Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Anglophone Crisis: SW Governor Worried Over Mass Exodus

Governor Okalia Bilai(left) discouraging exodus
By Christopher Ambe

The carnage that the Northwest and Southwest regions have witnessed since the eruption of the deadly Anglophone crisis in 2016 has put citizens of the said regions in a state of fear.
In spite of persistent assurances by the Government that adequate security measures have been taken to protect lives and property, panic-stricken residents of the Southwest are fleeing in search of safety, leaving the region’s governor,Bernard Okalia Bilai,worried.
Frightened families,in their thousands and carrying heavy luggages such as bed, kitchen equipment and even live domestic animals-are now abandoning the two English-speaking regions, hitherto their comfort zones but now battle grounds for armed separatists and government forces, to towns in French-speaking regions, an indication that there is a real or perceived security threat.
The mass exodus has been provoked by threats from separatists, who have been fighting for the independence of Anglophones. The separatists have vowed that they will not allow any movement of people and vehicles in Anglophone Cameroon, several days before the   October 7,2018 presidential election, which they plan to disrupt.
Also, the beeped up security measures by Government to counter any separatist attacks is increasing citizens’ fear, conscious that many innocent people have reportedly been killed by stray bullets.
The separatist leaders, who have a huge following back home, claim the two English-speaking regions have become a separate country called Ambazonia.
Faced with this predicament, a disturbed Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, has been pleading with the population of his region not to relocate, a call that many have decided to ignore.
The Governor, last Saturday, visited the Buea Mile 17 Motor Park, to personally discourage huge luggage-carrying citizens from fleeing their homes in the region to towns in French-speaking regions.
The governor’s visit to the motor park came after he had issued a communiqué dated 14 September 2018(broadcast repeatedly over CRTV Buea),urging people not to be scared of any threat from separatists.
“Since the beginning of the week especially a few days back, we have observed the mass exodus of the population out of the towns of Buea Kumba,Limbe and Mamfe etc to areas and localities out of the region on grounds that terrorists and other specialists of intoxication and manipulation are claiming that public authorities intend to prohibit all movements and circulation as from September 15,2018”,said Okalia Bilai, in the communiqué, insisting that “these are unfounded rumors being spread in order to terrorize and provoke panic among the populations”.
He called on the population to rather continue carrying out their daily activities as usual, and to send children to school,in a region where school resumption has remained  scandalously timid.
The governor appealed to the population to trust the administration, security and defense forces who, he noted,“for the past two years have guaranteed their security and protection against these same terrorists and secessionists”
Okalia Bilai assured: “Indeed, adequate measures have been taken to ensure the security and protection of persons and their property”.
Mass exodus from towns in the Northwest region has also been reported.
The Anglophone crisis has resulted in the deaths of hundreds-both soldiers and civilians.
Tens of thousands of Anglophones fleeing because of the crisis are seeking refuge in neighboring Nigeria. 
The UN estimates that about two hundred thousand people are internally displaced and badly in need of support. Thousands of others are said to be seeking protection in bushes.

President Paul Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since November 1982, is among the nine candidates for the next presidential poll, come October 7, 2018

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Cameroon’s Bijural,Bicultural Nature : New FAKLA President Vows to defend it !

Lawyer Enow Benjamin
By Christopher Ambe

Barrister Enow Benjamin of Liberty Law Firm in Mutengene, who was last Friday 7 elected as the new President of Fako Lawyers’ Association (FAKLA), in replacement of the firebrand Human Rights lawyer, Felix Agbor Nkongho, has vowed that his leadership will never allow the bi-jural, bicultural nature of Cameroon to be compromised.   
 In his acceptance speech after his election, at Buea Council where the polls took place, the new FAKLA boss urged his colleagues to be more professionally-conscious and work towards the promotion of the rule of law and Human rights.
“The most important thing now is to ensure unity in FALKA so that we can pursue the objectives of the association which predominantly are professional- being the watchdog of society and ensuring that lawyers live daily within the means of the profession,” President Enow said ,in a telephone conversation with this media outlet “We are for the preservation of human rights for all Cameroonians”
Asked if his leadership would follow in the footsteps of former FAKLA President, Felix Agbor Nkongho,whose crusade for the respect of  Human Rights contributed in provoking the ongoing Anglophone crisis, a confident-sounding Barrister Enow first commended what his predecessor did to raise the level of human rights consciousness in society, then quipped:
“FAKLA will do everything that is necessary to ensure that Cameroonians on both sides of the divide enjoy their basic Human Rights and are protected. We will ensure that bijural, bicultural and bilingual nature of our country can never ever be compromised.”
He promised to his colleagues  the putting in place of a reconciliation committee in FAKLA, and to reform the association’s constitution so that it meets up with the times, noting that the current constitution had not taken into consideration the power of the social media. 
Other members of the new FAKLA executive body are:Vice president, Atemnkeng Elizabeth; Secretary-General, Nji Valentine Aben ; Vice Secretary-general, Melle Didier Melle ;Treasurer,  Taminang Gilbert;      Financial Secretary,Njenje Kleber; Vice Financial secretary, Elizabeth Njonji; PRO,Tchana Anthony; Organizing Secretary, Ebi Stanley; Chief Whip, Charles Lyonga.
The new FAKLA executives have taken office in the midst of the current Anglophone crisis, which the association also contributed in provoking, by creating greater human rights awareness, especially in Anglophone Cameroon, whose citizens felt grossly marginalized. 
The Anglophone crisis started off in October 2016 with Common Law lawyers’ and teachers’ of the English subsystem of education protesting against the “Frenchification” of their adopted English way of life. 
Elected FAKLA president  early in 2015, Agbor Nkongho’s two-year mandate had since expired, but his exco was still in office, reportedly because he tried unsuccessfully to get an administrative clearance for an elective assembly plus  the fact  that some senior lawyers proposed that  internal wrangling in the association  be settled first. 
The outgone president had given teeth to the on-going Anglophone crisis when he doubled as FAKLA President & President of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), which coordinated wide-spread anti-government protests in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
Barrister Agbor Nkongho became too popular with a huge following in Anglophone Cameroon and a seemingly shaken Biya Government on January 17, 2017 banned the CACSC, then arrested him and detained for eight months in Yaoundé.
Last Friday‘s  FAKLA elective assembly  was scheduled to hold in the hall of  the Southwest Court of Appeal, but the President of the court Justice Bechem Eyong Eneke , in a letter dated September 6,2018 and co-signed by the Procureur-General for the Southwest Region,  rejected  the lawyers’ request ,arguing that “ a court is a sacred place reserved exclusively for the conduct of court business”. 
Lawyer Nji Valentine Aben
The rejection- even after an administrative clearance had been obtained from Buea DO for the meeting, forced FAKLA to use the Buea Council hall for their come-together, which was attended by over 100 lawyers, according to Lawyer Nji Valentine Aben, newly elected FAKLA Scribe.
 The new FAKLA Scribe, Lawyer Nji Aben and convener of the elective assembly, told this news organ that “we fought tooth and nail to have this elective assembly ”, casting doubt on the reason advanced denying  lawyers access to the hall of  the Southwest Court of Appeal, whereas  same hall had before reportedly  hosted similar meetings.
According to Lawyer Nji Aben, one of the new exco’s plans of action is “to put back the profession on the rails”
He stated, “There has been a lot of laxity on the part of magistrates and even with some of us lawyers. You go to the court and sometimes up to 2pm court sessions have not started”
Former FAKLA President, Agbor Nkongho, did not attend the elective assembly because he was en route to Nigeria to meet Cameroonian refugees, but he had reportedly called to express his wish to see the association emerge from the election stronger.
FAKLA was created in 1997 and the Protem chair was late Barrister Ngu Gordon. Other FAKLA past presidents include Barristers Charlie Sone,Njualem Charles , Ambilichu Emmanuel, Ntoko Justice, Bache Francis,Ajong Stanislaus and Felix Agbor Nkongho.
Bako Fowzie Abiba & Ayuk Oru M. Shevett, University of Buea Journalism Interns contributed to this report.

(This report also appears in The Horizon Newspaper, Cameroon,of September 11,2018)


Monday, September 10, 2018

Limbe City Council equips CRTV with modern furniture

Some of the office chairs donated to CRTV Buea by Limbe City Council

 By Sheron Tita  & Vera Muyang Ngu*
The Government Delegate to the  Limbe City Council(LCC), Andrew Motanga Munjimba, last September 6,donated modern furniture- reportedly  worth over Fcfa 10 million, to the CRTV Buea  to motivate staff improve on their performance.
Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, chaired the donation ceremony at CRTV premises.

The donations included five office tables and 14 executive chairs and 16 visitors’ chairs. The modern furniture will now replace the “old-fashioned tables and chairs that make workers sigh looking at them”, a journalist at CRTV Buea said
Receiving the gifts, an elated kange Williams Wasaloko,manager of CRTV Buea  said the donation was the fruit of a partnership between the Limbe City Council and CRTV  Southwest Regional Station .

Kange, while expressing his gratitude to the donor, recalled how CRTV had elaborately covered FENAC 2018 organised by Limbe City Council to the satisfaction of all and sundry.

 He gave assurance that the new furniture would cause staff improve functionally- in informing, educating and entertaining the public within the ambits of the law.

"If you have a comfortable chair to seat down, you are forced to stay on,” the Station Manager remarked.

For his part, the Limbe City Government Delegate said the donation was significant and was eloquent proof of the win-win partnership between the two institutions. He thanked CRTV for partnering with his council, all in a bid to enhance development.

”The commitments with which our Limbe Festival of Arts and Culture  was covered by the CRTV stations in Buea  and at the national level remains fresh in our minds  and we are deeply  appreciative  of those gestures”, the Government Delegate reportedly said.

 He disclosed that the donation was a request from CRTV Buea, but which coincidentally was in order, because it falls in line with the corporate social responsibility of the City Council.

The   Governor appreciated the cooperation between the two institutions, urging other stakeholders to emulate their example and do same, especially with other media organs, which contribute a lot in the development of society.

Reacting to the donation, an official of CRTV Buea who is one of the furniture recipients said, “Before now we had tables and chairs but they were not presentable; we did not also have enough office equipment.

“The new equipment is a motivation; it is a call for us to work harder; they make our offices respectable and presentable”

* Sheron Tita  & Vera Muyang Ngu are University of Buea Journalism Interns


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

 Cameroon OIC staff placed on technical leave due to Anglophone Crisis

By Christopher Ambe  
Eighteen workers of the business unit of Buea-based Cameroon Opportunities Industrialization Center, OIC, have been placed on technical leave. The workers of other sections of the Center  are not yet affected. An official of the
Meoto P. Njie,Chair,OIC Buea
community-based skills training center, who confirmed the news to this reporter on condition of anonymity, said their technical leave takes effect form 5th September 2018, to 28th February 2019.
The official revealed that Cameroon OIC Buea, which is an affiliate of OIC International with headquarters in Philandelphia, USA, was forced to take such a measure because of the negative effect of the on-going Anglophone crisis on the businesses run by the center.

The source said: “You know with the socio-political crisis [Anglophone Crisis] hitting Buea the tourism sector is greatly affected.  Sales in the Buea OIC Pavilion have dropped very drastically. 
“At times for a whole week nobody comes to lodge in the hotel; very few persons still come to the restaurant so we cannot raise money to pay the workers, electricity bills, taxes etc”
He regretted that sometimes workers went for up to eight months without salaries.
" We felt that instead of keeping the workers there and start accumulating salaries, we sought the advice of the Southwest Regional Delegation of Labor and the Delegate came and tried to explain the situation to the workers.”
He said placing the workers on technical leave does not imply they have been dismissed.
“We are not dismissing them but putting them on technical leave and we will give them a small allowance”, he insisted, adding that once the financial situation improves, they will be called back.
Our source said few persons are retained to take care of the facility so that it may not be burgled.
“We have not closed the Pavilion yet. It is still open to the public because few part-time workers are in place.”
Hon.Meoto Paul Njie, former MP for Buea Urban and former Director of Cabinet at the PM’s Office in Yaounde, who is now Interim Board Chair of Cameroon OIC reportedly, signed the technical leave letters, already served to the affected workers.
Hon. Meoto, a stringent administrator, is at the helm of OIC Buea at a time when the center is facing huge financial difficulties; but observers hope that his stringency would usher in financial transparency and brighter future for the center, which had been rocked by financial scandals in the past. 
Cameroon OIC was established in 1986 as a non-profit, community-based skills training program. It largely depends on Government subvention, which in the past years used to stand at Fcfa 150 million yearly.

The Center offers vocational/technical training in the following fields: Auto-mechanics/Motor Electricity, Building Construction, Hotel catering and management, Information and Communication Technology, Metal Fabrication, Welding and spraying, as  well as Wood Work.
Tens of thousands of ttrainees (both Cameroonian youth and foreigners such as Nigerians) have graduated from the Center with marketable skills.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Buea Council distributes  Fcfa 20m scholarship to over 1000 beneficiaries

Buea Mayor Ekema Patrick Esunge  with some scholarship  beneficiaries 
By  Ayuk O. M. Shevett, Bako A. Fowzie, Vera  M. Ngu, Etta C. Nyangalo & Bongbawo S. Tita*
The Mayor of Buea, Ekema Patrcik Esunge,last Friday ,August 31 organized a scholarship award ceremony at  Buea Council premises, during which financial assistance , didactic materials  as well as  farm tools were given to three categories of beneficiaries- the needy, meritorious students and the physically challenged, all in a bid to better prepare them for the 2018/2019  school resumption.
The beneficiaries, who ranged from nursery school to the university level totaled 1206, broken as such: 740 primary pupils, 372 secondary school students and 127 university students.
The material donations included: wheel barrows, wheel chairs, chalk, blackboard, rulers, pens, hoes, pit axes and watering cans. 
A further breakdown of statistics showed that there were 12 government colleges, 17 primary schools and 34 Nursery schools
Some 100 university students each received Fcfa 25.000 FRS; 25 university students (holiday jobbers and interns) each got 50.000 FRS, donated by PMUC in partnership with the council. 
Books were given to 727 primary school pupils including 4 disabled who additionally received tricycles.
Some 97 successful GCE OL/AL candidates for 2017/2018 academic year and 184 students who excelled at the promotion examinations in the English sub-system (form1-4 and lower sixth) were also beneficiaries.
The Mayor, who has been fighting against ghost towns to no avail, used the ceremony to warn that perpetrators of atrocious acts shall be dealt with soon.
The mayor said since he  took over the council years ago he has  touched all the nooks and crannies in Buea Municipality, impacting lives  and enhancing development by way of improving hygiene and sanitation, new infrastructure, grant of scholarships, assistance to primary schools and colleges.
 He regretted that in spite of his development efforts “we have been faced with challenges posed to by the secessionist tendencies of some misguided and opportunistic citizens who have been on the onslaught terrorizing people by destroying lives and property. 
“One of their primordial goals has been to hatch actions that would perturb the smooth functioning of school establishments.” 
He revealed that he has taken measures to accompany students in to school by banning all Moto bikes around the Buea municipality .According to the mayor, motorbikes as a contributing factor to the numerous kidnappings in Buea
 The beneficiaries were thankful to the mayor for the gifts. Obasi Arrey Moneke Mary, a beneficiary from BGS Molyko- Buea attributed her brilliant success at the GCE Ordinary Level with 11 papers, to holiday classes the council organized last year.
 Another beneficiary, Halimatou Uba, a pupil from the Islamic school in Buea, said the assistance got would help her a great deal.
 Council assistance was also given to widows and children of soldiers who have died fighting during the crisis to protect lives and property
It should be noted that Buea council usually organizes six programs annually: scholarship, internship, holiday classes, holiday job, inter-quarter football and pension scheme. But unfortunately this year and due to the current crisis situation, budgetary allocations were made just for three: scholarship, internship and holiday jobs. 
*The authors of this article are University of Buea Journalism Interns
(This report also appears in The Horizon Newspaper, Cameroon,of Sept 4,2018)

Government intensifies campaign for effective school resumption

By Etta Cecilia Nyangalo & Vera Munyang  Ngu*

For two years, disruptions and boycotts of schools , imposed by  activists seeking the Independence of  Anglophones, prevented tens  of thousands of students and pupils in the Northwest and Southwest regions from attending  school, despite assurances from Cameroon government  that the security of all was guaranteed. 
As the on-going crisis turned violent, bloody and deadly, fear of organized attacks on schools forced parents to hold back their children at home.

But this year, Government, using different methods, has intensified its campaign for effective school re-opening.

For instance,in Buea, Capital of Southwest Region, Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai,on August 29, personally presided at a CRTV (Radio) Buea outdoor and live broadcast  on Back-to-school campaign,in continuation of education campaign.
The Governor reiterated the importance of education and re-assured parents, students and pupils that all security has been beefed-up   to ensure a safe return to schools.
He urged the populations to conquer fear by supporting and ensuring school resumption. 
“A man without education is useless”,he noted. “Though dialogue is what we need for peace to reign, it has to begin with each and every one of us, as individuals.”
 Schools were officially scheduled to resume on September 3, throughout the national territory.
Speaking during the on-air ceremony, the Mayor of Buea,Ekema Patricl Esunge,who strongly denounced the call for school boycott, said  he is the personality that he is today because he got educated.
He announced a scholarship package of twenty (20) million Fcfa for schools in Buea Municipality. He urged that the population to overcome fear and permit schools functional again smoothly.
It emerged that out of 390 secondary /high schools in the South West Region for the 2017/2018 academic year, 71 were not operational because of the Anglophone crisis

 In a review of last academic year, the South West Regional Delegate for Basic Education, Madam Dorothy Motaze, said in spite of the challenges such a low school attendance a, the sector still registered some significant successes

CRTV Buea station Manager, Kange Williams, who moderated, the outdoor broadcast,also invited   some university dons such as the Registrar of University of Buea (UB), Prof.Roland N.Ndip,who talked about the preparation of UB for this academic year, whose  registration was already  on-going.

Traditional rulers such as Chief Atem Ebako and a retired CRTV Journalist Robert Abunaw, joined voices to call for school resumption, stressing the role of education to the development of society

Also speaking was a representative of NMI Education publisher and Cambridge, Atemnkeng Nkafu Marie Ann, who gave the assurance that   78% of NMI Education and Cambridge- approved school textbooks were already available in the market and that 22% of the remaining books will be available before the start of the second week of September

*Etta Cecilia Nyangalo  & Vera  Munyang  Ngu are University of Buea Journalism Interns.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Cameroon:Why Mbua Etonde is New SW Delegate for Secondary Education.

By Chrsitopher Ambe

From L-R: Dr.Mrs. Mbua Hannah Etonde,Dr.Mohommadou & Mombakued Victor Yewoh after 
the handing over ceremony in Buea

Dr. Mrs. Mbua nee Ngoto Hannah Etonde, aged 51, on August 31, officially replaced Mr. Mombakued Victor Yewoh as new Southwest Regional Delegate for Secondary Education, following her recent appointment by the Minister of Secondary Education,Nalova Lyonga,PhD.
 Yewoh had occupied the position for barely one year.  
 Mrs.. Mbua is the first-ever woman to occupy that position in the Southwest Region.

  The technical handing over ceremony between the new and former delegates was chaired by Dr. Mohammadou, Inspector-General of Regional Services at Southwest Governor’s office
Dr. Mohammadou lauded Mr. Yewoh for his valuable services to the nation,and particularly commended the new delegate for winning the confidence of hierarchy to merit such  a high  public office.
As different speakers showered praises on Mrs. Mbua for her career promotion, during the ceremony that too place in the conference hall of the Regional Delegation of Public Service, the calm-looking teacher-cum educational administrator responded, “We give God the Glory. For without God I am nothing!”
In fact, as a devout Presbyterian Christian, Mrs. Mbua, this reporter gathered, believes strongly in the Bible principle that “everything works for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose”(Romans 8:28)
An Appointment to a post of responsibility is based on various considerations; but what is so obvious with Mrs. Mbua’s own is that her competence and qualifications-both administratively and academically, earned her the job, critical observers said.
Having served as principal of state-owned secondary/high schools for more than a decade running, her quest for purposeful knowledge would cause her journey for a terminal degree. 
And that is how she enrolled for a PhD in Educational Administration in the prestigious Anglo-Saxon University of Buea, and several years after, brilliantly defended it in October 2017.
Whether as principal of GSS Bonjongo (2000-2002) or as first-ever female Principal of Government High School (GHS) Buea (2002-2016) or as Principal of Government Bilingual Grammar School-Molyko-Buea(2016-August 2018, from where she was elevated to the rank of  Regional Delegate,   Mrs. Mbua, was described by both students and students as a disciplinarian par excellence
 Her school management style also attracted the admiration of not only Hierarchy but also the general public.
This Fako elite has put in a total of eighteen years as principal of the above mentioned schools before her new portfolio.
As recognition of her valuable contributions to nation-building, Mrs. Mbua has been decorated by the State of Cameroon with the Knight of the National Order of Valour medal. 
                          But what inspired her to choose teaching as a career?
 Mrs.Mbua,who first bagged an M.Ed in Educational Administration (University of Buea) before heading for her PhD in the same institution, told this reporter while still principal of GHS Bokwango-Buea that:  “From what my mother told me, I was actually born to be a teacher. As a child, I am told, I used to rally other children in my quarter, teach, advise and lead them.”
 Mrs. Mbua, now a career teacher for 24 years, confidently told this reporter in a 2014 interview that she had no problem blending teaching and administration.
 “I teach, I administer and lead both teachers and students. And, I perform all these functions smoothly guided by God”, she said.
 Mrs. Mbua  in 1992 earned a B.A (English) from University of Yaoundé and in 1994 graduated as teacher from Higher Teachers’ Training College (ENS) Yaoundé.
 Married to Njie Peter Mbua, a court registrar now on retirement, this mother of four, is also said to be motherly.
                                                     The Politician
       A member of the ruling CPDM since the 1990’s,Mrs. Mbua,has been  president of Buea WCPDM(WCPDM Fako III) since  March 2007 and  is member of the WCPDM National Bureau since 2011.  She had before held other duty posts in the WCPDM in Buea such as Section Treasurer (May 2002 –march 2007) and Subsection president of WCPDM Soppo Mokongo (1997-2002).
  As a Buea councilor, this courageous lady in September 2013 when the CPDM won municipal elections in Buea, contested the mayoral seat against Ekema Patrick Esunge but lost to him. 
Yet, she is ambitious. “I aspire to become something more than a mayor. Life is all aspirations and hopes.” 
                                                               The Teacher
She taught English Language and Literature in Bilingual Grammar School (BGS)Molyko Buea(December 1994-August 2000);taught ‘The Use of English’ at University of Buea(September  1995- July 2000);taught English & Literature  at Central GCE Evening School Mevick Bilingual Grammar School Yaounde( January 1993 –June 1994) and at Inter Comprehensive College Buea(1992)

Mrs. Mbua has been Assistant Chief Examiner (O’ level Literature in English) from July 2008 to date), and had been a GCE examiner for O’ level in English Literature (1995-2008) 
  Active Christian
   As a committed Christian, Mrs. Mbua has been an elder and lay preacher of Presbyterian Church Molyko –Buea; member of Christian Women Fellowship (CWF Molyko) and is President-General of Ndol’a Kristo Choirs Association of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC)
 Mrs.Mbua is an amateur actress, who has been member of both the Musinga Drama Group and the University of Yaounde Theatre. She likes   doing research on important subjects .She enjoys cooking and singing.
( This profile  is also published in The  Horizon Newspaper ,Cameroon,of September 4, 2018)


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Anglophone Crisis:Protesting women for peace

Cameroon women protest against ongoing Anglophone Crisis in Buea
By Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett, Bako Abiba Fowzie and Bongbawo Sheron Tita*

At least 200 rights-conscious women from both the crisis-stricken Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, Wednesday August 29, staged a peaceful march at Bongo Square, Buea, calling for immediate return of peace, dialogue and harmony in the restive Anglophone regions.
The two English-speaking regions, estimated to have a population of about eight million people, have since October 2016 been plunged in a deadly crisis, provoked by activists advocating the   independence of Anglophones.
 A group called Southwest and Northwest Task Force (SNWOT), created four months ago and coordinated by  Mrs. Njomo Esther Omam ,director of Buea-based NGO, Reach Out, mobilized the women for the peaceful march, on the theme “The Right to Peace and Security.” 
 “The purpose of SNWOT is to contribute significantly in ending the Anglophone Crisis”, Mrs Omam said, noting:” Women who are catalysts of peace and agents of development had not been heard. So there was that urgent need to create the task force to significantly contribute in ending the crisis.”
She added that SNWOT was born out of a coalition of Southwest-based civil society organizations headed by women but since the crisis also affects the Northwest, a branch was established in Bamenda coordinated by Mrs. Ada Mbah of Mother of Hope, an NGO.
A similar march is scheduled to take place in the days ahead in Bamenda. 
As the placard-wielding women, in assorted dresses, converged on Bongo Square, Rev. Dr. Perpetua Fonki, coordinator of Women for Peace and Justice in Cameroon, first shared the word of God with them, invoking God’s protection for all. She drew inspiration for her meditation from the  Bible book of Jeremiah 9:17- 22.
Some of the placard messages read:  Education: More than ever our schools need protection; we stand against rape; Yes to dialogue, no to arms.
  Mrs. Omam lamented the pain and suffering people have been enduring for two years because of the Anglophone crisis, which is characterized by killings, arson, vandalism, physical torture, kidnappings,school boycott ,detention of suspects, etc.
  According to Rev. Dr. Pertetua Fonki, earlier mentioned, “We have been praying for the country but have realized that prayers without action is not complete; so we decided to blend prayers with some kind of action because when we pray and sit quiet, then the impact is not really felt.”
Taking a somewhat neutral position on the crisis, SNWOT did not accuse either the Government or the Separatists, but prayed that the warring parties “re-think and give peace a chance”

Hundreds of thousands of people are already internally displaced and tens of thousands of others are seeking refuge in neighboring Nigeria,according to the United Nations.
The Buea women march culminated with Mrs. Agbor Magdalene, vice coordinator of SNWOT and director of CHAMEG Buea, reading the resolutions adopted by the women with regards to the Crisis. 

They include:1-That  SNWOT advocates for peace and tranquility to be restored in the South West Region
 2- That the rape of women and girls and other forms of gender-based violence should be prevented; while meaningful access to education for our children should be ensured.
 3-That the lamentation campaign performed today is an accumulation of a series of activities carried out by women since its creation.
 4-That the decision makers, the leaders of our nation, civil society organization and religious bodies are encouraged to take appropriate sustainable measures to support and assist in the implementation of the present declaration.
5- that,We members of the SNWOT, declare to  : the president of the Republic Of Cameroon, the National Parliament, the Cabinet Ministers, international organizations, foreign diplomatic representatives accredited to Cameroon, members of non-governmental and public organizations, leaders of political parties, churches, business circles and mass media- our hope that the aforementioned manifesto should be given due consideration and widest possible dissemination of the UN Security Resolution 1325 which will galvanize peace-building forces towards securing respect for international legal norms by those concerned; there by contributing  to a constructive dialogue at the national level.”
  The women said they drafted the resolutions taking into consideration the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Beijing Declaration and Action Platform, the final document of the 23rd Special session of the United Nation General Assembly named “Women in 2000: Equality, Development and Peace between Men and Women in the 21st Century and 27th Special session concerning children, and as well as to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of October 2000. 
SNWOT handed the resolutions to Mrs. Moffah Judith Lyiengu Luma, Southwest Regional Delegate for Women Empowerment and the Family,for transmission to Hierarchy.
The delegate, who lauded the idea of the peaceful march, promised to hand the resolutions to the Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family, Marrie Therese Abena Ondoua.   
* Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett, Bako Abiba Fowzie and Bongbawo Sheron Tita are University of Buea Journalism interns.       

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Cameroon:“Anglophone Crisis is serious but not impossible to solve” -Head of UN Peacekeeping Mission in DRC, 2001-3 

Dr.Amos Namanga Ngongi is a former UN Undersecretary-General, Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2001-2003).
He sat down, last Friday August 24, for an interview with The Horizon’s Contributing Editor Christopher Ambe, *Vera Muyang Ngu and Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett
Dr. Ngongi, a native of Fako, gave his views on the ongoing Anglophone Crisis, suggesting how it could be solved.
Dr. Ngongi, what is your take on the Anglophone Crisis which erupted in 2016, and now has become armed conflict between Government and Separatists, resulting in hundreds of deaths and vandalism?
Thank you for this opportunity to express my views on the Anglophone problem.
As a Cameroonian I must say it is a serious problem and as you mentioned hundreds of lives have been lost; villages and communities have been disrupted; we have thousands of refugees and internally displaced people. It is a bad situation that we should all work to resolve. It is a serious but not impossible problem to solve. There have been worse crises around the world and they have found solutions.
As long as there is a will and humility on both sides to be able to approach issues as they are, I think, we will be able to find a solution.
It is unacceptable that you have a country which was the beacon of peace, security and development in the sub region finding itself in this situation. I would say, we are all guilty in that those who would have spoken before did not; those who would have taken action did not and those who would have given early signal warning, probably, did not also perform their duty, to ensure our country was saved from this dishallowing situation we are going through. The elements of solution are there; it is how to approach the problem, to be able to put the human being at the Centre; forget about individual ideologies and positions, put Cameroonians at the Centre. If you did that, approached the problem from a human perspective, the solution would come.
Personally, do you believe there is an Anglophone problem?
Even the blind, dumb and deaf know there is an Anglophone problem; this has been discussed for decades now, so we cannot be pretending anymore that there is no such problem
And how would you define the problem?
Well, it is either the reality or the feeling of marginalization in all its forms. It is that feeling that people are not actually getting what they need to have. It is a feeling-most of the time .it may not be reality. So the perception sometimes is stronger than the reality. In this case, probably it is the reality and perception by a group of the population that feels that it is not getting what it desires. Or, that rules have been skewed against them…it is a complex issue because it deals with feelings; it does not necessarily deal only with reality.
Everything must be done to allay the fears of people so they live in hope that if they are not getting what they desire today, then they will get it tomorrow.
 In 2001 you were appointed the UN undersecretary-general, Special Representative and Head of the UN Peace-keeping Mission in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Are we right to say you helped restore peace and harmony in that country?
You used the right word “help” because there were many players for peace and against peace. My role was to make sure things were not apart. When I got there,  there were at least four governments- three by rebel movements and one by the central government; each controlling its territory and army. The first step was to get a ceasefire. That was done before I got to Congo. Then, we were to have a peace agreement, which was under the auspices of a neutral facilitator appointed jointly by the UN and African Union .My task was to ensure make fighting between forces was actually calmed down, to broker little truces and ceasefires round the country. And being the resident person in the country, to advance the negotiators’ positions, proposals and ideas that I thought could contribute in bringing the parties together; I was charged with making sure that once the peace agreement was signed it was implemented. Of course, there are many parties in the crisis who benefit from the crisis and don’t want that agreements are implemented. So my business was to win over all those people who were resisting especially the rebel movements, bring them out of the bushes to the capital to take part in the transitional government.
The situation in Cameroon is kind of similar to that in DRC, with conflicts here and there between Government and Separatists. What are you doing or have done to help resolve the Anglophone crisis?
Our situation is not quite the situation in DRC.The only comparison is that we are in process of getting into a deepening crisis, which we should do our best to stop it at this stage before we get to the stage of DRC in late 1990s
I have spoken on different occasions, giving my views. Six years ago over CRTV in an open discussion about the 30th anniversary of the head of state, I made it clear that when the Anglophone crisis came in, it was really a matter of feeling; people don’t feel trusted. 
The most vexing thing for people who feel marginalized is that the instruments that were created to bind us –the constitution, was not being implemented or implemented in a very slow manner. People felt the constitution was not being implemented to take care of their preoccupations at that time.
Don’t you think the slow implementation was bad faith on the side of Government?
I think if you are approaching a problem for solutions don’t attribute bad faith on any party. If you do that, then it will be very difficult to reach an agreement. Consider that the other party is approaching the issue with the same trust and seriousness as you are. If you give that benefit of the doubt it is possible to find a solution. But if you have already concluded that the other party is approaching the issues with bad faith, why would you do what you need to do to have a solution?
Dr,Ngongi,whether in your capacity then  as Deputy Director of World Food program or UN Undersecretary-general, Special Representative and head of UN Peace-keeping Mission in DRC,I understand  you were advising governments on how to resolve conflicts and crisis. What should be done to resolve the Anglophone crisis?
I don’t have a magic solution. What you need is an approach. It is a process because the problems have been with us for quite some time and they are not going to disappear in a day.
If it’s a process, let us begin the process. The beginning of a process is meeting people to ask your opponents “what are your issues?” Though, they have been publicized in the media,we know but we have not had a face-to-face discussion of the key holders  on what are their real burning  issues .If you have a  100 issues, all of them are not of the same degree of importance. Some are more important than others. So there has to be a process of sieving the problems. Which ones are the critical issues to be solved at the national level? Which can be solved at the regional level? Even within the regions there are differences. So there must be a mechanism put in place to be able to bring those issues together. I know that the National Commission on Bilingualism and Multiculturalism has been gone around and met people, but this is just a commission that reports to the Head of State. It is not like a dialogue in which we have constituted parties that bring issues on the table. The Commission’s report can be used as a resource, a working document but you need representatives from the different constituent parts of the debate or issue to be able to agree on a program to resolve the issues facing us. With classification of the issues, some need to be solved today, some tomorrow or some in one, two or even three years. But the longer it takes the more discouraged people are. But if you rush too you make mistakes.
It is important to set up a mechanism that permits people meet regularly. It does not mean that the process must start at the highest level. It can from the bottom.
I think some people have mentioned already that we do need some persons or groups to be able to chaperon the process.
When you have a crisis, you have many stakeholders that you need somebody that seems to be somehow neutral, to try to mediate for a solution. There are people who can forget about their status and make themselves available to resolve a problem. A person like former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan (who died recently).He was an epitome of a person whom you could look at and know he had no agenda of his own. His agenda was to bring peace and security, justice and economic development that could reduce poverty in marginalized societies. Virtually, in every community there are people like him.
You were Mr. Annan’s close collaborator and trusted friend. Birds of a feather flock together. Can you not suggest to the Cameroon Government that you can broker a peace deal with regards to the Anglophone crisis?
Normally, it is not to fit in the shoes of somebody. Kofi Annan was Kofi Annan just as Nelson Mandela was Nelson Mandela. Each of them had their qualities, characters and is difficult trying to fit into the shoes of an individual. Normally, it is the people who have the problem who can best identify who can help solve the problem; it is not the individual who says he has a solution. There are many people who can participate in a process but I don’t think that speaking with you here I would be the one to propose to Government  that I should  be involved in a process  ; probably, they are  many Cameroonians better placed to do it  than myself.
As earlier said it should be a process where somebody in government can put together because government is a player in the social life of a country. Where you have a civil society functioning properly it can also propose a mechanism to bring about a solution .We had the proposal from the clergy to start the process with the Anglophone dialogue and you recall how much heat it generated. So it is not easy for a private practitioner or a group to position itself as the one to provide a solution because you have a lot of conflicts and need a system to identify a person, a group or an institution to be able to carry out this process. You have the United Nations with much experience with conflict management and if it selected an individual it is difficult for other parties to reject the choice.
But you are considered by many as still part of the United nation…
I am not. I am retired from the UN. The UN has conflict resolution mechanism; the African Union has peace and security mechanisms; there is the Mandela institute and foundation, you have the kofi Annan Foundation, Jimmy Carter Foundation. There are quite many structures that can be approached. They can identify using different criteria the institution that can carry out mediation.
There are people who hold that you could be very instrumental in seeking solution for the crisis, mindful of your international experience in conflict management.Don't you agree with them?
That is their judgment. And if it is so, then it is something they should put to the structures that are going to consider such a scenario.
If the solution of the crisis depended just on an individual we should have been, probably, out of it by now. It should be a community process so that people have confidence that it is going to lead to a better future. If you have it, no matter the difficulties you have during that process many would support and get to the end.
Honestly speaking, do you appreciate the way the government has been handling the Anglophone crisis?
I think the problem could have been approached differently. Once you paint somebody black, it is difficult but not impossible to go and talk with them. Let us at least remove invectives. Senior Public officials speaking about the problem must be cautious with their words, because just a few words can fix or spoil a process. I don’t need to remind you that there are lot speeches that have been made in the media that hurt. They can please a small segment of society but they just widen the gap among the people who should be sitting round the same table.
Humility is said to be a hallmark of leadership. Would you say the Biya government is humble in its approach to solving the crisis?
[Laughs].I do not  know whether governments can be humble.Humilty is a personal human quality, not an institutional one.
Let us not think that our own government has been constituted by angels from Heaven.A government is a government. Individuals in government and out of it should have the element of humility to be able to say, when a wrong is done, that it should be accepted and corrected. I hope that most people holding public offices should have elements of humility, to be able to identify where they too have made mistakes and work to correct the mistakes
Dr.Ngongi,you occupied high offices at the international level, what motivated you to come  low by becoming a councilor of Buea Council?
[Laughs].In real life they say “Think globally, act locally” because most of the problems in life are local. If people don’t have water to drink, is it an international problem? If you don’t have streetlights, is it an international problem? If there are no schools, or hospitals, is it an international problem?
I find that people who have held high offices at the international level are struggling to become presidents or ministers in their countries but are abandoning their own communities. They only go there in coffins. I did not want that happen to me.I have been a council for five years, contributing ideas to enhance development. I have written projects that if funded, would bring hundreds of millions to the Council. Is that not a contribution?
That is the reason for my being a counselor of Buea Council. 
*Vera Muyang Ngu and Ayuk Oru Mary Shevett are University of Buea Journalism interns.
(This interview is published in The Horizon Newspaper,Cameroon,of  August 28,2018)