While Cameroonians grapple with life and the fear of a civil war, there is increasing belief that change is in the offing. According to our sources in Yaounde who have elected to be anonymous, a new republic will soon emerge in Cameroon as the old one led by Mr. Biya is set to crumble soon. It is an open secret in Yaounde that the 85-year-old leader is fighting for his dear life in Geneva, Switzerland, where he has been seeking quality medical care since he left New York some three weeks ago. Though members of his inner cycle have been working hard to keep information about his health under wraps, details about his failing health have begun emerging, as his stay in a Swiss hotel gets longer by the day. Due to age, Mr. Biya is battling all types of age-related issues and, according to a source close to the ailing dictator, he is gradually running out of time. If care is not taken, he will soon be returning home, but this time around to bid farewell to friends and family.
He has, for so many years, been suffering from lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems, but this time around it is a malignant cancer that might finally deliver the coup de grace as the Octogenarian’s health is really unsettling. It should be recalled that over a decade ago, it was rumored that Mr. Biya had died in a Swiss hospital, but the strong man emerged a few days later to challenge his detractors. However, this time around, he might not have the same opportunity to declare that he would be around again for a long time. It is believed that anybody, no matter how rich, cannot be the picture of health at such an age. Mr. Biya has been under enormous pressure in recent times as his country falls apart. The burden of responsibility and the guilt of failure have taken a huge toll on his health and this is showing on him. It is increasingly being rumored within government circles that it will be a miracle for him to pull himself out of the grip of such multiple health problems.
His health has been concerning to some of his collaborators, but things took a turn for the worse when Anglophones decided to challenge his authority. The 85-year-old-dictator has been priding himself on the pseudo-peace he has established in Cameroon through corruption and intimidation. But in October 2016, Anglophones who could no longer play spectator to Mr. Biya’s tragicomedy decided that it was time for them to draw the world’s attention to the political tragedy and economic failure that have been playing out in the country for close to thirty-five years.
Demonstrations by teachers and lawyers in October 2016 rapidly degenerated into calls for federalism which the government promptly rejected and resorted to the only method of governance it uses to address issues in the country – intimidation and corruption. But Anglophones leaders were tired of those Machiavellian methods, arguing that a federal system would empower the people and bring development closer to them. If that were to become true, it would diminish the powers of the central government and those around the aging leader will lose leverage and money; two things they are not prepared to let go.
They then had to activate their trade mark violence and Anglophone leaders were arrested and taken to Yaounde, a decision that has come back to haunt them. The Anglophone region has become ungovernable despite the huge deployment of troops and the mass killing of demonstrators on October 1, 2017. Mass graves are popping up all over the region and this is giving the government a bad name. The government spokesperson and Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma, an ex-convict because of his active role in the 1984 coup in Cameroon, had earlier declared that only seven persons had been killed as if seven lives were not important. Today, there is a huge cloud of doubt and fear hovering over the two Anglophone regions. Schools are not in session. Lawyers are yet to call off their strike and university students still have doubts about returning to school in a location wherein many of their mates were raped and others made to drink raw sewage. The government is at its wit’s end. Anglophones have made up their minds. The injustice has to be addressed once and for all or they will walk away from the fake union that was put together by former President Amadou Ahidjo.
To reach out to the English-speaking minority, the ruling party, known by many Cameroonians as a crime syndicate, has dispatched its members to the region to preach their own version of peace to the people, that is, after they have killed many innocent people and dumped their bodies in mass graves. But such a move is not going to bear the type of fruits they want. The people are determined to see the wrongs of the past righted. The delegations are carrying with them lots of food and drinks believing that such a move will soften the people’s stance. But the people don’t need food and drinks. They want a country wherein their children will have the same opportunities like Francophones.
Mr. Biya’s thirty-five years in power have been like an ill-wind. They have never really blown any good to the struggling masses. The country’s roads are among the worst in the world. Hospitals have been reduced to mortuaries for the poor. For thirty-five years, Mr. Biya has never built a hospital that can take care of his numerous health problems in Cameroon. Even when there are hospitals, the equipment is either too outdated or lights fail every 30 minutes. Health insurance is still a foreign concept in Cameroon and out-of-pocket consultation fees are too expensive for many Cameroonians, especially those who are unemployed. Many parts of the country are still in profound darkness and despite efforts by donors to address this issue, the government has been doing a good job at embezzling the funds.
Today, many Cameroonians are looking forward to a third republic. The second republic headed by Mr. Biya has been a disaster to the people of this country. Cameroonians look forward to a change of government which many hold could come sooner rather later. With Mr. Biya’s health declining, it is obvious that change will soon be heading to Cameroon. It is time for those in positions of leadership to start thinking of the next phase in the country’s life. Mr. Biya belongs to the past. He has been served by the country for more than sixty years. His entire education was paid for by the taxpayer and the country is still paying huge bills because of the expensive lifestyle he has adopted. Currently, he is with more than thirty persons in Geneva where they are lodging in the most expensive hotel in the country and this bills will be paid by a country whose economy is on its knees.
To many Cameroonians, a change of government will be a welcome relief. The current leaders have failed them. The leaders have worked very hard to feather their own nests while leaving the country in abject poverty. The news of the “monarch” grappling with multiple health conditions tells the people that a new republic is looming large on the horizon and they are calling on all stakeholders to take appropriate measures so that the major issues facing the country can be dealt with in a democratic and peaceful manner. They hold that if the country is in chaos, it is because of the president whose hallmark has been to divide the people so as to rule them. They argue that even the Anglophone problem can be easily dealt with if and when new leaders emerge.
Cameroonians are ready for change. They want a new republic that will place the people’s wellbeing at the center of government actions and policies. They want a system that will not be predicated on one person. They argue that Mr. Biya’s system has rolled the country into the dark ages and they are calling on future leaders to point the country in a different direction. They hope the transition will be properly managed to ensure they do not end up with what many call the “dictator’s legacy” also known as civil wars. They also argue that Cameroon can take care of its problems and that the system should be cleansed of extremists who have been fanning the embers of conflict between the Anglophone minority and the government. Today, there is a general consensus that federalism will help douse the fire in the Anglophone regions if government officials know how to navigate the murky waters created by people like Fame Ndongo, Issa Tchiroma and Laurent Esso. Though on its knees, Cameroonians hold that with good leadership, the country will easily emerge from its own ashes like the proverbial phoenix, that is, if Biya’s men do not cease power and return to their old ways.
By our Senior Intel Officer in Yaounde