Blood and intrigues have earned President Paul Biya Cameroon Concord News Man of the Year nomination. This may seem unprecedented but justifiable. Blood and intrigues are the defining attributes of Paul Biya’s presidency. Indeed, blood and intrigues are at its highest as we write. They, therefore merit special attention in our choice of our man of the year.
The choice of Mr Biya as Cameroon Concord News Man of the Year 2016 is not without difficulties. The first difficulty is that it is unprecedented and requires some explanation for reasonable people to contextualize and understand.
We are conscious that no matter what explanation we may give, there will be significant questions begging for answers. The choice is unconventional and fails to meet the conventional criteria for the choice of a classic man of the year. But we hasten to state that this choice is not intended to celebrate any remarkable achievement of Mr Paul Biya for the public good. Far from that, it is intended to create international awareness and focus on the acts and conduct of the man whom if the international community fails to act promptly, may set the entire sub-region on an internecine war of attrition and possible genocide.
President Paul Biya is an African strongman who over a period of thirty-four years has established an absolute brutal dictatorship. During these long years in power, he has succeeded to make Cameroon a deeply divided nation. He is a master of the politics of ethnicity.
His staying power is mired in dividing and playing one ethnic group against the others in order to compel subservience. His reign is characterized by a state of fear, a permanent state of emergency symbolized by daily motions of support broadcast by the national radio-television network and published by the national daily Cameroon Tribune. These motions of support convey a sublime sense of potential political instability, fear and the anxiety of a nation at war with its soul.
In thirty-four years President Biya has established a system of government which may be characterized as a pyramid scheme of institutional corruption. With it, he manipulates, controls and dominates Cameroon’s political life. From the summit of this corrupt enterprise, he politicizes and supervises a supposed war against corruption. He relies on this war against corruption to keep in check a frightened and docile nation.
Among the many victims of this war are, some ambitious members of his crime syndicate who initiated a premature contest for power; at a moment Biya needed their unalloyed support to eternalize power. For daring, he put them in jail. The next are the rats in Paul Biya’s Alibaba Empire of corruption. They are the gate-keepers of the corrupt empire. Their crime is that they helped themselves beyond their permitted limit from the sesame treasure of Paul Biya’s prurient corrupt government. While he has encouraged and promoted this category of stooges, he has on occasion sacrificed them as disposable fodder aimed at concealing or deflating international attention and spotlight on the dire consequences of his failed economic policies, systemic corruption, egregious violations and crass misgovernance.
The third category is made up of potential troubling witnesses whom he brought too close to his regime of personal power, but whose long term allegiance, he cannot vouchsafe. To instill fear and compel allegiance from the political power elite he created and nurtured to serve him and him alone, he created a Special Criminal Court which he uses against adversaries, real or apparent at his will and caprices.
A key consideration in our choice of Mr Paul Biya as Cameroon Concord News Man of the Year is his presidency of blood and intrigues. These are key attributes on which his presidency was firmly established from inception. From one stage-managed attempted coup d’état aimed at expunging the lingering political influence of his “illustrious predecessor” Ahmadou Ahidjo an attempted coup d’état which was savagely repressed was organized. The toll in human and material cost of the violent repression has never been made public. Timid attempts by Northern Cameroon’s power elite to seek an answer to this lingering and smoldering powder keg has so far been ignored.
That massacre set the stage for President Paul Biya to establish a platform for the fulfillment of a long term French- inspired ambition to completely wipe out the internationally recognized identity of the Southern Cameroons as a means of securing its gulf of Guinea oil economy. President Biya engineered and enacted a law re-emphasizing and clarifying the identity of La Republique du Cameroun and its inherited boundaries at independence on January 1, 1960. This action was the powder keg that ignited the identity crisis that has bedeviled Cameroon ever since, with the Southern Cameroons arguing with international law and history on its side that by redefining its identity within its international recognized borders consistent with its international identity at the UN and the AU,, La Republique du Cameroun must withdraw its forces and administrators on the territory of the Southern Cameroons to its said internationally recognized boundaries forthwith.
The ongoing mayhem, crimes against humanity and a drift towards potential genocide in the territory of the Southern Cameroons perpetrated by forces deployed by President Paul Biya to suppress a popular uprising clamoring for freedom and independence arose from resistance to annexation, cultural asphyxiation and colonial imposition. The ongoing uprising therefore arises from the arrogance of power, political and geostrategic choices that are endangering the peace and security in the gulf of Guinea requiring urgent United Nations Intervention.
The plethora of deliberate but uninvestigated human disasters in Lake Nyos, the Nsam fire disaster, the University of Yaounde Zero Mort student massacres, the University of Buea students massacred during various student protests, the February 28, 2008 massacre of peaceful protesters all over the national territory, the recent Eseka train disaster and persistent shameful attempts to conceal responsibility for these crimes against humanity bear the stamp of presidential responsibility. The legitimate question to ask is who stands to benefit from these crimes if not the President who holds the constitutional mandate to protect all citizens and uphold fundamental freedoms?
The use of the constitutional institutions of governance like the National Assembly and the Judiciary as tools for the entrenchment of tyranny and oppression makes President Paul Biya, an imperial president, endowed with the power of life and death over a citizenry resigned to their fate and the forces of nature for survival.
Rather than confront the ills afflicting the nation, like the institutional pauperization of the masses, the paucity of basic necessities like water, electricity, affordable medical care, road infrastructure, and rising insecurity, the President relies on these depravities as political tools to compel allegiance and political control.
The resolution of the Bakassi crisis was supposed to be celebrated as a defining achievement of a Biya presidency, but the Southern Cameroons problem of which Bakassi is a significant component if not satisfactorily resolved, will lead to reigniting with ferocious intensity, the Bakassi crisis with sub-regional and regional consequences.
The President declared war against Boko Haram from a foreign capital, Paris. That again was an unprecedented. However, while due credit must be given to the Cameroon Army for their war effort against Boko Haram, the economic neglect which was exploited to recruit Cameroonians into these terrorist organization must be addressed. Doing so needs adequate resources and a national Marshall Development plan which President Biya has in thirty-four years failed to establish. Cameroon is instead economically on the decline and has become a heavily indebted nation, mortgaging the future of the nation far into posterity.
Without any form of stylistic felicity, Cameroon Concord News holds the firm opinion that under the circumstances painted above, Cameroon is living on the heart pulse of one individual. There is no visible possibility of democratic change of government in Cameroon. The institutional framework does not exist. There is no constitutional court envisaged by the Constitution to adjudicate on constitutional issues including the political transition, should there be a constitutional imperative. This is a powerful indication that Mr Biya does not envisage retiring from politics and relinquishing power through constitutional means.
President Paul Biya is undoubtedly the undisputed heart pulse of a nation of twenty-three million people who are living at his pleasure. He is deified by his supporters who additionally credit him for being the master of time and destiny of the nation. One of them, Professor Fame Ndongo claimed the status of the President’s slave and invited the nation to follow. These attributes confer considerable power and authority on President Paul Biya next to, if not at par with God. This indeed, is the problem with Cameroon.
By nominating Mr Biya Cameroon Concord News Man of the Year, Cameroon Concord Group does not in any way subscribe to or validate these attributes or the policies of Mr Biya that have earned him this nomination. Cameroon is besieged from the East, the North and now the Southern Cameroons in international conflicts. These conflicts are a product of a deliberate policy of blood and intrigues.
Behind this facade of the power of blood and intrigues, there are visible cracks on the walls of absolute power and the tyranny of absolute personal power. Will the His Excellency the pulse of the nation, the master and controller of time, beat the timeless time of one and only true God to mend the visible cracks to sustain his eternal power? The answer lies in a clear understanding of the parable of the rich fool.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai
Cameroon Concord News Group