The Bamilekes, the Hausas, Fulanis, Sawa, Bassas, Fang, Beti and Ewondos are all feeling the pains deeply seeing the beautiful dream of a strong and proud United Republic of Cameroon-a country that was expected to stand tall in Sub Saharan Africa now losing its reason for being—an enlightened democracy and secure African state living in harmony with its neighbors.
Biya and his consortium of crime syndicates have destroyed the so-called One and Indivisible Cameroon. To be sure, Cameroon’s social fabric has been torn apart by political divisiveness and massive economic injustice against the people of Southern Cameroons now known as the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
Today, what is left of the United Republic of Cameroon is a nation that is increasingly being isolated, degenerating into a garrison state with highly placed civil servants, politicians and businessmen moving around in gun proof cars, armoured vehicles and bullet proof helmets.
Cameroon is virtually crumbling under Paul Biya’s watch-a man who as head of state has served longest in this position. The one million dollar question is, where is Biya leading the people of Cameroon and what will be in store for Cameroonians tomorrow as the one and indivisible is now at a fateful cross-road and facing an uncertain future?
Pro-Biya comedians and Biya himself will disagree with Cameroon Concord News Group, but we of this publication are urging Biya to reflect on what the US ambassador Peter Barlerin told him lately and begin with a fast transition.
An American ambassador in any nation in the world is a very important figure. He represents a nation that has generously provided support to poorer countries including Cameroon all around the globe. It is the world’s most powerful nation. The Americans and even the French are now aware that Biya conveniently surrounded himself with a corrupt Francophone Beti Ewondo political elite— cabinet ministers with no morals, no compunction, and nothing but an insatiable lust for power and women. All of them are in their second or third marriages and they have all been consumed by their personal political agendas and absorbed in domestic corruption and intrigues.
Mr. Biya has several such ministers—among them Justice Minister, Laurent Esso, who had his first kids with a Southern Cameroonian woman but who endorsed the idea that Ambazonians were the enemy and made the call for indiscriminate killing that includes Southern Cameroons elderly people and its women and children and the destruction of its cities and its villages, its properties and its infrastructure.
Mr. Biya indeed has several such ministers- among them again is a National Education Minister,Nalova Lyonga, who during her time as Rector of the Buea University ordered soldiers to rape and kill innocent Southern Cameroons students and a Higher Education Minister, Fame Ndongo, who is out to stifle anything that is Anglo-Saxon in Cameroon—who even makes a mockery of the presence of English speaking Cameroonians in their one and indivisible Cameroon.
Biya has successfully enveloped himself in an ideological siege with a ghetto mentality and selective native juju precepts, supported by a blind chorus of CPDM MPs and Senators that only echoes his distorted tune. Biya and his gang have constantly manipulated Cameroonian public opinion with national security concerns and falsely connect security to genuine Southern Cameroons demands.
The 85 year-old French Cameroun dictator delights in facing an inept political opposition headed by the Social Democratic Front. With these lame Cameroonian opposition parties sitting on the fringes of political despair, they have now become easy to co-opt in support of Biya’s misguided domestic policies against Southern Cameroonians all in the name of national unity and patriotism.
Biya still boast about Cameroon’s economic prowess and he is still dreaming of his emergence 2030 initiative when in fact Cameroon’s economy as a whole is in a state of stagnation and a handful of CPDM billionaires such as Baba Danpullo control the financial heart of the nation while tens of thousands of families are scrambling to survive.
95 per cent of citizens in the One and Indivisible Cameroon are living in poverty—three quarters of whom are children—while millions of dollars was paid to President Buhari and the Nigerian DSS to abduct and extradite the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia including top aides of his government. Tourism is diving, foreign investments are plunging, and the Southern Cameroons quest for independence is gaining momentum.
The corruption and criminality among top officials is staggering; more than 40 ministers, a prime minister, secretaries and CEO of state-owned companies have been convicted of crimes by the Special Criminal Court. Dozens more have been indicted, with some escaping to Europe and North America.
Biya has spent 37 years as head of state discriminating against Southern Cameroonians with his tribal government’s policy of unequal treatment, and then is now questioning Anglophone loyalty to the state of Cameroon.
Southern Cameroonian freedom fighters challenging Cameroon government troops in the Northern and Southern zones have revealed an open and bloody wound in the heart of the One and Indivisible Cameroonian society. This is a wound of a people sounding the alarm at what they feel is discrimination, marginalization and disregard of their needs. The United States and the European Union must take a good hard look at this Southern Cameroons wound.
Demographically, the country is facing a grave danger. Both Southern Cameroonians and French Cameroun citizens are leaving the country mainly for economic reasons and the lack of a prospect of ending the debilitating conflict in Southern Cameroons.
In particular, support for the war in Southern Cameroons is consistently trending downward in La Republique du Cameroun. Many French speaking Cameroonians now understand that Mr. Biya got it all wrong by declaring war against the Anglophone community.
Biya and his French Cameroun political elites have treated Southern Cameroonians like objects, to be used and abused. The Biya regime has violated Southern Cameroons human rights with brazen impunity and it will take decades for the wound to heal.
French speaking Cameroonians do not understand the meaning of being utterly overpowered by someone you have called “brother”, of having one’s house burnt down in the night, terrifying women and children, more than 77 villages destroyed and of losing the sense of having any control over one’s life. One would think that those who suffered during French government imposed policies such as La Prestation and La Cuvee (Force Labour) would treat others with care and sensitivity.
Cameroon Concord News Group does not intend to exempt Ambazonian militants of their role, but the actions of Biya and his Francophone ministers’ are inciting hostility and ultimately fostering violent extremism in Southern Cameroons. Biya’s errand boy Peter Mafany Musonge keeps using old and tired talking points about the situation in Southern Cameroons which have long been dismissed as empty, self-convincing gospel.
Biya has been speaking in support of decentralization, but he has never lifted a finger to advance it; Biya’s actions only point to the opposite direction. The children of Southern Cameroons both at home and abroad must determine their own destiny and not leave it to anybody not even the UN.
Time is not on Biya’s side, and even though Southern Cameroonians are suffering, violent extremism targeting French Cameroun will only increase. Without a carefully thought-out plan to gradually engage the Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, Africa’s next civil war will indeed by Cameroon.
Ending the war in Southern Cameroons and accepting that two states came together in 1961 to form a Federal Republic of Cameroon is not a charitable gift to Ambazonians. Only by accepting Southern Cameroonians rights to a state of their own will French Cameroun starts enjoying peace and security again.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai