“…They should not look for trouble where there isn’t, or looking for lice on a bald head; my head is bald, so they should not look for lice on it.”
This is how metaphorically Humphrey Ekema Monono, the immediate past Registrar of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board, CGCE BOD, elected to refer to the arrogance, sleaze and underhand deals that purportedly characterized his headship of the examination outfit, especially in his ebbing days in that office.
Yet, The Rambler sources were categorical when painting a picture of what they described as the former registrar’s “trademark arrogance, bloated ego and propensity to denigrate others.”
The sources that that spoke on the sidelines of the installation last week of the new GCE BOD Chairman, quoted highly placed authorities in Yaounde as saying that the unusual rush to have Monono replaced at the helm of the examination outfit was strategically meant to keep him off some FCFA 1,7 billion earlier disbursed to facilitate business at the BOD.
The Rambler was told how President Biya had, months before Monono was replaced, ordered the disbursement of FCFA 1,9 billion for the BOD, to ease the conduct of examinations and payment of marking dues to teachers. This was supposed to be one strategy of warding off the disturbing schools and examination boycotts that were particularly rife in Anglophone Cameroon at the time.
The cash was duly made available to the Prime Minister, PM, who, in turn, handed it over to Secondary Education Minister, Jean Ernest Messina Ngalle Bibehe, with firm instructions. The Rambler learnt that Bibehe proceeded to disbursing the GCE BOD cash piecemeal. That he gave the former BOD Chair, Peter Alange Abety, FCFA 25 million “for his back pocket” and FCFA 100,000 million to Monono, the out gone registrar.
Part of this subvention, The Rambler learnt, must have precipitated a widely publicized press conference in December, 2017, at which it was gleefully announced that GCE markers who had since not been paid, would finally receive their dues in a matter of weeks. Yet, as we write, teeming numbers of these markers are yet to be paid a dime, despite Biya’s near FCFA 2 billion lifeline which was duly passed on by the Prime Minister.
News of grumbling unpaid markers and apparently misapplied cash disbursement is said to have gotten to the PM. Yang summoned Monono to his office to explain the “ding-dong” with public funds, unpaid markers and shoddily run examination BOD. The then registrar reportedly passed the buck, onto his minister, Bibehe. Equally summoned by the PM, Bibehe is said to have accepted that only FCFA 100,000 of the FCFA 1,9 billion had been effectively paid to Monono.
Yang instructed that the rest of the money be immediately wired to the GCE BOD account. But then, our sources, quoting “their antecedents,” said the authorities decided that the former BOD managers could not be allowed access to the remaining FCFA 1,7 billion “for obvious reasons.” It is for this reason, we were told, that PM Yang hurriedly effected the change at the helm of the GCE BOD “without due process.”
The cash discrepancy apart, Monono was also accused of influence peddling and laying undue claims to political protection as it were. This attitude, the subordinates alleged, was responsible for his “arrogance towards the Minister and the new BOD Chair when it came to last week’s handing over and installation ceremony.”
“He was clearly seen to be trying to downplay the dignity of the BOD Chair while giving impetus to the Registrar.” He is quoted as telling the Minister that he (minister) is supposed to conduct the handing over between the two chairmen in his (Monono’s) office and go out only to install the registrar in the open which is not supposed to be so. The Minister is said to have been taken aback and blasted him; questioning why he should place the Prime Minister’s decree over the Head of State’s, given that the BOD Chair is appointed by a Presidential decree and the Registrar by a Prime Ministerial decree.
According to Monono’s protocol arrangements at the installation ceremony, the incoming chairman was allegedly assigned an inferior seat, while the incoming registrar had a prominent place. “But the Minister opposed such protocol and told the BOD Chair, Professor Ivo Tambo Leke that it was his occasion and so put him on his rightful seat. Monono refused to come out for the installation and stayed locked inside his office.”
FCFA 1,9 billion rears ugly head again
Inside sources claimed that Monono may be facing the anti-corruption body, CONAC, once again in connection with the FCFA 1,9 billion cash which might not have been put into the right use and for which the PM summoned him and his supervisory authority. “The Head of State made available this huge sum, ostensibly to fight off this current crisis. It was FCFA 1,9 billion, confirmed to have been for the GCE Board and a similar amount for the BAC Board. Out of the money, the Minister gave Monono FCFA 100 million to start with. But he is said to have held a council meeting and told councilors that money had not yet come but was going to come. He did not mention that he had received FCFA 100 million,” our sources stated. Repeating the obvious, one of our sources noted:
“When the Prime Minister learned that Monono didn’t as much as mention that he had received money, he was surprised and called him to Yaounde for questioning and Monono told him the Minister gave him FCFA 100 million and gave the BOD Chair FCFA 25 million. The Prime Minister then invited the Minister and gave instructions for him to go and prepare the rest of the money, that is some FCFA 1.7 billion and send to the GCEB.”
Our source added; “the PM knew that if he waited for the council to meet, elect a registrar and go through the various processes, it would take time and the money might enter unsafe hands. That’s why he went ahead to appoint a new registrar since he now had the problem of who will come and handle the money in Buea since Monono had not explained what he did with the FCFA 100 million.”
It would be recalled that certain elites, including the teachers’ trade unions petitioned the Prime Minister for violating the GCEB and an Anglophone institution text at this time of the year and at this state of the nation. But the PM’s office acknowledged their fault and after revealing the above situation to some of them.
Some of Monono’s collaborators are of the opinion that he has also “spoiled everything for the chairperson.” As they put it, the BOD Chair’s office is like a small stall, with scanty furniture, while the registrar has a very big office that even the minister cannot boast of.
Notwithstanding, the aggrieved complainers are convinced that as long as the new Chairman, the Minister and the Prime Minister have realized that a mistake was made, the GCEB text was violated, the BOD is not in danger as many might have thought.
Monono claims lice free bald head
Asked if and why he boycotted the installation ceremony of the new BOD Chair and if it was as an act of arrogance and insubordination to the Minister, he replied; “I wasn’t at the incoming BOD Chair installation ceremony because I was busy somewhere else.”
Asked if he was insolent to the Minister, dictating and directing his boss on the procedure to be adopted during the handing over exercise, Monono spat out:
“Who was there with me when I was talking to the Minister? Well, if you are looking for excuses for the Minister, be sure that I wasn’t rude to anybody. The Minister and I had cool words in the session, a peaceful handing over. I was not at the ceremony because I obtained permission from the Minister. I was also carrying a teaching lesson; we were to select invigilators that afternoon and collect their textbooks which were instructions from the Central Committee as simple as that; and that is why I went to see the Minister to obtain permission that I wasn’t going to be able to be at the ceremony. So who is putting salt and pepper? Or is it because I took permission?
“Even if I have left the office, it is not the right time to look for trouble. I would repeat and accept that I wasn’t at the installation ceremony because the Minister and even Prof. Tambo were aware of the reason why I wasn’t at the ceremony. I said it in front of him and the new registrar and the secretary general that we have this meeting of collecting electoral applications which were instructions from the Central Committee. How could I have divided myself to be at both events probably at the same time?”
He continued: “If I didn’t hand over, then that could have been a different thing. But I handed over in peace and tranquility. We had a working session the day before. The new registrar came and he met me when I was preparing to receive senators’ files. That day I think up to about 8:00pm, I was still working with him. I left from one office to another. I was quite patient to listen to anybody who wanted my attention. What does it mean that I was impolite to the Minister?
“Saying that, I set out to diminish the new BOD Chair’s integrity by dictating and directing which procedure to be adopted or not, I say it is false. The Minister has his own procedures and I cannot go against his modus operandi. He is a Minister in Government; and whatever principles I have in my head, remains in my head. I don’t see how I should be above the Minister. If I am above him, then tomorrow, I would certainly be above the Prime Minister and the President. What my ideas are should not override the Minister’s position; he is my boss and if he says handover, I should do it. Did your source say I refused to hand over?” Monono asked laughingly.
Hear the former registrar: “Oh my God! So people are busy looking for reasons as to why I wasn’t at the installation ceremony? They should not look for trouble where there isn’t or looking for lice on a bald head; my head is bald, so they should not look for lice on it.”
On the issue of the alleged mismanagement of FCFA 100 million, Monono stated; “Few months back, the Minister of Secondary Education gave me FCFA 100 million and I have given him the papers and statements of what I used. The documents are still in the office where I left them; you can either go back to the office I left or ask the Minister if I have justified the use of the FCFA 100 million he gave me. Before I even took the money, I had given him a plan on how to use it and he approved it before I used it. So, what is the trouble? It is well accounted for. Anyone who took any farthing from the money signed. The catholic mission secretaries were part and they all signed and gave me attachments to the documents that were handed to the cashiers. So please, my management cannot be faulted for FCFA 100 million.
“The documents for the money are there. I know that justification papers may be signed by anybody or you can ask anyone to give you a receipt, but this one, people to whom I paid the money signed for and are not traders who signed the receipts. The people who signed for the money are there and can be questioned.”
Asked if he sees CONAC revisiting him anytime soon, Monono said he was a Cameroonian and I saw nothing wrong with CONAC revisiting him after his term of office. Hear him:
“Visiting me woll the papers for all the money that I have spent for the last 12 years and above. Anyway, CONAC visited me, they were there a few months ago, did uld depend on the records that they have; if they are not sure of what I did, my accounts and justification… But the office that I have left has acontrol. In 2013, it was already news that I was in prison; but when they checked their records they found me faultless and let me go and I ruled the board after then for five more years. I think as a Cameroonian I’m free to be audited or interviewed, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
By Nester Asonganyi & Relindise Ebune