The demands of the leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium highlighted the fundamental fallacy underpinning the Cameroon state. While some of the demands appear even-handed and altruistic, any authentic eye witness would detect the selfishness that binds the South West elites and their failure to forge a diverse polity that can deliver greatness. Cameroon’s crisis of development, however, is located firmly in its distorted unitary form of government; correcting it is the only guarantee of lasting peace with Southern Cameroonians.
Cameroon’s fiscal system identifies it as a Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo state pretending to be One and Indivisible. The reality is stark. Cameroon Common Law Lawyers, Anglophone Teachers Trade Unions and the Southern Cameroons business community under the aegis of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium called upon the Yaoundé regime to stop the marginalization of the West Cameroonians by adopting a two state federation.
The Francophone dominated action instead encouraged a kind of devastating vandalism and sabotage of the peaceful process initiated by the Consortium. For a country that is at war with the Nigerian Islamic sect, Boko Haram, the numerous armed groups in the Central African Republic and in the midst of a recession, and partly dependent on oil and whose prices have fallen by 50 per cent, the impact of shutting down the internet services in the Anglophone regions has brought the economy to its knees.
The Buea Declaration by the so-called South West political elites is a form of criminal activity that has conflated with politics, corruption and the divisive tendencies of the key ethnic segments of the state of Cameroon. The Anglophone Roman Catholic Bishops and the leadership of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon have all identified widespread alienation of Southern Cameroonians from the centre as providing a fertile ground for violent extremism and demonstrations.
Having so far failed to put down the strike action and the civil disobedience campaign since 2016, the dialogue option was an opportunity for both sides to correctly diagnose the root causes of the problem and proffer lasting solutions. But the Francophone regime arrested the leaders of the Consortium including prominent Anglophone personalities. The Peter Mafany Musonge gangs passing for elites have turned a blind eye to the numerous rapes, arrests, torture and extra judicial killings currently going on in the Anglophone regions.
It is evidently clear that the North West/South West divide and rule tactics has outlived its usefulness and the South West people like those of the North West are now reading from the same script and the two Anglophone regions including their religious leaders support the call for true federalism and have urged that the Francophone Government should treat the matter expeditiously.
Unlike the North West region, the South West CPDM group lacks visionary leaders. Their emphasis on painting the strike action and the ghost town operations on the North West people are self-serving. SONARA has never cleaned up its waste that has been killing slowly but surely hundreds of Bakweris. All what the Francophone government claims to have done for the people of Ndian particularly those of the Bakassi communities ranges from plain fiction to the most absurd. The People of Akwaya ever since independence have never been linked by road to the rest of Manyu. The Kupe Muanengubas only exist during CPDM conferences. The Lebialems have nothing to show the world that they belong to a region that has produced top political elites like Musonge. To be sure, because the South West and North West CPDM elites have over the years been ineffective, Southern Cameroonians have replaced them with the leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium. Biya and his Francophone political elites must sit and talk with the new leadership of Southern Cameroons.
The recent pronouncements by men like Chief Tabetando, Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Peter Mafany Musonge and the Chief Atem Ebako has justified why Cameroon has found itself faced with a national crisis as CPDM gangs of criminals take on the state, hiding behind regional agitation. The first wave of the strike action in 2016 did not feature bombings, kidnapping, robberies and pitched battles between Southern Cameroons freedom fighters and government forces. However, the arrest of prominent Anglophone personalities and judging from the Buea Declaration, it is evident that Musonge and his CPDM elites no longer have legitimate authority.
Several Anglophone leaders and innocent citizens are suffering in Francophone jails. The trial of the leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium will provide the spark for a return to this time around an armed conflict. There can be no end to this cycle unless Cameroon is governed as a proper federation. Fiscal federalism is the solution, not an aside, as the Yaoundé regime appeared to suggest. The Biya regime no longer has the luxury of taking resources from one part of the country and dispensing crumbs to the indigenes.
The People of the South West region are now aware that the Musonge gangs of political elites are made up of a few millionaires created by the Biya Francophone government who have left the mass of the people further pauperized. Other federations, such as Canada, India, Malaysia, Switzerland, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, provide worthy templates of resource control that Cameroon should emulate. As the strikes continue, every region will soon join the clamor for fiscal federalism to avert a bloody conflagration in our increasingly wobbly unitary contraption. The Buea Declaration is therefore null and void and Anglophones will continue to listen to the Consortium.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai