We are completely at a loss for words. We have been trying to wrap our minds around what is happening in Cameroon, but we are yet to achieve that goal. Success in this area seems to be a distant tomorrow affair. Things are gradually spiraling out of control from both ends.
In Yaoundé, the government is losing its grip on power. Scandals are destroying the crime syndicate that has ruled the country for 36 years. CAF’s withdrawal of the right to host the 2019 African Nations Cup has opened a can of worms that might sweep an entire government out of power.
The country’s ministers are accusing each other for the collapse of the plan put in place to hoodwink the world into believing that things are working out well in Cameroon. The population is devastated while the government is trying to put on a brave face.
It never rains, but it pours. After CAF, there was more embarrassment for the criminal enterprise made in the mold of the Sicilian Mafia. The World Bank recently released a report indicting the country’s government of corruption, overspending and misappropriation of funds.
This has left many government officials scrambling for solutions, as the country’s president, Paul Biya, also known as the “monarch” keeps an ominous silence which is destroying many of his ministers who fear they could be arrested anytime or kicked out of government.
The regime has never been this weak. Those who have been propping the government are gradually showing signs of fatigue. Years of lying and defrauding the state are clearly taking a toll on the health of these key actors.
The economy is crumbling; the population has lost hope in the country. The government’s mismanagement of the country and its determination to hang on to power despite losing many elections has pushed the population into the worst form of despair.
This situation has been made all the more desperate by tribalism and nepotism which have become the government’s tools of administration par excellence. Tribalism that had very little space in Cameroon’s politics under the country’s first president, Ahmadou Ahidjo has become a key component of the country’s politics.
In Cameroon, power belongs to a few, most of whom are from a particular ethnic group. For those who belong to the criminal enterprise known as the CPDM government and are not from the ethnic group that is calling the shots in Cameroon, there is the belief that if they hang on to what they have, they could change the destiny of their children.
To most of them, they just want to feather their nests and they know things could fall apart anytime soon. They are therefore doing everything they can to pick up any dimes and pennies they meet in their path. The impunity that has characterized the current regime is driving many government officials to ridiculous extents.
It is rumored that the Secretary-General at the presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, who was in charge of the 2019 AfCON development projects is gradually coming to terms with the fact that he could be arrested anytime. His crime is known by all in Cameroon.
He established many fictitious companies to which he granted many major projects for the 2019 AfCON on mutual agreement and many of those projects have not taken off the ground and the “monarch” is now aware of the pranks his collaborators have been playing on him.
The World Bank report which clearly states that projects in Cameroon cost six times more than similar projects in Cote d’Ivoire and other countries comes at a time when the government is struggling for answers to the many questions Cameroonians have been asking about the government’s ability to build proper infrastructure for the country.
The truth is out and this has significantly diminished the government and many people around the world have been thinking that with such a huge setback, the government could be easily led to the negotiating table where it would cut a deal with Southern Cameroonian separatists.
But for many weeks now, Southern Cameroonian separatists have become their own enemies. They have decided to poison themselves. The devil has moved into their midst and has taken control of everything. Common sense has taken French leave and things are falling apart. The fighters have been shooting themselves in the foot for some time now and this is weakening their resolve to deliver good punches to the government and where it hurts the most.
Over the last two weeks, most of the rebel groups have focused on eliminating each other, giving the enemy the respite and time to plan on how to put the rebellion out of business. This is bad news for the ordinary people who have been living in the jungles Southern Cameroons for more than a year where they are expecting to hear victory songs for an independent Southern Cameroons.
Hundreds of Southern Cameroonian fighters have had to bite the dust in recent days because of the chaos and disunity that have gradually replaced the unity and discipline that have been their hallmarks for a long time.
Some Southern Cameroonians have already been bought over by the government and they are working with government troops to betray the cause. Things are really going down the hill for the rebellion, especially as key leaders in the Diaspora cannot even come together to establish a common ground.
They seem to be drunk with the little influence they have and this is causing them to lose sight of the overall objective of the struggle. Even members of the international community who had thought Southern Cameroonians were making some inroads are gradually throwing up their hands in despair as government troops continue to slaughter Southern Cameroonian fighters in many parts of the two English-speaking regions.
The knife has finally decided to turn inwards. Instead of facing their common enemy, Southern Cameroonian fighters have decided to play into the enemy’s hands, and this is costing so many youthful lives. Many donors are already withdrawing their support and this could herald the demise of a rebellion that had every chance of succeeding. Losing the unity of purpose that has characterized the struggle is really bad news for many Southern Cameroonians.
What is more disturbing is the apple of discord. Southern Cameroonian fighters and their leaders are still very far from Buea, but they seem to have lost their focus. They are failing to keep their eye on the ball. They must know that the enemy is clearly somewhere else. The enemy is not their fellow fighter. They must simply agree that there will be differences of opinion, especially regarding strategy, but that should not be reason enough to start a new war and split the group.
They need to remind themselves of the original objective. The people on Ground Zero have taken the brunt of the government’s massive and merciless attack for two years and this will not be a good way to reward them for their bravery and loyalty.
The people could not have been exposed to this disaster just for the leaders to start squabbling over little issues that can easily be addressed through negotiations. Disagreement is as old as man, but leaders must always recognize such cracks on the wall early enough and take actions that will keep the team together.
These leaders should have looked into the mirror of history to find examples that could guide them to success. The African National Congress (ANC) has a template that deserves some attention.
While fighting Apartheid, the ANC had to work with other groups in order to achieve the cardinal objective. Southern Cameroonian leaders must cast off their egos if they really think about the people on Ground Zero who have religiously listened to them and continue to look up to them for salvation.
Why are these leaders fighting? Are they fighting for popularity? Are they already seeing positions when many of us are still seeing hardship and desperate days ahead? Why are they going after reputation when from the onset it was the sorry plight of the people that constituted the basis for this struggle? These leaders should understand that reputation comes without merit and goes without deserving. They should read their history books in order not to lose their focus.
They should remember that Oliver Tambo, the man who engineered the victory against Apartheid, never lived to see an independent South Africa. But Mandela, the man who incarnated the struggle, made sure his name was etched on the stones of history.
While accepting the presidency in 1994 in South Africa, Mandela openly acknowledged that the presidency was clearly that of Oliver Thambo, the small but smart man, who went into exile just to ensure his people were free from the grip of Apartheid.
It was on the basis of his selflessness that Mandela renamed the Johannesburg International Airport as the Oliver Thambo International Airport. Oliver never lived to see his people free, but his name is permanently on their lips and they are genuinely grateful for his role in the unseating of Apartheid.
Southern Cameroonian leaders need to know that the enemy is strong and he is rejoicing when he hears that the knife has turned inwards. They must stop playing into the hands of the enemy. Killing each other is no good news to the people on Ground Zero who have nowhere to turn to.
Yielding to the temptations of popularity and recognition is like herding Southern Cameroonians to an abattoir. They will never be forgiven if they betray their people. Only a globally recognized inclusive dialogue should herald the end of this rebellion on which a lot rides. Stop playing into the hands of the enemy!
A Cameroon Concord News Group Production