National Dialogue: Not about Paul Biya 0

Ever since Cameroon’s long-serving president, Paul Biya, announced his national dialogue in lieu of the inclusive dialogue called for by the international community, many hypocrites have sprung into action.

Some are still speaking the old and provocative language that brought about the crisis in the two English-speaking regions of the country.

Many claim federalism is not good for the country, adding that it is too expensive. Many of them fail to understand that excessive centralization is hyper-expensive, as it creates the conditions for corruption and the abuse of power.

Corruption is expensive. The number of government officials in jail today and the amounts of money they are being accused of embezzling speak to the fact that corruption is more expensive than federalism.

The current form of the state is to blame for most of the country’s woes and suggesting that it cannot be changed simply implies the chaos of the past three years should continue.

If the form of the state cannot be discussed and changed, then the so-called national dialogue does not need to take place. Mr. Biya’s government has had multiple opportunities to make Cameroon great, but he has misused every single opportunity available to him.

The Tripartite Talks and the 1996 Constitutional talks were huge opportunities for him to endear himself to Cameroonians. He unfortunately missed all the targets.

If Mr. Biya and his CPDM government do not walk away from their old ways, then they want more bloodshed in Cameroon. The country has already lost a lot of blood and it is time to turn off the unpleasant streams of blood that have turned our country into an abattoir.

The government must always bear in mind that the dynamics have changed. The Internet has come and it has come to stay and Cameroonians will use it to expose the corruption and the dishonesty of Cameroon government officials.

Besides, if Southern Cameroonians are not satisfied with the outcome of the so-called dialogue, they will ensure that more guns head to Cameroon for action and this will be bad news for the suffering masses. We must avoid this.

Today, it is not only the government that can purchase weapons. The equation has changed. Government officials must always know that they cannot always lead Cameroonians by their noses.

As Cameroonians, we must work hard to ensure that old demons do not rear their ugly heads again in our country. We must prevent bloodshed in our country by having a frank and fruitful discussion on the Southern Cameroons issue and other problems that have pitted ordinary citizens against their own government.

Francophones should understand that they must never speak for Southern Cameroonians. They do not understand the issues and they are easily corruptible and contented with whatever crumbs Mr. Biya has for them.

Southern Cameroonians know they deserve more. They also know how to be patient. But after five decades of patience, they feel it is time to do things differently and that was why they stood up as one man to challenge the Yaounde authoritarian regime.

And they will never be apologetic about it. Cameroon belongs to all of those who have been born in the country and it will be preposterous to let a few people exploit others. It is always great to live for a day as a lion than to live for a century as a sheep. Southern Cameroonians have proven that.

They have also proven that they still have a stomach for a fight if the government still wants to continue with its manipulation and tricks.

The financial resources are there and there is a huge pool of willing fighters prepared and ready to muddy the waters.

The irony is that it is the government itself that has created the huge pool of fighters. Its inability to create jobs for young graduates has only made it possible for the government’s enemies to create work for the idle hands and minds that are available across the country.

Second, the government’s arrogance has also made things easy for Cameroonians to hate it. An efficient and arrogant government can only incur the people’s wrath. The government’s refusal to heed the people’s call for changes in the manner in which the country is being run has only made the country ungovernable.

The form of the state must change for peace to prevail. If Francophones are happy with Mr. Biya’s disastrous decentralization, let them know that Southern Cameroonians will never accept that.

Like most Cameroonians, I don’t want any more bloodshed. I want to see honesty and determination during the so-called talks which are gradually turning into a carnival of press releases and motions of support for Paul Biya.

This is bad news for some of us who hold that the dialogue could bring about peace. The guns, that have spoken for three years should be silenced for us to make giant strides.

However, the government must understand that Southern Cameroonians will always keep their gun option on the table if the government does not change its ways. The chaos of the past will always be a reminder to the government whenever it wants to play its pranks.

The fund-raising events will surely continue until the right solutions are found if the government does not display a lot of good faith.

Cameroon is bigger than Paul Biya. It is bigger than the ruling CPDM. The chaos of the last three years should always serve as a reminder each time a major decision has to be taken.

The government should also seek to repair its relation with the country’s Diaspora. The Diaspora has the resources to destabilize the country for a long time.

Having a good relationship with it, implies that those resources could be converted into investment funds.

Dr Joachim Arrey