Stakeholders meeting to evaluate the road covered after the holding of the Major National Dialogue, MND aimed at bringing peace in the troubled Northwest and Southwest region of Cameroon, have said they are pleased with the fruits of the Dialogue held in 2019.
They expressed satisfaction with the road covered so far, during an ordinary session of the follow-up committee meeting held at the Star Building in the nation’s capital, Yaoundé, on August 4 2022. The session was aimed at taking stock of the progress made as far as the implementation of the recommendations of the dialogue is concerned.
Three years after the Major National Dialogue, the members say despite all the odds, peace, love and harmony are returning to the troubled regions, though fighting is still ongoing.
Chairing the follow-up committee meeting, the Prime minister and head of Government Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute in his address highlighted the various areas where he said progress has been made since the holding of the Major National Dialogue. He however admitted that there are still some pockets of resistance posed by separatist fighters who are still operating in the regions.
PM Dion Ngute said after the drastic fall in the number of children going to school in the troubled regions at the start of the crisis, the situation is now much better. He said at a certain point in 2017, only 20000 students were going to school in the Southwest region. He said he is satisfied that the number has tripled as the Southwest region now counts over 91000 children in schools, while the Northwest counts 71000. He said the statistics are from the just-ended academic year.
The PM said because of the returning peace, some of those who abandoned their farms have returned to resume work, and that the country has started enjoying food crops from the troubled regions, which for some time, was not the case. The PM also said even the CDC whose activities were grounded at the start of the crisis has picked up steam and has begun exporting its products to Europe and the Americas.
The PM and his team also lauded the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism. They said the Commission has been doing a great job to fight the rapid spread of hate speech and other related vices that had become a great challenge to the country’s much trumpeted living together.
Decentralisation and the special status of the Northwest and Southwest
One of the major outcomes of the Major National Dialogue was the granting of a Special Status to the troubled Northwest and Southwest regions. The stakeholders said this was tailored to respond to the specific needs and peculiarities of the regions. As such, alongside the regional assemblies, the Public Independent Conciliators of these two regions have been appointed and are currently carrying out their duties. The House of Chiefs was also restored and is functional in the two regions.
Other Tasks Still Ahead Despite Work Done
While counting achievements made ever since the MND, the follow-up committee says there are still some great tasks and assignments that still lie ahead of them, and that as such, more efforts are needed to make the situation better. They regretted that separatist fighters are still in control of some parts of the troubled regions. They also noted that arms are still been trafficked, bombs exploding, people are killed and many other crisis-related happenings. They called on the population to be more collaborative with the government.
One of the participants, Paddy Assanga at the follow-up committee meeting said he was glad to have been invited to the exercise. “At least there was a platform for me to air my mind. I told the members during the meeting that let those in the diaspora that has been accused of so many crimes be granted amnesty so that they can freely return to the country and give their own opinion on a possible way out of this crisis. My prayer is that they should be heard and let’s all talk as brothers and sisters,” he said.