Interviewed By NFOR Hanson NCHANJI
Bamenda, Cameroon-Friday February 23, 2018-7:00 PM Local Time (Cameroon News Agency) It is two months since the Secretary General of Junior Chambers International, Leonard Arrey Obenson, was denied entry into Cameroon. The Presidency is yet to respond to his inquiry. Meanwhile the country’s Secretary General at the Ministry of External Relations, has told the JCI Scribe that his denial to enter into Cameroon on December 20, 2017 was a mistake. In an interview with Leonard Arrey Obenson, he tells CNA that he was embarrassed by the situation but has remained calm because he is a peace loving man, even though the reasons have not been formally advanced.
CNA : Good day Leonard Arrey Obenson and thanks for accepting this interview, we want to know what exactly happened on that day when you arrived Cameroon.
Arrey Obenson: Upon arrival at the Douala International Airport with an Air France Flight on December 20, 2017, I was accosted by three Police Officers who denied me entry into Cameroon. They seized my Passport and handed it over to the Pilot.
CNA: Did anyone explain to you why you were sent away?
Arresy Obenson: No explanation was given.
CNA : Do you think it had anything to do with the Anglophone crisis?
Arrey Obenson: I doubt that it is related to the Anglophone crisis. I think it is as a result of some people making stories that I have political ambitions in Cameroon. It could be that as an Anglophone with derived political ambition I have become a threat.
CNA: I am asking this because you are from Manyu in the South West region where there have been tension and government could be suspecting that influential sons of Manyu resident abroad are fueling the crisis…
Arrey Obenson: Again I cannot make the assumption that every person from Manyu is targeted, but I think it has to do with my activities besides being from Manyu.
CNA : What exactly and how is your involvement or coming to Cameroon a problem?
Arrey Obenson: Well if I had a clear answer I would give you but I cannot understand how this could be a problem. I am just one man returning to my country of origin, how can that be a threat?
CNA: What is JCI saying about this?
Arrey Obenson: Well JCI as an organization has engaged the US Congress Representative, Ann Wagner of our district here in the State of Missouri and her Office has engaged both the US Embassy in Cameroon, the Embassy of Cameroon in the United States demanding explanations. The Government of Cameroon has acknowledged that I was denied entry but did not provide any reason. I have personally written to the Head of State H.E. President Paul Biya and have since not received any reply.
CNA: Following the Socio-Political climate in Anglophone Cameroon, can the JCI advance solutions
Arrey Obenson: Well JCI has been an organization that has advocated for Peace since it very founding. Personally, I lead a movement in Cameroon called I Am Cameroon that has since 2013 been preaching peace, unity and civic responsibility. Peace can only be achieved when people make the conscious effort to work towards peace. It will take Cameroonians to find a peaceful solution to current impasse in Cameroon.
CNA: We understand you have written to the Cameroon government to explain why you were denied entry into Cameroon, have they replied?
Arrey Obenson: No reply whatsoever, even though to be fair, the Secretary General of the Ministry of External Relations reached out to me to say my denial was a mistake.
Cameroon is the land of my birth. While the Government of Cameroon does not accept dual nationality, I still consider Cameroon my home country. One can change their nationality but one cannot change their place of birth.
Cameroon will never be the same again. While the current situation is a challenge there lies behind the challenge the opportunity to build nation of laws, where the dignity of every human being is respected and the minority protected. It is time to build a nation of strong institutions and not strong men.