with the removal of his mortal remains and departure for Bangem, Southwest Region. Burial shall be on the same day.
Geoffrey died in the early hours of Friday, May 18, in Limbe after being knocked down by biker said to have been escaping from police control without his headlights on.
Late Elah Geofrey Mbong was a fine journalist with a sharp pen, an outstanding editor of the Sun Newspaper who was also in charge of the Layout of his paper and other papers as many ran to him because of his professionalism, humility and intelligence. He was an outgoing person, very social and could work with anyone hitch free.
Late Elah Geofrey Mbong, aka Nyari leaves behind two kids, a fiancé, family, colleagues, and many other loved ones to mourn him.
By Relindise Ebune

Military Court hands panic sentences to Anglo detainees

It took the court 16 months to finally pass sentences on Mancho Bibixy and six other Anglophones detained in Kondengui but the sentences did not reflect the attitude the court had put on for all these months.
Mancho Bibixy, the coffin revolution activist was thus slammed a 15-year jail term by the Yaounde military court after he was found guilty of acts of terrorism, secession amongst other charges.
The military court also handed out jail sentences to six other accused Anglophones, ranging from 11 years to fifteen years and a collective fine of 268 million francs CFA; 64 million as damages requested by the civil party and 204 million as damages requested by the State.
They have 10 days to file an appeal from the day of the judgment, the presiding magistrate Col. Abega Mbezoa said as she reeled out the sentences.
Like Mancho Bibixy, Tsi Conrad was slammed a 15-year jail term, Tamngwa Malvin Tamngwa, Tha Emile Agwe, and Aselecha Martin were handed 13-year jail terms each.
Journalist Thomas Awah Junior was slammed an 11-year jail term while Guingah Valentine got the least of terms as he got 10 years.
They will each have to pay the sum of Four million Five Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty Francs CFA as fines or spend additional two years in jail, the presiding magistrate decided.
For all the threats of life imprisonment to death sentences, the military court seemed to have panicked or better still bowed to pressure from the defense lawyers as well the detainees who had warned the judge on the consequences of a heavy sentence on the two English-speaking Regions.
In a previous session on Thursday, Mancho Bibixy warned the court that the situation in the Anglophone Regions was not getting any better since their arrest and any attempt at passing a heavy sentence on them could provoke the situation even further.
A warning that was not taken lightly as the court before passing the sentences the next day, seized all phones in court to avoid communication with the outside world and only handed them back when the sentences had been passed and the detainees taken away.
However, the sentences were received by Mancho Bibixy and co in a rather lighter mood as they sang their way back into the van which took them to their prison cells.
Despite the sentences, it does not look like the matter would be ending any time soon as the defense counsel have vowed to challenge the decision.
“We are going to challenge the [court’s] decision. You saw that there were no particular proofs to back the claims of the civil party, so we are very surprised with the court’s judgment,” Barrister Claude Assira one of the defense counsel said.
“After the court declared them guilty, we knew that it [their sentences] will not be more than 10 years but we couldn’t imagine that they will add one day on it because the charges were so weak because the court was unable to show any proofs during almost two years of hearing. The court has missed a golden opportunity to serve justice to Cameroonians and send a positive message,” he added.
By Francis Ajumane

Hail the naked android generation!

Indecency and nudity are now the order of the day among today’s youths. They dress in “stylish rags” all in the name of fashion. It is said that the way one dresses determines the way one will be addressed. It is a complete shame that most of our youths go naked on the road, with their breasts, abdomens, thighs and buttocks exposed for “public consumption,” alluring and erecting“ men on heat” leading to emergency sex.
At the Molyko neighbourhood at night, almost every four out of five girls would either have coloured hair like cats, long nails like hawks, which prohibits them from doing laundry, frightful eyelashes, coloured faces, miniskirts, tight-fitting trousers pulled up to their belly to print out their buttocks, and with many chewing gum as if they were commercial sex workers in hot pursuit of clients.
The boys on their part expose their boxer shorts, some of which are disgustingly dirty and nauseating. With pierces ears and earrings, it is difficulIndecency and nudity are now the order of the day among today’s youths. They dress in “stylish rags” all in the name of fashion. It is said that the way one dresses determines the way one will be addressed. It is a complete shame that most of our youths go naked on the road, with their breasts, abdomens, thighs and buttocks exposed for “public consumption,” alluring and erecting“ men on heat” leading to emergency sex.
At the Molyko neighbourhood at night, almost every four out of five girls would either have coloured hair like cats, long nails like hawks, which prohibits them from doing laundry, frightful eyelashes, coloured faces, miniskirts, tight-fitting trousers pulled up to their belly to print out their buttocks, and with many chewing gum as if they were commercial sex workers in hot pursuit of clients.
The boys on their part expose their boxer shorts, some of which are disgustingly dirty and nauseating. With pierces ears and earrings, it is difficult to differentiate such a “sagging young man” from a female. Some of them cut the tragic figure of hardened criminals.
A 400-level female student was raped on campus at night. When the culprit was questioned by peers, he defended himself, saying’ “it’s not my fault that I raped her, she wanted it herself. I was sitting and reading on my own when she entered the class, she wore a mini skirt and a net singlet revealing the red bra she wore. Even her bra could not cover the breast; her shinny belly was also exposed. She bended right in front of me and I could see her pants, so I couldn’t help it.”
Anything that is put on that can irritate, appall, intimidate, and rouse the sexual urge of the opposite sex is an indecent dressing. Dresses that are meant as stage costumes for musicians and actresses are misconstrued by gullible youths as everyday wears. As a result, they dress half naked to school, church and other public places all in the name of fashion. Some parents would even allow their wards to wear appalling dresses and attires. How disgraceful!
Most youths now feel very inferior dressing decently. They don’t wish to be considered as considered old fashioned by their peers. Ayuk Blanche, a UB student, who loves “imprisoning” herself in tight fitting trousers says she likes it, because it makes her look smart, brings out her shape and makes her feel light.
By Atembeh Ngewung Lordfred
t to differentiate such a “sagging young man” from a female. Some of them cut the tragic figure of hardened criminals.
A 400-level female student was raped on campus at night. When the culprit was questioned by peers, he defended himself, saying’ “it’s not my fault that I raped her, she wanted it herself. I was sitting and reading on my own when she entered the class, she wore a mini skirt and a net singlet revealing the red bra she wore. Even her bra could not cover the breast; her shinny belly was also exposed. She bended right in front of me and I could see her pants, so I couldn’t help it.”
Anything that is put on that can irritate, appall, intimidate, and rouse the sexual urge of the opposite sex is an indecent dressing. Dresses that are meant as stage costumes for musicians and actresses are misconstrued by gullible youths as everyday wears. As a result, they dress half naked to school, church and other public places all in the name of fashion. Some parents would even allow their wards to wear appalling dresses and attires. How disgraceful!
Most youths now feel very inferior dressing decently. They don’t wish to be considered as considered old fashioned by their peers. Ayuk Blanche, a UB student, who loves “imprisoning” herself in tight fitting trousers says she likes it, because it makes her look smart, brings out her shape and makes her feel light.
By Atembeh Ngewung Lordfred

Sawa rulers object to Um Nyobe’s monument in Douala

Just one week after the much heralded national integration, living together and national unity culminated in the celebration of the 46 anniversary of the National Unity Day, it seems the cracks have suddenly began reappearing.
Sawa chiefs of the Bell Canton shocked the public on Saturday morning when they marched on the streets of Bonapriso in Douala to bring down the site where works for the construction of a monument in honour of Ruben Um Nyobe had been going on.
The traditional rulers say they are unhappy by the decision of the Douala City Council to erect the monument around “Mobile Njoh Njoh” in Bonapriso, Douala without consulting them.
Armed with shovels, hammers and the strength of their arms, the traditional chiefs ransacked the entire fence built with slats and plywood. They also performed rites on the foundation to implore the wrath of “their gods” on anyone who would continue erecting the stele in those places.
The destructions were going on under the watchful eyes of Jean Yves Eboumbou Manga, paramount ruler of the Bell Canton while daughters of the Sawa clan who had come out in their numbers accompanied them with traditional songs.
“To erect such a monument on our land without consulting us is an insult to our tradition and we are surprised by this act (from the Douala City Council),” HRH Pierre Nteppe Mahouve of Bonapriso village said.
“This is why we wanted to make it clear today that things are not supposed to be done this way. The massive population that turned out today shows we don’t want this monument on our land and it is our right to say so,” he added.
The construction of a monument for Ruben Um Nyobe, one of the pillars of the independence of Cameroon started about a month ago after several protests by activist André Blaise Essama requesting for colonial monuments to be pulled down in the city of Douala and replaced by the country’s martyrs.
He has twice been jailed for bringing down the famous General Leclerc monument at the central town in Bonanjo.
His protests seem to have paid off when the Government Delegate to the Douala City Council Fritz Ntone Ntone recently awarded a five-month contract to construct a monument for Um Nyobe which was greeted with euphoria until Saturday when local chiefs decided otherwise.
However, the move has left the city torn apart with some accusing the Douala chiefs of tribalism and trying to resurrect a long-standing conflict with the Bassas.
“Whether the monument is in Edea, Douala or Yaounde, it doesn’t change the fact that Um Nyobe fought for Cameroon’s independence and deserves to be honoured. Um Nyobe did not fight against the French to free the Bassas but to free Cameroonians… this is very tribalistic on their part and I don’t support this move,” Ngo’o Nyeck, a Bassa native resident in Douala said.
However, there are others who opine that the city of Douala and particularly Bonapriso is first of all a village to them and customs and traditions of their lands must not be violated.
“We must be respected as a people before anything is done on our land… The Government Delegate [NtoneNtone] is a Sawa and he knows how it is done here. We have our martyrs like Douala Manga Bell, Ngosso Din who can as well be honoured here,” a Douala native Epée Dikoumé noted.
The Douala City Council is yet to react to these events and it is not clear if it will continue with construction works or transfer the monument to a different site.
After Saturday’s episode, the Sawa chiefs backtracked on Sunday with a communiqué attempting to justify their acts.
According to them, their actions were never intended against the Bassa community but to express dissatisfaction at the Douala City Council for acting unilaterally without consulting the various traditional rulers.
“It is with great surprise that we got up one morning to see the construction of a monument in memory of Ruben Um Nyobe. Our first reaction was to get in contact with the traditional ruler of the Bassas,” the Sawa chiefs said in a release on Sunday morning.
“The various letters sent to the Douala City Council, CUD, to book an appointment to find a solution were all ignored,” he added.
The chiefs said they decided to take action because the works are already coming to an end without the city council giving an ear to their requests.
“It should be a matter of finding a consensual way, a suitable site for the implantation of the monument, without creating any friction amongst our communities.
“The indigenous people of Njo-Njo have always lived in fraternity, perfect harmony and in symbiosis with the Bassa community living here in the Bell Canton,” the chiefs pointed out.
By Francis Ajumane