Opinion: Cameroon Politics, Recycling tribal cohorts

“The world suffers a lot not because of the actions of bad people; but much more from the silence of good people.” That is my paraphrase of what Napoleon Bonaparte, the legendary French statesman and renowned soldier, lashed out to an un-listening world more than a century ago.

Napoleon’s impressions about the absurdity of human nature kept recurring in my mind when I was trying to review the actions of President Paul Biya in the recent past, especially in the wake of the escalation of the Anglophone crisis.

My candid opinion is that if the Anglophone crisis which is threatening the very foundation of the nation is not well handled from the top, then the forces of disintegration will get the upper hand. Like in many cases in the past, I take the risk again to speak out the minds of the majority of Cameroonians considering the plethora of actions that the regime has taken so far in an attempt to normalize the situation but nothing seems to be working.

   The Southern Cameroons map

My conviction, which is shared by the majority who are feeling the pinch of our diminishing patriotism is that if Cameroon is eventually torn apart today, it will be due to the tribal, ill-motivated, destructive and feeling less politics of the Bya regime.

After the creation of the National Commission for Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, whose composition is made up essentially of the old foxes, President Biya has gone ahead and constituted a new national electoral commission made up of the same kind of people.

What the membership of the two institutions created tells us is that this nation is ruled by a cohort of individuals selected from some tribes that must continue to lord it over other Cameroonians who must remain excluded from the decision making and resource sharing centres of the nation.

President Biya has succeeded in cowering the majority of Cameroonians by systematically empowering these tribal persons materially and politically while at the same time impoverishing the rest so that the preferred cohort can continue to maintain their strangle hold on the resources of the land.

Cameroon has been reduced to a nation where everything revolves around President Biya and his tribal lieutenants who go and come, never leaving the national scene until they die.

While the majority of Cameroonians are angered and fed up with the system, not many can summon the courage to voice out their feelings. Rather, they keep grumbling in silence; doing things that leave their inner selves depleted. At worst, they even keep pointing fingers of blame at the wrong persons thereby diverting attention from the real people causing our problems.

At times, one is tempted to believe that there is a diabolical political strategy put in place by these people so that they can rule this country for ever. If it was Senator Tabe Tando who ordered internet shut down in the Anglophone regions of the country, how come it have taken but the fiat of President Biya’s verbal order for it to be restored? Some may say President Biya acted on advice from Senator Tabe Tando.

That too would be ridiculous because the world knows Biya as someone who hardly takes advice from anyone, even if it came from his God father the Pope. For Biya to take that punitive measure to shut down internet in Anglophone regions shows the ill will of the regime towards Anglophones. If Tabe Tando’s ‘ advice’ was for something that would favour Anglophones, Biya would never have acted that fast.

The swift manner in which the internet was restored also shows that many problems in the country can be better handled even if they are not completely resolved if President Biya had the will to see them adequately mitigated. We find ourselves in a country where the top most leadership preaches one thing by word of mouth but practices something completely opposite on ground.

Take bilingualism for instance. We all know that actions speak louder than words. If President Biya sincerely wants Cameroon to be a bilingual country where English and French are of equal status, then why has he not addressed the nation in the English language even for once after being in power for 35 years? Does he not know that merely calling on Cameroonians to strive to be bilingual without him showing the example is to indirectly tell Francophones not to mind what he says, but to emulate his actions which speak louder to Francophones than his words?

Take the gangrene of corruption that is virtually eating up the nation also. How can you verbally tell Cameroonian officials not to be corrupt when in practice you are against transparency and accountability? Or tell them not to siphon our money and take to foreign banks when all of your own investments, assets and money is saved abroad?

Is it not an exhibition of nonchalance towards Anglophones to note that the Biya regime blatantly refuses to learn? That representatives of former Southern Cameroons staged a walk out from Nigeria’s East regional House of representatives when that Government refused to listen to the cries of Southern Cameroons; and that the historic walk out paved the way for Southern Cameroons to be severed out of Nigeria and Yaounde does not see that as something to take precautions against? Can such a walk out not be repeated here?

By virtue of its numerical strength, the francophone group is the suitor in the marriage between the two colonial groups that came together to form present day Cameroon. This means that Francophobes are supposed to be wooing Anglophones instead of humiliating, arm twisting or out rightly exhibiting wickedness and hatred towards them.

For that is what actions like internet disconnection in the South West and North West regions, exclusion from decision making places and this utter neglect of Anglophone regions in terms of development means.

In Ejagham we say ‘Obingha njoh offiah mkpuhn,” which translated into the English language means; “You cannot be calling a dog (or any other pet for that matter) and at the same time swinging a dangerous baton that could shatter the head of that pet.” In a love affair, the wooing has much to do with, “Rebih oboh mmeh nkack wah ejuhm”, which, translated loosely into the English language means, “giving is not just the first and foremost thing, but everything when it comes to wooing the woman of your heart.”

How can you send a thief to catch a thief? Why should a man who has spent his entire life promoting the interest of his tribal group and championing the diabolical politics of exclusion, marginalization and so on be made chairman of a national commission that is supposed to inculcate the ideals for which the chairman has stood against? For all of Musonge’s eight years as Prime Minister of this country, we did not see anything in him that portrays him as a lover of diversity, equity and the good of all.

The glaring evidence that Musonge lived his time as PM trying to position his ethnic group at the centre of national affairs is the fact that after he left office, his tribal cabal in the person of Ephraim Inoni took over. Unlike crafty Musonge, Inoni’s overzealousness in championing these divisive tendencies landed him where he is today: Kondengue Maximum Security Prison in Yaounde.

After he has succeeded in pitting tribal groups in the South West region at each others’ throat, Musonge had embarked on doing same between South West and North West regions before he was assigned the task of promoting bilingualism and multiculturalism in Cameroon as a whole.

This will not work. If there is any lesson that President Biya must learn now, it is that Cameroonians are fed up with his continuous recycling of these tribal cohorts as if they are the only people who own Cameroon.