Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Woman in Hiding in Protest of Forced Marriage

By Tangyie Akum        
Gwendoline   Munshi had heard rumor that she was a spouse –to- be of a traditional ruler in Nkambe subdivision, Donga-Mantung of Cameroon but she just laughed at it. 

Little did she know that what she considered rumor would be a reality in her life, as her foster father Ngome Shadrack Madugu, reports say, had secretly married her off to a traditional ruler (fon) in the Nkambe subdivision after collecting bride price.

Born in December 1973 of Esther Ntala, Gwendoline was raised by her foster father Ngome Shadrack Madugu, since her biological father was unknown, until she became an insurance broker in Buea.
She rarely went to the village but when her foster father died she went for the burial in Nkambe and stayed there for some days, only to be surprised by palace notables, sent to take the fon’s new ‘wife’.

 As she resisted, she was told how her marriage with the fon had since been concluded by her foster father who just passed on.

Shocked by such a revelation, an enlightened Munshi sneaked out of the village and returned to Buea, where she briefed her counsel, Barrister Njilla Stephen Esq. of BI-JURAL LAW FIRM,BUEA, in the hope that he would initiate legal action against the fon to protect her client’s Human Rights.

Barrister Njilla confirmed the violation of Munshi’s rights to The RECORDER and condemned such human rights abuses in Cameroon. He urged the media to do more in exposing illegal and inhuman acts.

The lawyer told The Recorder that there is no room for forced marriages in Cameroon. Legally-speaking, he said no marriage may be valid without the consent of both spouses –to-be.
Barrister Njilla disclosed that his office was already working on the file and would lodge a complaint with the appropriate authorities to ensure that Munshi’s Human Rights are fully protected. He said Munshi was now living in hiding to avoid confrontation with the village notables over the issue.

Barrister Njilla also cited Article 16(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which Cameroon is a signatrory, which states, “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses”

There are reportedly many cases of forced marriages in some Cameroonian villages, which, regrettably, go unreported.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cameroon:Newly Enthroned Chief of Sasse for Development & Unity.

New Chief of Sasse, Abel Mokuke Ndive, happily greets the population that turned-up at his coronation
By Christopher Ambe
At last, a new chief of Sasse village , which hosts St. Joseph’s College- fondly called Sasse, one of Cameroon’s most prestigious colleges, has been enthroned in an atmosphere of calm and peace, 

Abel Mokuke Ndive,a 42 year-old business man, who is the new chief, was Saturday ,17 January at the Village Square   officially presented to the public by the Divisional Officer for Buea,Paul Kouam Wokam, bringing to rest a bitter rivalry over who should  succeed Chief Joseph Molua Mokenge, who died in 1991,leaving the throne vacant for twenty-two(23) years.

New chief with Buea DO,Paul Wokam and Northwest fons
“Sasse village which has existed as any other Bakweri  village and situated in Buea  subdivision of Fako Division, is well documented in the archives of Cameroon, with acknowledgement of its agricultural prowess and the significant role it has played in Cameroon’s history”, said the pro-tem Chairman of Sasse village Traditional Council, Mola Liowe Francis. 

“We are happy that today we have a chief selected by the kingmakers of the village under the supervision of Government of the Republic here represented by the Divisional officer for Buea and in strict observation of Bakweri Traditional Rites and customs”
Mola Liowe noted that Sasse has been the pillar of education in Cameroon for more than 75 years.

He pledged the readiness of the entire village to support Chief Ndive, who, he said, “is the great-grandson of Mokenge mo Liowe, the first identifiable Chief of Sasse Village in the 1929 archived records”

He used the occasion to send a message of support and encouragement to President Biya for his able leadership of Cameroon.

Cross-section of chiefs of  Buea Subdivision
Northwest  Traditional dance group
The Divisional Officer for Buea Paul Kouam Wokam, urged the new chief to keep aside personal interest as a leader and promote development and unity in the village,as well as fight crime.
An elated Chief Ndive said his first priority would be to identify the village boundaries, the various families and to embark on agricultural development.

One of Sasse kingmakers, Associate Professor Ernest Molua, told The Recorder that the enthronement of the new chief “is the dawn of a new era. It is time for a new beginning since my grand-father late Chief Joseph Molua Mokenge died in September 1991.I am glad that my cousin has been enthroned to fill the vacuum -so that we start rebuilding the village, which hosts the prestigious St.Joseph’s College. We are well connected to the ex-students of the college who find themselves in diverse leadership positions in and out of the country, and we think with their support we can start rebuilding the village, making sure there is constant flow of water, electricity; a primary and even a secondary school provided –especially a vocational training centre

“We call on all Sasse sons and daughters to side aside whatever differences and come together for the rebuilding of this beautiful village...”
The university don says the new chief who is a graduate of Longla Commercial College and did his university education at Dschang, is hardworking, generous, creative and was found of the two candidates presented, worthy in character and expectations.

He said Sasse is also a beneficiary of CDC Land Surrender and therefore has the opportunity to expand the village and resettle people.
King maker, Prof. Ernest Molua
The Kingmaker invites development-oriented Cameroonians from diverse backgrounds to “join us in building Sasse. Yes, Sasse is welcoming to well-intentioned people with viable projects. We don’t want con men that will have access to land and end up trading off. In Sasse, we don’t sell land. We allocate you a piece of land to build immediately, and if you don’t live up to expectation, your materials would be seized immediately. My late grand father Chief Mokenge, for his reign of 40 years, never sold an inch of Sasse land. Why should we sell Sasse. Sasse is not for sale.But we are open to investors.”

Apart from Buea chiefs led by Paramount Chief SML Endeley who were present at the coronation, three fons from the Northwest Region who included Fon Fobuzie of Chomba not only witnessed the event but presented a traditional stool and staff to Chief Ndive, as symbol of royalty and authority.
Traditional dances from the Northwest and Southwest regions graced the ceremony.

Boko Haram fighters kidnap at least 60 in deadly Cameroon attack

A Cameroonian soldier looks at the Nigerian border through binoculars on November 12, 2014, in Amchide, northern Cameroon, after a city was raided by Boko Haram (AFP Photo/Reinnier Kaze)
Maltam (Cameroon) (AFP) – Boko Haram fighters kidnapped at least 60 people in a deadly attack in northern Cameroon on Sunday, police said, in the latest cross-border raid by the Nigeria-based Islamist group.

It came a day after neighbouring Chad deployed troops to combat Boko Haram in Cameroon and Nigeria, as part of a regional bid to combat the insurgents.
The militants “burst into two villages in the Tourou area… They torched houses and left with around 60 people. Most of them were women and children,” a police officer told AFP.

He said the attack had “left some people dead” without giving an exact toll, adding that the Cameroon army had “launched an operation” in the wake of the assault.
It is the largest abduction ever carried out in Cameroon’s Far North region by Boko Haram and comes amid mounting fears the group is expanding its operations into neighbouring countries.

Cameroon already came under attack last Monday when it said its troops repelled a raid by Boko Haram on a northern military base, killing 143 militants in the process.

- Suicide bombing -
Also on Sunday, a suicide bomber killed four people and wounded dozens in an attack on a bus station in Potiskum, northeastern Nigeria, police and hospital sources told AFP. 
“(The bomber) slowed his car twice… some distance from the bus station,‎ and he suddenly increased speed and rammed into buses lined up waiting for passengers,” local trader Umar Sani said.

A police officer said four bodies and 48 injured people had been taken from the scene.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the town has often come under attack from Boko Haram militants.

Also in Nigeria, Chadian troops are seeking to recapture the strategic city of Baga on the shores of Lake Chad, which straddles the borders of Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon and which fell to the Islamists early this month.

Many say the assault on Baga could be Boko Haram’s deadliest yet. Satellite pictures released by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch showed widespread destruction with around 3,700 buildings in Baga and nearby Doron Baga damaged or destroyed.

Amnesty says as many as 2,000 civilians may have been massacred, but Nigeria’s army objected to the “sensational” claims and said that the death toll in Baga was about 150.
Chad on Saturday sent troops, some 400 military vehicles and several attack helicopters to Cameroon and Nigeria to aid in the fight against the Islamist militants.
“We will advance towards the enemy tomorrow (Monday),” Chadian colonel Djerou Ibrahim, in charge of the operation, told AFP in the northern Cameroonian town of Maltam.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cameroon army kills 143 Boko Haram militants

Yaounde -The Cameroonian army killed 143 Boko Haram fighters who attacked a military base in the northern town of Kolofata on Monday, in what the government said was the militants' heaviest loss yet on its territory.
Boko Harm (File:AFP)
One Cameroonian soldier also lost his life in the clashes, Communications Minister and government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement read out on television and radio.
The toll was "the heaviest loss yet" suffered by Boko Haram on Cameroonian soil, he said, and comes at a time of fears of increased cross-border raids by the Nigeria-based group into Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The spokesperson said the attack began in the early hours when "several hundred" Islamist fighters took advantage of thick fog to cross over from Nigeria and tried to storm the town's military base, where an elite army unit is stationed.

Intense fighting
Intense fighting erupted near the base, lasting for more than five hours before the attackers fled back towards the border, the spokesman said, adding that the army had seized a significant arsenal of heavy weaponry from the militants.
A local source said residents fled "as soon as people heard the first gunfire" in the town.
The attack on Kolofata comes after the group's leader Abubakar Shekau vowed last week in a YouTube message to hit back at Cameroon for sending warplanes into action against the fighters in December after they seized a military camp.
Monday's offensive was the first by Boko Haram on the town since the army's elite Rapid Intervention Battalion was deployed to defend the area after deadly attacks in 2014.
Several people were killed in an attack on Kolofata in July and 27 people, including the wife of a deputy prime minister, were held hostage for several weeks by the Islamists.

Corpses everywhere
The insurgency by Boko Haram, which is fighting to create a hardline Islamic state in north-eastern Nigeria, has left more than 13 000 dead and 1.5 million displaced since 2009.
The group has seized dozens of towns and villages in northeast Nigeria in the last six months and now reportedly controls large parts of Borno state, which borders Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Meanwhile in the Borno state town of Baga, a resident on Monday said he saw "corpses everywhere" following a major assault by the militants there last week.
"They have set up barricades in strategic locations in the town. There are corpses everywhere. The whole town smells of decomposing bodies," Borye Kime, who fled the attack to Chad but returned briefly on Monday to collect some possessions, told AFP.
Local officials have cited huge numbers of dead in the attack on the town on the shores of Lake Chad in Borno state. There was no possibility of immediately confirming the figures.
Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan has been fiercely criticised for his failure to beat back Boko Haram, whose territorial gains have led to fears of a total collapse of government control in the northeast.

Cameroon Dysfunctional Opposition: Lessons From Sri Lanka

By Asonganyi Tazoacha*
      Sri Lanka is a South Asian country with a population of about 21 million settled in a land area of 65610 square kilometers. It is similar to Cameroon with a population of some 20 million spread out on a land area of 474926 square kilometers. The voting age is 18 while it is 20 in Cameroon.  At 8 January 2015 presidential election, total registered voters were 15.044.490; for the 2011 presidential election in Cameroon, total registered voters were 7.521.651. Sri Lanka used a single ballot while Cameroon had a ballot for every candidate; there were 12,314 polling stations in the 22 administrative districts in Sri Lanka and some 23000 in 10 regions in Cameroon. Nineteen nominations were received by the Elections Department all of which were accepted; 53 nominations were received in Cameroon and 23 were accepted. 
    The constitution of Sri Lanka provided for a presidential term of six years renewable once; the Cameroon constitution provided for a presidential term of seven years renewable once. The incumbent Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in for a second term in November 2010, while the incumbent president in Cameroon was sworn in for a second term in November 2004. 
    In the euphoria of the Rajapaksa government's crushing of the rebel Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE), Rajapaksa announced early presidential elections in May 2009 which held in January 2010; he won comfortably and secured his second term. Interestingly, the Sri Lanka Supreme Court ruled that his second term would only start in November 2010. In September 2010, Parliament which was controlled by Rajapaksa's UPFA went ahead before the November swearing in to amend the constitution to remove the term-limit clause. Thus, by the time Rajapaksa was sworn in for his second term, the stage was set for his third term.  This was virtually the same scenario in Cameroon. In 2008, four years into the second term of Paul Biya, there were mass protests against his announced intention to amend the constitution to remove the term-limit clause. In spite of the protests, Parliament which was controlled by Paul Biya’s CPDM went ahead to amend the constitution to remove the term-limit clause. So he too was set to run for a third term come the end of the second term in 2011. 
    The opposition leader in Sri Lanka was Ramil Wickremesinghe. Between 2001 and 2004, he was Prime Minister of Sri Lanka because his coalition had a majority in parliament.  At the legislative elections in 2004, his UNP-led coalition (United National Front) won 37.8% of the popular vote and 82 out of 225 seats in Parliament, emerging as the second largest group in parliament. In the presidential election of 17 November 2004, Wickremesinghe came second with 48.4% of the votes; it was widely believed that if not for the boycott of the polls in the North and parts of the East, allegedly due to LTTE intimidation, Wickramsinghe would have won. So, when on 20 November 2014 Sri Lanka president Rajapaksa issued a proclamation calling for an early presidential election, his strategies were based on the assumption that UNP leader Wickremesinghe would be his principal challenger. He was wrong because he was unaware that the coalition also had a game plan!  
    First, the coalition knew that the opposition bloc voters were willing to support whoever was recommended to them.  Second, the coalition also knew that many powerful regime persons were against the way Rajapaksa was running the country. Third, the opposition coalition had been in place for some years, strategizing together and bearing the brunt of the dictatorship of Rajapaksa together. This is why the coalition was fishing for a person with the ability to win over the ruling party supporters who were dissatisfied with the Rajapaksa presidency while ensuring that their coalition bloc remained intact.  
    The coalition saw Maithripala Sirisena as the best man to get the disgruntled bloc in the government behind the coalition, so they went for him. He was seen as somebody not only reputed for honesty, hard work and probity in a regime known for its highhandedness, graft and nepotism, but also capable of keeping the coalition together. There were secret contacts and deals between the coalition and Sirisena. Sirisena resigned abruptly from government following the convening of the electoral corps and announced on 21 November 2014, that he would challenge incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the 2015 presidential election as the common opposition candidate. This last minute announcement of Maithripala Sirisena as the Common candidate threw Rajapaksa off balance.  
    Sirisena immediately received the support of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga and several UPFA MPs that had resigned with him. There were several other resignations from the government to support his candidature. He promised to reform the executive presidency, and repeal the amendment that removed the term-limit clause within 100 days; and to appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe as Prime Minister. Under the patronage the venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha thero, a Sinhalese Buddhist monk, he publicly signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with 36 opposition parties/civic groups reiterating his promise to abolish the executive presidency, hold parliamentary elections, form an all-party national government and carry out various political reforms.      And so in spite of massive protests against a third term for the incumbent,  Mahinda Rajapaksa was the candidate of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) to seek a third term, while the United National Party (UNP)-led opposition coalition fielded Maithripala Sirisena to challenge him. Te peole of Sri Lanka epressed their will on 8 Januar 2015 and Sirisena was declared the winner after receiving 51.3% of all votes cast compared to Rajapaksa's 47.6%.  Rajapaksa conceded defeat.
    Of course, like in the past, the Sri Lankan elections were characterized by violence, misuse of state resources, misuse of the public service and many other violations of election laws, all to favour the incumbent, but this could not stand against the people’s will to change. As Ranil Wickremasinghe, the opposition leader that made all of it happen put it:
“…People with different political ideologies and policies have come together for a unique cause. To do politics, there should be democracy. ...Despite party differences…we have all realized that the most crucial problem facing the country today is the Rajapaksa family, its corruption and autocratic style of governance…Our message will be loud and clear for all politicians. It will prove that no matter how you abuse power and try to thrive on corruption and brutality, when the people rise against corruption and injustice, you have no hope of staying in power. That is a message that should be read by all politicians in this country, even those who are next elected…” 
   Wickremasinghe also added that “The country cannot be at the mercy of politicians. There have to be systems and regulations to ensure that even those with seemingly unlimited power will be prosecuted. The problem with our country is that people in power seem to be able to get away with anything. We cannot make thieves and crooks honest. But we can bring in laws and regulations that will ensure anyone who breaks the law or steals from the public will pay a penalty before the law…”
He continued…“Our ideologies may be different. We may have different political goals. But even people with all these differences can also agree on certain, very essential things. Despite our differences, every party in this alliance and every party endorsing Mr. Maithripala Sirisena can agree on certain basic things. We all want to live in a democratic country. We want an independent judiciary. We want our police and our public service to be free of political influence. We want our media to be free. We want an independent election commission. We want rule of law to be established. We want this culture of impunity to end. What stops us all from coming together on such an agenda? Absolutely nothing. The common enemy of all democratic forces is the corrupt and autocratic Rajapaksa regime…we are standing together for the common good even if it means each of us has to compromise something...” 
    Ranil Wickremasinghe could have been saying all this to ask his peers to endorse him as the common candidate. But he did not just want to be a runner-up in perpetuity; he wanted to end a regime that made the practice of democracy impossible in his country. And so he sacrificed his personal ambition so that his peers would also sacrifice theirs, to allow them to look for an appropriate joker for their game plan. Their success is a message for opposition parties and leaders in Africa, and especially in Cameroon where opposition coalitions have failed so often, to follow their example in order to defeat the forces that have taken their countries hostage for so long.
*Asonganyi Tazoacha is a university don and former Secretary-General of the Social Democratic Front,Cameroon's leading opposition party.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Breaking the Silence: Hon. Ayah speaks out after Supreme Court Appointment

Hon.Lord Justice Ayah Paul Abine
Following his promotion last December as Advocate-General at the Supreme Court of Cameroon, which came shortly after his alleged election as the new National Chairman of the Southern Cameroons National Council(SCNC), Hon.Ayah, was  not immediately available  for  inquisitive reporters  to get his reaction about his new status. Last Friday January 2, Recorder Editor Christopher Ambe caught up with the Magistrate of Exceptional Class in Buea  for an exclusive interview. Hon. Ayah, who just returned from his native village of Akwaya, did not hesitate to speak out. Below are excerpts of our conversation:
RECORDER: Hon. Ayah, happy New Year.

Hon Ayah :Thank you .Thank you for coming .Happy New Year to you in return.

RECORDER:Honorable, how would you as a polititician describe the just-ended year 2014?

Hon Ayah:2014 was more of a fake year than otherwise in terms of politics. We have often said that there is no legality in what we call reunification in Cameroon. So the big event titled “The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Reunification of Cameroon” was really fake. As I have often said, our parliament has ceased to play the role of a parliament-because we don’t see a situation where Parliament is in session to enact the finance law and while they are still in session, the President of the Republic -after a cabinet meeting, comes out with they call Plan d’Urgence-that is, revenue outside the control of Parliament. 
    The much I know is that the Cameroon Constitution provides that the President can, by ordinance, make use of revenue outside the budget; and subsequently, Parliament would meet and either endorse the ordinance or reject it. But I know no law anywhere where we can have two parallel budgets in a country: the one adopted by Parliament and the one adopted by the President of the country. This is violation of the Constitution. And when we put into practical terms, the investment budget of 2014 was executed at less than 35%, now if we have adopted a budget which is even higher in amount and the President has superimposed what they call Plan d’Urgence up to a thousand billion FCFA, I doubt where the President is going to get the people who will execute the budget and the Plan d’Urgence.The very people who could not execute the budget of 2014?  So to me, it is a paradox .In terms of political events, I would say nothing really happened in 2014.

RECORDER:What is your reaction to President Biya’s New Year Message?

Hon Ayah:I know the President has just made an end-of -year speech but everything in that speech is just routine. Countries around have gone to war over the years, yet they are developing. If Boko Haram-what they call a terrorist organization, is causing havoc, I don’t see how anyone can invoke it as a cause for our country not to develop. Indeed, 2014 was simply a year of contradictions.

RECORDER:A few days before the end of 2014, your name, I understand, was a subject of discussion in various newsrooms of the national media, because you were allegedly elected in absentia as National Chairman of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC); then shortly, in a answer to your cry, to be re-integrated into the Ministry of Justice after your 11 years in Parliament, President Paul Biya appointed or promoted you to the rank of Advocate-General at the Supreme Court. What is your reaction?

Hon Ayah:My reaction, first, is that I have decided not to say anything about SCNC in the time being. I may give you another opportunity to come for an interview on the SCNC on a subsequent date. So, I would not say anything in that regard now

     As regards my going back to Ministry of Justice, I read a few write-ups which have no meaning. I think that, modesty demands that if somebody does not know, they should seek expert opinion. What I know is that the law of this country makes it possible to leave your department as a civil servant and work in another department; and the law provides for detachment. (I have heard the word secondment, but I have not seen it in an English dictionary. So I prefer detachment) When you are so detached,at the end of your period of detachment, the law provides that you come back to your former department as of right; the law on the election of Members of Parliament equally provides that for all the time you are in Parliament if you are a member of the judiciary, you are on detachment; which is  to say what? For my eleven years in Parliament I was on detachment and as a matter of law and at the end of my mandate, I had to go back to my ministry of origin as of right. This is a matter of law as I have said and I, as a man of law should not be the first man to go against that law.

    I would have been re-absorbed in the Ministry of Justice as soon as my mandate came to an end in September 2013 in accordance with the law, but for one reason or the other that was not the case and I had to wait for fifteen months.

    Probably as some people have indicated it was because the Judicial Council had to meet to re-absorb me. I entered Parliament as Vice-President of the Court of Appeal here in Buea and therefore a magistrate of the bench, and I could not be absorbed until the Judicial Council had to say something about it. So is the law and I have simply complied with it.

RECORDER:Honourable Justice Ayah, conscious of some landmark judgments that you have passed, many people would have preferred that you be appointed as a judge at the Supreme Court. Are you happy with your appointment as Advocate-General?

Hon Ayah:In the Cameroon judiciary things are not as they are in the Anglophone system. The position of Advocate-General may be translated simply as Deputy Attorney-General in the Anglo-Saxon system. With the English system-Common Law, everybody is a lawyer. They practice the law (and the judges sitting up there) and when you shine, you are now raised from down there to the bench, and once you are raised to the bench you remain there until retirement or death or whatever. In the Cameroonian system, you can be on the bench this year and next year you go to the Legal Department. Or, you are in the Legal Department and the next time you are on the bench. I don’t know what criteria they use but so it is!

     The fact, however, remains that in my career I was essentially on the bench. For my twenty-four years before entering Parliament, I was on the bench for twenty years and in the Legal Department for just four years. So whatever they used to keep me on the bench I wouldn’t know and whatever they have used now to put me in the Legal Department I wouldn’t know either; but the point is that wherever you are you do justice!

I have done my best I think many people might have seen what I tried to do.So, wherever I am I would render justice to everybody without fear or favor. The public can count on me.

RECORDER:Conscious of the courage and dynamism in your leadership  some people feel that you should have turned down your appointment as Advocate-General, and continue as a politician and Secretary-General of Peoples Action Party(PAP).As Advocate-General ,could you still practice politics?

Hon Ayah:Let me say something. We do a lot of talking in the country with little action and people draw conclusions with very little knowledge of the real situation on the field. I was member of the judiciary; my people cried out and I got into politics. Now I have gone  back to the judiciary-because I have a choice either not to go or to go.
     I applied to go on early retirement and my application was turned down .But just sitting down and saying I will continue in politics does not make sense. These are the first people to cry that you cannot do politics without money. And If I have stayed for 15 months without a franc I don’t know what politics I would have done without a source of income. So, the choice is entirely mine and I think that it is better for me to build my career. 
    Those who heard the appointment and those who are reading me would understand that, I was raised to the highest point in the Judiciary; I was raised to Index 1300, backdated to July 1, 2012, which means that by now in accordance with the law-the statute on the Judiciary I have clocked Index 1400.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. You cannot work for the society without being alive, without having the means to work.

      So working for the society is one thing, but you have to work for yourself as another thing. And, without working for yourself, you cannot work for society. My Priest recently told me that the only useful person is the person who is alive.

I don’t see how I can do politics without a means of livelihood.

     For all the time I have been in politics I have received very little support from Cameroonians in terms of material support. For the whole presidential election, all the money anybody gave me here in Cameroon amounted to almost one hundred thousand Francs-as presidential candidate. So when people say you have the dynamics to lead in politics, they are paying lip-service; If they give you the means to do that ,of course you would do it but they do all the talking, but very little ,practically.

       Now, Can I do politics as an advocate –general of the Supreme Court?

I am well aware that I have two impediments: One is the issue of neutrality. In fact, I prefer impartiality. And then, you must be reserved. Reserved in the sense that if a matter crops up and you have expressed an opinion about the matter and if it eventually comes before you, you must decline jurisdiction. So there you have those two impediments. But as much as I have read in the law in this country, only people in uniform and who carry guns, and administrators are barred from practicing politics while they are civil servants. I have not seen anything that precludes a magistrate from doing politics.

Again, as a member of the Legal Department, as a legal officer, you don’t take final decisions. You submit, the person who takes the final decision is the person presiding. Again, you have the possibility of self-recusal (a legal jargon), that is you say that ‘I have an interest and so I cannot hear it, I cannot prosecute it or I cannot represent the state with regards of the matter’. So, those possibilities are there.Everyhting put together as I have explained, there is nothing that bars a magistrate of the Legal Department from practicing politics.

RECORDER:Would you not consider giving up the position of Secretary-General of People’s Action Party (PAP) so that you concentrate better on your career for now?

Hon Ayah:I will think about that. But for the time being I cannot give an outright answer .People at times look at political parties in Cameroon in terms of individuals. A political party is a group of people; so one person, perhaps, not leading does not mean that it is the end of the party. I agree entirely that in respect of PAP a good many people came forward and joined because they knew me and bought my ideas. But now that I have reduced the ideas into writing, they are there to guide the rest of the people just in case I decide to step aside

RECORDER:Let me take you back to your salary situation. For some 15 months ago you went without your monthly salary and the people who want you to lead in the political domain, I mean your supporters (apart from your family) did not come to your assistance. What is your salary situation now?

 Hon Ayah:In fact, this is the sixteenth month without a salary; 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. At the moment, the situation has not changed where I was in the last 15 months.

( First Published in The RECORDER Newspaper, Cameroon, of January 8, 2015 )

Paul Biya and 2014: Another Catalogue of Failures and Development Bluffs!

By Asonganyi Tazoacha

Some hours before 8:00 p.m. when Paul Biya had to address the nation
( President Paul Biya 's New Year Message..), I bought a copy of Marafa Hamidou Yaya’s recent book “Le Choix de l’Action” [Choice of Action]. Since I was very interested in the elections he organized, I quickly thumbed through the book and fell on p. 57 where a telephone exchange he had with Paul Biya related to the election of Jean Jacques Ekindi in 2007 to the National Assembly from Wouri Centre constituency, is reported. It left me upset and disappointed that indeed, the people’s will has always been manipulated from the summit of the state by the same person who always refers to the people’s will when he is asked why he is still hanging on for 32 years.
     It is in that state of despair that I sat checking his past New Year messages while waiting for the griots to draw the curtains. So by the time he started speaking, I had just read what he said on December 31,  2011: “we now have a roadmap, the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper which sets the objectives for this decade…”; we are entering our “first phase of a ‘long march’ towards being an emergent country…” like the “new Asian dragons some 30 years ago”; Cameroon would be a “vast construction site in 2012”; “in the past, government action suffered from lack of entrepreneurial approach and the administration from inactivity. We must overcome this inertia which has caused us so much harm”; “corruption is an insidious and dreadful enemy”; there will be a “new impetus” …
    On December 31,  2012 he promised victory over the energy “battle,” linking of regional capitals with tarred roads, the “agrarian revolution,” that “in a couple of months or a couple of years our country will be dotted with construction sites, dams, power plants, ports, factories and road,” etc.  And the rhetorical questions of December 31, 2013: “Are we different from others that are succeeding in other places? What do we lack? What is the use of some follow-up commissions? Why does government action lack coherence and transparency? Why are there so many administrative bottlenecks...?”
Well, here we are at the end of 2014 or at the beginning of 2015. There is no way of having a structured examination of the message because it did not really have a structure. It is interesting how we believed these utterances even after some 30 unproductive years about vast construction sites, energy battles, road maps, agrarian revolutions, and … “emergence”! As expected, everything has become blurred just a few years after the “emergence” mantra entered our political discourse. That blurring has caused the tinkering of another buzz word: “contingency plan!”
     When the regime engaged in a fast and loose game with its actions at the council of ministers’ meeting of December 9, 2014, there was no doubt that it was just a frantic effort to write the script of the end-of-year message. After all, a contingency plan was promised in the December 31, 2013 message, so with a few days left, something needed to be done! And so they engaged in another aimless search for “newness” by adding “contingency plan” to their evolving vocabulary of “development”: ambition, realization, emergence, and now …contingency plan! And who do we have to look over it? Not the government, not a group of hired multidisciplinary experts, but a group of ministers led by the prime minister! If such a small group of ministers can follow-up a “plan” that will get us out of the tunnel, why the large government the regime sustains?
    Not to worry because the “plan” is just a plan. The regime is good at indulging in these types of games of misdiagnosis and partial diagnosis that give them outcomes beyond their comprehension, so they always package placebos and tote them around as cures! Nothing can be expected from a government run as several disjointed parts, manned by people who consider themselves “creations” of one man, whom they spend their time worshipping instead of working as a coordinated team to serve the interests of the nation. The regime is surely at its wits’ end!
    Our abhorrence of repressive instruments, whether they are the 1962 anti-subversion ordinance or the 2014 anti-terrorism law is based on our distrust of a regime that abused the anti-subversive ordinance to create more problems for society. We remember Bebey Eyidi and others that were jailed as “subversives” for criticizing Ahidjo; we remember Yondo Black and others that were jailed by Biya as “subversives” just for thinking about multiparty politics. We remember how Ahidjo imposed his one-party regime and subverted the reunification agenda in a society cowed by the anti-subversion ordinance. Importantly, we remember how Law no 90/054 on the maintenance of law and order has been abused by administrative authorities to seriously reduce the societal space in which civil society and opposition political parties were supposed to carry out their activities.
    The letter of the anti-terrorism law may not be to repress social liberties, but the above self-serving abuses inform us not to trust a regime that has orchestrated those abuses in the past. In an age when humans sentence themselves to death by acting like suicide bombers, the political and social consequences of the death sentence should always be well considered to avoid outcomes like those that followed the execution in 1995 of leaders of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), including its founder Ken Saro-Wirwa, or the execution of Boko Haram founder Mohamed Yusuf in 2009, to name just those two cases. It is also appropriate to sound the warning again: in applying the anti-terrorism law, we should beware of McCarthyism!
      On top of these worries, when an instrument meant for the protection of citizens and their properties is used to breach the rights of citizens to their individuality, the emergence of citizen responsibility is blocked. In the absence of such responsibility, there can be no solidarity. And in the absence of solidarity in society, no force can fight against the monster of modern terrorism. Citizen responsibility is like the responsibility of a family member for the behavior of other family members. From past experience, we fear that the spirit of the anti-terrorism law may endanger citizen responsibility because it seems to be more about the safety of the Biya regime which most Cameroonians no longer want, than about the security of the nation which all Cameroonians want and are anxious to support.
     On December 31, 2013 Paul Biya said that the constitutional council would be put in place in “un délai raisonnable” [a reasonable time]. There must be some mystery about the Constitutional Council, not the simple putting together of people from different structures in the manner prescribed up to 19 years ago by the Constitution of January 18, 1996. If the regime agonizes over a simple matter like this, more difficult actions needed to unleash the nation’s potential in manufacturing, in services, and indeed in all sectors will take it a very long time – if ever! This toying with simple actions is indeed a metaphor for the laxity that we keep hearing about from its champion.
    The problem of Cameroon today does not seem to be the lack of budgetary allocations because each year, annual budgets are under-spent, and much of the budgeted money is embezzled. The problem is therefore not about cutting costs and charging more taxes or spending scarce resources on the fight against terrorism. The problem is government systems and procedures that do not just work. The problem is the way we have done things during 30-some years which cannot produce different results. The problem is an environment bounded by repressive laws that inhibit the free flow of ideas, obstruct interactions between people with different perspectives, and lock up citizen potentials.   The problem cannot really be said to be the absence of “peace” because we cannot convincingly say that our achievements during the last 30 year of “peace” – before Boko Haram et al. – can be described as “positive.”
The problem of our society is roads that are built without a maintenance infrastructure (periodic, routine or rehabilitation) so they become weak and dilapidated with age like we witness all over the country. The problem is that we are unable to appropriately streamline our investment projects along our two seasons of rain and sunshine. The problem is the absence of a transparent and efficient anti-corruption program which is not itself mired in corruption. The problem is that too many decisions in the country are in the hands of too few and too same people. The problem is that those at the summit of the state still have a one-party mindset, and treat those who criticize or differ with state authorities like enemies.
    A government must have an overall strategy of service delivery to society. Government departments should be run by people who consider themselves business leaders, capable of continuous innovative and strategic thinking and action. Such strategies and innovations should be discussed, evaluated and fine-tuned in regular ministerial council meetings. Ministerial council meetings are not supposed to be a monologue. The president who constitutionally presides over the meetings should use the forum to draw from the collective expertise of each participant, not for staging the shows that give the impression of a haughty master in a kindergarten classroom.
     It is amusing after reading the exchanges between Marafa Hamidou Yaya and Paul Biya as indicated above, to hear him say that our democracy is “working well!” There is obviously a serious disconnect between the people and the regime of Paul Biya. At the end of the day, development is a human product. However many “plans” or much money is thrown into the process,  when the people are not in the right mood, only the same results of failure and end-of-year rhetorical questions will keep repeating themselves.
     The fact that the outcomes of government actions do not produce desired services for so long a time is an indication that government is stuck in an unproductive routine. Perhaps the some university dons or other experts need to carry out some human-sciences-based analyses on both government and the society it serves to find insights that can be translated to productive initiatives, different from the decorative “plans” that always end up in failure and the enrichment of regime barons through corruption and embezzlement. But such insights may be beyond the comprehension of a gerontocracy.    That is precisely why the need for change in Cameroon is so urgent.

Suspended fifth year Cameroonian pharmacy student in USA protests!

*John Mbawe thinks he is victim of racism and threatens legal action.
*Appeals for intervention of Human Rights crusaders.

By Christopher Ambe

Mbawe John:
  A Cameroonian, John Mbawe, who has already done five of the six years required to qualify as a doctor of pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy, Ferris State University, Michigan, United States of America, has reportedly been suspended from further study allegedly for medical reasons, but the student who says he is healthy and was doing well in school, holds that his suspension was racially motivated.
      Mbawe, who is said to be a permanent resident in the US and has reportedly spent about 170,000 US dollars (FCFA 85 million), which is  the US Government-backed student loan, undergoing the training, told The Recorder:
“I was maliciously withdrawn from the program for no just cause. I strongly believe the actions by the school and the city were racially motivated.”
     All attempts by The Recorder to get the college officials react to Mbawe’s allegations were futile. The Recorder sent t three emails to Dr. Stephen Durst, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, Ferris State University, to David L. Eisler, President of the University and Chairman of Board of trustees, as well as to Tara Lee, Administrative Specialist, Dean's Office -since on the 15th and 20th of December 2014-for them to confirm or refute the allegations, but up to when we were going to print this edition, none of them had even acknowledged receipt of the email.
Following is The Recorder’s email to the college officials:


“We are a newspaper, called The RECORDER  in Cameroon (Central Africa) with head office in the town of  Buea.              
 Sir, we write to find out from  your office about an allegation from one Cameroonian 5th year pharmacy student by name John Mbawe,whose student identify card is attached herewith, that he was unjustifiably dismissed from your prestigious College of Pharmacy, Ferris State University,USA.
We would be grateful if you can confirm or refute the allegation because we plan to do a story based on the complaint he has sent to our newsroom
 We look forward to receiving your reply ASAP
 Yours Truly “
       However, The Recorder learned from other sources that the Cameroonian student was suspended by the College supposedly for health reason, so that Mbawe who was reportedly sick could fully recover and stabilize his life to continue his study sometime later. Mbawe has dismissed the claim that he was sick..    Mbawe, who said he was one of two black students in a white-dominated class of 150 students, alleges that before his suspension he had complained to the school administration about his molestation by some students and professors. “During my first two years of the program, I was bullied and provoked [because] of my nationality, my race both students and some professors”, he wrote in an email to us.     
     The Cameroonian student says because of his complaint against some white professors to the school administration, he was later framed-up in what he described as a false report by some white professors to the police, which led to his arrest and detention for two weeks. “I sat in an ongoing class one day and two police officers came to school and arrested me,” he alleged, adding “The police officers pulled me out, carried me in their car and locked me up, imprisoned me in a house for sixteen (16) days. While in the house, I was electrocuted and drugged. I reminded them in several occasions that I was a student and I was missing my classes”
      Mbawe claimed he contacted the Cameroon Embassy in Washington, which said they would only react if they received a formal complaint, which he did not submit because of some difficulty he faced. 
      Upon his release from detention, he told us, “I went back to school to finish the semester. However, I was told that I had been withdrawn from my program for having been absent from school for long”
Mbawe's Student ID car
    Mbawe alleges that even the Office of the Attorney-General in Detroit, which he contacted, did not help him out of his predicament. “I even left the city and drove to Detroit to the Attorney General office, but I was threatened with arrest if I did not leave.
“I was asked, forced to leave the city after it was realized I would not back down in my search for justice.  Because I would not leave, I was attacked and my head severely injured in a manner that almost got me impaired. When I went to the police office with the bleeding and swollen skull to make a report, I was arrested again detained and charged with trespassing at the police station”, he alleged. “I had parked my car in front of the police station when I went to make the report. Nonetheless when I came back to take my car the next day after I was released from the illegal detention, my car had been confiscated, seized, and impounded. I know for sure this an attempt to prevent me from leaving the city to make reports. The car was illegally confined for 58 days, and all documents and proves of what has been happening to me taken away.”
     He said he decided to narrate his ordeal to The Recorder because all attempts to get his plight reported by some US media houses failed. He said he “contacted The Dr. Phil Show, Anderson Cooper 360, The Ed Show by mail, but his mails disappeared along the way’
     Threatening to sue the College of Pharmacy, Mbawe   has launched an appeal for human rights organizations to come to his assistance in his search for justice. “I am pleading with anyone out there who believes in justice and human rights to stand up for me. My life is in serious risk,” he voiced out.
     The Cameroonian student, who has been out of school now for more than a year, and has reportedly contacted various US offices, hoping that his situation would be addressed, is yet to get a positive feedback..It is not clear whether the matter is under consideration or has been shelved.
    But Mbawe believes that he will eventually get justice in the USA, which is one of the strongest advocates of the rule of law and respect for Human Rights.
 (First Published In The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon,of January 8,2015)

NB: Mbawe John can be  reached by these contacts:  or Tel: 001 77 33 70 65 35