Last week, the Cameroon Minister of Defense, Joseph Beti Assomo, announced that 929 military recruits had been dismissed from the military for having fake certificates. The minister added that no legal action would be taken against the criminals. The minister, however, added that the criminals had signed an undertaking never to engage in any form of crime, adding that the criminals would be closely monitored and that henceforth, the screening of recruits will be more rigorous. Cameroon Concord News sent out a team to the streets of Yaoundé to get the opinions of Cameroonians and this is what some of them had to say. For purposes of anonymity, we will only use the last names of those interviewed.
Mr. Che (unemployed): I think it was a good thing the military did to rid itself of criminals who would have become an integral part of our defense forces. It is hard for a criminal to really become a good citizen. Because of their tricks, good citizens were left out. I think those who had good certificates but failed the exams should be brought in. However, the government should go after those who are manufacturers of fake certificates.
Mr. Ndip (IDP): What happened in the military is just a tip of the iceberg. Cameroonians have destroyed their country by engaging in criminal activities. How can we be sure that the military and Gendarmerie are not already full of people with fake certificates? The military has to conduct a real certificates audit for us to be sure that our security is in safe hands. We are now hearing that there are senior military officials with fake certificates. Can the military investigate this for us to be sure that we are really safe in this country?
Mr. Njoh (in Yaoundé to check on his documents): This does not come as a surprise given the rate of corruption in Cameroon. If almost a thousand fake certificates had been detected this time around, how many of such fake certificates holders are already in the police, army and gendarmerie? The government must conduct a total certificates audit of the civil service to make sure we have decent people in the system. Look at what has been happening in the country. Each time a criminal gang is dismantled, we realize that military men or police officers are part of the gang. This is testament to the fact that our uniformed officers are not men of honor. We still have to conduct more checks to sanitize the system.
Ms. Ngando (civil servant): I understand there is a lot of unemployment in the country, but those with fake certificates should not be considered as being unemployed. They do not have certificates and should not be part of the labor market. I have heard that there are lots of people in the civil service who are using the certificates of their brothers and sisters who are working abroad. Since their siblings will not be coming back to work in the country, they have now adopted the names and certificates of their siblings. This also needs to be checked out. In today’s Cameroon, we do not have to trust anybody. Our fellow citizens have become very fake.
Ms. Ebenye (unemployed): Since I had my first degree from the University of Buea two years ago, I have been looking for employment and everything seems to be impossible. Many people have been telling me that I must have a godfather if not I will never succeed. If the 929 criminals made their way into the military, it means they had godfathers and that was why those fake certificates had to be certified for them to be genuine. While the criminals have been sent home, the government must ensure that their networks and godfathers should never be active again. The country’s security forces should seek those networks and destroy them so that those of us with genuine certificates can have a place under the sun. I hear the student residential areas in Buea and Yaounde are the headquarters for the fabrication of these certificates. The government should investigate these allegations. These unfortunate situations are ruining our country’s reputation.
Mr. Agbor (retiree): This is no news. This practice has been going on for a very long time. If the government wants to clean up the system, it must come up with a system that will enable it to determine if certificates submitted for employment in the country are genuine. Like someone said today during Cameroon Calling on CRTV Radio, the government should come up with a consolidated database for all schools authorized in the country where those certificates can be certified before employment is granted to anybody. We now have recruits who have been trained in the handling of weapons and have been sent home. Are we sure they will not go home to form gangs or even join the ranks of Amba fighters to continue stoking the war that is tearing that part of the country apart? This is not the first time we are hearing of fake certificates in the country. Many years ago, FEICOM hired many women, most of whom were the wives of ministers and directors and who did not have the right certificates. It is alleged that some of those certificates came for the University of Yaounde II (SOA). The government should investigate the authorities of that university. Even officials of the ministry of higher education should be investigated because it is alleged that they are aware of some of those fake certificates.
More of the opinions will be published subsequently.
By Brayan Tambe Ashu