BY TIKUM MBAH AZONGA
Recently, Cameroon`s Defence Minister, Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo`o was in Bamenda for the installation of military officials appointed to the North West Region. While in Bamenda, he paid the SDF Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi, a courtesy visit. As might be expected, the Chairman received him well. Some years ago, the then Minister of National Education – Joseph Owona – was in Bamenda and also paid the Chairman a visit. While at the Chairman`s Ntarinkon Residence, Owona was treated to breakfast by the Chairman.
As we know, when President Paul Biya was in Bamenda months ago for the celebration of 50 years of the Cameroon Armed Forces, he received the SDF Chairman in audience. This was an encounter that was greatly commented by observers, and one which will for ever go down in the annals of history as a big political landmark.
One inevitable remark is that both Biya and Fru Ndi need to be credited for the initiative because they both “swallowed their pride” in order to be able to meet with each other. But I believe Fru Ndi deserves greater credit for being the one who went up to the other. This move is indicative of political maturity. After all, the end result of any conflict is that of reconciliation, which means a face-to-face meeting and talks.
Nonetheless, one question comes up incessantly: if “far away” ministers can pay Fru Ndi a visit, why not the English speaking ministers, especially those form the North West who are geographically nearer to Fru Ndi? As far as I know, none of them has been bold enough to go to the chairman, not even when he was bereaved – having lost his wife and father.
The person who should receive the greatest blame is Atanga Nji Paul who is Minister in Charge of Special Duties at the Presidency of the Republic. This is because Atanga Nji is “nearest” to the Chairman than any other cabinet minister. Atanga is a “Mankon child” in the sense that he grew up in Mankon, which is also Fru Ndi`s home of residence and the town in which he made it big in business. Atanga Nji is at the same time president of the Section of the ruling CPDM party that englobes Fru Ndi`s residence and seat of power. So, even for political reasons, Atanga Nji should have made overtures to Fru Ndi. But he has not.
Perhaps by “boycotting” the Chairman, Anglophone ministers believe that they are showing loyalty to Paul Biya. If that were the case, then why were Owona and Mebe Ngo`o not sacked for visiting Fru Ndi? Do our ministers not realize that this tolerant and inclusive approach shown by Paul Biya and Fru Ndi is equally very much in evidence at the National Assembly – and since recent months – the Senate, where Anglophone and Francophone members mix freely? They sit and work in the same committees and dine next to each other at the hotel.
Look at this: The parliamentary constituency of both Atanga Nji (CPDM) and Fru Ndi (SDF) which is Bali-Bamenda was won by the SDF candidate, Forbi Nchinda. So, on that count, Atanga lost. Nearer home, in Bamenda I, Bamenda II and Bamenda III, that is the three Councils that constitute the political base of both Atanga and Fru Ndi, the SDF outrightly won Bamenda II and Bamenda III Councils. Although the CPDM is said to have won Bamenda III, that victory is now contested because the SDF has accused Atanga Nji of ferrying 68 voters from outside of the constituency to come and vote there in order to swell up CPDM vote numbers – which is therefore why and how the CPDM “won” the Council. The matter is being investigated by the Anti Corruption body, CONAC. True or false, this allegation weakens Atanga Nji`s position and portrays him as someone who lives and works not for his own people but for Paul Biya.
Perhaps Anglophone ministers might want to consider the disaster that the CPDM suffered in the recent municipal and legislative elections and therefore learn that voters may react towards them differently if they portray themselves as being human, humane, humanistic and caring for their fellow human beings, including those of the opposition such as the SDF Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi.
It is time for Anglophone ministers to come out of their fearful nests and walk tall, because at the end of the day, they will still be sacked, just like their predecessors. Politics is like a football that is round.