There is a general belief that things are getting better in the country’s two English-speaking regions as some calm has returned but it is obvious that it will take time for genuine and sustainable peace to return to the two restless regions.
The new-found peace may still be hiding some dangers and it will not be out of place to see some destruction and killings in many parts of the two English-speaking regions of the country.
In Kumba, a police officer was brought down yesterday by people suspected of being Amba fighters and this incident is a sordid reminder of a past when it was a death sentence to be a uniformed officer in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon.
While confrontations between the military and Southern Cameroonian fighters are rare today, it cannot be said that the war, which has raged for more than five years, is over.
Today, many cars can go to Mamfe, Ekondo-titi and many towns in the two English-speaking regions, but the fear of being caught up in crossfire is still there as the issues which triggered the Southern Cameroons crisis have not yet been addressed.
More killings have also been taking place in the Northwest region. Two soldiers were also sent to an early grave this week and this underscores the fact that until genuine dialogue takes place, Cameroon might never come out of its madness of killings.
If the killings have reduced, it is more because government troops have been ordered not to kill like they used to kill in the past.
Their recklessness with their guns is to blame for the streams of blood which have flowed in the two English-speaking regions of the country.
Actions by Southern Cameroonian fighters were just acts of retaliation whenever the sex-starved, alcohol-inflamed and trigger-happy soldiers went on a killing spree.
The Southern Cameroons crisis which started as a protest by teachers and lawyers in 2016 has sent more than 7,000 Cameroonians to an early grave, with soldiers accounting for 40% of the deaths.
The number of soldiers and civilians living with mental, physical and psychological scars will never be known as the Yaoundé government is not in the business of keeping statistics and when it even tries its hands at that, its old habit of lying always stands in the way, making it hard for any reasonable person to trust its data.
Economically, the conflict has driven the sick economy to the bottom of the abyss. Government corporations like the CDC, PAMOL and others are still struggling and the government is too cash-strapped to engineer any sustainable solutions for these ailing corporations.
The road to economic recovery is tortuous and replete with bumps. The government is desperate and has resorted to tough financial and fiscal measures to refill its empty coffers, measures which are leaving many desperate and poor.
Over the last few weeks, the cost of government services to the citizens has gone up. Fuel prices have gone up and a bottle of gas now costs CFAF 10,000, well beyond the reach of many families.
The rationing of fuel is now a daily occurrence even in the country’s capital, Yaoundé. The Biya government is out of cash and it is using even unorthodox means to sustain itself in power.
It is being rumored that school fees in government universities will soon rise from CFAF 50,000 to CFAF 300,000 and this will be beyond the reach of many desperate and helpless families which view their children’s education as a visa out of grinding poverty.
Cameroon is going through a lot and it is becoming clearer by the day that Biya, the man many thought would take the country to the land of promise, has driven the country into a rabbit hole which will keep generations of Cameroonians in desperation for a long time.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai