Prior to and on December 31, 2018 many Cameroonians were all ears and speculating. They hoped that Biya’s traditional address to the nation would calm tested and frayed nerves and end the stupid two year long war in which uncountable lives have so far been lost and the economy mangled. Biya loyalists eventually, expectedly hailed his address which they said reflected the president’s “wisdom and deft approach to governance.”
But the teeming masses, especially those directly affected by the war thought otherwise. As far as they go, Biya and his advisers have been tactlessly intransigent. Biya’s threat to “neutralize” militants who didn’t drop their weapons was a thoughtless riot act, very unnecessary at a time the country was steadily buckling under, with countless of her teeming youths either killing or being killed. Biya, they insisted, ought to have been fatherly, softer, especially considering that his iron fist approach to solving the problem is hurting everyone else, including teeming Cameroonian masses in general and the soldiers and civilians being mowed down like disposable animals.
A public affairs analyst noted that the intractable nature of the conflict would have been mitigated, had regime hawks not been fuelling and deriving direct socio-economic gains from it. According to him, claims by Ambazonian separatists notwithstanding, the situation has been further worsened by bad governance, epitomized by social injustice across the board, maladministration and intolerance. He said that resorting to denial, time buying and heaping of resources on propaganda was merely postponing the evil day. “You don’t solve a problem by pretending that it doesn’t exist.” Rather, he noted, it is often advisable to invite the complainant, sit down with them and put the cards face up on the table. Papering visible cracks and forming money guzzling commissions is tantamount to playing the proverbial ostrich, he warned.
The Rambler investigations revealed that rather than douse the raging fire of war, Biya’s vow to exterminate militants intensified the latter’s resolve to fight on. A source said that some 40 Ambazonian militants out of an estimated three thousand have so far surrendered to the disarmament commission which Biya created late last year. Some others are said to be still considering how and when to negotiate safe access to the commission. The 40, we learnt, are being debriefed somewhere in Bali.
On the other hand, limited sections of the population are reportedly cooperating with the regular army entrusted with the mission of routing or “neutralizing” the rebel fighters. The reason we got is that the biting effects of the ‘ghost towns’ on the people, the kidnappings and extortion of ransoms plus other acts of incivility on the part of the militants is turning the tables of trust from “faceless liberators” to a “visible elements of law and order.”
But the military, who themselves have on occasion gone berserk, raping, killing, looting and burning homesteads are not having it easy defeating the militants outright. Relatively, they are still having a hell of a time containing the determined “Amba boys” on the one hand and completely winning the confidence of the people on the other. This is further explained by the fact of people saying that “Biya’s New Year address was a mere babble. That it were best he kept quiet instead of saying the things that he said in the address. According to this class of individuals, “the war would be fought to the end and won.”
Meanwhile, the Northwest, like most of the Southwest Region is almost in complete shutdown. Only two Sub-Divisions out of the many in the Region are still functional in the true sense of the word. They are Bamenda l and Santa. Roads have been dug up, bridges destroyed and other vital infrastructures ruined. Most school gates remain tightly shut.
Elsewhere, administrative buffoonery and other forms of ineptitude continue to be perpetrated. Certain government officials are busy fanning the embers of war with a naïve view to being seen as punishing “enemies of the state.” They take ridiculous decisions that include denying access to food and other forms of basic assistance to detainees connected with the Anglophone crisis. An example is that of the charity going by the name Ayah Foundation, known to have taken succour to refugees in most parts of the English speaking Regions and Nigeria. But at the Yaounde Maximum Security Prison where about a thousand of the people are being detained reportedly under poor conditions, the provisions were rejected by prison officials and foundation members ordered to beat a hasty retreat.
Other reports talk of sleazy practices, whereby some local administrators and elected municipal authorities have been stealing relief materials, including food items, while those for whom the government destined the items are pining away at internally displaced people’s camps and in the bushes.
Any how one looks at the situation; it becomes only clear that many top brass are ironically working for the war to continue and not the other way round. Because they are benefitting from the misfortune of fellow citizens in many ways.
By Charlie Ndi Chia