Yesterday, two young men returning from work in Buea were gunned down by army soldiers who have unfortunately become trigger-happy. The two young were responding to calls by the region’s governor for people to go about their businesses without fear.
Similarly, a popular taxi driver in Buea was also gunned down by a soldier. It has become systematic for soldiers to kill able-bodied young men in order to intimidate the local population. Other killings have also been reported in Kumba, Bali and Bafut and this is becoming a daily affair. Most of these killings are committed by army soldiers following instructions by the Defense Minister, Joseph Beti Assomo, and Territorial Administration Minister, Paul Atanga Nji.
Mr. Biya, who has not visited the region in years will be heading to Buea before Election Day on October 7, 2018. The visit will be within the framework of presidential campaigns that are underway in the country. While other candidates are busy canvassing for support, Mr. Biya has been hiding at the country’s presidential palace in Yaounde, encouraging his surrogates to act on his behalf as his performance over the last three decades is dismal.
Since 1992, Mr. Biya and his party have never won any election and it is rumored that results of the upcoming election are already known. The country’s election body and the Constitutional Council that releases the results are dominated by Mr. Biya’s loyalists.
According to a source close to the Unity Palace, the president would like to talk to Southern Cameroonians and he would like to use this campaign period to share his perspective on a number of things. He needs their votes and he wants to make sure he gets directly in touch with the local population.
“The chairman of our party wants to reconnect with the people. He wants to talk with Southern Cameroonians so that they can understand he has their interest at heart,” he said in a telephone conversation.
Meanwhile, a senior member of the opposition who is also aware of the president’s intention to visit Southern Cameroons has indicated that the president seems to be provoking Southern Cameroonians.
“This man is heartless. After having instructed his soldiers to kill and maim our people, he is now planning to come and talk to those who are still suffering because of the pain he has inflicted on them.”
“Is he not aware that our people have left the region because of intimidation by his forces? After having chased them out, he is now coming to talk to trees and birds just to deceive the internationals community. How bad can a man be?” he quipped.
He added that “Cameroonians have been dying and the man who is supposed to protect and reassure them has been silent for two years and he now wants to give us the impression that he cares? He does not care. He just wants to be in power even when he has not got the capacity to do so. How devilish can a man be? With a lot of blood flowing, he has been indifferent to the plight of the people.”
“Just take a look at the atrocities taking place in the country. Who is that man who can have such a heart if he is not inhabited by the devil? Yesterday, I saw videos of army soldiers forcing Sacred Heart College students to perform pornographic dances in their school. Our country has become a dangerous place even for our own children. The government has been encouraging parents to send their kids to school, but when on their way to school, the soldiers kill them. When in school, the perverts he considers as soldiers force them to perform lewd acts just to satisfy their carnal desires. Why can Mr. Biya not try to see others as human beings?” he quipped.
Since the crisis started, the country’s president has not shown any interest in settling the issues raised by Southern Cameroonians. He has never addressed the people of the region directly. On the contrary, he and his collaborators consider all English-speaking Cameroonians as terrorists.
Instead of addressing the issue, the country’s president instead declared war on the English-speaking population in January 2018 upon arrival from one of his numerous trips abroad.
While Cameroonians are dying, Mr. Biya, has been spending more time abroad because of his failing health. He has just returned from a trip abroad which took him to China and Switzerland where he stopped for a quick health fix.
Mr. Biya travelled to China some two weeks ago for the Africa-China Summit where he was supposed to persuade Chinese businesses and investors to come and invest in his war-ravaged country.
In recent years, he has also been sucking up to the Chinese government, hoping that it will grant it some loans and grants. But the Chinese are not ready to pour their money into a dry hole.
The Biya government is noted for its recklessness and even the Chinese hold that it would be foolhardy to give huge amounts of money to a government that has constantly proven that it is incapable of managing its own affairs. While in China, Mr. Biya and his entourage toured a plane manufacturing company and even signed an agreement for the purchase of a presidential jet.
But this jet will not be delivered anytime soon. Cameroon has not got the resources to make a huge down payment as requested by the Chinese. Cameroon is cash-strapped and with its economy bleeding money on a daily basis, it will be hard for the government to find the resources to meet its commitments vis-a-vis the Chinese.
The country’s traditional business partners are hastily pulling out of the country due to a brutal civil war in the two English-speaking regions which account for more than 60% of the country’s wealth. Mr. Biya and his government have been running the country like a private farm and he has been using the national treasury like his personal piggy bank. The conflict in his country has taken a turn for the worse, with many citizens fleeing the war zone.
Over the last week, residents of the two English-speaking regions have been leaving the place following threats by Southern Cameroonian fighters to implement a strict movement of goods and persons within the region from September 16, 2018 to October 7, 2018 as presidential elections approach.
The Southern Cameroons crisis that started as a demonstration by teachers and lawyers has taken a turn for the worse. The adverse impact of the conflict is now spilling over into East Cameroon and this is a nightmare to government officials who are scared of a general revolt in East Cameroon.
Food and housing prices have gone up and many cities that are receiving these displaced persons do not have the proper infrastructure to deal with such a situation. According to a Douala City Hall official, the migration of Southern Cameroonians to the city of Douala is not only costly; it is also a major risk. He pointed out that among the displaced could be the fierce fighters who may use the situation to wreak havoc on innocent citizens in the city.
The country is in a deep political and military crisis that is costing the country an arm and a leg. Cameroon needs lots of money to overcome this challenge. After having been mired in a tough military, economic and social battle for two years, the Yaoundé government is now facing serious economic and financial crisis and this is keeping the country’s officials awake all night.
The crisis pitting Southern Cameroonian separatists against the Yaoundé government has seriously eroded the government’s financial base. The fighting is expensive and it has taken a huge bite out of the government’s fragile finances.
This is weighing on the government and the operation of heavy military equipment in the jungles of Southern Cameroons is costing the government an arm and a leg. This has been compounded by the economic sabotage that Southern Cameroonian fighters have engaged in.
Over the last six months, some of the country’s major state corporations which are great money spinners have had to deal with the angst of Southern Cameroonian fighters who are determined to bring the country’s economy to its knees.
Corporations such as PAMOL and CDC all require a shot in the arm, but the cash-strapped government of Yaoundé is incapable of providing the much-needed infusion. Priming the pump of these corporations will require huge amounts of money. PAMOL has completely shot down due to increased disruption by Southern Cameroonian fighters.
Some 3,000 PAMOL workers have been rendered jobless and the corporation’s equipment is gradually rotting. Some of the palm oil production corporation’s facilities have been burned down and threats from Southern Cameroonian fighters actually made some of the workers to throw in the towel even before the corporation announced its bankruptcy.
For the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), its operation capacity has been diminished over the last seven months. Ghost town operations and violence against its workers have made it hard for the country’s second largest employer to operate at full capacity.
The separatists’ economic sabotage is actually producing the desired effect as the government has seen some of its revenue streams diminishing. With many workers laid off from these two large corporations, the government has also witnessed a huge tax base erosion. The loss of more than 3,000 workers from these two corporations implies that income taxes paid to the government have diminished.
But the collapsing of these two corporations is not the worst news the Yaoundé government will be hearing. Southern Cameroonian separatists have their eyes set on the country’s lone refinery, SONARA, which is located in the southwest port city of Limbe.
They strongly believe that if they can successfully bring down SONARA, then they will be able to force the government to the negotiating table where some of the divorce issues can be discussed and addressed.
Mr. Biya’s coming to Buea may be big news for the crime syndicate he manages. For the people of Southern Cameroons, his presence will not change anything. His wickedness has resulted in the killing of thousands of Cameroonians. Cameroonians are sick and tired of him mismanaging the country. They just want to see him out. If he is smart, he should quit while he still has some respect. Cameroon needs to take a new and different direction and Mr. Biya is certainly not the right person to steer the country into the right direction.
By Kingsley Betek in Yaounde
A Cameroon Concord News Group Production