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Issues at Stake: The Fons’ Voice of Reason 

By Yerima kini Nsom

Reactions to the current Anglophone problem rocking the country have all sorts of political complexions. They range from downright conservatism to hotly radical insistence.

It has been a dichotomy between those who hit the facts on the head and those who have chosen to highlight the trickle-down of partisan prevarications. The Northwest Fons for once, relegated the usual soapbox discipline to the back-burner, by speaking the bitter truth on the issue.

Their voice, like that of the Chiefs and the Bishops, is the voice of reason. It is also the voice of the people and the voice of God. The Fons’ recent memo to President Paul Biya is a frontal indictment of successive Governments for sowing the seeds of the crisis the country is reaping today in the Anglophone Regions.

It is now up to the authorities to listen to the music of the bitter truth or the mellifluous melody of fallacious claims that will further ditch the country in an abyss of animosity. Only a good sense of judgment will help them to take well-informed measures to end the crisis.

The Fons call issues by their real names. They make it clear to the President that the seeds of the Anglophone discord were sowed between 1966 and 1984. The Fons cite the abolition of multiparty politics in 1966 and Federalism in 1972 as some of the issues that triggered what is today known as the Anglophone Problem.

The traditional rulers also indict Government for failing to “respect and implement some of the articles of the various Constitutions that uphold and safeguard what Anglophone Cameroonians came with into the union since February 1961.” They put it in very unequivocal terms to the President that: “the slow but sure destruction of the cultural identity as can be seen in education and the legal systems” is what has exacerbated the Anglophone problem.

The Fons hold that the way to end the current crisis is predicated on a number of issues. They are: the liberation of persons arrested or trying them where the crimes are alleged to have been committed. Such people, they hold, should be granted general amnesty. They also demand the withdrawal of Francophones from Anglophone courts and vice versa. They ask for equitable distribution of places between Anglophones and Francophones in all competitive examinations.

They also want Government to enact a law on the compulsory use of French and English in all official businesses. The traditional rulers reiterated all the grievances the Anglophone lawyers and teachers articulated during negotiations. The Fons’ demand on the issues is in tandem with that of the Southwest Chiefs, the Bishops and other Cameroonians of goodwill.

The fact that the people of the Anglophone Regions respect the strike as if it were a religious feast, should let Government map out new strategies to arrest the crisis. It should be understood that the solution to this problem does not lie in the wanton arrest of people.

Such arrests and torture of citizens as well as the suppression of freedoms only go to stain Cameroon’s good name in the global public space and the comity of nations. Dialogue will always be cheaper than sponsoring the forces to crack down on unarmed civilians.

On a more philosophical note, the current crisis wears the posture of an Ammaggendon. It is a situation where-in the forces of vice and virtue are crossing swords. It continues to be a fierce battle in which falsehood and truth, reason and brute force, peace and violence continue to wrestle. The consequences of this show of power are devastating.

If the crisis were not violent in the orchestration of the loss of property, life and the breaching of peace and human rights, it would have been a big silver lining. The uprising would have just provided a recipe for a clash of wills and a battle of visions that would have made Cameroon stronger in its current democratic dispensation.

More lessons would have been learned and a more democratic country, saddled with the responsibility of ensuring checks and balances and the equitable distribution of the national cake would have emerged. If all the brouhaha comes to a reasonable denouement, it will produce an ideal situation in which National Integration and National Unity will no longer be the most frequently evoked but flagrantly abused expression in the country’s political lexicon. Then, we will give birth to a decent situation where-in the nation-state is not used as a justification for the flagrant abuse of human rights.

In handling the current crisis, Government has maintained that “Cameroon is one and indivisible.” But, many moves constitute a contradiction to this maxim. Why arrest citizens and try them far away from the jurisdiction in which the crimes are alleged to have been committed? Is this not a violation of the criminal procedure code, CPC? How come even press offences are entertained at the Military Court?

We must trash all these controversies so that we instil a more patriotic spirit of collectively belonging to one nation. This, we must do to ward off the argument of the extremists who have been advocating separation. This must be done to avoid a heavier stumble whose consequences may be more momentous.

Like one of the advisers of President Paul Biya puts it ‘the Anglophone problem is a dividend of bad governance and Government’s failure to hearken to the people’s aspirations. Ekoka Penda is one of the few Francophone elites that have shot an audacious gaze at the Anglophone crisis and called issues by their real names. Former Minister and international consultant, David Abouem a Choyi, did critical diagnosis of the crisis and recommended a frank dialogue as the only way out.

Is it possible that the Fons, the Chiefs, the Bishops, the PCC Moderator, the CBC Executive President and these Francophone intellectuals are all wrong, and the proponents of brute force and intimidation right? Think, pause and think again, for the sake of Cameroon! In his address to the nation, President Biya said Government will not relent its efforts in seeking lasting solutions to the crisis. The father of the nation has once more spoken, so there is hope in the horizon.

 

 

 

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