Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ignorance: The Cancer of Cameroon’s Democracy.

Cameroonians need a lot of education to wriggle out of misinformation
 By Bakabaka*

I am irritated by the way the government of Cameroon is running her administration. If for any reason I decide to forgive her, it is thanks to the fact that, I am a child of God, and secondly because I know there was no formal preparation by the imperialist colonial masters to hand over power to the Negros, a failure which left a big gap of ignorance and unlearnt lessons.

That notwithstanding, I cannot forgive misdemeanor forever. We must realize ourselves and arise from a great slumber. What keeps Cameroon in the permanent backward position she occupies is the lack of competition. 

Competition is a catalyst of development and improvement. Each time one makes an allusion to a developed country like America, China, S. Korea, a Cameroonian politician who is determined to  keep Cameroon on the same spot of shame would quickly shout out “we are not China, we are Cameroon.” So long as we continue to say we are bound to be where we are, that we are not Senegal to organize elections on two rounds; not America to make strong laws which spare no one etc.., nothing will change.

I was abused when I read from The Post, a news feature about a D.O in Bamenda who disrupted a graduation ceremony in a private university. I did not know we are still at this level of oppression, ignorance and above all, lawlessness. It is absolutely primitive! 

In the colonial days, dictatorial imperialist administrators insisted on being invited for all occasions under their jurisdiction simply because they feared subversive messages could be passed in meetings held to push them out of the country. That was when human beings paid taxes for being alive-the infamous poll tax. Today we are living the realities of fast moving democracy yet nothing is different. The D.O is still the same in every perspective like the French/ British colonial D.O.s. of those dark ages.

I have to forgive Cameroonians here again because they are mostly ignorant. I am sincere about this. How many Cameroonians know that in the 21st century it is wrong for people whose highest qualification is the First School Leaving Certificate to carry guns for the protection of the nation? Who should protect the other? The ignorant protecting the knowledgeable or the knowledgeable protecting the ignorant? How many know that the president’s salary is not supposed to be a secret and  that every political party needs to own private party halls and not usurp public buildings? Do you think if the government of Cameroon depended on the people’s votes, businesses would be forced to close down each time a government official is being installed? Or ministers instead of the candidate himself would be sent into the field to campaign for the election of a president they never see in decades? This is just a pinch of what we do not know in Cameroon.

The first step to solving a problem is identifying it. Here, our first problem is education. We know very little and unless we are educated no solution would ever be reached. I doff  to Simon Nkwenti for the incredible job he is doing for Cameroon.  He no doubt will be on the right side of history.

 Talking education, we must be able to define key terms with clarity to understand them. Most Cameroonians feel we are in a democracy simply because we regularly cast votes.
The old school believes this is the most democratic situation we have ever had in Cameroon. To them, defining democracy is comparing Ahidjo’s era and that of Biya. Unfortunately, if we are not educated that dictatorship is a situation whereby the president works by presidential decrees and not referendum we will never know. 

Dictatorship is a situation whereby the president, the speaker of the national assembly, the justice department, and the military are just one man. In a dictatorship, the president of the republic can use a decree to extend the mandate of parliamentarians at will. Ministers campaign for the president who is never seen or heard more than twice a year. Dictatorship is when the press-radio, TV, newspapers have to keep renewing their authorization to operate, and in most cases some are closed down for enjoying press freedom. Dictatorship is a situation whereby in a country the financial account of the ruling party, the president, his wife, and the public treasury are one. In a state of dictatorship, private member bills in the national assembly are never looked into. All sessions of the assembly aim to permit the president of the republic to ratify international conventions. In a democracy, key posts like the prime ministry, speaker of the national assembly and the president of the republic cannot belong to one political party alone. A dictatorship does not permit independent candidates to contest for election, and no member of government can resign and stand against the dictator

Do you now know the litmus test for dictatorship? D.O. in a dictatorship decides if you will be inside or outside a prison cell. The gendarmes and policemen abuse humanity with impunity. Some people are above the law for sharing political ideas with the president of the republic. It is not about multiparty elections or a diverse house of assembly. Democracy is about equality before the law for every citizen without discriminating. It is respect for humanity, and transparency in the management of the national cake.

 My fellow Cameroonians do not know that the people they vote into the national assembly are their mouthpiece and servants.  The parliamentarians are  not a birthday cake for the president of the republic but people voted to provide basic needs like road infrastructure, schools, security, employment, fight against poverty etc… It annoys me that Cameroonians vote and know nothing about the benefits of voting. Before voting, candidates should be prescribed what they must do for the electorate and not wait for the candidate to tell them whatever they would like to do for them.

 The political party does not matter. What matters is the output of the parliamentarian. If parliamentarians pressurize the president about the needs of the people at the grassroots, the president has no choice but to act. He must for failure to act would cause the parliamentarians to refuse allowing his bills to pass and that means doom for him. Our local parliamentarians go into the house to enrich themselves over the poor masses. With exaggeratedly large pay packages, the micro project grants are always perfectly embezzled yet. Again ignorance plays on Cameroonians here. We need to start telling our candidates what we need from them when they are voted into the house so that at the end of their tenure, we judge them from it and see if they are fit for another term. It should cease to be a foolish blind fight between govern and opposition political parties. It should be which candidate will meet the aspirations of the citizens need.

 The CPDM party ,for instance ,can continue winning free and fair presidential elections, if we ever come to that level but without the same candidate. My conclusion here is that Cameroonians need a lot of education to be able to wriggle out of misinformation. It is easier to change the unfit parliamentarian than change a dictator. If any community lacks water, electricity, roads, etc …the parliamentarian should be put to task.

*Bakabak is a Researcher in Education/Human development,based in the USA

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