Home » You Have No Right To Complain If You Don’t Vote – SDF Chair Tells Youths

You Have No Right To Complain If You Don’t Vote – SDF Chair Tells Youths

by Atlantic Chronicles

The Chairman of the Social Democratic Front party, Hon Joshua Osih, rounded off his visit to the Southwest Region last weekend with a strong appeal for the youth to actively participate in shaping the future of Cameroon.

The Member of Parliament for Wouri Centre emphasised the imperative for young people to register and vote for the change they desire during next year’s presidential elections.

This was Osih’s first official visit to the Southwest since he was elected to replace the late founding father of the SDF, Ni John Fru Ndi.

Addressing youths in Buea, Southwest Region, on Saturday, April 20, the Chairman said Cameroonians who fail to cast their vote during elections have no right to complain when the regime in place does not prioritise their interest.

“I want to say one thing: voter apathy are people who are registered to vote and don’t go and vote. If you are not registered to vote, you are not part of the voter apathy because, you don’t exist You are not in the system,” Hon Osih, responding to a question on voter apathy.

Hon Osih continued, “And if you are not registered to vote, you have no right to complain. Only those who vote, who participate in building democracy in this country have a right to complain.”

He said he came to Buea to understand the challenges of the population, particularly the youth, so that the SDF can structure policies that resonate with the population.

He had been to the three Northern regions and the East Region of the country for the same mission before arriving in Buea, after visiting Tiko and Limbe as well.

He was accompanied to Buea by the Secretary General of the SDF, Mayor Donatus Njong, and they were received by the party’s militants in the Region, led by the Regional Chairman, John Kona Makia.

He first held a session with SDF regional bureau members, and proceeded to have lunch with members of the Silicon Mountain tech community and finally held an interactive session with youths and civil society leaders.

His interaction with the youth took the form of a question-and-answer session whereby the Chairman fielded worries from the youths and attempted explanations to them.

From the interaction, one could see frustration and hopelessness in the youth of Buea regarding the political system in place.


SDF Chairman Joshua Osih addressing youths in Buea on April 20, 2024

Among several issues which have constrained life for them include unemployment, high cost of housing, underdevelopment in areas like Akwaya, police exploitation and brutality, poor education system, increasing prostitution and gambling, moral decadence, and elections rigging, among others.

These frustrations, some of the youths said, have caused them to become apolitical.

“For a long time, I decided to be completely apolitical. Somebody spoke about voters’ apathy. Well, there was a time when I would say he was pointing fingers at me. But then, at some point, I took the courage to say, okay, let me go register to vote,” said Fornyuy Taryuni, a Buea-based youth.

During the interactions with Hon Osih, Taryuni made a lengthy intervention which garnered much cheer from the dozens of youths who were present.

He narrated his woes with the police in Buea and how he was forced to shut down his restaurant business due to constant harassment and exploitation from elements of the Buea Central Police Station.

He also raised the problem of the high cost of housing in Buea, an issue Joshua Osih said stems from a harsh tenancy law put in place by the CPDM-majority Parliament.

Taryuni ended up concluding that every politician must endeavour to earn his vote by putting up a convincing manifesto.

“If I’m going to cast my vote on someone the person should best be sure to convince me because I’m using it with my brain. Not with my emotions… You better show me something realistic that you’re going to do. If I can get a candidate that will do that. I have no problem going to vote,” he said.

Nji Lucas, a civil society leader in Buea, was concerned with youth disinterest in politics.

He is part of a civil society coalition that aims to mobilise youths to participate in elections.

“It is to take an active part in politics, and to also, encourage fellow youths to see that politics, especially in a democracy, is the only solution because, no matter what we say or do,” he said.

Millions of Cameroonian youths appear to have lost hope in the country’s politics, owing to decades of frustration.

For over 40 years now, they have been ruled by one President, Paul Biya, who is now 92 years old. And he is due to contest in next year’s Presidential elections, unless he declares otherwise.

Youths make up more than half of the country’s estimated 28 million people. Yet, less than 2 million of them voted in the last Presidential elections in 2018, which saw 3.5 million voters, according to official figures.

In December 2023, the elections management body ELECAM put the total number of registered voters at 7,523,184.

However, youths still remain lukewarm towards political participation, an issue Joshua Osih said has helped to keep President Biya in power for the past decades.

“If you do not register to vote, you are wasting your lives. Because people duller than you will be managing your lives; people less competent than you will be managing your future,” he said.

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