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Achidi Achu Should Unite Not Divide NW Elite – Nico Halle 

Interviewed By Joe Dinga Pefok           

CameroonPostline.com –International legal consultant and peace crusader, Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, has expressed the wish to see the former Prime Minister, Hon Simon Achidi Achu, playing the role of unifier among elite of the Northwest Region, and not create conflict among them.

He was speaking in an interview he granted The Post in Douala, in reaction to some “unhealthy” pronouncements which Achidi Achu made at the elective General Assembly of the Northwest Fons Union, NOWEFU, in Bamenda on March 16. Nico Halle also talked about the work of the reconciliation committee on the Ntumfor issue and the possibility of dropping the Ntumfor title. Excerpts:  
    
At the recent General Assembly of NOWEFU, the Ntumfor issue resurfaced, with HRH Fon Abumbi of Bafut disclosing that a reconciliation committee is at work. Have you been contacted by the committee, so far?

The Fon of Bafut invited me to the palace and informed me that there was something like that. We chatted at length and I told him my position, just like I did tell a number of other Fons and elite who also contacted me. A peace crusader like me should be the first person to go in for reconciliation. But then, it must be genuine reconciliation.

The Fons all know what happened in the past with so-called reconciliations, because there was a lack of sincerity on the other side. I am not prepared to go for another cosmetic or artificial reconciliation. So, talking about the reconciliation committee, I gave the Fon of Bafut my conditions that must be fulfilled for any reconciliation to take place. 

Besides the reconciliation committee, we learnt that the out-gone Secretary General of NOWEFU, Fon McAkam, and Fon Teche, the new NOWEFU President General, had also met you to propose reconciliation.

 

The out-gone Secretary General actually came to my office in Douala. During our discussion, he castigated the decision that was unilaterally taken by one of the Fons to sign a so-called communiqué purportedly suspending me as Ntumfor.

He said he was not in agreement with what had happened, and that he was going to share with his colleagues so that they can bring peace. Well, since he left, I have not heard from him. As for Fon Teche, our meeting took place during the visit of the Prime Minister to Bamenda. We coincidentally lodged in the same hotel. He invited me to his room and told me he wanted to bring reconciliation. I gave him my conditions for anything to happen. 

What are these conditions?
 

The first thing I want is the account for the money that was contributed for the NOWEFU secretariat project and other money. The money for the secretariat project was contributed by the people and friends of the Northwest Region. I went around organising fundraising. I sent out appeal letters. I gave the people and friends of the Northwest my words that there will be transparency and accountability. If, up till today, the account of that money is not yet ready, then, how can we be talking about reconciliation?

Then, there is the communiqué in 2008 that announced the purported suspension of Nico Halle as Ntumfor. Copies of the communiqué were sent to the Presidency, the Prime Minister, Ministers, Governors, the gendarmerie and so on. The communiqué was definitely meant to undermine my image and reputation.

The author did not succeed, because Cameroonians know Nico Halle. They know my credibility. It is not an irresponsible act like the issuing of that controversial communiqué that can put my reputation into jeopardy. I committed no wrong. My crime was simply that I requested for transparency and accountability. In 2008, I, as Ntumfor, formally visited the then out-going President General of NOWEFU in Yaounde. It was a public ceremony.

In my address, I reminded the Fon of the need to render accounts at the General Assembly which was due to hold in a few months. A couple of weeks later a communiqué was issued announcing my suspension. It was no coincidence. Well, for there to be any reconciliation, that communiqué must be withdrawn by the same way it was made public. I made this point clear to the Fon of Bafut and the other Fons who contacted me.

Compromise is usually a key word when people or camps have to go in for reconciliation. Why do you then insist that your conditions must be met for any reconciliation to take place between you and the former President General of NOWEFU, Fon Chafah XI of Bangolan?
 

I will never compromise on matters of transparency and accountability. This is a principle. I was at the forefront of the fundraising for the secretariat project. The people and friends of the Northwest are expecting me to give an account of the money they contributed for the project and I am not in a position to give them.

We cannot be contented to just talk of how the secretariat project was raised to this or that level. We also need to tell the people how the money they contributed for the project was spent. How do you even go back to the people to ask for more money for the project when you have not yet rendered accounts for the money that was contributed?

As for the demand to withdraw the communiqué which was published, the Press law as you well know, states clearly that the same way you did it, is the same way you undo it. It is a matter of humility. Everybody has to be humble. A father, for example, should be able to tell his son that he is sorry, when he hurts him. A Fon should not think he is infallible. Fortunately, the Northwest has many humble Fons. Others should learn.

And what if those two conditions are not met?
 

Well, then no reconciliation. I am not excited about the Ntumfor title. The Ntumfor title does not put food on my table. I am an international legal consultant of repute. That is what puts food on my table. But I want to tell you that the biggest title of all the many titles I have is Christian. That is what I will take along when God calls me.

Talking about the Ntumfor title, I think the Fons chose me as their spokesman because of the many things that endeared me to them. The title was thus given as an encouragement. But I want to stress that even without the title, I would still have been doing what I have been doing, and I will continue to serve my Fons, my Region and my country. I do not need to be a Ntumfor or to have a traditional title to serve my Fons. 

Hon Simon Achidi Achu, who was a guest at the NOWEFU General Assembly, reportedly made a mockery of the Ntumfor issue. What is your reaction to that?

Well he takes responsibility for whatever he says. That is the former Prime Minister, our Pa. I respect him as a Pa. On a more serious note, Pa Achidi Achu is supposed to be a peacemaker and he is supposed to reconcile Northwest elite who have a misunderstanding and not instead divide them. When I read in The Post Newspaper what Pa Achidi Achu reportedly said at the NOWEFU General Assembly I was taken aback.

That Pa should instead be seen to be sowing discord or fanning conflict among Northwest elite is really unfortunate. When I read his comments, I asked myself if Pa has suddenly become that low, to be saying these kinds of things. What he said can not bring love amongst his children, it can only create conflict. Whatever the case, I will continue to respect him as a former Prime Minister, and as a Pa.

Hon Achidi Achu’s ‘advice’ apparently directed to you, was that if the Fons no longer want you as their Ntumfor and have thus sent you away, you should better go away in peace.

Who has sent me away?  The Fons have not sent me away. That is probably his wish. Perhaps Pa Achidi Achu would have loved to see the Fons make him or one of his cohorts, and not me, their messenger. Over the years, hundreds of traditional titles, including big titles like warriors, have been given to quite a number of sons of the Northwest Region.

What have become of the titles? A Ntumfor is just a mere messenger. Why is it that since the Fons gave me the Ntumfor title, everybody is rushing for it. Well, as I have always said, a title does not make a man, a man makes a title.  So, some fons can create 1.000 Ntumfors or more, it will not change me from what I am.

Meanwhile, it must be said that Pa Achu`s negative attitude towards me is not unconnected to the transparent and strict way in which I carried out my duty as member of the National Elections Observatory, NEO, in the Northwest Region. So, these are all vendettas for the work that I did.

The truth is that those rushing for the Ntumfor title or those trying to create problems around the title have as target, Nico Halle, and not the title. I know there are a number of Northwest elite who will never forgive me that I firmly stood against the rigging of elections. I have no regrets because I did that for the good of the country and to God’s glory.

But if this title of Ntumfor is creating so many controversies and conflicts, why not just drop the thing and forget about it?

I did not ask for the title. I did not apply for it. I did not write an exam to get it. More than 400 Northwest Fons unanimously gave me the title. If I were to drop the title as your question is suggesting, I will be disrespecting the Fons.

One Fon should not commit an irresponsible act and I throw away what the entire Northwest Fons gave to me. Also, if I do that, I will be endorsing the irresponsible act that one man committed. That will also be irresponsible on my part. So, I will not disrespect the Fons by dumping what they unanimously and lovingly gave me. I will not do that.       
               

First Published in The Post print edition (No. 1330)
 

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