By Nformi Sonde Kinsai
CameroonPostline.com -- The eldest member of Cameroon’s pioneer Senate, Nfon Victor Essimi Mukete Ngo, says the Upper House of Parliament would be creating Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry to investigate malpractices and check government oversight. This is in line with one of the duties of the Senate; that is to probe corrupt government officials.
The Senate came to fruition on Tuesday, May 14, seventeen years after the Tripartite Conference in Yaoundé proposed the institutionalisation of the body in Cameroon’s Constitution. The Senate composed of 100 members, held its first Statutory Ordinary Session chaired by the eldest member, 95-year-old Nfon Mukete, the Paramount Ruler of the Bafaws in Kumba, Meme Division.
Nfon Mukete chaired the Provisional Bureau of the Senate with the two youngest members of the House, Ahmadou Tidjani (SDF) and Malyse Aboui (ANDP), from the Adamawa and East regions respectively.
In spite of age, Nfon Mukete made an impeccable delivery, characteristic of an erudite and authoritative West Cameroon scholar. “Cameroon is growing as a modern state, so the Senators must contribute to that. After the euphoria, this is the time for my colleagues to take their responsibility,” Mukete stated.
According to Nfon Mukete, Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry were necessary to check government oversight. The Senate is expected to make all the difference in checking government action and divorce from the juris-prudence set by the National Assembly wherein, no commission has ever been set up to investigate wrong doing in the current dispensation.
Mukete thus advised fellow Senators to “get ready to work and collaborate with the Lower House of Parliament in a bid to transform Cameroon into a better place for everyone.” “We count on the availability of members of the National Assembly and we wish that co-existence of the two chambers will be helpful to the consolidation of Cameroon democratic process,” he said.
He called on the Senators to put general interest at the centre of all their initiatives. According to the Dean, it is only the quality of work that Senators will do that would convince skeptics who have been asking what they would offer to Cameroonians after going to the Senate. According to him, President Biya has fulfilled one of his promises by decreeing the putting in place of the Senate, describing the move as a ‘tortoise which goes slowly but surely'.
The Vice PM, Minister Delegate in charge of Relations with the Assemblies, Amadou Ali, set the ceremony in motion with the reading of the results of senatorial elections as proclaimed by the Supreme Court. He equally read the Presidential Decree, appointing some 30 senators. Traditional dances from the 10 regions of the country trooped the esplanade of the Ngoa-Ekelle Glass House, virtually conquering the stretch from Cetic Ngao-Ekelle to the Re-unification monument.
Onlookers gyrated and welcomed Senators with shouts of joy as they alighted from their cars. The Senators waved back at the crowd with a grin and moved in majestically into the hemicycle.
Security was tight. Police officers and gendarmes as well as plain clothes operatives sealed off the main entrances into the building. They chased away people and even journalists claiming they did not have accreditation to cover the ceremony.
After Tuesday’s ceremony at the National Assembly, all 14 SDF Senators from the Adamawa and West Regions gathered at the omnisport residence of their Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi. While congratulating the Senators on their election, Fru Ndi said their coming to the Senate was the start of a difficult task in which they are expected to serve the nation selflessly.
After the opening ceremony, deliberations have now shifted to putting in place the bureau of the Senate. Following Cameroon’s constitutional provisions, the President of the Senate is the second in command after the President of the Republic. At the April 14 Senatorial elections, 70 Senators were elected from two political parties; the CPDM with 56 Senators and the SDF with 14.
According to a constitutional provision allowing the President of the Republic to appoint 30 more Senators to make up 100 members, on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 Biya completed the list of Senators. In the list of 30 appointed Senators, President Biya’s party, the CPDM has 26 members, the MDR of Dakole Daissala one, which is himself, the ANDP one, Marlyse Aboui and one militant from Issa Tchiroma Bakary’s NSF.
Of the 100 Senators, 80 are men and 20 of them women. Speaking to The Post, Senator Ignatius Dingha from the Northwest Region, said he was elated to be part of the institution that was completing Cameroon’s bicameral legislative system. To Senator Nfor Tabetando from the Southwest Region, he would use the Senate to contribute his won quota in the enactment of laws that would have a positive bearing on citizens.
Senator Wanglo Chiamua from the Northwest Region said he was simply happy to serve his people. After the opening ceremony, the Senators are expected to settle for serious business in the coming days. They will form a commission of 25 Senators to draw up the standing orders of the house.
First published in The Post print edition no 01431