By Isidore Abah, (Originally published in The Post Newspaper, Cameroon.)
Beware of Cameroon’s prophets of mendacity; they are leading our beloved country, not to the land of promise and land of glory that our illustrious forebears foresaw and dreamt of bequeathing to their succeeding generations. Instead, they are leading our great nation to doomsdays.
I watched with total repulsion the outing of Territorial Administration Minister, Paul Atanga Njie, February 9, hours after the closing of the twin polls. Addressing the nation on the conduct of the elections, Minister Atanga Nji said: “Exit poll reports from administrative authorities also confirm that the vast majority of Cameroonians displayed a high and commendable sense of patriotism by heeding the Head of State‘s call and massively going to the polls to exercise their right to vote…. Concerning the Northwest and Southwest Regions, the population turned out massively to exercise their civic duties in all the administrative units.”
Massively!!! In the Northwest and Southwest Regions? I couldn’t believe my ears. At first, I thought we were talking about two different countries called Cameroon or two different Northwest and Southwest Regions. What I saw in the Southwest and the corresponding reports from the Northwest, was everything but massive.
What I saw was massive elections boycott, lethargy among the electorate to vote, peddling of ballot papers for paltry coins, the bullying of the electorate by those who were supposed to be marinating law and order, and electoral machinations from Cameroon’s elections umpire, the administration, and the ruling party.
It is true that the Minister and I may not have seen the February 9 polls through the same prism for obvious reasons, but I am pleased that observers of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon and the African Union saw the February 9 twin elections in Cameroon, just like I did.
If our elites are not in the lying fraternity, please, ask Professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Senator Nfor George Tabetando Ndiepso, Minister Benjamin Itoe, and Minister Paul Tasong, to give you an honest assessment, without adulteration, on how elections went on in Kupe-Muanenguba, Manyu, Meme, and Lebialem Divisions respectively.
In the same vein, ask Ministers Felix Mbayu, Rose Mbah Acha, Calistus Fuh Gentry, and Dr. Asheri Kilo to give you a veritable account of the conduct of the February 9 polls in Mezam, Momo, Donga Matung, and Bui, respectively. You may just be shocked by their chronicles.
Elections are meant to better the lots of citizens in every democracy because it is through elections that the citizens participate directly or through their duly elected representatives in the Government of their country. But if elections are merely to fulfil all democratic righteousness or maintain a certain political party in power, as it were in Cameroon, then, we have missed the point.
Elections have come and gone; despite the barrage of post-electoral litigations that will flood the Constitutional Council and the Supreme Court, nothing much will change. New Parliamentarians and Councillors have either been chosen or imposed on the people; now is the time for Cameroonians to start speaking the truth and stop lies-telling.
Cameroon is currently in the abyss of an armed conflict, because, we have refused to speak the truth. Statements like: “There is no Anglophone Problem, Anglophones are not marginalised in Cameroon, the security situation in the Northwest and Southwest Regions is under control, there is no humanitarian problem in Cameroon, the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions want Decentralisation, not Federation or Secession…” have not helped the Government in building a strong Cameroon, united in diversity and buoyed by its multiculturalism.
It is time to look at ourselves and admit that: yes, we have a plethora of perennial problems because of our colonial past, but this is how we can resolve them, and this is how we can build a strong and inclusive Cameroon for all and sundry. It is time to dump these prophets of falsehood and elevate patriots who will proffer long-term solutions to our collective problem and not emergency solutions.
I think we can borrow a leave from our shrewd Prime Minister, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute, when he told the Southwest populace during his recent visit that: “I have come so that we can jointly acknowledge our imperfections and agree to improve on peace and security. Our house is on fire and we must rescue it.”
Yes, Cameroon is on fire, and it behooves on all Cameroonians to rescue it. This dear fatherland of ours cannot be rescued by falsehood; it can only be rescued by speaking the truth about issues that affect the people. After all, the good book says only “the truth will set you free.”
Like President Paul Biya in his February 10 address to the youths made allusion to some violent-invested countries in Africa and said: “we do not want this to happen in Cameroon. Our goal remains to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous society.”
If that, indeed, is your goal, Mr President, please call-off the war, stop the pogrom, reconcile your citizens and discard these prophets of mendacity.
The Patriot’s fervent submission