End to the Anglophone crisis? A contribution to national dialogue addressed to the Right Honorable Prime Minister

By Daniel M.Ojong

Dear Sir,

 I most humbly address to you in the pages that follow my modest contribution to the Dialogue, based on my personal experience as a long serving senior civil servant, a senior corporate employee, a retiree, senior citizen and Consultant at 81.

Rt. Honorable, your task is a herculean one but you are up to it. Thank God.

Yours respectfully,

Daniel M.OJONG

Residence, GRA Lower Ext. Buea. Phones: 677 69 78 98/ 677 60 39 63

  1. The mood and expectations

the mood was so tense, the silence in the hall we sat was that of a graveyard, then as the hour of eight in the evening struck on that long awaited day of September 10th, 2019 came the National Anthem, “O Cameroon…… land of promise……”

The population was rife with guesses, surmises, affirmations as to what to he would talk about, but the president after three years of hue and cry from Cameroon and the rest of the world, finally spoke out.

  • the speech

The president to the happy expectation of all and sundry opened his speech with the Anglophone crisis of the Southwest and Northwest region. Good, frank and honest talk ending with the announcement of the dialogue at the end of this September 2019 (applause). It was a thirty minutes speech, recounting truly what had been the problem of recent; Lawyers and Teachers’ strife.

  • surprise

Unfortunately, what truly surprised anyone who had knowledge over this Anglophone issue is the president’s outright denial that there has never ever been any marginalization of the Anglophones. To substantiate this denial, he went ahead and cited his act of appointing Anglophone Prime Ministers. With due respect, Mr. President has contradicted himself badly. In his honesty, he had long admitted that there is an Anglophone problem unlike some dishonest personalities who have affirmed now and again that there is no Anglophone problem. One cannot eat his cake and have it or say yes in one breath and say no at the same breath. Here is the multi dollar question, “if there has never been marginalization of the Anglophones, what then gave rise to the Anglophone crisis? Here is the truth: the Anglophone crisis is the result of pent up feelings over donkey years, dating especially from when the president and his predecessor president  Ahidjo, systematically and methodically moved the nation from the dispensation of a Federal Republic of Cameroon to that of a  United Republic of Cameroon and finally to that of Republic of Cameroon. These were cunningly planed acts by Mr. Ahidjo and Mr. Biya. Remember this is what one well known Francophone lawyer said during a debate in one of our electronic media; “Ahidjo a trompe’ les Anglophone, Biya les merprise!” (Ahidjo deceived the Anglophones, Biya undermines them).

  • indelible facts

Here are indelible facts of marginalization for any one pretending not to know:

  1. When Ahidjo was president of the Republic, Foncha (Anglophone) was Vice President. He was later demoted to the post of Grand Chancellor (in charge of issuing medals) by Ahidjo. The Vice Presidency was thus abolished in one fell swoop.
  2. Muna (Anglophone) was appointed Speaker of the House therefore Second in Command to the President.
  3. Then, Ahidjo resigned and appointed Biya as President. (One would have rightly expected his next in command to be his appointee).
  4. In frustration, Muna unable to see the President to whom he was assistant for several years, resigned.
  5. A new Speaker of the House, Cavaye Jibril having been installed became Second in Command.
  6. With time the president of the Senate, Niat was appointed and became Second in Command, while the House Speaker moved down to Third position.
  7. The Prime Minister, an Anglophone was appointed and was now fourth in command. The game is clear to see. The president of the republic himself is the ‘Maradona’. From the above manipulations, the Anglophone is distanced from the presidential palace constructed with funds from the Anglophone Region oil wells.

Oh boy! If this is not a well-planned scenario never to let an “Anglo” rise to the position of President or even be his Vice in a Republic that was unified by two distinct states, then you tell us how!

  • More Proofs

Here are more proofs: At the time Mr. Biya assumed office as President of the Republic, the following statutory corporations or parastatals were fully functioning:

  1. The National Electricity Corporation, SONEL, (2). The National Petroleum Corporation, SNH, (3). The National Ports Authority ONPC, (4). The National Investment Corporation, SNI, (5). The National Railway Corporation, REGIFERCAM, (6). Cameroon Radio and Television CRTV, (7). Cameroon Shipping Lines CAMSHIP, (8). International Telecommunication, CAMTEL, (9).Cameroon Airlines CAMAIR, (10). National Petroleum Corporation, SNH, 11). The National Housing Loan Fund, CREDIT FONCIER, (12). Cameroon Housing Corporation, SIC, (13). The National Water Corporation SNEC, (14). The National Refining Corporation SONARA, (15). The Cameroon National Office for Basic Produce ONPBC, (16). National Petroleum Depot CDP.

These are or were sixteen top economic power houses, how many of them were headed by an Anglophone or Assistant DG? The answer is NONE.

  • Appointment of Anglophone Prime Ministers

The appointment of Anglophones to the post of Prime Minister sounds truly big if they indeed had executive powers. But as it is, it creates the unfortunate impression of yarns being spun over the eyes of the Anglophones. Highly qualified and experienced and hardworking as these appointees are in administration etc, they are not more than toothless bulldogs so to speak. They are appointed by presidential decree, the ministers supposed to be under the PM’s authority are no appointed by him as done the world over, but also appointed by presidential decree. So who of them cares of PM or no PM? They arrogantly behave as though they are answerable only to the president, the head of state, not the PM, the Head of Government. Now and again you hear a minister on tour announcing, “je suis envoye sous les hautes instructions de son Excellence le President de la Republique MR. Paul Biya……………” No mention of the Prime Minister! Recent example: the Prime Minister makes an official Policy Speech; the Minister of Interior, Mr. Atanga Nji goes out of the country and makes a deliberate speech contradicting the Prime Minister. The world gets the impression that, in all his outings, speeches, threats from the date of his appointment as minister of territorial administration and not from the government, where there is a head of government in the person of the Prime Minister but from the state where there is a head of state. One gets the impression that this particular Minister is not under the Prime Minister as Head of Government. The Francophone ministers are the cheekiest and most arrogant. That’s the lot of the Anglophone Prime Ministers.

  • Endless proofs of marginalization

Let’s look at the administrative set up in Buea, capital of Southwest Region (Anglophone zone) : (1) Governor, Francophone, (2) SDO, Francophone,  (3) DO ,Francophone , (4) Military Commander, Francophone,  (5) Gendarmerie Colonel, Francophone  (6) Financial Controller Treasury, Francophone  (7) 1ST Assistant Controller, Francophone (8) 2nd Assistant Controller, Francophone.  (9) Procureur general, Francophone, in a Common law system. What more? Now listen to the meaning of ‘Marginalize’: Make feel as if they are not important, cannot influence decisions or events. Put in position in which they have no power. Reference: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Hear, hear all ye Cameroonians!! Most of these officials are long time sit tight tired retirees! While qualified, Anglophone youths and majors are on the dole.

  • Deliberate dismantling of engineering productive structures

If what is detailed under this sub-heading is not systematically planned wanton acts of destabilization for the purpose of causing wholesale dependence of the Anglophone Regions on the Francophone Regions, by the powers that be, then let any Engineering Expert from any part of the world challenge me and give satisfactory answers to the common Cameroonian. I speak in my proud capacity as one of the first Cameroonian Chartered Engineers amongst a number of others, who manned these installations.

 Question number one, why were the electrical power installations  (clean energy) of Muyuka-Yoke-Malende dismantled during the early years of independence and re-unification. These modest installations generated a minimum of 4.5KVA. Upgrading was possible. This system with proper arrangement could have been hooked to the National grid?

Question number two, why were the huge twin thermal production units in Mamfe Town, Manyu Division dismantled and vandalized. They supplied a good steady amount of electricity to all the services and homes of the town and the surrounding villages? There should be no fictitious reasons or explanations of fuel consumption cost. At the times these installations existed, Cameroon was not yet producing petrol. We lived on imported fuel from the pumps of Texaco and Agip. The cost 1.000 FRS gave you 20liters of super grade petrol or more on premium grade less than 90% octane level. Compare today that we are petrol producers 1.000 FRS cfa. Would give you less than 2 liters.

Whereas these thermal units in the Anglophone zones were closed down, dismantled and vandalized, those of the francophone towns of Nkongsamba and Bafoussam were constantly maintained and running full time until later years that these towns were hooked to supplies from Edea and Songlulu. Yes one would argue that today Mamfe and Bamenda are connected to this same grid. But boy O! Boy, go to Mamfe and taste what we call epileptic supply; blackout for weeks, sudden supply for hours, the sequence continues no factory however small like wood working workshops can thrive, same thing for Kumba.

Question number three: Why were the installations of Limbe-Bota wharf port dismantled. The derricks were dismantled and carted away, the mini dry dock for repairs of tug boats and barges abandoned? The Limbe-Bota Port did a swelling business. Business magnates came all the way from Bafoussam and Nkongsamba for importation, produce from Fako and Meme Divisions were exported through this port. The ocean liner docked a distance away, the Stevedoring Services of the Bota CDC Marines, undertook link-up with the ship captain and crew, the tug boats waters and bringing back imported goods thus contributing immensely to the economy of the Nation State or Cameroon as a whole.

Question number four: Why was the first ever deep sea port in Cameroon-Tiko Port, abandoned in exclusive favour of the Douala Port, forever a dredger port? Even if the Tiko Port berths a ship at a time, should it be abandoned to adventurers? Think of the Kribi Port in the Francophone zone decades back before the advent of our new deep sea port, it was a child’s play. But it was well maintained and exploited, so what’s so wrong with the Tiko deep sea Port on the Anglophone zone?

Question number five: Why are the airports in Bessong-Abang, Mamfe and Likomba, Tiko abandoned and left destitute? These were international airports. The British Overseas Airway Corporation, BOAC, planes landed and took off from here to Ikeja in Lagos and continued to other parts of the world. Some of us flew off from here decades ago, studied and worked for years abroad, came back home and landed on these same facilities. The Bali Airport in Bamenda has fallen into oblivion. The situation is so bad and cannot get any reliable meteorological data for research or development purposes from the weather observatory of these facilities. The equipment is obsolete, outdated, many not available. Yet there is the Ministry of Transport. Oh Cameroon…… why this abandonment in the Anglophone zone?

Question number six: Why have the touristic sites in Fako and Manyu divisions been abandoned and dilapidated? In the whole of Cameroon there is no structural steel Jetty, like the one in the Ambas Bay in Limbe, projecting from the shore of the Atlantic Front to about 100meters into the ocean. It’s dilapidated; the rate of oxidation is near 100 percent. No scrap monger can be interested!! The famous Bimbia slave enclave of no return in Limbe, has any thought or form of serious maintenance ever been undertaken? the Mamfe German grave of war  heroes is fading out , the German built foot suspension bridges over the Manyu River confluence and others on the Akwaya trail are neglected, the floor boards destroyed and flung into the river, some accuse our military truly or falsely, of doing so as a measure to keep away the so called Amba boys. There is a whole Ministry of Tourism whose principal duty is to look into these structures, revamp them and exploit them for the benefit of the nation. But many are they who believe that because these valuable structures or artifacts are in the Anglophone zone, nobody cares a hoot about them?

Question number seven: The Government Technical High School, OMBE, was one of the four technical institutions established by the British Government in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when Southern Cameroons was a part of that dispensation in 1951/52 to be precise. This author was a pioneer student. They were then designated Government Trade Center. This school OMBE is on record and known nationally and internationally to have produced the finest crop of engineer technicians, administrators, educationists, medical doctors, police commissioners, military officers, lord mayors, business moguls, reverend pastors, secretaries general in the Cameroon administrations, university lectures, principals of colleges, Proviseurs du Iycees, journalists, editors, national and international media house moguls…you name it. The other entire three sister institutions created in Nigeria at about the same time, have since long become university colleges of technology etc. What has become of Ombe in Anglophone Cameroon? A crumbling edifice of workshops with obsolete, devastated and vandalized machinery, derelict classrooms devoid of tables or chairs, empty main store for study material, no telephones in principal’s office or general office, no ICT systems. Yet there is the Ministries Education. Now surrounded by bushes, OMBE is a glowing hulk. Poor Anglophones! Is there any such institution in the Francophone zone treated same way? Being Anglophones, our Government is waiting for the Islamic world to rebuild OMBE. This educational institution rather than diminish to the dwarf it is today, would have long since become a giant like her sisters for the betterment of the peoples of Cameroon

Question number eight: Has any official of the Ministry of Tourism ever bothered himself to visit the beautiful sprawling hills and plains of Kupe Muanenguba in the Anglophone zone and see the wild horses? What national wealth! Boy oh boy, get in touch with British diplomatic missions, invite them for visits to see the natural breed of powerful racing horses and the tycoons of the prestigious British Royal Ascot would be so interested. Why this neglect of the Anglophone zone?

  1. “Put down your guns and come out of the bushes.” These words were the exhortation of President Paul Biya to the belligerent ones. “Lay down your guns come and be integrated in the society, in our military or any reformatory of your choosing” he assured. Really? Let the following information be investigated, if found true, it will only go to add to the permanent truth that as concerns the Anglophones, their lot is marginalization. Here goes the information: in around the second Sunday of September 2019, after church service in one of the churches in Buea, some elders of the church, some top Government Christian officials belonging to that church and the pastors men of God, sat down behind closed doors for a church meeting. Before long, to their greatest surprise and shock, appeared before them unarmed young men who are part of the Ambas or separatists or terrorists or whatever you choose to call them, who had surrendered following the president’s exhortation and were lodged in the Borstal institute in Buea. In a peaceful manner they laid their complaints.
  2. Complain number one: They were famishing with hunger. A piece of bread with sardine was their daily ration.
  3. Complain number two: All they had with them was the clothes they had on their backs the day they gave in.
  4. Complain number three: No signs of programmed reformation or integration as promised by the president. End of complaint. Whoa!!Then they concluded with this sad question, “is this not too much punishment and intense provocation for us to go back to the bush and continue our fight?” The information continues that the Governor of the Southwest Region was contacted the top military brasses were contacted. So the authorities that be are in the know. That’s the plight of the Anglophones, lots and lots of them believe so. What if it was so?

The three sets of variables

Cameroon is a democratic nation state we all know and agree. We have the National Assembly which is the Lower House and the Senate which is the Upper House. These two entities form our parliament, so arguably we are a Parliamentary Democracy. The laws that run our nation state come from there. That’s it in theory and even in practice. We are therefore supposed to be governed by these laws. But we have a Republican President who is all powerful. So powerful, he can set aside a law or laws by power of his Decrees. In this respect we now have Governance and rulership. When the president ordered that the opposers, separatists, terrorists, whichever you choose should be gotten out of the way (hors l’etat de nuire) and finally eliminated (eliminer) it was an outright declaration of war coming from a rulership stance, not governance  because it did not go through parliament. This then spells out clearly that the President of the Republic from his rulership stance can order the start of a war as he has done, just as he can order a stop, if he so wishes. In the Nigerian/Biafra war, General Gowon brought an end to it with the words, no winner, no vanquished. President George Bush through Congress declared an unjust war in Iraq. The very him declared an end to the war and America is still pulling out. The same thing goes with Afghanistan. These are not signs of weaknesses on the side of the various governments; rather it is a strong effort for peace to reign. This brings us to three sets of variables on the sub-heading J above. No mathematics involved, just simple clear truth. There are three set of variables in our case. Variables are sets of facts or objects that are varied and don’t go together just like the Yam and the Knife as one set of variables, the Carrot and the Stick as a second set of variable, the Olive branch and the Clenched fist as a third set of variables. In our Cameroon of today and by our rulership pattern one personally holds these three sets of variables. That personality is the President of the Republic of Cameroon, Mr.Paul Biya. He can cut the yam for all of us to eat, he can offer the carrot and drop the stick, he can hold out the olive branch and unclench his fist and like the magician who holds the wan, say, “Hey Presto” and there shall be peace. This is reminiscent of the words from the Holy Scriptures, “By one man the world was destroyed, by one man the world was saved.” In Cameroon this one man is no other than President Paul Biya. Oh yes he can.

We were all there when we heard him say to Eric Chinje in a televised interview, “with the flick of my head (demonstrating) you are no longer there. “Oh yes Paul Biya can. No man is perfect. We were all born in sin. The President of the first Republic of Cameroon, Mr. Ahidjo, in spite f his deception towards the Anglophones, nevertheless handed this  blessed country of ours to the President of the second Republic, Mr. Biya in a platter of gold as the saying goes: a thriving economy, a buoyant treasury, tons and tons of peace and a happy-go-lucky people, we were the jealousy of our neighbouring countries, a good meal a bottle of “jobajo” and life swings, with appreciable justice system especially on the Anglophone zone. But taking stock as of today what do we find?

A country at war with itself, a war declared by the very flagbearer of the nation state. A war that’s tearing the country into shreds, creating artificial scarcities and shortages, causing a great number of her citizens to survive on handouts, a land flowing with milk and honey now flowing with bullets and blood. Take this humble thought from me as author, ‘The development of a nation state is dependent on the flow of the frond of its citizenry not from the flow of blood from their veins because this is Gods created physical world not Satan’s demonic, spiritual world with the proverbial vampire that would cease to live if there’s no more blood to suck so therefore the war can’t stop. The world is no longer living in Napoleon Bonaparte’s type of France in which he said, “A man such as I am cares less about the lives of a thousand men.” But how did he end up? In exile, dying as a hermit in the lonely island of Corsica.” God save our blessed Cameroon.

WAY FORWARD

  1. AMNESTY: Our President Paul Biya and the ruling party which we all helped metamorphose from  CNU to CPDM (yes I say we, as one of the proud founders, still keeping my Carte d’Adhesion and Carte de Cotisation, Section Bassa II dated 18/11/85 in which I happily contributed following my grade as a Director, the sum of 250,000frs) shall go down in the annals of history as heroes, if he, the President, flicked his head and order those in the bushes to come out as he has already done, also order our military back to the barracks, policemen and gendarmes take over peace keeping duties as usual, declare a general amnesty to his political “enemies” sit down on a prescribed dialogue on a one on one, this would  be a magnified act of Heroism and Greatness not of Weakness, he will truly merit the title of ‘Mendiant de la Paix’ which he has attributed to himself but failing this, Mr. Biya will be looked upon by the rest of the world as one playing the same rigmarole of years past. On the contrary Cameroon shall thus return to its original glory and remain a land of promise. Please, Mr. President, listen to us the Senior Citizens, Octogenarians, who gladly put you there, so that peace could return to this blessed land of ours.
  2. FORM OF STATE: The President is a diehard as concerns his stand on the un-touched ability on the form of state. His passion, stance and honour on this issue could be understood and appreciated. As stated on sub head C above page 1, Mr. Biya and his predecessor Ahidjo, have transformed Cameroon from one dispensation to another to what we have today ‘decentralization’ whose application is crawling at snail speed and only the President himself and his cohorts can tell why. However unsatisfactory anyone can feel about this, the deed is done. When one listens to the explanations and arguments of the former Supreme Court Judge, the legal pundit Justice Ayah Paul, who suffered terrible injustice, one but feels sorry for Anglophone Cameroon from the days of Southern Cameroons. Who will carry our case now to the United Nations? Britain, the former Trusteeship Keepers? Forget it.  Which member of the International Community will start a fight for us and for what benefit? It’s a done deal. Ahidjo, the deception, Foncha, the “honest one” and Muna, the “cunning one” capped finally by Biya the finesse one have brought Cameroon to where it is today. We should therefore use the opportunity of this much yearned for dialogue to correct what could be corrected and sail on. All is not lost.
  3. PRIME MINISTERSHIP: We see for ourselves now, and from the past years, that the post of Prime Minister is without doubts the reserved domain of the Anglophones who must never ever dream of being the landlord of the ‘Unity Palace.’ Therefore to avoid tendencies of marginalization, the PM must as a matter of democratic practice be fully executive, i.e. hold full executive powers. All ministers must be answerable to the Prime Minister who is answerable to the President of the Republic. No more arrogant Atanga Nji and the likes ranting of ‘I have been directed by the Head of State…’ The President shall liaise directly with the PM and the PM shall issue instructions to his ministers, hold cabinet meetings with them as per his scheduling and liaise with the President. The Anglophone PM will then pay special attention to the Anglophone problem. Yes, he is Prime Minister for Cameroon but nothing shall prevent his strides for the Anglophone cause. Ahidjo said to SENGA KUO, “I made you Secretary General but take care of your Douala people.”
  4. REHABILITATION OF PRODUCTIVE ENGINEERING STRUCTURES: The PM shall as a matter of urgency set up appropriate commissions for the rehabilitations of the dismantled, abandoned, dilapidated engineering productive structures which were of economic importance to the nation, thus recreating jobs for the trained and untrained Anglophone youths roaming the streets.
  5. Bring pressure to bear on the Ministries of Education for the serious updating of the Government Technical High School, OMBE, and also pressure to bear on the sleepy, sleazy, Ministry of Tourism to refurbish and publicize our touristic structures.

L. Conclusion

No so called developing nation state in this world wishes for emergence (Take-Off) such as Cameroon in 2035 can ever succeed when it is at war with itself. When the trained and untrained youths, who are the intellectual and physical workforce are in the bushes, manipulating triggers, severing human heads, drinking human blood in dastardly cult and burying women alive while our well educated and well trained military are practicing their art in the destruction of their own country, by razing down villages, deliberate and indiscriminate outburst of their gunfire by trigger happy soldiers oh no! We can never get to Emergence that is Tak­­e-off; we shall remain in the unprogressive agrarian society, fumbling with the advancement of the 21st century technology infested by brazen face public thievery and embezzlement of public funds with impunity. it is quite possible to get there at the desired time but we must change drastically and proceed the way the other countries that got there, even if we can get to the threshold, then we are sure to be there otherwise Emergence 2035 would just remain another political jargon like Renouveau, Democratie Advance Hopefully the Anglophone Inclusive Dialogue has come in to solve the Anglophone crisis and the Right Honorable Prime Minister is in charge. But now we hear it is a National Dialogue.  Is this the same thing? Are the Anglophones sure to have a fair deal? Hopefully when the PM shall be done with the Herculean Task, he shall forward the volume to the president and the result shall be anxiously awaited. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for lasting and peaceful solution not the usual, “Je vous ai ecoute.” (“I have heard you.”)

*1st Cameroonian factory Mills Engineer, CDC, Bota, and Limbe

1st Cameroonian Area Engineer, CDC, Bota, Limbe

Chief of service, programming, Ministry of Transport, Douala

Ingenieur Controlleur Principal, EDC, Douala, today SONEL

Director of Equipment, REGIFERCAM, Douala, Seconded from Ministry of Transport

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