OPEN LETTER: To H.E. Paul Biya, President of The Republic of Cameroon Subject: Urgency in Including Bamenda in Hosting The AFCON 2019
I am the MP for the Bamenda/Bali Constituency. It might be needless to state here that it is the largest constituency in the entire country. However, it suffices to remind you that according to demographic statistics, Bamenda is the third largest city in Cameroon after Douala and Yaounde and is one of the fastest growing town in the Republic.
Under your auspices, the government has chosen Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam, Garoau and Limbe as the towns to host the African Nations Cup in 2019. Bamenda, the chief town of the Northwest region was inexplicably left out as one of the towns to host matches or training sessions of the teams that will participate in AFCON 2019. When Cameroon won the bid to host the AFCON 2019, the entire nation including Bamenda was in euphoria. But this euphoria has dissipated as Bamenda has been side-lined in the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructures for the competition. Does it mean that the denizens of Bamenda in particular and the North West region in general are not Cameroonians, who equally have the right to the entertainment and the joy of the AFCON 2019 festival with its attendant socio-economic fallouts?
Your Minister of Sports and Physical Education granted a press conference the other day to outline the infrastructures the government has earmarked for AFCON 2019. He said the African Football Confederation, CAF, requires 32 stadia for the competition. From the statistics he presented, none of the stadia or training grounds is in the NW region. Meanwhile, Yaoundé and other cities are having two stadia. Why is Bamenda side-lined? Is it still the continuous marginalisation of the Anglophones?
I know Bamenda has no road linking it to the other cities in Cameroon. If your government’s promises are anything to go by, then by 2019, a decent road will link Bamenda to the other major cities of Cameroon. Equally, the Bamenda airport is now operational and the transportation of teams to Bamenda can no longer pose problems.
If the neglect of Bamenda by your government was an oversight, then CAF has given you an opportunity to right the wrong done to Bamenda. Instead of 16 teams, the competition will now have 24 teams. It is therefore urgent and necessary for the organising committee to add Bamenda as one of the sites to host the AFCON 2019. In addition, CAF has shifted the competition from January 2019 to June 2019 thus, giving you ample time to construct a stadium and ancillary facilities in Bamenda.
Football remains a unifying factor in Cameroon. It will be an unpardonable act for the government to side-line Bamenda, an act which can be wrongly interpreted by the population and which can further polarised the nation. Bamenda has been and is home of some major football clubs in Cameroon and it does not augur well to deprive the city of basic football infrastructure.
Your Excellency, I am counting on your fast and effective decision to include Bamenda among the towns to host the AFCON 2019.
I remain sincerely yours,
Hon Fobi Nchinda Simon
MP Bamenda/Bali Constituency