5, July 2017
Since the beginning of the war against the Nigerian Islamic sect, the Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo regime has not spent a single franc on programs aimed at improving morale within the Cameroonian military, which is currently shouldering two major combat deployments in the Central Africa Republic and Boko Haram.
The regime’s recruitment policy of mainly Francophones into the army over the years may have been largely fruitless, as more that 70% of soldiers across all branches remain pessimistic about their future in the Cameroon army. For decades, only Southern Cameroon news tabloids have consistently reported on supposedly declining Cameroon military morale, even before the wars against Boko Haram and in Bangui.
In the past, flagging morale may have been attributable to factors like repeated Bakassi or Cambodia deployments. But in 2014 a sister publication, Cameroon Intelligence Report suggested a financial cause for flagging morale. In 2016, 89 percent of active-duty troops serving with the Rapid Intervention Battalion that was miraculously created to help the regime in Gabon rated their pay and allowances as poor.
The Biya regime claimed to have increased military pay in 2016, but soldiers returning from the Central Africa Republic had to stage a demonstration before their money was made available to them. Few soldiers believe their situation will improve under this present Biya administration as 70 percent of our servicemen and women combating Boko Haram expect quality of life under military employment to decrease further in the future.
Pay and benefits aren’t the only cause of pessimism in the ranks. Some in the military worry that the Cameroonian armed forces aren’t being adequately led into the future, and declining morale could signal a general lack of confidence in the Commander-in-Chief and the military’s leadership.
According to Cameroon Intelligence Report, only 15 percent of soldiers think that the Biya leadership have their best interests at heart. Correspondingly, suicide attacks in the Mayo-Sava Division in the Far-North region are increasing at an alarming proportion. There are no more days without suicide bombings in the border villages of Nigeria including Kolofata, Tokombéré and Mora which are the key cities in the Mayo-Sava constituency.
Security sources had earlier announced that the Nigerian Islamic sect, Boko Haram has been militarily weakened. However, the terror group recently paid allegiance to the Organization of Islamic state and is now called the Province of the Islamic State in West Africa. There are conflicting reports that Boko Haram is visibly struggling for its survival.
The group has multiplied attacks against Cameroon army positions and defied the numerous non state policing institutions established by the Biya regime. More than twenty attacks including incursions into Cameroonian territory and suicide bombings were recorded in June alone- the most recent being that of yesterday in Homaka, precisely 1 km from Mora.
The army placed the provisional record of yesterday’s terrorist act attributed to Boko Haram at 4 dead and many wounded. The incident was preceded by the attack on a Cameroonian military post. At the end of last week, 7 suicide bombings were recorded within 24 hours in the cities of Mayo-Sava.
All these are happening under the watchful eyes of a regime that has detained 33 of its own soldiers over unpaid bonuses. Our reporter in Maroua hinted that morale in the army is slowly but surely fading away.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai
Cameroon Concord News Group