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Analysis:Presidential Squandermania-Biya’s Evidence Against Himself 

By Peterkins Manyong

There is nothing that facilitates the justice system like the cooperation of a suspect in a court trial. American legislators, therefore, had a strong justification for its fury and consequently their determination to see Bill Clinton impeached when the President tried to obstruct justice by lying in the Monica Lewinsky Affair.

But while every legal system cherishes cooperation, the superlative form of it; for instance, a suspect pleading guilty after the judge had read the charges against him during the first hearing of his case in court. Not only is this anticlimactic, such an action would be a great source of embarrassment to the suspect’s lawyer as it would deprive him of his much cherished fee.

That is what Biya has done to his apologists. After a French Catholic NGO had published a report accusing President Biya of amassing wealth at the expense of the Cameroonian taxpayer, the President went on a spending spree, embarrassing his songbirds who all tried to counter the report. That the leader of a poor, highly indebted country, should on a single and unofficial outing, spend more than the President of the world’s richest nation, defies the most sublime form of logic or sophism.

It defies Benjamin Franklin’s universally accepted concept in "Poor Richard’s Almanac" which states that a debtor is like an empty sack that cannot stand erect. Our highly indebted President, not only squandered money, but with impunity in the presence of the very Western creditors that provided it under the HIPC Initiative. The President’s conduct was not only an embarrassment to his benefactors, but to his advocates: Issa Tchiroma, Fame Ndongo, Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam and Gregoire Owona, who now find it more difficult than ever to defend him.

Every human being is important to him and thinks he must be so in the opinion of others. Such a person is the first to propagate scandals about him/her self with the belief that the information is already public knowledge. "Have you seen what that wretched fellow, Peterkins, has written about me? I will teach that fellow a lesson" an enraged politician would say. A reaction as such is sure to arouse the interest of the listener to the story whose circulation would have been limited or circumscribed if the politician never complained. Perhaps the story of the Catholic NGO and the La Baule Hotel spending spree would not have attained its present state of popularity had the President’s songbirds not made such a cacophony of it.

There is nothing absolutely wrong in a Head of State relaxing in a luxurious hotel. Biya needs a quiet moment once in a while to calm his nerves so as to better reflect on the business of governance. But lavishing FCFA 700 million on a delegation of 43 whose members, certainly didn’t "chop" quietly, suggests that a calm head was not what the President needed. He was surely on a vanity fair.

Spending, it must be admitted, is an indispensable economic activity because it solves the problem of liquidity. It would have been more commendable if the money was spent in a Cameroonian hotel, however expensive, or any of the numerous Presidential palaces with which Amadou Ahidjo decorated in the Provincial Headquarters.

But even so, there is a vast difference between spending to gratify a voracious appetite and doing same as an act of charity. A glutton who spends lavishly on food or drinks for himself or for others, who aren’t hungry, or thirsty, can’t be termed generous because his act was not motivated by love of neighbour. The truly conscientious members of the President’s delegation surely viewed their master’s conduct as reckless and insensitive extravaganza. If the stories about Biya’s prodigality stemmed from Cameroon, the Regime’s reaction would have been that the opposition had framed it to destabilise the nation and grab power.

There is a worse consequence of the scandal. The La Baule Hotel  outing practically watered down the idea of secrecy the President has been reputed for by the author of "The Biya Code" It has equally made mincemeat of  the panegyric heaped on him by Elvis Ngolle, Calistus Fuh Gentry and Dion Ngute, who conferred sainthood on him during the book’s launch in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. The trio may not openly regret their canonisation of the President, but they are surely embarrassed that their master was not more discreet.

But perhaps the most devastating consequence of Biya’s squandermania is its effect on the presumed war on graft. Supporters of Jean Marie Atangana Mebara and other inmates now have a greater justification for saying that their idols are being punished to free Cameroon of corruption. The logical conclusion is that, like Dante who put all his enemies in literary hell, Biya has decided that his opponents should languish in an earthly "place of weeping and gnashing of teeth," which in the Cameroonian context are Kondengui and New Bell Prisons.

No serious war can, however, ever be won without serious casualties. If the rumour from Kondengui that the high profile detainees are giving the President nightmares through anonymous phone calls is true, then Biya is in a worse inferno than the one in which he has put his enemies. The physician should start by acting as his own doctor. Corruption, like every evil, originates from the mind. If Biya wants to liberate Cameroon from it, let him start by liberating himself.

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