By Mildred NdumWung Kum
Junior members of Parliament, MPs, of the Northwest Region appeared sullen, when they returned from the just ended 19th session of children’s parliament in Yaounde, on account of a catalogue of unfulfilled expectations triggered by authorities of the Ministry of Social Affairs, MINAS.
The event spanned June 9 to 17 in Yaounde with‘Culture of the patriotic spirit and mastery of the rush of Young People towards Information and Communication Technologies: A permanent challenge and a collective responsibility,’ as theme.
Stranded due to no fares
After the 19th summit of Children’s Parliament, MPs of the Northwest Region reached their final destinations under stress. The sixteen ambassadors of the Region returned from the summit on the night of Saturday 17, and were dropped off at the Mezam Divisional Delegation of Social Affairs. The fact that the Ministry of Social Affairs failed in their responsibility to completely fund transportation cost for the children to and from Yaounde meant that some of the kids were abandoned to their own devises.
A disappointed MP, Karen Mang Wung approached The Rambler crying: “Before our departure to Yaoundé, we were told by officials of the Delegation of Social Affairs that all transport expenses would be covered by the delegation but we were rather disappointed. I used my money to pay from Wum to Bamenda in the hope that I will be reimbursed but rather we were given tooth brushes, toothpaste and towels which are essential things we already had. After the session, the bus that carried us from Yaoundé left us in Bamenda to find our way home,” she lamented.
The constitution establishing the organization of Junior Parliamentarians states that any money spent for fares by the MPs should be reimbursed was thus violated. A handful of disappointed kids benefited from the charity of Lidwina Munting Ngwanwi. As a superintendent who accompanied the kids throughout the session in Yaoundé Ms. Munting, was forced to spend money from pocket to see the kids responsibly dismissed while other kids were helped by friends and relatives who live in Bamenda. Even petty financial motivation often given to the MPs at the end of parliamentary sessions was overlooked this time. One of the junior MPs summed up the disappointments in desperation “Our year is a bad year”
MPs barred from discussing strike grounded schools
The 16 junior parliamentarians drawn from the seven divisions of the Northwest were naturally expected to raise the issue of the plight of children in the Region. However, during the session in Yaounde, they were warned by officials of MINAS not to say a thing concerning the non-functional schools in the Northwest.
MPs like Zaid Aboubakar and Grace Kongor went to Yaoundé with intent to voice their discomfiture regarding the fact that their peers in the other eight Regions are at school while they are left out but they were told to consider that schools are operational. Discussions were diverted to issues like patriotism, cybercrimes, ICTs, the rights of children, Persons with Disability and HIV/AIDS.
During a question and answer forum in the presence of the President of the National Assembly Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, the kids questioned four ministers. The Minister of Secondary Education was questioned on why there are more trained teachers in city schools and less in rural schools, plus why the lack of computer laboratories and multimedia centres in rural schools.
The Minister of Public Health was asked why children in rural areas especially in the North continue to suffer from malaria. The Minister of Post and Telecommunication was queried on how youths can use the internet without being victims of cyber criminality. From the Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family, they inquired what can be done to limit child marriages. Answers from these big wigs were akin to vague explanations. “We are doing our best to make things better” was the utmost response from the ministers.
MPs deprived from touristic sites
Children MPs were initially told that they would visit at some touristic areas but it turned out not to be the case. The only area smelled was the museum where MPs were not even given the chance to go in and see what the museum stores but stood at the gatepost gazing at the museum from a distance.
All is well that ends well as MPs at the end adopted resolutions and tasks that would keep them busy when they get back home amongst which are; develop a culture of living together, cultivate a patriotic spirit, sensitize families and children on the harmful effects of cybercrimes, respect the free care of pathologies affecting children, advocate the provision of computers and qualified teachers in schools and strive for the intensification of moral education. The junior parliamentarians also agreed to meet at Divisional level once in three months. The meeting would enable them to evaluate their plans of action.