The Southern Cameroons crisis which started as a protest by teachers and lawyers became a millstone around the government’s neck as Southern Cameroonian fighters on the ground inflicted serious damage to the government’s war machinery and sent thousands of army soldiers to an early grave.
The Yaoundé government, which thought it was going to carry out a swift operation in the country’s two English-speaking regions, finally learned that there was no swift war and that anybody could be killed at the warfront including its so-called well-trained soldiers.
The government may not have expressed its disappointment publicly with the way things have turned out following the death of some 4,000 soldiers, but its actions speak to war fatigue and frustration. It has reduced the number of army soldiers in the two English-speaking regions and the senseless killings of unarmed civilians by army soldiers just to prove a point are on the decline.
Over the last 12 months, English-speaking Cameroonians living abroad have begun visiting relatives in Cameroon without being scared that they could be arrested at the airport. The government has understood that its own actions were bereft of sound logic and commonsense and it is now working hard to make amends.
Security is gradually returning to many parts of Southern Cameroons, and this could be attributed to some government actions, though schools in rural areas of Southern Cameroons are still closed. The military is working hard to win hearts and minds and this strategy seems to be working, although the core issues which triggered the fighting have remained unattended to.
However, if the government really wants to win more hearts and minds, then it must release many people arrested within the framework of the crisis, especially Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and his team arrested in Nigeria. Their release will be an olive branch that might turn things around forever.
There are many things to be done to demonstrate that the government is prepared to work for a return to normalcy. Unfortunately, there is no sense of urgency on the government’s part. The marginalization of Southern Cameroonians is still ongoing, and the government is not doing enough to ensure its own decentralization policy is delivering the results desired. The ruling CPDM party is still running the country as if it is a family business, while corruption is threatening to ruin the country’s economy.
There is no economic planning in Cameroon and all decisions are still being taken by presidential decrees which clearly demonstrate that genuine democracy remains a distant tomorrow affair. Under the country’s current president, democracy has made giant steps backwards, with free speech taking a huge hit. The country’s president still appoints people based on loyalty and he even appoints ‘night watchmen’ across the country, something which makes the whole notion of decentralization look more like a joke.
But the most challenging problems are those Southern Cameroonians themselves are creating, causing the struggle to struggle. Divisions within the Southern Cameroons interim government have become a huge concern among Southern Cameroonians.
Ever since Dr. Samuel Sako Ikome and Mr. Chris Anu took over the reins, things have deteriorated, with Southern Cameroonians refusing to contribute to the war efforts because of massive allegations of financial impropriety by both men. Chris Anu and Samuel Sako Ikome who joined forces to humiliate Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe after his arrest are today at each other’s throat.
Today, both men cannot even talk to each other. They have been dismissing each other and forming governments which cannot even survive a day. The money is no longer flowing and both men have been accused of robbing the people of Southern Cameroons of their hard-earned money. My Trip To Buea (MTTB), a strategy used by both men to raise funds, has only caused them to be unpopular as both men have used the money for personal purposes and cannot even provide any account of the money.
The internal conflicts are really damaging and comments from both camps are unfriendly. Their surrogates are at work and are doing their best to destroy whatever little hope of reconciliation that exists. There seem to be no chance of reconciling the various camps. According to a Chris Anu supporter:
“Sako is an incompetent president, a thief and a scammer. He has proven that he can’t lead, we, the people of Ambazonia, reject his method of leadership, propaganda, lies, stealing of contributed money which has been invested in bitcoin. We will fight him for as long as he continues to occupy the position of a president. We can’t stay quiet anymore. The conman has been removed from office as president, he should give back the people’s ABC TV, it does not belong to him,” the leaked message says.
“We have freed ourselves from the Sako Scam. For 5 years, he has used all our contributed money and instigated a lot of infighting which has led to the killing of our fighters. Yes, it is Sako who is ordering the killing of fighters on the ground. He has been the president and head of military,” the Sako adversary said.
“Sako is the worst thing that ever happened to this revolution. This jobless unrepentant conman is the biggest thief and embezzler in the history of liberation struggles. This criminal planted agents everywhere, and his ponzi enterprise has caused so much damage to this revolution. The sad thing is that this criminal was supported by supposed Men of God including Deacons like Tassang who used to write long essays defending this criminality. Why has he suddenly stopped writing? Until Ambazonians vomit these fake men of God, devils in pastoral garments, the road to independence will be long and hard,” another anti-Sako Southern Cameroonian said in an exchange with others.
There are more messages coming through, but the most damaging comes from Tassang, a notorious Kondengui inmate who spends his time seeking to divide Southern Cameroonians. In his latest outing, he said that:
“Great has been my shock to live the problem rocking the Interim Government. From prison, I am as close to it as you all are, except that I cannot communicate freely. Before, I thought it was due to lack of communication but when I got closer, and tried to mediate, I discovered it was much deeper. But what is the problem?”
His latest letter is not a cure to any of the issues. He has worked very hard to make the wound deeper as he keeps on supporting one bloc against the other. He is even accused in many communications of receiving USD 100 from Sako from time to time, making it hard for him to be neutral.
The struggle is really struggling. Southern Cameroonians need new leaders. The current crop of leaders has been infected with the corruption bug. The only person who has been above this mess has been Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and he remains the poster boy of the revolution. Southern Cameroonians should therefore rally behind Dabney Yerima who is the recognized Vice President of the Ambazonia Interim Government and who has remained loyal to Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai