Thursday, September 25, 2014

Federation Is Solution to Cameroon’s Political Crisis!

    By Bara Mark B *
 The idea of 'regionalisation' or decentralization of Cameroon political system only came into being when the All Anglophones Conferences in 1993 and 1994 which called on the Biya's regime to revert to Federalism of two states-the original idea why Southern Cameroon gave their intention on 11th February 1961 to join the French over the Mungo.     
      In his paper: Because we were involved (Reflections on the All Anglophone Conference ten years after), by senior citizen Mwalimu George NGWANE, he declared “Whether the Anglophone problem is considered a forgotten scar of our collective memory or an open sore of our collective survival, it will continue to prick the conscience of the Cameroonian body-politic". Over the years the Government of President Paul Biya has been involved in decentralizing powers, changing the names of the provinces to regions. The Cameroun/Cameroon people have largely seen this as a smokescreen because nothing works in truth. The issue of decentralization or changing of names from provinces to regions is just a matter of semantics.
        Any political grouping in Cameroon that seeks change away from the current status quo by adhering to the Government of 'Regionalisation' or Decentralisation is just a lesser evil to the Biya's administration.
     Personally, my take is that any change to Cameroon political system without considering the reasons why Anglophones wanted to join the French would largely see a new form of Biya or Francophone government in another style or form. Cameroonians -and Anglophone youth especially, should recall that in the former federal constitution during the federal government, Anglophone MPs had the power of veto -meaning that any decision which the House (Parliament) took without the backing of absolute majority of the Anglophone MPs , such decision could not be accepted. This protected the minority rights of the Anglophone people.
Any proposed change to Cameroon system should state clearly how the Anglophone people shall be protected in the larger Francophone country. This issue of 'regionalizing' the government does not work; it's just a lesser evil of Biya's decentralization; it does not solve the Anglophone problem. 
 As an Anglophone political activist, I caution that Anglophone youths engaging in any political change should know where they are coming from; they should know the true history of Southern Cameroons, and above all they should not run from the issue.
Remember the original reasons why Southern Cameroonians voted to join French Cameroon was the idea of two states of equal status with alternating powers of all arms of government between the two Cameroons in a federal government.
In 1972, President Ahmadou Ahidjo- against the spirit and letter of the Constitution’ pushed through a new document that abolished the federal system, renamed the country the United Republic of Cameroon, and granted the president greater powers.
After assuming the presidency in November 1982, Paul Biya again in their assimilation style pushed through a revised Constitution in 1984. This document changed the country's name to the Republic of Cameroon- the name French Cameroon had at independence on 1st January 1960, thus completing the colonilization and assimilation of Southern Cameroon. Needless to mention the issue of Reunification as historians and constitutionalists of both Cameroons confirmed the illegality of the Union when they agreed in Yaounde on April 5, 2013 that no legal documents were established at the time of reunification between the two Cameroons to bind them in a union.
         It is interesting to note that my political friend from the other side of the Mungo (Francophone), a former Unionist, comrade Alain Ngono had this to say "On our nation, there should be no taboo. We shall be ready to listen to others. Whether we are against or in favour of SCNC, is not a big deal at this stage. The truth of the matter is that it is an issue that our generation will have to address. So we need to have the best possible understanding of it. We should not look at it with passion, favour or ignore it". This is the type of Cameroonians I am looking for, this is how our brothers from the French side should look at the future Cameroon .He stated it clearly that it is a problem our generation will have to solve and by inviting leaders of the SCNC movement on the table, a lot of things could change for the good of the entire Country; yet the Biya's government has ignored the calls for dialogue from the Banjul African Court.
       Another former student Union leader comrade Tata Mbinglo from Nkambe constituency corroborated comrade Ngono when he declared "We the youths are positivists. Let's hold each other's hand and walk through this gate to our destination. That which God has shown to us. It takes some time but we must get there as activists, politicians, scholars, civil society, youths, as SCNC, as religious organizations; one thing is certain we are getting there as a people! Each night before we go to bed, let's reflect on this, on where we started; it was Faith that brought us to this point, it is faith that will take us there". Comrade Tata has embodied all components of the Cameroon society to seek a new Cameroon. These are the new breed Cameroonians I am looking for in my quest to see a new Cameroon; people who cknowledge the problems of our people and are prepared to get involve in honest and sincere solutions.
      That said, personally I think the best form of Government that could address Cameroon political landscape is a federated state  with federal parliaments, independent structures, greater autonomy to both Cameroons to manage their affairs. It could be a two-state or ten- state solution transforming the regions to states or better still it could be the four- state solution as proposed by the SDF. Whatever form we want, all major actors must sit on the drawing board to map a new road for Cameroon. Let us not forget this as youths and most especially those of Anglophone extraction. We should always have in mind where we are coming from and what type of Cameroon we want to leave for our Children.
      I recall  that sometime in 2008/2009 in one of my write ups I defined Cameroon bilingualism as "the ability to read and understand French, whether you read and understand English does not matter so far as you speak and understand French, the job is largely yours." Thus, in my quest for a new Cameroon I do not want my children to fight through marginalization to succeed, I do not want my children to speak a particular language to succeed as we have seen in the military, police, government offices, national team etc. I want my children to live in a society where peace and justice is seen to be done for both cultures wherein they will succeed not because they are seen to speak French or they come from a particular area but based on meritocracy they are seen to succeed. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past.

*Bara Mark B is Cameroonian political Activist and freelance writer .He holds an M.Sc in Environmental Sanitation from the Faculty of Bio-science Engineering, University of Ghent, Belgium. Bara Mark is a former Student Union Leader UB and is currently the black student representative in the Faculty of Bio-science Engineering Council, University of Ghent.

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