The idea of ‘regionalization’ or decentralization of the Cameroons political system only came into being when the All Anglophones Conference in 1993 and 1994 called on the Biya’s regime to revert to Federalism of two states- the original idea why Southern Cameroons voted on 11th February 1961 expressing their will to join the La Republique Du Cameroun over the Mungo. In his paper: Because we were involved (Reflections on the All Anglophone Conference ten years after), by senior citizen Mwalimu George NGWANE, he declared ” Whether the Anglophone problem is considered a forgotten scar of our collective memory or an open sore of our collective survival, it will continue to prick the conscience of the Cameroonian body-politic”. Over the years the Government of President Paul Biya has been involving in a smokescreen decentralization process, changing the names of the country’s provinces to regions. The Cameroun/Cameroons people have largely seen this as a smokescreen because nothing works in truth. The issue of decentralization or changing of names from provinces to regions is just a matter of semantics. Everything remains same.
Any political groupings in the Cameroons that seeks change away from the current status quo by adhering to the Government of ‘Regionalisation’ or Decentralisation are just a lesser evil to the Biya’s administration.
BaretaNews take is that any change to the Cameroons political system without considering the reasons why Anglophones voted to join Cameroun would largely see a new form of Biya or a bigger Francophone government in another style or form. Cameroonians and Anglophone youths especially should recall that in the former federal constitution during the federal government, Anglophone MPs had the power of veto meaning that any decision which the house (Parliament) takes without the backing of an absolute majority of the Anglophones MPs , such decision cannot be accepted. This protects the minority rights of the Anglophone people. Any proposed change to the Cameroons system should state clearly how the Anglophone people shall be protected in the larger Francophone country. This issue of ‘regionalizing’ the government does not work, it’s just a lesser evil of Biya’s decentralization, it does not solve the Anglophone problem.
As an Anglophone political activist, I caution that Anglophone youths engaging in any political change should know where they are coming from, they should know the true history of Southern Cameroons, and above all, they should not run from the issue plaguing the Cameroons Anglophone community.
Recalled that the original reasons Southern Cameroonians voted to join French Cameroon were the idea of two states of equal status with alternating powers of all arms of government between the two Cameroons in a federal government. In 1972, President Ahmadou Ahidjo against the spirit and letter of the Constitution pushed through a new document that abolished the federal system, renamed the country the Unitary Republic of Cameroon, and granted the president greater powers. After assuming the presidency, Paul Biya again in their assimilation style pushed through a revised Constitution in 1984. This document changed the country’s name to the Republic of Cameroon- the name French Cameroon had at independence on 1st January 1960 thus completing the colonization and assimilation of Southern Cameroon. Needless to mention the issue of Reunification as historians and constitutionalists of both Cameroons confirmed the illegality of the Union when they agreed in Yaounde on April 5, 2013, said that no legal documents were established at the time of reunification between the two Cameroons to bind them in a union.
It is interesting to note that our political friend from the other side of the Mungo (Francophone), a former Unionist, comrade Alain Ngono had this to say “On our nation, there should be no taboo. We shall be ready to listen to others. Whether we are against or in favour of SCNC, is not a big deal at this stage. The truth of the matter is that it is an issue that our generation will have to address. So we need to have the best possible understanding of it. We should not look at it with passion, favour or ignore it”. This is the type of Cameroonians BaretaNews is looking for, this is how our brothers from the French side should look at the future Cameroon .He stated it clearly, it is a problem our generation will have to solve and by inviting leaders of the SCNC movement on the table, a lot of things could change for the good of the entire Country yet Biya’s government have ignored the calls for dialogue from the Banjul African Court.
Another former student Union leader comrade Tata Mbinglo from Nkambe constituency corroborated comrade Ngono when he declared “We the youths are a positivist. Let’s hold each other’s hand and walk through this gate to our destination. That which God has shown to us. It takes some time but we must get there as activists, politicians, scholars, civil society, youths, as SCNC, as religious organizations, one thing is certain we are getting there as a people! Each night before we go to bed, let’s reflect on this ,on where we started, it was Faith that brought us to this point, it is faith that will take us there”. Comrade Tata has embodied all components of the Cameroon society to seek a new Cameroon. These are the new breed Cameroonians BaretaNews is looking for in its quest to see a new Cameroon, those that acknowledges the problems of our people and are prepared to get involve in honest and sincere solutions.
That said, BaretaNews thinks the best form of Government that could address Cameroon political landscape is that of Federalism with state and federal parliaments, independent structures, greater autonomy to both Cameroons to manage their affairs. It could be a two states solution or a ten states solution transforming the regions to states or better still it could be the four states solution as proposed by the SDF. Whatever form we want, all major actors must sit on the drawing board to map a new road for Cameroon. Let us not forget this as youths and most especially those of Anglophone extraction. We should always have in mind where we are coming from and what type of Cameroon we want to leave for our Children.
BaretaNews recalled sometime in 2008/2009 in one of its write ups, we defined Cameroon bilingualism as “the ability to read and understand French, whether you read and understand English does not matter so far as you speak and understand French, the job is largely yours” thus in our quest for a new Cameroon we do not want our children to fight through marginalization to succeed, we do not want our children to speak a particular language to succeed as we have seen in the military, police, government offices, national team etc. We want our children to live in a society where peace and justice is seen to be done between both cultures wherein they will succeed not because they are seen to speak French or they come from a particular area but based on our distinct cultures and meritocracy they are seen to succeed. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past.
God is still saying something