Despite the fact that there was no perceptible deviation from the now clichéd pattern of end of year speeches by President Biya in his immediate past consignment, many Cameroonians who had bothered to follow him have nevertheless, expressed restlessness stemming from what they allege to be its privation in form, content and direction, with a pronounced shortfall in pertinent issues, particularly, the spiraling Anglophone crisis.
Mr. Biya has also, been poked for tagging the Anglophone crisis “socio-professional grievances”. Pundits who argue that it is rather socio-political, frown he is undermining the one thing thieving the nation’s peace.
Biya regretted that “Many of our compatriots lost their lives in violence perpetrated by secessionists.” Experts wonder why Biya stressed that “members of our defense and security forces were assassinated in cold blood in the line of duty,” failing to mention in the same breadth the reported maiming, raping, torturing and murdering Anglophones supposedly suffered in the hands of security officers. They are asking if some citizens are more Cameroonian than others. To this end, they urge for there to be a referendum so those who are less Cameroonian can decide whether or not they are satisfied with their current status; a fast test of his claim that “a vast majority of Cameroonians aspire to live together in peace.”
Priding himself with the creation of the Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism which he pressed is a guarantor of inseparableness; Biya wasted another chance to address Cameroonians in English, a miscarriage of the bilingualism song he croons.
As usual, he flung promises of employment at youths most of whom have wasted no time in rubbishing it, stressing that it is the same tale he has recounted for 35 years, which has this far succeeded in yielding no fruits.
Biya renewed his commitment to ensure his country hosts the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations which critics say may be snatched from its hands given the unending turbulence. Regime fault-finders impatiently retorted that even though impossible, time alone will tell.
Typical of the New Deal vision bearer, he praised himself and collaborators for what he terms achievements, failing to mention the notepads a few University students received instead of promised computers, a gesture which has drawn jeers and continues animating the Social media.
Differing from many who hold that a discourse from the President is the magic wand that could plausibly, occasion a return to normalcy, Political Analyst, Ass. Prof. Dze-Ngwa Willibroad, argues that “though the tone he used was one of appeasement and a break from the famous airport speech declaring war against so-called secessionists whom I consider Anglophones, it is only dialogue that can rekindle such hopes. I do not mean inclusive national dialogue like some preach, but one between Anglophones and the Government. It should be a round table and people should go to without pre-conditions, free from the master-servant relationship, and where we do not come with body guards.
“He talked about speeding up the decentralization process. Let us understand that the President is just respecting the constitution which supposes that Cameroon is a decentralized unitary state. But, many expected the burning Anglophone crisis to have been accorded more attention. He noted that solutions and more had been given to the problems posed by the lawyers and teachers, leaving me with the impression that the President is insistent that talking with the lawyers and teachers is handling the Anglophone crisis.”
Prof. Dze-Ngwa flushed Biya’s belief that a speedy decentralization would redress the situation, furthering that clashes would abound between those locally elected and those representing the administration at the local levels. He established that political decentralization could spark the trick. “Decentralization can be within a federal status quo and within the centralized system. I would have wanted decentralization in a federal status quo, meaning elected officials would be solely answerable to those who put them in power and any time the social contract is not respected, the people at the base have the right to unseat them.
Coming at a time when the country is gambling with the Anglophone crisis which has put its over-preached oneness and indivisibility on the guillotine, President Biya, insisted he had taken measures to ensure all elections earmarked for 2018 will “take place in peace and security,” Prof. Dze-Ngwa wondered if the country is fit to put up such a show. “I do not understand whether we have the resources to carry on these elections which are incumbent. I am very sure he is doing politics. Will the resources be there? Will there be peace in Cameron? Our constitution clearly stipulates that if one part of the country is in trouble, there would be no elections. Do we say the Anglophone crisis would have been resolved at that time?” he questioned.
As reaction to the President’s New Year narrative, the National Chair of the Social Democratic Front, SDF party, Ni John Fru Ndi, noted that he was greatly disappointed in the speech, reasons why he boycotted the traditional New Year wishes ceremony.
“I thought he would use that speech to reconcile, pardon, stretch the olive leaf, sign what the Prime Minister had agreed with the Consortium, and call the people to go back to school, court and all the likes. Instead of him doing this, he confirmed the war he earlier declared against Anglophones. I did not see why I should go to Yaounde, stretch my hand to Mr. Biya, congratulating him and wishing him a happy new year; because it kicks against my conscience,” he frowned.
According to the National President of the United Socialist Democratic Party, USDP, Prince Michael Ngwesse Ekosso, the speech was disastrous. In his defense, he claimed that it failed to account for “the killing of our people, give a clear path on how our people who are refugees in Nigeria and Central African Republic will return home.” He equally noted that Biya botched the opportunity to bring an end to the upheavals, interrogating if the country is at the brink of collapse.
By Claudia Nsono