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The Watchman: Barack Obama: Hard Talk From A Native Son 

Barack Obama: Hard Talk From A Native Son

It is traditional for US Presidents to deliver ceremonial and routine speeches when they visit Africa. They invariably focus on disease, poverty and health. In the process, they talk of the aid package that America has allotted to bail Africa out of the multiplicity of its perpetual problems. That is not bad at all. But it appears that they do not hit the nail on the right spots; touching the ‘Big Guys’ who have been Africa’s bane for centuries.

President Barack Obama, son of a Kenyan, found the right spot and hit the nail – bang on the head! His outright condemnation of African despots in his no no-nonsense speech in Ghana sent sweat streaming right down the toes of many African leaders, not excluding that of Cameroon.

By condemning leaders who impoverish their people through self aggrandizement and poor governance, and encouraging youth to assume leadership, Obama touched the right nerves. Obama identified with Ghana that is now a model in its democratic and development efforts. The message was clear that others should emulate that example.  America’s aid will be useful to African leaders, but Obama’s words would be more useful to Africans. But was anyone listening?

Parliament: Right Move
It has taken too long, but it is not too late -yet. The Cameroonian Parliament has been seen in many cases to have compromised, blundered or acted as an accomplice to Executive crime. Some even see it as a toilet tissue in the hands of the President. But, this time, they are likely to stand their ground against government’s "selective punishment" of those it considers enemies.

Stripping some dishonourable Members of Parliament of their immunity might not be a bad idea. That may give Parliament some moral teeth to bite some offenders of national interest. But, it depends for what purpose. The recent action, nonetheless, seems to have been selective and the law-making body might have conveniently ignored Article 66 of the Constitution on the declaration of assets.

Parliament might just get up from slumber and start tackling the main issues instead of handclapping government bills. Kudos to Parliament for that first step in the right direction.  But, if they are the veritable Representatives of the People, then, Cameroonians are watching to see that Parliament will, henceforth, extricate itself from the stranglehold of the Executive arm of government.

Mamadou Tandja: Don’t Toy With Constitution
Mamadou Tandja is the President of Niger who would have earned himself a reputation by stepping down at the end of his second term mandate, come August. He cannot, however, resist the temptation of staying in power like most of his African peers. Tandja now operates like a moving train and is bent on crushing any stumbling block to his Methuselah ambitions. Tandja, 71, started by dissolving the country’s Constitutional Court that declared his action illegal, and has given deaf ears to the General Assembly of the Order of Lawyers in Niger that ‘laid down their robes’ in protest of his move.

He has pegged his reason for seeking another term on the spurious excuse that the people want him to stay. It is, however, not clear whether it is the same Nigerian people who have opposed his bid for a third term that want him to stay on. Tandja seems to be doing everything possible to include himself in the category of those the US President, Barack Obama, described as being on the wrong side of history.

Unruly Police Officers
Just mention the word police and you will notice the reaction. At least, there would be some panic even among the most innocent of citizens. This is the image the police have imprinted in the minds of Cameroonians. It would not be an over statement to say citizens would feel safer in the hands of armed robbers than standing 10 metres away from a police officer. It might be misleading to say the police because it will include even those who carry out their duties with decorum.

But, there is the bulk that represents insecurity in the mind of the average citizen. Some police officers, particularly those deployed to serve in Buea, have tacitly taken a commitment to teach French to the English-speaking people of the town. The way they teach them the French is another thing altogether – they come howling and screaming with boots and truncheons! Recently, an international legal consultant and his ‘bush faller’ sister had an overdose of police venom.

Despite all the victims’ claims of how much they know their rights, the officers went ahead and dished them a lesson – in French. If our knowledge of the duties of the police is right, they should be elements of security for the citizens, not elements of terror and insecurity. For an English-speaking citizen, it hurts double to receive cracks on the skull in French!

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