Monday, December 9, 2013

Cameroon:Mayor Ekema’s “Change has come to Buea” Poster Sparks Debate

By Christopher Ambe
Following Ekema Patrick Esunge’s brilliant election as Mayor of Buea and just before his installation in to office, huge and attention-catching posters placed at strategic positions (Mile 17 Motor Park and Bongo Square) in the municipality, carried the bold inscription “Change has come to Buea” and were only torn down a few days ago 
     To critical thinkers, the poster message “Change has come” suggests that a Messiah has come to town. There is no doubt that Mayor Ekema may –God being his helper-turn out to be the solution to the development problems of Buea. 
   But what is worrying to pundits is the early announcement of the coming of this “messiah”, which, of course, has sparked off debate in and out of Buea.
    Action, it is said, speaks louder than words. Many had thought that the new mayor’s development projects would do the talking for him and not the other way round.
    His “Change has come to Buea” posters, only  comparable to the  large size of those used by President Biya during the last presidential election, has sparked a debate amongst those who saw or  heard about the public notice, as to what he means by “Change has come to Buea”
    At the time of posting this write-up the Ekema posters had just been removed from the billboards apparently to give room for those of President Paul Biya, who is expected to chair the 50th anniversary celebrations of Cameroon’s Reunification in Buea in the days ahead.
   Critics of the posters-and there are many, say they were uncalled for  considering that Mola Ekema had already been smoothly elected mayor. Some interpreted the poster message to mean that the mayor and his team plan to do far more in terms of infrastructural development than what Senator Charles Mbella Moki, had done in his eleven years as Mayor of Buea, for which the latter has not stopped receiving accolade from both the public and the authorities. Many others have given different interpretations to the public notice.
    In trying to make meaning out of the public notice, The Recorder recently stopped at the Mayor’s office but did not succeed to get the busy Mayor elaborate on his poster message. But when questioned in an interview with The Post, about his slogan   “Change has come to Buea”, Mayor Ekema said:
   “Change is not a static phenomenon.Rather, the first thing is to condition the mind of the people that there is change.First,we will begin with psychological change. Priority among our ideas is reinforcing the volume of water supply within the municipality, and then we embark on earth roads, principally farm-to-market roads and then expand street lighting. So, if there is increase, it is change. If you move from one to two, it is change; if you move from two to one it is change. Change is either positive or these circumstances, we are talking about positive change”
    Also commenting on the “Change has come” slogan, Professor Victor Julius Ngoh, who is Buea Council team leader, told to The Recorder: “The caption ‘Change has come’ indicates very clearly that the new team has taken a decision to work as a team; that is collective responsibility. And when we say change, we mean those who are running the council with the full support of the councilors, are out for the economic, social, cultural and political development of the Buea Municipality. And that change will be very visible. Those days are gone when the management of the Council made people to feel that certain areas were not part of the Buea municipality; all the villages will feel the touch of this administration led by Mr. Ekema Patrick. 
    “Another point is that the number of female councilors has increased. This is the first time for Buea Council to have that number- 14 female councillors.”
    Professor Ngoh further said, “More importantly, in the history of the Buea Council, since Independence and Reunification, this is the first time that a non-indigene has been elected a deputy mayor in the person of Madam Comfort Ojongkpott”
    During the installation of Mayor Ekema and his four deputies by Zang III at the Buea Independence Square, the latter was categorically told to put partisan politics aside and now work for the common good of the municipality in the economic, sociocultural and touristic domains; ensure hygiene and sanitation, ensure peace and security and enhance infrastructural development. The mayor was called upon to must work in collaboration with development stakeholders within in his effort to modernize the municipality
    Mayor Ekema, who replaced Charles Mbella(first as Interim Mayor and then Mayor) is a native of Buea .He was born on September 26,1976  and  is married.
    After his election as mayor, he successfully defended  his Masters Degree in History from the University of Buea, where he is also Faculty Officer in the Faculty of Arts.
    The mayor  was installed along with his four deputies: Emmanuel Motomby Mbome( 1st  deputy mayor), Lyonga John Effande(2nd Deputy mayor), Mosoko Edward  Motuwe(3rd   Deputy Mayor) and  Comfort Ojongkpott(4th Deputy Mayor)
(This piece will also appear in  next edition of The Recorder Newspaper, Cameroon)

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