Category Archives: Politics

A Cameroon of Doom and Gloom

It’s been two years since Cameroon, especially the Anglophone regions ( North-West and South-West) have been witnessing serious unrest. The minority English speaking population say they are being marginalized by the majority French-speaking population. The current chaotic deadly situation in the Anglophone regions originated from a peaceful protest by lawyers and teachers demanding better recognition, respect, and use of the English language in schools and courts. The people of these regions later embraced and became part of the peaceful protest which they saw as an opportunity to break their long pregnant silence, putting an end to the façade many called ‘peace’ in the country. The population took to the streets with peace plants expressing their grievances against the government. They called for socio-economic change, equality, and an enabling environment within their region.

The protest turned deadly after peaceful civil protests were met by ruthless government crackdowns. Since then, separatist militants have sprung up from different parts of the two regions, fighting for an independent Anglophone Cameroon also known as Ambazonia. The gun battles between the Cameroonian military and the separatist militants have resulted in rising death toll and economic losses on both sides. The violence has resulted in the displacement of over two hundred thousand people, hundreds have been killed, maimed, arrested and many villages and towns burnt down and/or deserted.

In the midst of the misery in the two Anglophone regions, the Cameroonian government recently organized a controversial presidential election which named Paul Biya winner, thanks to the 2008 constitutional amendment that removed term limits, allowing Biya to run for his 7th term without restrictions. The country’s constitutional council on Monday, October 22, 2018, named 85- year- old President Paul Biya winner of the country’s presidential elections. Paul Biya has been president of Cameroon since 1982, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. Cameroon has continuously experienced economic hardship, corruption, embezzlement, accrued debts etc, under the leadership of Paul Biya. One will wonder why Biya successfully remain president through all these years despite how poor and cruel his leadership has been. Unfortunately, elections in Cameroon are often marked by irregularities that usually go unattended to, due to the despotic and corrupt nature of president Paul Biya’s government.

Some opposition parties at this year’s presidential elections tabled petitions of electoral malpractices requesting a partial or complete annulment of this year’s elections. Unfortunately, but as expected, the country’s Constitutional Council rejected all 18 post-electoral petitions. The main opposition parties in this year’s elections, as well as a large portion of the country’s population, are of the opinion that the elections were highly fraudulent.

The president-elect Paul Biya won the presidential elections with an overwhelming 71.28% in a country marked by severe corruption and economic hardship. The president-elect Paul Biya also obtained massive victory in the two conflict-hit Anglophone regions (North West 81.74% and South West 77.69%) where the population boycotted the elections because of their grievances against the government and the security concerns in the region. National and international election observers were also absent due to security concerns. Their absence definitely facilitated the massive fraud witnessed at polling stations during the elections. Paul Biya’s massive victory, especially in regions with constant gun battles between the Anglophone restoration forces and Paul Biya’s military, has left many tongues wagging. The people have lost hope in the country and its institutions. Situations seem hopeless as individuals lament, painfully trying to figure out how they will survive another seven years under Paul Biya.

An obvious question will be; isn’t it possible to vote him out? Unfortunately, votes do not really count. The electoral system in the country is set up to favor the incumbent. It will take other methods than just the polls to oust the president. Firstly, Cameroon doesn’t have an independent Elections Commission. The constitutional council which has the responsibility to announce the results is also not an independent body. Influential employees in these institutions are directly or indirectly appointed by the president. Therefore, the ruling party/presidency, the elections organizing body  (Election Cameroon – ELECAM) and the Constitutionals Council all function as interdependent rather than independent institutions.

The people vote, ELECAM puts the votes together and forwards them to the national commission for vote counting. The figures are then sent to the constitutional council which declares the winner, accepts and handles post elections dispute.

Almost all those managing these election managing institutions are either directly or indirectly appointed by the president. Most of them are also members of Paul Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM). It will be myopic to expect any form of transparency from these institutions.

Despite how gloomy the elections process in Cameroon is, many Cameroonians in the French Speaking regions courageously went to the polling stations to vote for their preferred candidates. Unfortunately, their optimism turn sour as they witnessed their hope for change crushed by the corrupt political system in Cameroon. The leading opposition leader at this year’s presidential elections, Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC), has persistently stated that he was robbed of his victory as the winner of this year’s Presidential elections. Maurice Kamto emphatically stated that the figures published by the constitutional council placing him at the second position with a 14.23% are fraudulent.

Professor Maurice Kamto says he won the presidential elections with a percentage of 39.74% contrary to what has been published by the Constitutional Council. He has also presented his own copies of the election results which substantiates his claims. As confusion persists in Cameroon from several angles, the incumbent has already been receiving congratulatory messages from in and out of the African continent.

Cameroonians lament as Paul Biya is once again declared winner of the presidential elections. The people will have to continue in 7 more years of poverty, no running water, epileptic electricity supply, bad roads, poor health facilities, dictatorship, corruption, and embezzlement,  just to name a few.

Paul Biya will be 92 years old by the end of this 7th term, with 43 of these years as president of the Republic of Cameroon. At this rate, it will be wise to pray for the best while preparing for the worst. I will advise Cameroonians not to rule out the possibility of Paul Biya’s 8th term in office.

Less than 48 hours after the President of the Constitutional Council, Justice Clement Atangana proclaimed Biya Paul winner of the 2018 presidential election with an overwhelming 71.28%, the  country’s Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT) has provided 272,659,992 FCFA for the construction of the residence of the President of the Constitutional Council in Yaounde. Many have interpreted this move as a compensation to the president of the constitutional council for betraying the Cameroonian people, democracy and the human conscience by falsely announcing Mr. Biya the winner of the October 2018 presidential elections.

As for the aftermath of the presidential elections on the ongoing Anglophone crisis, I will say it is early to predict. However, we are aware of the fact that, the current government promised to crush separatists if they are re-elected. Unfortunately, the ruthless regime has been ‘re-elected’. The days ahead seem quite gloomy for most Cameroonians, many of whom have resorted to trusting God for survival.

Hold on in there, hope dies last!.

 

Contrast within the African Pie -The Good, the bad and the ugly

Sub-Saharan Africa plays host to most of the world’s poor people, fuelling the decision of West Africa as the area of interest for this article. I chose three peculiar West African countries; Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon to show the contrast that exists within this region.

Ghana officially called the Republic of Ghana with Accra as its political capital city, is a sovereign multinational state with a unitary presidential constitutional democracy located along the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, in the sub-region of West Africa.

In 1957, it became the first African nation to declare independence from European colonization. It is for this reason that, Ghana is seen as the symbol of Black achievement. This helped to inspire other African nations to seek independence, having a major influence on Pan-Africanism and the Black Pride movements in the United States of America. Ghana’s current president is Nana Akufo-Addo, who won the 2016 presidential election against, John Dramani Mahama, by a margin of 9.45%. Akufo-Addo was sworn into office on 7 January 2017. John Dramani Mahama who was president since July 2012 faced serious criticism during his tenure. Mahama’s government is blamed for the economic hardship the country is currently facing with hopes kept alive for Akufo-Addo to make significant changes. Akufo-Addo has so far been praised within and out of Africa for his charisma, dynamism and exemplary leadership.

Ghana has a total land area of 238,533 sq km. According to the World Factbook (2016), the country has a population of 26,908,262 (July 2016 est.). She has a GDP of $114.7 billion (2015 est.) on PPP. Ghana has an unemployment rate of 5.2% (2013 est.) and the percentage of her population living below the poverty line stands at 24.2% (2013 est.). The literacy rate of those who are 15 years of age and above, who can read and write is 76.6% (2015 est.), with an internet penetration rate of 23.5%, (Freedom House 2015). With these statistics, Ghana qualifies as the good piece of the West African Pie.

Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its federal capital territory, Abuja. British influence and control over what eventually became Nigeria and Africa’s most populous country grew through the 19th century. A series of constitutions after World War II granted Nigeria greater autonomy and subsequently, independence came in 1960.

Elected in 2015, in what is widely referred to as Nigeria’s first ‘transparent’ elections, Muhammadu Buhari is currently Nigeria’s president. Unfortunately, his leadership has been a bittersweet experience. According to IMF’s World Economic Outlook for October 2016, though many top government officials have been jailed for corruption, Nigeria – “Giant of Africa”, is still fighting hard to keep her position as Africa’s biggest economy. The government continues to face the daunting task of reforming the petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement. Also, worth mentioning is the fact that, Nigeria continues to experience longstanding ethnic and religious tensions resulting to the creation and existence of groups like Boko Haram and the Niger Delta Avengers who are responsible for most of the societal insecurities in West Africa as a whole and Nigeria and Cameroon in particular.

According to the World Factbook, Nigeria has a population of 186,053,386 (July 2016 est.) with a GDP of $415.08 billion (IMF’s World Economic Outlook for October 2016).  Nigeria has an unemployment rate of 23.9% (2011 est.) and the percentage of people living below the poverty line is 70% (2010 est.).The literacy rate of those from 15 years and above who can read and write is 59.6% (2015 est.) (World Factbook, 2016). These statistics place Nigeria in the not so good/not so bad piece of the pie.

And then Cameroon. Cameroon, known as the Republic of Cameroon with Yaounde and Douala as her political and Economic capital cities respectively, is a country in the West Central Africa region. The country is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” because of its geological and cultural diversity. French and English are her official languages due to her political history.

French Cameroon became independent in 1960 as the Republic of Cameroon. The following year, the Southern portion of neighboring British Cameroon voted to merge with the new Republic of Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. In 1972, a new constitution replaced the federation with a unitary state forming the United Republic of Cameroon. Until recently, the country had generally enjoyed stability, despite a very slow movement toward democratic reforms. Political power remains firmly in the hands of President Paul Biya who has been president since 1982. It will be useful to mention that since 2009, Cameroon has suffered several terrorist attacks masterminded by the Nigerian grown sect- Boko Haram. Cameroon today plays host to a huge number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and refugees, who are either victims/survivors of Boko Haram’s attacks or the current political unrest in the Central African Republic or Gabon.

In recent times, schools, courts and other businesses in the English-speaking region of Cameroon have remained closed as tensions between the Anglophone regions and the current government persist. As an act of civil disobedience, the English speaking regions through their lawyers and teachers, in November 2016 called on the government to implement certain reforms to ensure equality between the Francophone and Anglophone regions. The Anglophones say they are being politically and economically sidelined by the Francophone government. The government’s slow or adamant attitude towards handling the issue has resulted to a call for outright separation and independence of Anglophone Cameroon. Several people have been arrested thus far, some maimed, tortured and killed in the English speaking regions from November 2016 till date. French is spoken in eight of Cameroon’s 10 regions and English is spoken in the north-western and south-western regions.

The socio-economic dynamics of these three countries show the contrast that exists within Africa. It is, therefore, obvious that it will be unfair to use a single brush on all these three countries.

Africa’s Autonomy is Affordable

The setbacks in the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) relations because of disagreements over European Union (EU) payments to troops in the AU mission in Somalia, is another sickening show of dependency. It is good news collaboration between the two has improved, however, the deep-seated frustrations over financing and each other’s perceived deficiencies which persist is likely to last for as long as certain key issues are not addressed.
African officials want a sense of autonomy which is likely not to be attained if they remain dependent on handouts from the EU. African officials should not complain if the EU imposes its own programs and priorities on the AU and not to respect theirs. If the AU wants her voice heard, she should be financially independent. It is normal for the EU to want to be more than just a donor, to want a greater say in when, where and how its money is spent, to ensure its contributions are utilised effectively. If the AU wants to run her affairs with no interference, she should fund her affairs with no dependency. It is not out of place to require more transparency and accountability from the AU considering how corrupt and greedy many African leaders are.

Migration and security concerns which are a bother to both continents are rooted in financial mismanagements, exclusion/inequality and religion. Using colonialism as an excuse for dependency will not foster but hamper AU’s maturity and independence. With her enormous natural and human resources, Africa can take charge of her business and have a more powerful voice at negotiation tables. Unfortunately, with the level of embezzlement, corruption, lack of patriotism and greed among African leaders, the AU will keep ‘begging’ from the EU, and the cycle of frustration and distrust between the parties will continue. When these two elephants fight, the masses continue to suffer.
In an attempt to lessen the AU’s dependence on external donors, member states have committed, in principle, to significantly increase their funding for peace and security activities. This move will only be worth applauding when it is implemented. Until then, African leaders should work on being accountable and having good governance, and then she will be able to call her shots. If the AU and the EU have frustrations and distrusts dealing with each other, the solution is independence for respect.

BREXIT: Not Cameroon’s ‘fish to fry’.

13603639_1392302147453251_4463290072838215913_oKeeping all personal preferences aside for a bit, it is fair to say the Brits have a right to their choices despite the drama accompanying the current events in the EU. As dust reluctantly settles on the British vote to leave the EU, financial markets get to terms with the new reality, Brexit seeks new leadership and European governments grapple with the socio-political implications of the vote, the question on a lay man’s  mind at this juncture is; “What has this got to do with me?” Localizing or personalizing the fallout of this history-making decision by the United Kingdom might be an appropriate way to enhance understanding of this seemingly complex discourse in both local and international public spheres. Individuals may find it necessary to know and understand just the parts of this current event that affects them directly. Given that DCC is a Communication Consulting agency with very strong ties to Cameroon, we decided to have a brief chat with a Cameroonian-born German Financial Risk Manager, for an expert opinion on what (if any) effects Brexit will have on Cameroon. In other words, can Cameroon go to bed knowing she has more pressing ‘fish to fry’ like corruption and bad governance over Brexit ?

In his response, Dr. Azinwi Fet – a Manager at D-fine GmbH (an IT, Risk Management and Financial Consultancy with over 600 consultants across Europe) gave us the following explanations which I will say we can ‘take to the bank’ till UK or England gets a new leadership, talks between a new Brexit leadership and the EU is finalized, and the dust around current uncertainties actually settles.

In his words, “In order to aptly answer the question of how Brexit affects Cameroon, I think it is imperative for us to know what the European Union is and what an exit implies.

The European Union is a politico-economic union of 28 member states who have ratified a number of treaties providing guidelines for political and economic interaction between member states as well as their internal affairs. The choice to leave the EU will certainly affect Britain’s access to the single-market accorded by the EU to its member states which served to eliminate tariffs. A new EU/UK trade agreement may not overcome such tariffs and make access to the market difficult for both EU and UK exporters. The EU takes almost half of the UK’s exports and an unfavorable change in market conditions is bound to affect businesses as well as the UK economy. Beyond this, the UK also benefits from 53 trade deals negotiated by the EU. Meanwhile the UK may replicate these deals, setting them up will take time and definitely adversely impact UK businesses in the mean-time. Furthermore EU grants, employee mobility and a homogenous taxation regime (Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base – CCCTB) are things which British businesses will miss upon exiting the EU. This will translate to a sluggish economy and jobs will be lost.

Financial markets have already reacted to the expected change in market climate, which is reflected in the weakening of the British pound. This on the other hand strengthens the British exports but will weaken their imports. Trade partners will certainly feel the pinch of the squeeze in the British economy.

For most African nations (except for South Africa) Britain however is not a major trade partner, and a potential slump in the British economy would have a marginal impact on these economies. Take Cameroon for example; trade with Britain accounts for roughly 4% of Cameroon’s exports, which is less than 1% of the country’s GDP.  The major trade partners of the UK- USA, Germany, the EU will feel the effect of Brexit more. African countries should go through this relatively unscathed”.

I guess this tells Africa, especially Cameroon that, ‘ceteris paribus’, the country has more things to worry about than Brexit. However, given the global nature of current events of such magnitude from both socio-political and economic angles, head knowledge of the event might be worth having whether remotely or directly affected.

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Samuel Awasum: The Cameroonian-born German Politician

AWASUMGiven the current refugee crisis in Europe with Germany being a major player in the terrain with several complexities, we can definitely not overlook the presence and efforts stake holders are putting in place to derive short term and long term solutions to the on-going crisis.  Of course the crisis has impacts on different sets of people, most especially the migrants, refugees, asylum seekers or whatever terminology you will prefer for these set of people. All parties often wish their opinions are represented at the decision making table as a step towards securing and attaining their interests. Having representatives is usually a quick step towards achieving this goal. Awasum Samuel Awasum is a 33year old Cameroonian-born award-winning German politician making strides in advocating for cultural, social, legal and political equality for migrants living in his city and region (Nordrhein-Westfalen) at large.

Born to a family of seven (including parents) in Bamenda of the  North West Region of Cameroon, Mr. Samuel Awasum studied at the Government Bilingual High School (G.B.H.S) in Mbengwi, Cameroon, where he obtained his Ordinary and Advance Level Certificates and subsequently relocated to Germany for further studies. While in Germany, he studied Business Information Systems and Communicating Engineering at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the University of Applied Sciences Cologne, respectively. Upon completion of his studies, he worked with Accenture – a multinational leading Management Consulting Company with focus on Technological Services and Outsourcing.

While making progress in his profession as a Consultant, it was only upon the birth of his first child (which equally doubled as the birth of his political career) that his life took a detour. In his words “…it still sounds funny in my ears to hear someone call me a politician because, honestly, it was never my goal while growing up.  Besides, there is no politician in my family who could have played the role model function to me in this area. The birth of my daughter made me see the need to actively propagate for change in the community into which my daughter has been born, and will have to grow up in. To make this happen, there was no option other than standing above the crowd and moving to the forefront where vital decisions are being made. With the objective of changing things for my daughter’s future as a springboard, this objective grew to a strong urge to represent and serve my people in my community in general”.

sa 1After taking several steps in the right direction in order to achieve his goal, Mr. Awasum is today politically active at
the regional, county, city and district levels. At the regional level, he is a member of the Regional Integration Council in Nordrhine Westphalia (NRW) – “Landesintegrationsrat NRW” Germany. At the county level, he is a member of the Coordination Integration Circle in the county of Mettmann – “Koordinierungskreis Integration Kreis Mettmann” Germany. At the city level, he is a member and president of the Integration Council Ratingen –“Integrationsrat Stadt Ratingen”, Germany. At the district level, he is an Integration Council envoy to the District Council in Ratingen-“Mitte – Bezirksausschuss Ratingen-Mitte”, Germany.

Besides his efforts in representing his people in Germany at several levels, Mr. Awasum has equally been actively involved in socio-cultural development activities with the aim of giving back to individuals, institutions and communities especially in the remote areas in Cameroon.

Mr Awasum is married and a father of two. Spending time with his family is to him the ‘choicest’ period of his life. Despite his busy schedule as a husband, father, politician and consultant, he equally squeezes time for some pleasurable activities every now and then. He uses music (especially African music) as an escape. Hanging out with ‘the boys’, watching sports on TV, and doing sports (Football, Gym )  are some things you will equally find Mr. Awasum doing if he is not caught up in his usual hectic schedule.

Does your heart bleed like mine to see Cameroonians doing well in diverse areas out of the country and not in their own country? Is it even possible for these Cameroonians to return and excel in like manner in their country taking into consideration the socio-economic and political situation of the country? Please do not ask me if Mr. Awasum is nursing plans of influencing the political landscape in Cameroon directly or indirectly. All that I know and applaud at this point is the fact that, migrants of different status in his region have someone to speak up for them and that person happens to be a Cameroonian # Team237.

Minister Tchiroma, Corruption is real and raw in Cameroon

tchiromaYes! Sadly but unavoidably, I am back from my trip to Cameroon where I was opportune to enjoy various aspects of a collective society. My trip was quite memorable with heavy documentation for a lifetime.  With grins, most people hugged me, examining me closely for any physical changes to ensure I was in good health – a sign of concern. I listened to endless stories from family, friends and acquaintances who tried to help me catch up with events I had missed out on. Most especially, I made it to Cameroon just in time for numerous events that usually characterize the festive season. I had plenty to eat and drink. Not just food but bio food. I had fruits, vegetables and red meat (soya) to last on my mind for some years. It took sheer determination and discipline to cut out some parties and invites usually punctuated with delicious food, and the company of cheerful people. It was still home; same old habits, scenarios, infrastructure and practices, which made it easy for me to fit in quite well under 72 hours.

As hinted earlier, much has not changed. Yes, not at all. The food still tasted so good, the people still felt quite warm, the bars still had clients drinking at their usual tempo. The churches are still present and even growing in numbers. Far from saying nothing new has happened, the number of “new breed” churches is steadily on a rise. The unappealing state of roads is much more of a normal thing now than before. Then yes!!!! The rate of corruption; There seems to be a linear relationship between the growth in “new breed” churches, bars, and the rate of corruption. Whether for the good or bad of the country, at least I noticed new things.

From the first week I spent in Cameroon, I witnessed instances of corruption almost on a daily basis. These ranged from being given fake payment receipts at public places, to being asked for ‘bottles of Heineken’ at the airport for carrying my laptop alongside my hand luggage. I easily noticed the struggle was real. Not that these things were new to me though; the practice was only now more intense, open and normal.

One sunny and busy afternoon, few hours after I was asked for a ‘bottle of 33’ in order to have a service(normally free of any such favors) rendered to me, I stumbled on an article saying Cameroon’s Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary had criticized the corruption placement given Cameroon by Transparency International in its 2015 report. According to Tchiroma, the corruption report placing Cameroon as one of the most corrupt nations in the world is erroneous since the country has, or is making strides towards fighting corruption. He also worries the report could tarnish Cameroon’s image on the international scene. His statements sounded quite humorous to me, and I wished he could have a peep into just two weeks of my experiences which I documented in audio/video recordings and pictures. If I felt this way in just 2weeks, I wondered how the others felt towards his unreliable claims. My unsolicited advice to Minister Tchiroma is to get his colleagues fight corruption rather than say facts from a survey of this magnitude are not true. Making such statements about an organization with international recognition, longevity and validity makes Mr. Tchiroma sound like a court jester rather than spokesperson of the state, which he currently is.

Minister Tchiroma, corruption is real and raw in Cameroon. I will want to be subtle to assume you do not live the realities of the common man, reason why you may not accept Transparency International’s study which places Cameroon second in Africa among the countries with the most bribes paid to obtain services in public offices. In the words of my former colleague Eugene Che, “How often do you consult at a Cameroonian hospital Mr. Minister? How often do you go to the police to bail out someone? How often do you travel by public transport? Do your kids go out looking for jobs as our parents’ kids do? Have you been to a ‘Lycée’ lately to seek admission for a youngster? How then won’t you sit back and say the corruption index is faulty? The ordinary Cameroonians are feeling the pinch. Monkey di work, baboon di chop. One day, wind go open mami fowl yi anus”. This is to say, Mr. Tchiroma, you do not speak for the people who live the reality on ground. I will join my voice to that of the President of the Cameroonian branch of Transparency International, Mr. Charles Nguini, in requesting that the government initiates a survey on corruption in Cameroon with help from other organizations, rather than try to nullify Transparency International’s report in an attempt to salvage the already tarnished image of the Country. By the way, what does Transparency International benefit from tarnishing an impoverished Cameroon’s reputation?

Cameroon claims to have anti-corruption regulatory bodies like National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) and the National Financial Investigation Agency (ANIF) which are far from what organizations of this magnitude should be. Neighboring Nigeria has anti-corruption bodies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) which function with more autonomy, coming across as more fruitful than what Cameroon has. Mr. Tchiroma, it is one thing to beat a talking drum at a village square and another to play a snare drum in an orchestra. A spokesman of your magnitude should find out what the differences are, and represent the people appropriately. Corruption is real and raw in Cameroon. What we citizens need, are talks in tones that foster the fight against corruption and not unfounded structured statements to cover the very bug eating up the country tax payers are trying to build.

An Open Letter to President Paul Biya

Dear President Paul Biya,

PB 1I do not write this letter from a place of malice or disrespect but as a concerned citizen of the Republic of Cameroon. I try in my own way to represent our country positively but truth be told, the situation in Cameroon is really embarrassing. Sometimes, I wish I was not a part of this country but again, that thing in me will not let me dissociate from my country despite how disgraceful it is. I guess blood is thicker than water after all.

As a father is expected to keep his house in order before embarking on a journey, I wish you do same for our nation, Cameroon. I have some issues lingering on my mind. If at all you share in the concerns of your children “Pa Paul”, you will join me, not just in thinking about the following points, but in doing something about them too. I think it’s never late to begin.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry .Whether or not you want to remain President after your current mandate is actually not my focus at the moment. That notwithstanding, I am sure we agree that you will one day leave the Unity Palace. However, whenever that will happen is not my place to determine. What I worry about is if you have taken up time to think about what will become of the nation and your children when you leave power. I worry about the state of the country at the moment and the fact that it gets bad by the day, with even stronger evidence that it will get worse when the façade of stability and peace we have now, no longer exists.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry. Cameroon’s public debt is rising. The country’s public debt rose from 3.9% in 2011 to 7.6% in 2013, not even up to a decade after our debts were cancelled. According to the World Facts book (2013), the country has a literacy rate of 71.3%, a GDP of $51.61 billion (2012 est.) on PPP, with an unemployment rate of 30% (2001 est.). The amount of people living below poverty line is at 48% (2000 est.).Youths are settling for crumbs abroad due to no jobs at home, despite their relatively good intellectual capacity. Even a necessity like potable water is scarce while MPs are rather reducing beer prices.  There is also the obvious serious division between the French and the English speaking Cameroonians. Then the power tussles between ministers to fill their “personal treasuries” rather than the national treasury doesn’t help matters. Having grown up in Cameroon, I think these figures are a little far from the reality. In my opinion, the situation on ground is worse than what is depicted in these statistics.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry. Is this the Cameroon you will leave us with? Is this the kind of legacy you will want to have attached to your name? With this state of affairs, the country may worsen due to the lack of an appropriate replacement since potential candidates are busy fighting each other for either more money or titles. Pa Paul, please put the house in order before you leave. We have suffered enough. Don’t make it worse by leaving it as it is, and leading us into a dark path. It will definitely result to chaos. Please, restructure the public sector to prioritize efficiency and equality. See into our indebtedness.  Allow potential replacements to feel free to air their aspirations so that we can know in what direction our country could be heading. As clueless as we are now, we can only say this will definitely have a direct bearing on the chaos we will find ourselves in, if that time comes when we are still not ready. The cyclical interdependent poverty we experience in Cameroon may become even severe if we continue like this. Pa Paul fix it, fix it, please fix it.

God Bless Cameroon,

Darlene Musoro.

The `Frenchification` of Anglophone Courts in Cameroon

This is a guest post written by Amabo M.Law Court

The Republic of Cameroon is a multilingual country with two official languages (English and French). These official languages are the heritage of Franco-British rule in the country between the end of the First World War -which ended Germany`s presence in Cameroon and Independence.

However, there is an unequal distribution in the usage of English and French as official languages with a minority English speaking Population and majority French speaking Population. Hence, the policy of official language bilingualism, originally aimed at guaranteeing political integration and unity of Cameroon, now seems to constitute a source of conflict and political disintegration with conspicuous acts of marginalization of the minority by the majority population.

For decades since the independence of Cameroon, the Anglophones have constantly been in the battle of trying to negotiate their identity in the country. There has always been a call to denounce the Frenchification of Anglophone Cameroon and severe criticism of the Francophone-dominated states`s neo colonialism and repression coined the `Anglophone Problem`. The Anglophone Problem is actually not a forbidden ground when discussing Cameroonian politics. In fact, there are several expository write ups on the issue even by Francophone scholars like; `Tribalisme et Problème National en Afrique Noire` .Without exaggeration, the Anglophone marginalization problems is one of the most important problems in the country which the government has so far handled with somewhat irresponsibility. That notwithstanding, one should not overlook the fact that there are equally some Francophone intellectuals and activist who empathies with the Anglophones without necessarily approving the call for federalism.

Among several confrontations between the Francophone-dominated state and the Anglophones were major issues like, the demand for an autonomous General Certificate of Education (GCE) board-1990-1993 and the protest against the government´s announced privatization of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC)-1994, which were the remnants of the Anglophone Identify and Heritage. These were some of the occasions where the Anglophones out rightly demonstrated their solidarity to the course of fighting the Anglophone Battle. However, the victory obtained from these two battles where short-lived following a comeback by the government which took the Anglophones by surprise withdrawing their previously offered concessions. Recently, an event of this nature surfaced with an attempt to Frenchify Law courts in the North West Region- a major English speaking Region.

English language which is the modus operandi in the courts of the English speaking part of Cameroon has suffered major setbacks in North West courts over the past months. A decision by the President of the North West court of Appeal last February 2015, compelling lawyers to make their court submissions in the French language was seen by the Anglophone Lawyers as a complete violation of the Common Law system and procedure, practiced in this region. Apparently, this decision stemmed from the fact that, most of the Magistrates that were recently appointed to courts in the North West Region are Francophone who can hardly use English as a working language-an evidence of Frenchification of Anglophone Cameroon.

Instead of them trying to adapt to the Common Law system like their Anglophone colleagues appointed to courts in the French speaking part of Cameroon, who adapt to the Civil Procedure system; receive court submissions in French and render decisions in French, these Francophone Magistrates rather prefer to cause the Common Law system to ‘adapt to them’.

According to, Barrister Robert Nso Fon, the President of the North West Lawyers Association (NOWELA),“We are obliged to make our submissions in French, so why would they oblige us to make our submissions in French again in our own courts? It is clear that they simply want to completely eliminate the common law system in Cameroon. We the lawyers could understand and even speak the broken French, but what about our clients who understand no single word in French?.

Last year, there was a move by the government to post Notaries to the English speaking part of Cameroon, something which is contrary to the Common Law tradition wherein, every practicing lawyer automatically acts as a Notary Public. This faced fierce resistance from the Anglophone Lawyers.  This year there is the issue of the use of French in English courts.

In the past, it was very common to find discussions of Anglophone problems without constructive and practical recommendations on how these problems can be solved. Frustrated and disgruntled, the Anglophone lawyers (of the Common Law extraction) met in Bamenda on May 2015, to adopt resolutions to address the situation, amongst which is a resolution demanding the French dominant Biya regime to return Cameroon to Federalism. It is ambitiously reasoned out that, Federalism would go a long way to permit the peoples of the two cultures to develop themselves freely while adhering to the same constitution as a Nation. Considering that, these demands have been put forward by lawyers, it is envisaged that it will not be taken for granted.

It is the right of every group of people on planet earth to pursue their happiness and liberty with the use of all the resources at their disposal, without infringing on the rights and liberty of others. If Anglophones in Cameroon, after a `came we stay` marriage of perseverance for more than 50 years, do not see the long courting period productive, it is not over demanding of them to take an `ausfahrt` seeking alternative solutions. The Anglophone problem is definitely not just a problem to the Anglophones but to the Cameroonians because it handles issues like marginalization, exclusion and unfair distribution of wealth throughout the country. If the Anglophone problem can be discussed frankly in the spirit of patriotism without mischievous calculations resulting to seeing Federalism as a step towards secessionism, then that will definitely be a step in the right direction.

Notes: See May 9, 2015, Resolutions of Anglophone lawyers below.

PROPOSALS FOR A NEW DIRECTION IN THE JUSTICE SECTOR IN CAMEROON: 

  1. We demand an Independent Bar Association free of any Government Supervision and Control.
  2. We hereby propose a new direction for the future of the Justice Sector in Cameroon and recommend the creation of a national, Independent Law Reform/Review Commission comprising principally, Practicing Lawyers, Jurists and Judges.
  3. We therefore recommend that:
  4. The government should halt any project on the harmonization of laws until the national law commission is put into place and functional.
  5. All Judicial Processes and proceedings in the Common Law Jurisdictions should be conducted in the English language – in criminal matters; this should be from interrogations through investigations to hearing and Judgment.

iii.           The Two Divisions of Common Law and Civil Law be clearly defined and operated side by side in ENAM and the quota of intake in both divisions known in advance. Only common law trained Magistrates to be posted in the South West and North West Regions and Civil Law Trained Magistrates to the Civil Law Jurisdictions.

  1. That the Educational System in the South west and North West Regions should not be adulterated, English speaking citizens should have their studies in the English language from cradle to professional life. That all Public Examinations be organized in two Poles; English and French with none being translated from the other and the quota in both poles known in advance.
  2. We demand the establishment of TWO chambers of the Supreme Court of Cameroon that represent the Common Law and Civil Law System,with Judges appointed to the Chambers from Common Law and Civil Law backgrounds to address legal issues from both legal cultures respectively.  In this regard, we propose the appointment of Judges from the Private Bar into the Various Courts of Justice of the Common Law System.
  3. We recommend the amendment of law no. 90/059 of 19th December 1990 to organize practice at the bar and make provision for the creation of Law Schools.
  4. We propose the creation of a National Council of Legal Education to ensure the direction of legal education in the Common Law and Civil Law jurisdictions, develop curricula for academic and professional training of lawyers and to set up and supervise a system of continuing legal education for Lawyers, Prosecutors, Judges/Magistrates and other judicial actors.
  5. We also reiterate our previous resolution unanimously endorsed at the Cameroon Bar Association’s General Assembly in Buea on the 28th day of June 2014; that no Notaries be appointed in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.
  6. We have observed with utter dismay that there has been and continues to be a lack of protection with regard to the rights of the minority(Anglophone Cameroonians) as provided for in the constitution of this bi-jural, bilingual and bi-cultural nation. It is obvious that the rights of the Anglophones in Cameroon in the spheres of education, socio-cultural values,administrative set ups etc, are continuously and systematically being eroded with a view of imposing the socio-cultural and administrative views of the French and or Civil heritage of the majority Francophone Cameroon.
  7. We demand that the State should exercise its Constitutional duty to protect the Anglophone minority and by so doing, protect our history, heritage, education and cultural values. Consequently for the better protection of the minority Anglophone Cameroonians and the Common Law heritage, we strongly demand a Federation.
  8.   We hereby give Government a reasonable period from the date of deposit of these resolutions through the Bar Council to react positively to our demands, failing which this conference shall take the necessary disposition within the national legal frame work and if dissatisfied, seek further redress from international dispute resolution fora as shall be deemed appropriate.

DONE AT BAMENDA THIS NINTH DAY OF MAY 2015. 
SIGNED AND ENDORSED BY ALL PARTICIPANTS PRESENT AT THE CONFERENCE. 

Paul Biya – Still seductive at 82

Paul BiyaAging and worn out, yet he has his charm, still having a strong hold on his political opponents. With 32 years of his life as the President of Cameroon, of course his compatriots yearn for a suitable replacement. This seems almost impossible with President Paul Biya, who has an outstanding record of successfully seducing his political opponents to share his bed.

Cameroon’s political sphere has a cream of political parties, which have still not been able to present the country with a suitable replacement for the aging player. Quite often, the country wakes up to the creation of a new political party which subsequently disappears into the arms of the ruling party. The sequence of events under which these parties become a shadow of themselves, seem to follow a similar tempting script written by Mr Biya. In recent years, major political parties in the nation have become gullible to the charms of the President, whose leadership has had several question marks.

The most recent display of Mr Biya’s enticing schemes was the case of Ayah Paul Abine of the Peoples Action Party (PAP). As Secretary-General of the Peoples Action Party (PAP), the system he once fought against presented a tempting offer of an Advocate General at the Supreme Court of Cameroon which he surprisingly embraced. Ayah Paul described his new found relationship as one which will help him take care of his financial concerns and equally prepare him for his retirement. In his words:

“I was raised to Index 1300, backdated to July 1, 2012.I don’t see how I opted for a career and all of a sudden I would turn away in favor of politics and lose what may help me in the end. What may help me in the end in the sense that, my pension would be calculated on my index level. So, I have to prepare my future. It is true that I received nothing from anybody except from my family relations. The situation now may change because as I said my promotion was backdated to 2012, which is to say that I should be expecting some arrears. So we are looking forward to a better tomorrow”.

The pertinent questions are; at what age is Ayah Paul trying to secure his pension? And who told politicians that money was a determinant for choices in fighting for a cause like change? Like every relationship with material benefits as the rationale for engagement, the break up will definitely be one to watch out for.

The Founder and Secretary-General of PAP, Ayah Paul Abine was appointed Advocate General by President Paul Biya, Cameroon’s Head of State and also National President of the ruling Cameroon People`s Democratic Movement (CPDM). Ayah Paul was Vice President of the Appeal Court of the South West Region prior to his election to the National Assembly.

Ayah Paul’s story is quite similar to that of Cameroon’s Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary. As founder and President of the Front for the National Salvation of Cameroon (FSNC), Tchiroma said, FSNC “intends to contribute to the advent of a free society and promote the democratization process in Cameroon”. Tchiroma was once part of an opposition coalition and denounced President Biya, calling on the people to vote him out. Tchiroma headed a panel that was tasked with choosing a joint opposition candidate for the election, which would have improved the opposition’s chances of defeating Biya. The story took a different twist when President Biya appointed him as Minister of Communication in 2009. Since then, Tchiroma has been a town crier for the President and the ruling party. He covers Mr Biya’s slip-ups at the snap of any mishap. When President Biya took an expensive vacation to France in September 2009, which irritated his compatriots, Tchiroma argued that Biya, “like any other worker, he has a right to his vacations”. When concerns are raised about the aging President’s health and ability to perform his role in full capacity, Tchiroma promptly provides a counter response, insisting his boss is in good health. This is just another tale of Mr. Biya getting his opponents to lie in his bed at the cost of values they claimed to uphold. It is definitely fascinating to watch politicians shamelessly flip pages just at the wink of comfort.

The country’s oldest opposition party is not an exception. Many Cameroonians who had been rooting for the country’s main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), are beginning to seek alternatives to rest their hopes on, following the recent show of lack of commitment by the party’s Chairman and his fellows. While some militants of the SDF are signing out and into the ruling party, the co-founder and Chairman of the main opposition party, Fru Ndi has made clear his unwillingness to lead motions against the government. In his words, “those who believe I led protest because I had obtained some magical powers for protection should also go to where they think I went and get it. I have been shot and poisoned, but here I am. Let them lead and I will follow.”

Elected as the SDF’s National Chairman in 1990, Fru Ndi has led the party since then. It is believed he master minded the February 2008 anti-government protests which resulted to loss of lives and property. Fru Ndi is constantly in a position of trying to defend himself following allegations that, he is in a hide and seek relationship with the ruling party he once out rightly fought against.

Mr Biya may not have to display his charms all the time, yet he has had more prey changing beds for the comfort of his duvet. The daughter of Cameroon’s First President, late Ahmadou Ahidjo, on her own accord, joined President Paul Biya’s ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM despite stiff resistance from her mother, Germaine Ahidjo. Aminatou Ahidjo vigorously campaigns for the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) despite the fact that Ahmadou Ahidjo’s family and President Paul Biya have a far from civil relationship, due to a fallout from issues concerning the repatriation of the remains of the late president, to Cameroon from Senegal. Aminatou Ahidjo has single handedly decided to move on by joining her family’s enemy under the pretext that, Mr Biya is a warm president whom she doesn’t mind flirting with.

Ahmadou Ahidjo, was sentenced to death in absentia for his alleged role in a coup. He later died in exile in Senegal in 1989 after a political break up, with his chosen heir, Paul Biya.

Ahidjo’s widow, Germaine Ahidjo, has obliged the current regime to return the late leader’s body to Cameroon, a decision Biya thinks should be taken by the Ahidjo family.

32 years and counting as president, Paul Biya seems to be the only one who has a perfect mastery of Cameroonian Politics. Despite calls for change from his compatriots, the inability to provide a replacement leaves the Cameroonians with very few options. Hearing a Cameroonian pray for her 82 year old president not to die or leave power even after 32 years of leadership marred with corruption, mismanagement and unfulfilled promises, may be quite hilarious but the truth remains that, an old, tired, unproductive figure head like Biya, best fills the gap than unpredictable, untrustworthy opposition leaders. At this crucial time when the country’s security is threatened and opposition leaders who the people rooted for now wine, dine and cuddle with the ruling party, a well-articulated “Long Live Paul Biya, Long Live Cameroon”, is definitely not completely out of place.