Traditional Rulers of the Southwest Region, under the banner of Southwest Chiefs’ Conference, SWECC, have hit back at Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, over what they termed ‘hate and demeaning speech.”
In a terse, but strongly-worded letter memo, signed by SWECC President, Chief Martin Mafany Njie, on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, the Chiefs write: “We the Southwest Chiefs categorically condemn the demeaning and threatening manner by which the Governor of the Southwest Region reminded us of our civic duties, which we have always performed diligently without being ordered to do so by whosoever.”
The Traditional Rulers reiterate their resolve to eradicate hate speech and their determination to find a lasting solution to the ongoing socio-political crisis in the two Anglophone Regions.
Before SWECC reacted, Chiefs of Fako Division took exception to the Governor’s utterances and gibberish and threatened to boycott the National Day celebration.
Meeting in Limbe in an extra-ordinary confab orchestrated by the Governor’s outing, the custodians of culture and tradition resolved that any Traditional Ruler in the Division who will yield to the Governor’s threats and march on May 20th, will be fined. They said such a Chief will be compelled to give a pig to each of the over 100 Chiefs of Fako Division.
It would be recalled that Governor Okalia Bilai, on Thursday, April 25, stunned people of the Southwest Region in particular, and the Anglophone community in general, when he denigrated Chiefs of the Region by ordering them to march with banners on May 20th or be dethroned.
The public threat was issued during a preparatory meeting in prelude to the 2019 National Day celebration.
During the meeting, Okalia stated that if the Chiefs fail to carry placards and march alongside their subjects, he will sanction them by dethroning them.
“See the chairs for the Chiefs, they are empty. On May 20, all the Chiefs will march with placards, indicating their village, and their population will follow behind. If that is not the case, it means those Chiefs don’t exist. And if you don’t exist as a body and as a village, it means you cannot be counted among villages. I said this, three years ago, the Chiefs refused because they were still volunteer Chiefs, but today, the volunteering is finished…you are tied to the State with an obligation. I don’t want to disclose it here, but we understand each other. If you fail to do what I am instructing, you will see 30 days after, the consequences of disobedience.”
Then, Okalia Bilai had instructed Mayor Patrick Ekema Esunge of Buea Council to procure banners for the Chiefs so that they will be no excuses on that day.
Here him: “So, Lord Mayor, prepare the placards because they will say that they don’t have money. How many villages do we have? A hundred? A hundred placards. Every Chief will pass. Those who are in exile in Douala or Yaounde, let them stay there, when they will come back, they will find somebody else as Chief,” Okalia threatened. Meanwhile, the stage between the Governor and the Chief has been set for the National Day celebration in the Southwest Region, the repercussions will only be analysed after the event.