By Ngoko Monyadowa
Today’s epistle is an offshoot of the recent calamities visited on the person of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi and, by extension the already dwindling prominence of the party. Interest here inheres not so much in the newsworthiness of the party as the issue of their contemporaneity with political upheavals in the country. The fact that his recent abduction comes on the heels of other public relations fiasco emanating from the Chairman’s unreasoned visit to SONARA and the unfortunate aftermath of being muddied by a low cadre administrator fit to be his grandson is quite telling and, raises the spectre of a man at the helm of a party that acts on impulse instead of laid down strategy. Indeed, the pendulum swings of fate have not been kind to the SDF and its maverick Chairman in the recent past as epitomized also, by the saga of key to Limbe metropolis handed to him by the John Elufa Manga Williams, first class chief in waiting of the OPEC city.
Contrary to the perspective many have leaned on-that is Fru Ndi deserved the loathsome treatment showered on him during his botched attempt to show concern for the incendiary occurrence in Cameroon’s lone refinery, the contention here is that we must always make a distinction between political correctness and simple rules of decorum or etiquette. While admitting that Fru Ndi’s idiosyncrasy might have induced him not to exhibit concern much earlier for the more than 14,000 workers unceremoniously driven into penury by the activities of separatist militias, such a slip in diligence has nevertheless, impacted negatively on the viewpoint many Cameroonians hold on his person and the party he incarnates. Is he telling the public that he did not hear about chopped off fingers from the hands of workers who attempted to dare the separatists by going to work? Did the inferno at SONARA have to sprout for him to be jolted to sanity?
Oh no, Mr. Chairman while not pandering to the objectionable behavior of the officials at Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, headquarters who ensured that a low-keyed, if not, snobbery reception was reserved for you during your almost afterthought visit to their premises, conventional wisdom would have impelled a more civil approach to issues of protocol and administrative niceties by ensuring that your visit is duly programmed.
Even more embarrassing is the fact that a prominent personality like Fru Ndi, at least, considering antecedents relating to the restoration of multi-party politics in Cameroon and other sacrifices bearing on chivalry and erstwhile charisma, was reduced to a mere pauper by the agency of an upstart administrator passing off for Sub Divisional Officer for Limbe II who barred him from achieving his public relations stunt of visiting the charred remains of the once vibrant SONARA.
This incident readily brings to mind the impertinence of administrative officials especially, those sent to function in the English speaking part of the country. With a pigeon-holed mentality or mindset that predicates every issue on state authority leaving no room in its wake for personal initiatives infused unto them while in ENAM, there can be no gainsaying the fact that wet-nose administrators will be prone to unleashing abominable acts of indecency even to evidently respectable citizens. And, this is precisely the case with Fru Ndi, who advertently or inadvertently, opened his flanks to the exuberance of a “one and indivisible Cameroon” fanatic.
With the current situation of descent to free for all and his sometimes unguarded statements that exude indictment of the government for incompetence in handling the Anglophone crisis, it is not surprising that even without orders from above, fanatical Biya apologists could seize any available opportunity to drag the iota of honour he still possesses into opprobrium.
Coming back to the Key to Limbe metropolis issue, the wonder here is that the very chiefs who are unrepentant about Fru Ndi being disrobed of the honour of being in possession of the Key to the OPEC city are the very ones who had championed an earlier move that materialized in the bestowal of the same honour on the Senior Divisional Officer for Fako, Engamba Emmanuel. When chiefs reduce themselves to serfs and poodles of administrators and illegitimate politicians, the upshot is not surprisingly, the condescending posturing akin to what the governor of the Southwest region Bernard Okalia Bilai indulged in the advent to this year’s May 20 celebrations. Moreover, if it is true as has been postulated that the persona dramatis John Manga Williams, had been summoned to Yaounde by a regime top brass and forced to recant his previous act of civility to Fru Ndi, then the issue is one of premature obsession with being seen to be in the good books of the paymaster-in this case Emperor Paul Biya.
As for the abduction of the SDF chairman, it is taken here with a pinch of salt. While condemning such an action that projects nothing short of moral depravity, there is every reason to believe that in a country that has exhibited undisguised signs of descent into a failed state, given that even known armed robbery gang leaders, money launderers, and all sorts of mobsters find their places within the governing class, nothing comes as surprise. While Fru Ndi’s post release narrative evokes clear signs linking his abduction to Ambazonian separatists, there is also the possibility of an unseen hand from the lunatic fringe of government that may want to affix an image of extremism on Anglophone separatists that is stalling the much desired inclusive dialogue. Fru Ndi, deposed that the crux of his abduction is his inability or refusal to withdraw SDF parliamentarians and senators from the current national assembly. This assertion is brought to naught by the fact that the concerned lawmakers, or is it breakers, won election in different constituencies and their stay or withdrawal from the national assembly does not depend on the Chairman. It has to be an individual decision.
What is certain is that whoever is behind the abduction of the SDF Chairman does not have a firm grasp of the issues at stake. Fru Ndi, is not a separatist and so whatever he does with the Biya regime should be of no interest to the Ambazonian cause. In fact, if as Fru Ndi claims, his abductors are from the Ambazonia fringe of separatists, then, such a lunatic clime is doing a disservice to their struggle. How then can they exculpate themselves from the stigma of extremism that has hung on the throat of president Biya like a sword of Damocles? On the other hand, if the hand of Jacob is impersonating that of Esau then we are in for an endless struggle because there are hawks even within the “one and invisible Cameroon” fringe of the political arena who do not want the war to end and by that token come up with antics that postpone meaningful dialogue. Whatever turns out to be the verdict, these are very trying moments for the SDF and its national Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi. A more mature vision and communication strategy is sorely needed to erode the recent gaffes by the Chairman and the party if at all there is hope for rejuvenation in the pip