Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, on Friday, March 2, 2018, announced his “new cabinet” which many analysts said was long overdue given the political issues that have plagued the country for more than fifteen months.
The cabinet, which includes Anglophones such as Mr.Atanga Nji, Minister of Territorial Administration, and Ms. Nalova Lyonga, Minister of Secondary Education, is currently the subject of many discussions across the country and among the country’s Diaspora.
Speaking to ordinary Cameroonians, the Cameroon Concord News Group gathered that Mr. Biya’s cabinet reshuffle is actually change without change as he has simply reshuffled his card.
A Southern Cameroonian fighter who called the Cameroon Concord News Group’s global headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, shortly after the “pseudo reshuffle” said that Mr. Biya’s false steps would continue to motivate them.
“We will continue to strike fear in the government’s mind until we are taken seriously. I have just listened to the cabinet reshuffle, but it makes no sense to me. Our goal is to restore our independence and we will achieve that some day. The government is trembling. Last week, we conducted a successful operation in Muyenge in the South West Region and after we had left, the government rolled out its old equipment to come and stop us from advancing. Our objective is to head to Buea to wreak havoc. We need to chase the noisy governor out of Buea. He has to return to his own part of the country. This cabinet reshuffle tells me that Anglophones do not count and will never count in Cameroon. If Atanga Nji and Nalova Lyonga are considered as the best among us, then we are doomed.”
According to a Southern Cameroonian living in North America, it is clear that Mr. Biya is not taking Southern Cameroonians seriously despite the crisis which is tearing the country apart.
The Southern Cameroonian, who elected anonymity, said that “the fighting must continue. Mr. Biya is taking us for a ride. We cannot be complaining about a system that has marginalized us for decades and he is appointing the same people who have been responsible for the Southern Cameroons crisis.”
“It is unbelievable that he will be rewarding Atanga Nji who has been rejected by his people in the North West Region. Atanga Nji, an ex-convict, will find it hard to operate in the North West. We have rejected him and he should not deceive himself that he is representing anybody. He is surely representing Mr. Biya and his bunch of old people who are out of touch with the political reality in Southern Cameroons,” the Washington-based Southern Cameroonian said.
“Mr. Biya does not seem to understand what is happening in Cameroon. The Southern Cameroonians appointed do not represent anybody. This decision will not go down well with many Cameroonians, especially Southern Cameroonians, who have rejected the current political class. More people will still have to die for Mr. Biya to understand that his choices are not the best for this country,” he regretted
“How can Nalova Lyonga who caused Buea University students to be beaten and made to drink raw sewage be rewarded with a ministerial position? Does it imply Mr. Biya only likes people who work against their own people? I am really disappointed and I think the current crisis tearing the country apart will continue for a very long time,” he lamented.
According to another Southern Cameroonian living in West Africa who spoke with the Cameroon Concord News Group Chairman, it is obvious that “our country is in for tough times,” the vocal Cameroonian who has been a close observer of the country’s political scene said, adding that “our government does not understand that it is dealing with very angry citizens. Cameroon is a ticking time bomb and Mr. Biya’s action are only helping that bomb to go off when the right moment comes.”
“Cameroonians must rise up against this government that is making a mockery of them. How can we be complaining about bad governance and Mr. Biya is still appointing people who have been around for decades and have never really posted any impressive results?” he asked, stressing that “using the same people to run the country for a long time only creates the right conditions for inaction and laziness.”
“I thought Mr. Biya will bring into the government some members of the Anglophone Diaspora in a bid to appease the angry Diaspora that is doing everything to destabilize the country. If Mr. Biya does not reconcile with the Southern Cameroons Diaspora, he will be having lots of sleepless nights. The Southern Cameroons Diaspora is hell-bent on making its influence felt and over the last fifteen months, it has gone the extra mile of financing the purchase and shipment of weapons to Cameroon and these weapons are sending many young soldiers to an early grave,” he said.
“The Diaspora is a huge source of financing for the country’s development projects if the government partners with it. But if Mr. Biya and his collaborators continue to disrespect and ignore the Diaspora, then they have accepted to leave a life of instability for a long time.
As we speak, there are shipments of weapons heading to Cameroon and these weapons have been purchased by the Southern Cameroons Diasporaand some members of the Francophone Diaspora are already joining the struggle and are willing to make huge financial contributions,” the highly intellectual Cameroonian said.
“We cannot continue to take Mr. Biya’s mess. He has ruined the country and if care is not taken, he might take the country with him to the grave. Mr. Biya needs to be called to order and only a huge people power revolution can make him understand that he has taken the country down the wrong path. Our country has deteriorated so badly. We do not have good roads and our hospitals are not the best places for anybody who is critically sick. What type of country is this? Where on earth will some people be in the political arena for more than 40 years. Cameroonians have to come together to stop this bunch of old people who are destroying our country.If something is not down now, our country will go down the drain and future generations will have to pay a huge price,” he stressed.
Other observers have indicated that despite Mr. Biya’s gimmick, many Southern Cameroonians are still arguing that Southern Cameroonians will never be given any strategic positions in Cameroon. The finance, communication, foreign affairs, economy and planning as well as the defense portfolios are still being held by Francophones. Atanga Nji may be at the ministry of territorial administration, but that ministry has been sapped of its powers as election organization is now in the hands of ELECAM and decentralization is anything but serious. The presidency will continue to dictate to stooges like Atanga Nji and he will be used as a rubber stamp.
From an interview with Cameroonians on the streets, the Cameroon Concord News Group noticed that there was a lot of frustration. Jean-Philip Mboule, a street vendor in Yaounde, said that to be a member of government in Cameroon, you must be called Paul. He cited a few names like Paul Biya, Elung Paul, Paul Atanga Nji, Paul Motaze and Paul Tasong who are all members of the current government. For women, they must be called Pauline. That’s why Nalova Lyonga Pauline Egbe has made it into the cabinet. He joked that before long, all Cameroonians will be rebaptized and their baptismal name will surely be Paul or Pauline.
From every indication, Cameroon is moving toward more serious andtougher times. The change that a cabinet reshuffle is supposed to bring does not exist in Mr. Biya’s cabinet reshuffle that has offended instead of appeasing Cameroonians.
With Boko Haram maiming people in the North, Central African rebels kidnapping innocent people for ransom and Southern Cameroonians making the country ungovernable, Cameroon is sliding down a slippery slope. Mr. Biya has missed another opportunity to hold the country together. If he is alive and healthy, then he should know he has created a storm that might sweep him out of power sooner rather than later.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai