The 37-year-old new deal government under the stewardship of Paul Biya has been preaching peace and forgiveness lately on social media as the armed conflict in Southern Cameroons escalates to an uncontrollable situation. The Presidents call for forgiveness is just like pouring water off a Duck’s back. It has not been backed by a major decision because burning, killings, arrests have been going on simultaneously as he preaches. Who is Paul Biya fooling?
His recent Facebook outings had become a daily routine but Cameroonians, just like me, took particular interest in a May 7, 2019 message which said, “The essential thing today is to forgive and to forget, to work together towards a common goal. We cannot, at one and the same time, look towards the future and live in the past. Mutual forgiveness is the path to lasting peace.”
Yes, Paul Biya is right. We cannot keep on bearing grudges against one another, there is need for us to sit together, forget about the past and prepare for the present and future. There is need for us to sit and reflect on the future of our children, our society and our country.
There is need to reflect on our economy, our politics, our sports and ourselves.
But how can we possibly do so when a part of the country has been in war for three years?
How can we easily forgive with just a simple Facebook post when a part of the country has been crying for salvation, begging for its identity to be left unaltered?
How can we forgive when thousands are in bushes? When millions are affected!
How can we easily forgive when thousands are now refugees begging for food in Nigeria?
How can there even be forgiveness when the perpetrators have not recognized their evil acts on the population?
President Paul Biya’s call for forgiveness and togetherness come at the time when Soldiers deployed to the restive North Wets and South West regions have intensified burning of houses, massive arrests accompanied by huge collections as bail, forceful disappearance among others. At the same time the President called for a one and indivisible Cameroon, over 42 houses were being razed to ashes by Soldiers in Ntamruh and Ntayi, two localities in Ndu Subdivision in the North West region.
The President also said he was ready for dialogue and sent his Prime Minister Dion Ngute to the North West region for dialogue. However, all international bodies including countries like UK, US, Holland among others have said, there should be dialogue without pre-conditions, meaning the dialogue process must have on the table, Ambazonia Separatist leaders.
If the President thinks that dialogue will mean gathering some few stakeholders and talking with them, then he is either shortsighted or he is just preaching virtue and practicing vice to cajole the international community.
The President is again shortsighted when he says that people should not be allowed to be misled by men who have evil intentions for the country. But he fails to understand that, no one forced hundredths thousands of Cameroonians in the restive regions to protest on September 22, 2017 and October 1, same year, calling for the release of Anglophones arrested by same regime for protesting poor living conditions.
I have covered the war in these regions and can tell you that the Trade Union leaders who started the strike action early October and on November 21, 2016 could not even kill a fly. They simply wanted their conditions and that of their community ameliorated but when they were chased like rats and arrested on January 17, 2017 coupled with the disconnection of the Internet for over 5 months, things fell apart.
If the President has understood that Social media appearance is a force to recon with, then he must start preaching messages like, “I will in the days ahead, release all prisoners and call for an inclusive dialogue…. I will withdraw troops from the two regions and ask fighters to follow same and meet me on the dialogue table.”
These words would be comforting at least for the time being. Cameroonians are already tired of the usual sing song for 37 years now with no concrete action.
Well, Mr President is under fire as the world gradually pay attention to what is happening, but, it seems to be a too-late-Hewett outing.
Lest I forget, the UN Security Council is meeting this Monday May 13, 2019 to informally discuss on the humanitarian situation. Who knows, next could be formally and…?
Nfor Hanson Nchanji