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No Laughing Matter: Ghost Still Ruling, Reigning 

By Bouddih Adams

The ghost again rose from its bed (or is it its grave?) last week and ruled throughout Anglophone Cameroon. It has again this week.

Since the call for ghost towns by the Consortium, comprising trade unions of lawyers, teachers and other civil society organisations, that was later outlawed by the Government, the call has been almost unequivocally respected until the ghost has been overseeing dead towns and villages in the Anglophone Regions of the country.

The people in Anglophone Cameroon seem to have not only opened their doors and welcomed the ghost, but have, actually, offered it abode and unquestionable authority and it is residing with them.

It would be remembered that even women adopted civil disobedience this year by not disturbing their husbands about Women’s Day this-and-that. They preferred to observe the civil disobedience with their husbands and loved ones by either going to the farm or just staying at home on Women’s Day.

Last week, in Bamenda, the chief town of the Northwest Region, the ghost presided over the opening of the FENASCO B Games, as all shops stayed closed and commercial vehicles remained grounded. Reports said the ghost is receiving more honour in the villages as it is very religiously respected.

Similarly, in Buea, the capital of the Southwest Region, shops, private offices, financial institutions and even churches shut their doors throughout the day. The hinterlands are said to be indisputably respecting the ghost.

However, in Buea, on ghost town days, the Council has been forcing open shops built on the build-operate-transfer, BOT understanding with the municipal authorities. Mostly, only those shops are open as other thousands of shopkeepers shut their doors. Some shopkeepers, after the Council had forced open their doors, sat by them observing a sort of sit-down strike as they refused to serve customers telling them to get the Mayor who forced their shops open to come and serve them.

“He has forced my shop open but I will not sell. I will still respect ghost town by not selling,” a woman fumed.

Another shopkeeper argued that such shops were constructed on the BOT basis for 15year period after which they will surrender them to the Council. He further argued that, for now, they have used them only for four years and still have 11 years to go, so he can close his shop and he would be the one losing since he pays his taxes. According to him, if advocates were not on strike, he would have asked his lawyer to sue the Council for “disturbance of quiet enjoyment.” 

Some lawyers we button-holed on the idea of calling off the strike since President Biya has ordered the creation of a section for Common Law at ENAM and at the Supreme Court and schools of law and political sciences, dismissed such an idea as a misnomer. According to them, there is nothing like Faculty of Law and Political Sciences. As for the opening of Common Law sections in ENAM and the Supreme Court, they said it was merely a promise just like any other made by President Biya which he has never kept. They observed that he might want to personally supervise it as he has waited for 30-something years to have the Bamenda Ring-Road tarred, or, they might wait for the text of application as they have waited for the implementation of the 1996 Constitution for over 21 years today.

 Besides they said if President Biya wanted such a thing done, he won’t pass through a mere Minister to announce it, he will do it himself as he did in 2010 when he announced in Bamenda that: “I have decided to create the University of Bamenda,” though it took pressure from teachers trade unions, parents associations and other groups for him to order the university to go operational.

On the school resumption issue, at a meeting with administrative authorities, teachers were charged with the responsibility of moving from one home of their students and pupils to the other in a bid to persuade parents to send their children to school. Most of the teachers returned from the field with drooping jaws as the encounters were shrilling and chilling.

One of the teachers narrated an encounter with one of the parents. The look the parent gave her after she announced her mission to his home – it was a stone-face look. After one of the children introduced her as her teacher, the teacher mentioned that, from a meeting with the Governor (she deliberately mentioned Governor to assume authority in her mission), they were tasked to visit homes and ask parents to send their children to school.

“Na Governor born the pikin dem for me? Or na yi di sponsor dem. Get out of my house! Let me not see you again in my house for school resumption,” the father of five howled.

Meantime, it is not only parents keeping their children away from school, the students themselves have declared a blank year for themselves, saying they want to help the Government by declaring it, since it seems to be very difficult for the Government to pronounce it.

Informed that the deadline for registration for the General Certificate of Education, GCE, has, again, been extended to April 15 to enable them register, another parent and his GCE candidates children retorted that; since Government hired prisoners to march on February 11 in place of students, it should hire prisoners to also register and sit for the GCE. 

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