Repugnant dross

It played out like a typical scene in Columbia during that Latin American nation’s 50 year civil war. Cheerleaders, rented from Dschang, to perform a well choreographed theatre of the absurd for the attention of Biya the dispenser, were intercepted, taught how not to pander for a few grains of peanuts, ruffled and sent back with a clear message for their paymasters.
A similar scenario was acted out with Professor Ivo Leke Tambo, GCE Board Chairman. The old man was snatched to a hideout and subjected to indignities, including being blindfolded, stripped down to his dross and held for 48 hours. The experience was harrowing for the learned professor and others of high polish and refinement.
Tambo’s captors were predominantly carefree lads, probably unemployed and frustrated victims of the crass ineptitude and moral turpitude that has characterized governance in Cameroon over the past decades. They were youthful “Ambazonians,” ostensibly eager to tell the world, that they, like their parents before them have endured enough of criminal marginalization. They were out to prove, albeit “repugnantly,” that both their kidnapped victims and those whose bidding they do, evince revulsion, to say the very least.
Such revulsion could be traced to an incompetent, corrupt regime, manned by intractable individuals, who would rather see the nation die than forego power and the filthy lucre which they daily reap from the whirlwind of confusion and political scamming they have been sowing. The bubble had to burst, one day or the other. And even here, prudent social engineering would have meant handling the issue better than it was and is still being handled.
By protesting against a malfunctioning system, lawyers and teachers were, by no means reinventing the wheel. Pig-headed Laurent Esso and Fame Ndongo didn’t need to further fan smouldering embers of provocative marginalization. Mr. Biya didn’t need to resort to swearing, insulting, intimidating and promising Armageddon. He had to listen and empathize. But he overly resorted to employ the military in solving a socio-political problem, trusting to the fickle support (or promise thereof) of his minders.
Notwithstanding the cunning resort to unsubstantiated Tchiroma-designed propaganda, suppressing democratic protests by benevolent autocracy and legitimized cruelty, the Anglophone problem is gradually but steadily stalemating. It will likely elude a resolution for decades to come. Biya ought to beat a hasty retreat from negative imaging, belligerence, justifying and legitimizing military violence to dominate the narrative.
Biya acted in bad faith. He pretended to dialogue, while continuing to engage forces that have massacred villagers, burnt down their ancestral homes and wheeled the nation’s economy into the intensive care unit.
Instead of ranting at unarmed protesters and declaring war on a part of the country he is so eager [not] to see divided, Biya should eat this very humble pie being so generously served him by posterity … Mr. President should ask himself what, indeed, is responsible for the Anglophone disenchantment. He should halt the slaughter of some of the very [nice] people he claims voted, have been sending motions of support and keeping him in power for 36 years. He should, unconditionally, release every Anglophone detainee from prison and apologize to those compatriots that have lost limb and life in this senseless war of inflated egos. That’s what is expected of leaders worth the name.
Only the free can dialogue/negotiate (dixit Nelson Mandela). Let him check the intractable looting machine oiled by his cohorts and rampaging security operatives. The occasional charade of selectively keeping away “suspects” in Kondengui won’t help Cameroon. It would, at best, only briefly extend Biya’s tenancy at Etoudi.
Biya ought to acknowledge the prevailing moral confusion in the nation, conceive and openly define his options. Let him know that many of his appointed officials, especially local administrators are irresponsible; stealing openly from local peasants, taunting and calling them vulgar names. The slipshod intellectual design of his policy content has set the nation adrift. What is evident is an unspoken transfer of political responsibility to the military.
Cameroon is sick. Her so called leaders are living in denial. Somebody just has to give up! “Sparrow Hawk” and other political shooting of the breeze notwithstanding, the nation is running on the oxygen of corruption. Look here! Security is not only about threats in insipid, coughing guns and pellets. Radicalization is staring Cameroon in the face.
Last line…
There is a definite human angle to the question, and this, Mr. President, is glaring in the Tambo kidnap saga; a euphemism for what barely hides what is so repugnant about Cameroon’s corporate dross. To have a happy family, you must have a conversation…

Proposal paper on the short and long term peace strategies: “Anglophone” crisis (V)

By Maxwell N. Achu, Diplomat,
(Peace Advocate, Conflict Transformation Researcher,
Academia, MA. International Relations) 2

• What are the drivers to ensure effective accomplishment of these short-term peace proposals?

The drivers that guarantee success in the implementation of these short-term peace proposals are collaboration, commitment and cooperation, which substantially legitimate its effect with time. The type of stress Cameroon is facing requires components that address political, economic or social inclusion. The case of Cameroon is internal divisions between social or geographical groups, which are the major factor in mobilization of violence.
Additionally, the type of problem facing the nation is somehow institutional. Cameroon has “fairly strong” capacity but inclusion is weak, reform action needs to draw marginalized “Anglophones” into decision-making and ensure they benefit from national growth, service delivery and welfare improvements
As highlighted above, commitment, coordination and cooperation are three core functions of institutional actors that are needed to ensure that peace accords and expected results are made possible.13
• Commitment: this enables the GoC and “Anglophones” to rely on the credibility of the dialogue resolutions so they can calibrate their behaviors accordingly. The case of Cameroon is most premised on commitment. The GoC with its people must reach credible agreements; first, to renounce violence and endow the state with the monopoly on the legitimate use of force – see the case of Somaliland wherein commitment was achieved by establishing institutional arrangements that provided sufficient incentives for all key actors to work within the rules. The bottom line is that, the commitment to deal between the GoC and the people must be credible, so that all parties stand to lose if any party reneges on those arrangements. When commitment to deal lacks integrity, contending sides (GoC and the “Anglophones”) walk away from the bargaining table and violence prevails.
• Coordination: beyond credible commitment is coordination. Independent credible watchdog institutions MUST regulate implementation commitments as well as coordinate the GoC decisions with the expectation of its people and other conflicting parties. This is very sensitive because coordination problems can occur at many levels of the peace process.
• Cooperation: herein lies the core to successful and effective peace plans; both at the long and short-term periods, as it requires the political will of the GoC and the “Anglophones” willingness to cooperate. The “Anglophones” must be willing to comply and cooperate. Cooperation is enhanced by credible commitments.

Enabling commitments, inducing coordination and enhancing cooperation are therefore essential institutional core functions for making peace policies effective. There must be an aggressive political will in the national arena. This is because; decision makers – elites-14 may have the right peace plan and objectives, such as this, and yet may still be unable to implement the right peace policies because doing so would challenge the existing equilibrium and the current balance of power. Thus, the balance of power in conflict and violent societies may condition the kinds of results that emerge from commitment, coordination and cooperation.
Ultimately, how peace resolutions through dialogue are effective depends not only on what resolutions are chosen, but also on how they are chosen and implemented. Peacemaking resolutions and peace agreement implementation both involve bargaining among different actors. The policy arena-the setting in which governance manifests itself, can be found at the local and national levels of Cameroon. Interested groups in Cameroon upheaval should be empowered to take part in the shaping of peace agreements – this would be a fundamental enabler to pacific agreements effectiveness. There should be an equal distribution of power in the bargaining process, as this power symmetry will definitely influence peace policy effectiveness. Power asymmetry is not necessary harmful, but negative manifestations are reflected in political clientelism as well as social and economic exclusions. Power 13

asymmetry excludes individuals and groups from the bargaining arena, and can be particularly important for peace and security, such as in Somalia. A cross country statistical analyses using the Ethnic Power Relations data set from 1945-2005 indicates that states that exclude portions of the population based on ethnic background are more likely to face armed rebellions.16/17
• Dialogue Procedure

Before nose-diving into this part of the proposed peace agenda, it is worthy to recall that violence is just a symptom reflective of discontentment. Just like unemployment, which is a symptom to a failed economy to grow enough to absorb all employable labour, violence as well, is a result of various economic pressures, rising job complexities, high levels of inequality, and even digital disruptions. Whether or not such discontentment are justifiable is usually immaterial, as long as lives are lost there is need for concern. Let Cameroonians remember that, the private sector, which is the engine of job creation, needs long-term view of the credible direction of the GoC’s peace and economic policies to be able make long-term investment decisions. Ultimately, any of such inconsistencies or impairments like violence only exacerbates economic downturn and lowers productivity. Consequently, it is a perfect breeding ground for protest from disgruntled citizens.
Most importantly, the “Anglophone” crisis is just as far-gone, because the discontentment of some frustrated “Francophones” can spark unrest, which tied with the present crisis, can plunge Cameroon into a full-blown civil war with unimaginable and maybe irrecoverable effects. During such circumstances, marginalization18, fragmentation19, and segmentation20 just to name a few, which the “Anglophones” condemn, might not be the same motives of the Francophones. Regime change, job creation, economic boom, equal distribution of political appointments, infrastructural development21, request for decentralization service provision, hassle-free border relations,22 other related Economic, Financial23 and Political risk might be at the forefront of such conflict-risk query. Such scenarios can easily be forecasted, especially as Cameroon’s growth experiences more volatility than the regional average. By this, this paper calls for the inevitable peace through dialogue between conflicting parties.
(To be continued)

Ode to our haunted youths

If there was any doubt as to the level of disaffection that Cameroonian nationality evokes among youths, the recent escape of athletes for the third consecutive time after being officially ferried to the Commonwealth Games has come to dispel such illusion. Come to think of it. The young men had been nursing dreams of going to countries where at least some attention is paid to budding talents who are nurtured and pampered to become assets to themselves and to the corporate image of their countries of origin.
Moreover, unlike others who have had to brave the vicissitudes that inhere in trans-Saharan misadventures through northern Cameroon to Chad and Libya and, eventually, life-threatening sea crossings between Libya and Italy or Spain they have had genuine travelling documents prepared by the state and transport fares paid from the public till. So why would they have bothered about coming back to drudgery when hustling out there bodes better prospects of livelihood improvement. Little doubt therefore that no matter what stigma is imputed to the deserting athletes, the unequivocal message they are sending is that “Le pays va mal.”
In a country that pays lip service to the youthful segment of its population, the reaction could not have been otherwise. Generations upon generations of youths have been sacrificed on the altar of greed and nepotism to the point where some people have reached the statutory retirement age of 55 without experiencing the ‘luxury’ of serving Cameroon even in Office Cleaner capacity. One contrivance or the other from the repository of Government magic represented in a skewed system of public service recruitment via competitive examination keeps knocking them off until frustration sets in and relegates them to permanent hangers-on to the apron strings of more fortunate school mates.Beer and food at least are hardly in short supply. And so they become executive beggars. This means that settled family lives of husbands, wives and children become unaffordable luxury. The drudgery, inexorably, accompanies them to their graves. How frustrating?

Oh yes, our youths have been sacrificed by a cabal that has raised gerontocracy to statecraft. Witness the recent clamour by traditional chiefs for President Biya’s candidacy in the upcoming presidential election. Can anything good be expected of chiefs who, out of unbridled sway to pecks from a moribund regime would sacrifice the wellbeing of their subjects? How would we expect youths not to rise against chiefs who spite their existential malaise just so that they may continue to await crumbs under the table? What these aggrieved youths are saying is that life has become unbearable in Cameroon and the only solution is a change of guards by any means.
Little wonder then that at a time when the rest of the world is capitalizing on tertiary industries’ contribution to generate wealth, we are still obsessed with second generation agriculture mantra in the face of abysmal incapacity to even engage first generation agriculture. That is our vision for our youths while oldies sit in state- of- the- art furnished offices, producing nothing but preying on the public till. Instead of creating avenues to engage the vitality of this rugged segment of our population, we contrive avenues to enrich kinsmen and regime loyalists. And so every means is sought to entrench the already asphyxiating centralized system of governance just so that a few sycophants with their youthfulness behind them continue to cling to the commonwealth like leaches. Where then is the place of our teeming youths? Why would they not see opportunity in illegal sojourn in more developed countries?
This explains why the Ministries of Education- Secondary, Basic, Civic, Higher and Youths and Sports that are all meant for the development of our teeming youths are all manned by individuals who have celebrated their diamond jubilees. Moreover, given that our statecraft makes no room for appointment of youths, all the Directors and Service Head positions are allocated to much older people. As if that is not enough, there are ministries in charge of development-Plan and Regional, Agriculture and Rural and very recently Decentralization and Local Development. Whatever this are supposed to mean remains a question to be answered by Biya’s spin doctors. If you add the Senate, and other moribund institution like the Economic and Social Council and Commission for Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, the picture of how the youths of this nation are deliberately fenced off becomes more glaring. These are moribund institutions whose leitmotif is reward to toadying the Biya regime. How then would the youths be encouraged to stay at home?
Were we expecting these frustrated youths to be patriotic on empty stomachs? Of course no! Patriotism stems from recognition of the value that the state attaches to the wellbeing of its citizens. It is certainly not a commodity that is sold in the open market and as such available to all and sundry. It is earned through governance that endears itself to the citizens via institutionalized populism. When this is raised to the pedestal of statecraft, obeisance to state emblems and constitutional provisions becomes automatic. Even in the circumstance where attempts have been made to concoct a simulacrum of concern for the youths, our pervasive inclination to line our pockets instead of serving the public deflects such initiatives into nothingness.
We do not plan for the benefit of the country but, for designated individuals and in the course of such insouciance, the country drifts into cataclysm. When the youths rise up in revolt as was the case in February 2008, the riposte from President Biya is that they had been under the instrumentality of some misguided political upstarts since they are not endowed with reasoning faculty. This explains why they have been taken off guard by Anglophone youths who have reached the point of sacrificing their lives for the improvement of governance in the country. Their resolve is informed by nothing else than the wellspring of frustration that has taken hold of their segment of society.
The situation has degenerated to the point where death means nothing to them. Whether it comes from joining the regular army or separatist forces, hesitance has been relegated to the background. Those who see no hope in fighting have opted for the misadventure of crossing the Sahara desert into Chad and Libya and eventually to Europe, with all the attendant risks of being sold into slavery, murdered or marooned on the high seas.
The country’s leadership has indeed lost legitimacy but, would not want to admit their condition and make way for a more dynamic system, powered by vibrant forces, whose youthfulness is an invaluable asset. Surprisingly, its headship keeps parodying the notion of youths being the leaders of tomorrow. Very impressive selling point, indeed! However, the reality on the ground is that our youths remain endangered species until such a time that they will take responsibility of being the potters that handle the clay to shape their destinies. This is very easy. They do not need the barrel of the gun as is currently the case. Let them register massively on electoral registers and vote out the Biya political rubble into obsolescence. This way there will be room for building a new Cameroon in which they will be pioneers.
By Ngoko Monyadowa