Franklin Sone Bayen had on the Come and See Journalism Facebook page written on the possible split of the Post Newspaper due to a suppose feud between the Executive Editor, Francis Wache and the Editor-in-Chief, Charly Ndi Chia. Dr Nfor Susingi, Cameroon 2018 Presidential candidate without mincing words came in to clear the air. Hear him:
“….I find this story very interesting because I know how it all started. I feel obligated to throw some light on this story because what is happening now is a copycat repetition of what happened in 1997. When I became active in the SDF in 1996 as the Chief Economic Adviser of the party, I thought that it would be necessary to have a new publication that would be used to communicate the economic ideas of the SDF.
As Paddy Mbawa, the previous publisher of the paper was languishing in jail at New Bell, I approached him with the idea that he should allow me to inject some money to sponsor the paper and use it as a mouth piece for the economic programmes of the SDF. Paddy Mbawa agreed. But let me quickly add that the Cameroon Post had been registered under the name of Mr. Ngalim of Kumbo who remained the proprietor of the newspaper.
I proceeded to inject money into Cameroon Post with Francis Wache and Charley Ndi Chia serving as the editorial pillars of the newspaper. Meanwhile I stayed in the background as the invisible financial sponsor while Mr. Polycar Tarla became the Publisher.
It is under this arrangement that Cameroon Post was used to publish NESPROG for the SDF Convention that took place at Mount Mary in December 1997. When I subsequently travelled through the country on a tour with John Fru Ndi, I would occasionnaly file a story that would be published in Cameroon Post.
Later on in 1997 after the Parliamentary elections of 1997, something happened that shocked me beyond my wits. Mr.Francis Wache and Charley Ndichia prepared and edition of the newspaper and instead of calling it “Cameroon Post”, they simply removed the name “Cameroon” and called the new paper “The Post”. They kept everything the same, including the Masthead and the colours.
In effect, without troubling themselves to register a new paper called “The Post”, they simply took over Cameroon Post and removed the name “Cameroon” from it and created and new paper of their own called “The Post”. It was the most carefully planned act of journalistic skullduggery that I had ever seen in my entire life.
Since my role was simply that of invisible financial sponsor of Cameroon Post, I realized that what they had done was to steal the readership of Cameroon Post and to render it completely devoid of readership.I had no legal recourse and I did not want to go public with the act of skullduggery that they had executed.
I simply digested the fact that Cameroonians are capable of just anything and it was necessary to put distance between myself and such people. I simply advised them to change the Masthead and to apply for a new authorization for “The Post”. I have not seen or spoken to anyone of them for 18 years.
“When I read your story about what is happening at the moment between Francis Wache and Charley Ndichia, I told myself that the story does not surprise me because what the two gentlemen did in 1997 cannot possibly have a happy ending because these are the two gentlemen who destroyed Mr. Ngalim’s Cameroon Post….”
ENTERS CLOVIS ATATAH:
Clovis Atatah, co-founding editor of The Post newspaper could not stop but to react to the suppose lies Dr Nfor Susingi spread. Hear him:
At the time, I had just completed studies in the journalism department at the University of Buea and was an editorial staff member of the Cameroon Post in Buea. Actually, I started working for the paper in 1996, even before completing my studies. Apart from our senior colleagues Francis Wache (Executive Editor-in-Chief) and Charlie Ndi Chia (Editor-in-Chief), Julius Afoni (Desk Editor, RIP), Bouddih Adams (who had just come to the head office from the North West Region, or Province at the time), and I held the editorial fort on a day-to-day basis.
The remuneration (stipend, wage or whatever you may prefer to call it) was abysmal. It was so atrocious that I do not have the courage to state the exact figures in this forum. Francis Wache and Charlie Ndi Chia often encouraged us to basically offer our services for free by invoking the idea of serving a larger purpose and that the project was so conceived that remuneration would significantly improve as the fortunes of the project improved as well.
So, for a while, the hope-for-a-brighter-future sedative worked like magic, as we continued to work as slaves for Dr. Susungi and his partners. We were, however, brutally jolted out of our reverie on July 6, 1997 (if I remember correctly), when Dr. Susungi sent his representatives to the head office. These representatives, acting like enraged thugs, without any warning or explanation, dismantled the computers and other equipment and carted them away. We were in the process of preparing an issue of the Cameroon Post for the press, which was never to be.
Dr. Susungi subsequently faxed a decision to a nearby phone booth operator to the effect that all staff members had been fired and those who wished to continue working for Cameroon Post needed to reapply. As if that was not enough insult, he summoned all the “fired” staff members to a meeting in Douala, during which their readmission into the team was to be publicly considered.
After the reception of the faxed message, the editorial staff in Buea held a meeting, during which the decision to publish a new paper, The Post, was taken.
After the publication of the maiden issue of The Post on July 11, 1997, Dr. Susungi and his partners filed a suit against The Post in Bamenda (where I guess they believed they had an advantage since Bamenda was neither the headquarters of Cameroon Post nor The Post), hired the celebrated Ntemfac Ofege as Editor-in-Chief and continued publishing Cameroon Post.
The court in Bamenda eventually dismissed the case and Cameroon Post failed to compete with The Post in the free market and consequently folded up.
Whether The Post lived up to its promise is another matter. But that is a story for another day…”