Cameroon’s Governors, Senior Divisional Officers, District Heads and even traditional rulers still go around proudly with uniforms that were assigned to them by French colonial officers.
The uniforms that were introduced by Roland Pre, the French Commissioner to French Cameroon, often provides insight into French Cameroon’s history, especially when it comes to how they position themselves in relation to Southern Cameroonians.
The ultimate measuring stick, it turns out, is excessive use of force. And as the Cameroon government military’s efforts appear to be collapsing—or have collapsed in Southern Cameroons, it is evidently clear that the 88-year-old President Biya and his ruling CPDM crime syndicate are losing the war in Southern Cameroons.
The ruling crime syndicate has always made President Biya look invincible, going into political conflicts aiming high, achieving nothing and then going back to Etoudi with as much dignity as possible.
The war in Southern Cameroons has demonstrated that the Biya leadership experiment has all along been rooted in a national myth and many French Cameroon political elites have now realized that Biya and his gang have not lived up to the stories they have told the Cameroonian people.
Is the country’s military losing in Southern Cameroons? We of the Cameroon Concord News Group think the tides are turning against the military. There’s no other way to characterize the 4-year war as anything other than a failure.
The Biya regime and its Francophone dominated army is not losing the war in the sense that the military has been defeated and chased out of Southern Cameroons, but Yaoundé is losing the war given that the human and material costs are high: some 3,000 Cameroon army soldiers have died, 2,500 have been injured, and millions of dollars have been wasted on things that do not have any economic benefits.
The Ambazonia Restoration Groups now look like they are in total control of Southern Cameroons and this is likely to go down in history as a major Biya regime failure.
But prior to the war in Southern Cameroons, Biya and his political party won nearly all the major political wars that they fought.
There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that after the Social Democratic Front war with Fru Ndi, the nature of Cameroon’s geo-political wars itself changed. But Biya and his men were not aware.
So, the 88-year-old Biya is now really struggling. And the nature of both the Boko Haram and Southern Cameroons wars has shifted just at the moment when Biya is attempting to market his eldest son Franck Biya as his successor.
Biya has been in power for more than 40 years. Why has he not figured out how to relate with Southern Cameroonians?
There are a few things going on in his mind. Biya thinks he has kept Southern Cameroonians frightened enough to enable him govern the country’s two English-speaking regions the way he and his cohorts want! He therefore thought that recruiting light weights such as Paul Atanga Nji, Paul Tasong, Victor Mengot and Paul Elung including the reckless polygamist Joseph Dion Ngute will lead to progress on the Southern Cameroons battlefield which could end in a capitulation of Southern Cameroonian fighters.
In the words of the late Chief John Agbor Tabi, “Biya got it all wrong” and the armed conflict in Southern Cameroons has become a millstone around his neck.
The country’s army soldiers can destroy anything that it can see in Southern Cameroons towns and villages, but what it can’t see is the Ambazonia Restoration Forces whose experience and time has given them an upper hand in the conflict.
After four years into the war that is tearing the country apart, Ambazonia Restoration Forces and the Southern Cameroons Interim Government are more committed to the struggle than the regime in Yaoundé ever thought, because for the Biya regime, the Southern Cameroons crisis is just one of many different challenges around the so-called one and indivisible Cameroon.
But for the Ambazonia Restoration Forces, it is the only thing that matters. In this Southern Cameroons crisis, we of the Cameroon Concord News Group believe and fervently too that Biya and his military have the watches, but Amba fighters have the time – an indication that the beleaguered regime in Yaoundé has the military capabilities, but Amba Boys have greater commitment.
This is a synopsis of the Southern Cameroons crisis situation report
•There is a recruitment drive for more gendarmes and soldiers in the country, but the ruling political elite in Yaoundé is concerned that if it recruits more young men from other ethnic groups, there might be a coup against the Biya regime.
• An association (Njangi) of Gendarmerie officers and their wives in Yaoundé has gone from a membership of 210 to 26 as the men have all returned in wooden boxes from Southern Cameroons.
• Most of those who have been sent to Southern Cameroons have visited their medical doctors and have feigned illnesses to obtain 6-month sick-notes.
• Young recruits are quitting daily.
• Many in the military are now handing themselves in to be imprisoned for 6 months (customary prison term for disobeying war orders) instead of going to Southern Cameroons.
• A Memo has been communicated to the army and gendarmes that should they die in combat, their families would receive CFAF 5 million. This financial incentive has not helped.
• The rank and file in the military knows they can’t win the war, but their bosses are insisting that they fight as they (the bosses) are making a fortune from the war.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai