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Will Gov’t, The People, Stop This Circumlocution? 

By Bouddih Adams

We are travelling from the Southwest to the Northwest Region through Mamfe on a week day, and see many children in the towns and villages along the road selling various items. At Manyemen in Manyu Division of Southwest Region, we see so many children of school-going ages selling food items. They huddle around our car with fresh and smoked bush meat, bush mango, bitter-kola and so on. One of us asks: “Are you not school children? Why are you not at school?”

The reply: “Ehh? School? The Government has not yet resolved the problems of our teachers and our education.”

At the end of our journey, deep in Donga Mantung of the Northwest Region, we get up in the morning the next day and find children sweeping the compound, washing dishes or feeding goats. One of us asks his uncle why the children have not gone to school. The uncle’s explanation: the demands of Anglophones have not been met.

“Remember, as Nkambe Division, during the plebiscite of February 11, 1961, we voted here overwhelmingly to join the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Mamfe Division also voted to join Nigeria. You can see where Nigerian States are with development today. The point is, the powers-that-be should rectify the problems of Anglophone Education and other issues of our national life and we will send our children back to school. We are the ones paying the school fees and, if it is about losing anything, we are the ones losing,” the old man stated unequivocally.

Thus, while parents in the urban centres are holding back their children at home and claiming that it is because of insecurity, which is just a subterfuge; their counterparts in the rural areas are asking what the Government has done in respect to Anglophone demands. The fact is that the parents think that by not heeding to the call by Government to send their children to school, the Government will be compelled to answer the Anglophone Question.

On the other hand, Government is taking the adamant position of “L’état c’est le pouvoir,” (state authority must prevail [our interpretation]), in the words of administrators in the Anglophone Regions.

Government present decisions are apparently based on the communiqué signed by some teachers’ union leaders calling for an end to the strike. But it was not signed by all the teachers’ trade unions that called for the strike. That is what first put it to question. The people believe that the persons who signed it were coerced to do so; that is why they are not heeding to the call by Government for schools to resume.

Otherwise, if the communiqué were deemed genuine, why have parents not heeded to it by sending their children to school?

All the actions taken by Government: be it arresting Anglophone leaders, shutting down the internet in the Anglophone Regions, carrying out State media campaigns, deploying troops and so on, have, glaringly, not resolved the problem – hence the prevailing stalemate. So are the actions taken by the Ministers of Basic and Secondary Education, based on that communiqué by the supposed teachers’ trade unions, going to bear little or no fruits?

The deadlock can only be unlocked by both parties coming to the discussion table and sorting out the issues. In this case, since the people do not have any authority to call for such discussions, only the Government can call for and hold genuine talks that would yield genuine fruits and break the stalemate and social tension and that would beget the Nation State which President Paul Biya is keen on seeing.

The authorities should stop behaving as if the badly needed solution is a grain of sand in the desert, or a grass in the savannah, or a tree in the forest, or pearl in the deep blue sea that is difficult to find. The solution can emanate from the desk of the highest office in the land and will cost just a pen and paper.

International bodies and Cameroonians of all shades of opinion, including traditional leaders, religious authorities (also proprietors of schools), civil society organisations and even the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement, CPDM, of the Northwest Region, have called for the Government to release the Anglophone leaders, re-engage dialogue, among other requests, in order to break the stalemate.

A Government of the people, by the people and for the people, can listen to the people.

Are We Together?

   

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