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Tale Of Two Planes, One Tough President 

By Bouddih Adams

CameroonPostline.com — Two planes are behind the news and the issues animating debates in Cameroon and beyond today. One is the plane that was supposed to have been bought for Mr. Biya in 2003; the other is a plane that crashed in 1995 killing 71 people on board.

But while people who allegedly embezzled money for the plane for Mr. Biya are being yanked and banged in prison, without trial, almost nothing is happening to people who allegedly embezzled money from the indemnity paid for the other aircraft, allegedly under the patronage of the same Mr. Biya.

While, on the one hand, one man, President Biya, who feels he was deprived of his comfort and convenience; on the other hand are hundreds of people deprived of the FCFA 32.5 billion as consolation for the loss of their beloved ones.

I have been wondering why a failed attempt to buy a plane for one man has earned people arrests and detention; while next to nothing is happening about a plane that crashed killing 71 people and money that was paid to compensate families of the victims stolen.

And when the SDF came out with the proposal of setting up a parliamentary commission to investigate the issue, MPs belonging to the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement, CPDM, presumably to protect their party Chairman, who, according to Marafa Hamidou Yaya, is deep in the scam, rejected the idea.

By so doing, the CPDM MPs, inadvertently, endorsed in Parliament the pseudonym spelling their party’s initials as Chop People Dem Money party.  In this case, it should even be; Chop Die People Dem Money, CDPDM.

Probably to save face, the same President Biya turned around and ordered a probe into the matter. That is damage control, in Biyattitude terms. And the same MPs applauded him.

Of course, the parliamentary investigation proposed by the SDF, might want any and every accused person in the matter investigated and the commission would be answerable to the Parliament.

As if enough is not enough, the CPDM MPs turned around claiming that the SDF motion was squashed on procedural bases. The question is: why could they not rewrite it in the proper procedural format and adopt it?

The CPDM MPs have demonstrated that they are rented jesters who do not even know what the job of an MP entails. Even a health care policy of the most powerful President on earth, Barack Obama, was challenged and the matter taken to court. He won. Honourably!

But the probe ordered by President Biya would investigate everyone else in the scam [except him] as the commission is answerable to him. Minister Tchiroma further complicates the issue when he claims that the money is in the State treasury. Put in the State treasury after Marafa’s letter exposed the scam or since 1995; is the question. The punch line in this brainteaser is that, Minister Tchiroma has, willy-nilly, admitted that the money was actually kept by the Biya Government.

As I scribble this piece, the Nigerian Parliament is probing the DANA airline crash in Lagos a month ago; meantime, the families of the victims have ALREADY received partial payment of the indemnity – an incident that occurred barely a month ago!

If you view such an outcome of the work of Nigerian MPs and a CPDM MP comes telling you anything, does he not deserve two dirty slaps? 

Tough Guy, Indeed, Mr. Biya
I remember once when the then Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, was telling people in Buea, in one of his sing-song outings, how President Biya was a man with a manly heart. He claimed that, while they were aboard the Albatross during its test flight, it was reportedly turbulent, everyone else, including him (Ngolle Ngolle) was panic-stricken; but that the President remained calm demonstrated a lot of self-control.

President Biya is, indeed a very tough guy. He is so tough that his decree is more than a law voted by Parliament.

He is so tough that his comfort is more important than alleviating the misery in which the people are living. In spite of the World Bank spiting the idea of a presidential plane, Biya proved his toughness by ordering that a plane be bought for him.

He is so tough that, in spite of the desire expressed by Cameroonians for clarifications on the insinuations of President Biya being involved in the misappropriation of the FCFA 32.5 billion paid as indemnity by the South African Airways, SAA, to families of victims, he doesn’t care.

Confronted with the issues Marafa’s letters raised, including the one under review, Mr. Biya’s response was tough: “I don’t comment on commentaries.” Period! The President is so tough that even treasonable issues as misappropriating money meant for people who lost their loved ones, do not touch his heart.

The President is so tough that even threats by families of victims of the plane crash to go on street demonstrations, cannot move him. Besides, he is the Commander in Chef of the Armed Forces, and if they dare to protest, he will ask his tough security forces to come out and brutally disperse them. Some might even be killed in the process. And nothing will happen.

When, in countries whose representatives of the people inscribe in the constitution that the President is not responsible for any acts committed in office, it is about acts like taking the country to war – for example. Not corruption or Embezzlement. That is why George Bush has not been impeached for dragging the US into senseless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the same office, President Richard Nixon was caught in the Water Gate scandal and faced with impeachment, he resigned.

But as tough as he is, President Biya is above all that and nothing will happen to him.

I recall CPDM MPs and Government going round to plead with the people not to bother about the people arrested and detained over the Albatross Affair. Hence, they would rather have a tough President than a sympathetic one who would be as soft as paying indemnities to families bereaved by a plane crash, when he has no plane of his own.

Are We Together?

First published in The Post print edition no. 01357

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