After close to three years, it seems the Yaounde government has learned nothing. The leaders seem to blind to the changes taking place around them. They seem to be stuck in their old mentality of wanting to send home strong messages.
Strong messages no longer threaten Cameroonians, especially the Southern Cameroonian, who has seen his siblings, mother, brother and father killed by trigger-happy soldiers. The Southern Cameroonian loves peace, but not the poisoned gift that was given to his parents in Foumban shortly after independence.
If some Southern Cameroonians have picked up weapons against their own government, it is not because they are a barbaric people or people who do not have any regard for law and order. It is more because they are faced with a government that is indifferent to the sorry plight of its citizens.
The Yaounde government has no regard for its people. Human life does not mean anything to it. Instead of serving their people, Yaounde authorities have been serving themselves using the people’s resources. The large number of ministers and directors that are today languishing in state jails is testimony to the egoism that these officials are noted for.
After three years of intense debates on and challenges to state authority, a selfless and reasonable government that holds national unity and peace so dear to its heart should be reaching out to all the stakeholders in all the crises that are tearing the country apart.
A reliable government should be thinking of the country’s future and its actions should speak to its determination and sincerity to pursue peace and national reconciliation.
But its latest action, that of slamming a life sentence on President Julius Ayuk Tabe and his fellow Southern Cameroonians speaks to the government’s recklessness and determination to pursue a line of action that will instead deepen the crisis in the two English-speaking regions of the country.
After a questionable and sham process, the leaders of the Southern Cameroons struggle have been sent to prison although they were already in hell before the politically motivated decision. This decision will not make things better in the country. Schools will surely not resume. Ghost towns and lockdowns will intensify in the coming days, and justifiably so.
Southern Cameroonian leaders and activists have been given a reason to pursue their own policies and they will do so in the firm belief that they do not have a reliable and peace-loving partner on the other side with whom they can hold a constructive and inclusive dialogue that will lead to sustainable peace in the country.
The Yaounde government has miscalculated on all fronts. It has mismanaged all the crises that are threatening to tear the country apart. While other countries of the word are seeking stability and peace so as to attain sustainable development, the Yaounde government that many Cameroonians hold is a crime syndicate is displaying a lot of irresponsible behavior and this is disturbing to the international community that is tired of calling for an inclusive dialogue to address the crises that are giving the country a very bad name.
President Julius Ayuk Tabe and many of those in jail are the people the population considers as leaders of the struggle. Slamming them with a life sentence only reduces any real chances for dialogue. President Julius Ayuk Tabe is the poster boy of this revolution and he must be at the negotiating table if any real results must be achieved.
Instead of throwing him in jail for life, the Yaounde government should have sought the middle ground as a means of defusing the tensions that have transformed the country into a “blast furnace”.
Cameroonians are going through the toughest moments of their lives. Jobs are scarce and life is a permanent struggle. Decisions like the one that was taken under the cover of darkness only makes the country to look like a ticking time bomb that might go off anytime soon.
The sentencing of Julius Ayuk Tabe in such circumstances does not address any real issue. He has been in jail for a long time and he is already used to his new environment. He is a man with a strong mentality and today’s decision will not break him down.
He has a cult following which makes it hard for the government to celebrate any success. A wise decision would have been to use him to defuse the tensions in the two English-speaking regions of the countries. The government seems to be willing to set a fire to a “tinder box” and the consequences will be catastrophic.
Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla’s message on Facebook aptly captures the mood in the country and it rightly depicts how the country is being managed. “The sentencing of Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe to a life sentence is an affront to due process and the rule of law. The right to a fair trial is a fundamental human right. The sham process is a reflection of the sham management of the country,” he said.
Today’s decisions are indeed a travesty of justice. The Yaounde government has displayed its reckless for all to see. It does not have the interest of the country at heart. Its cardinal objective is to send home a message strength to a people who are already deaf and frustrated. A message which does not have any legal basis will surely not have the desired impact. If anything, it will simply speak to the numerous accusations Cameroonians have been making against the government.
These unfortunate decisions are robbing the country of the peace it dearly needs at this time. The Southern Cameroons crisis will only deepen and the determined fighters will never drop their weapons. The violence will soon escalate. Many civilians in the two English-speaking regions will lose their lives while many soldiers will sent to the regions will never go back home.
The decisions are indeed a dead sentence to the school year which was already a lightning rod for controversy. If the government cannot show flexibility at this critical moment, how does it expect Southern Cameroonians who have been complaining for more than five decades to be understanding?
This is not the time to score points. This is time to take actions and decisions that can bring peace to Cameroon. The Yaounde government must take a look at its own actions and decisions to see if they are really helping to defuse the tensions in Cameroon. This is the time to show flexibility and any tough stance does not work in the interest of peace.
By Dr Joachim Arrey in Canada