Southern Cameroons Crisis: The price of occupation 0

The Southern Cameroons crisis that started in 2016 is now costing billions of dollars to the Yaounde government. For long the government has thought it will bear the cost but actions by the separatists have proven that the conflict will not only be long, but costly.

The country’s economy is going through a storm and it is obvious that it might not survive. The Southern Cameroons crisis that started as a protest by teachers and lawyers has finally developed into a full blown conflict and this is costing the country’s treasury a fortune.

The Southern Cameroons economy that accounted for at least 40% of the country’s wealth is now anemic and the government is losing revenue. Most of its revenue streams in the two English-speaking regions have simply dried up. Its coffers are empty and this is a huge source of frustration for the beleaguered government.

The South West region alone accounts for more than 50% of the government foreign earnings. The country’s oil deposits are firmly rooted in the Rio Del Rey Estuary and it is being confirmed that more oilfields have been located around the creeks surrounding Tiko, a major city in the Southwest region. Oil alone gives the government millions of dollars every year. But threats by separatists to disrupt activities in the oil sector are causing the Yaounde government violent nightmares and it has been obliged to step up security to protect its oil assets in the region and this is costing it an arm and a leg.

The Southwest region is the country’s largest producer of cocoa, and with the chaos playing out there, jobs and incomes from the cocoa sector have been lost. The two English-speaking regions also account for more 50% of the country’s coffee production. The conflict in these two regions implies that the country has slipped down the list of the world’s major cocoa and coffee producing nations.

The Southern Cameroons crisis is hitting the Yaounde government like a ton of bricks. The country’s economy is suffering. Its Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) seem to be out of service. State corporations located in Southern Cameroons are already feeling the heat. Pamol, a palm oil production corporation located in Lobe, a small town in Ndian Division, has finally shut its doors as the fighting between Southern Cameroonian fighters and army soldiers takes a turn for the worse. This revenue stream has stopped flowing and Yaounde is really ill-at-ease.

Pamol’s closure is bad news for the government. More than three thousand Pamol workers are today unemployed and living in permanent fear, as the fighting between the warring factions rages on. Schools and courts in the region have been closed for almost two years and it is increasingly obvious that the Yaoundé government has lost control of certain parts of the two English-speaking regions.

But it is not only Pamol’s closure that is causing the government nightmares. The Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), one of the country’s major employers, is also going through a rough patch. Some of its factories have closed shop, while the fighters have deliberately set some of its infrastructure ablaze as part of their economic sabotage campaign. Malende, a small town located some 6 km from Muyuka, has witnessed huge unemployment rates. The corporation’s rubber factory was set ablaze sometime last year by some unidentified men and this has hit CDC like a ton of bricks.

In other plantations, many workers have simply deserted. The fighting is disrupting economic activities in those plantations and many workers hold that it is better to quit than be caught up between the devil and the deep blue sea. The fighting, coupled with the derisory salaries the corporation pays to its workers, has made CDC unattractive and this is gradually eroding the government’s tax base.

Similarly, government revenue has taken a nosedive, as the national oil refinery located in the Southwest region is also facing some major challenges. While falling global oil prices are spreading pain and suffering among oil exporters, the declining oil output and constant attempts by Southern Cameroonian fighters to bring down the country’s lone oil refinery are leaving the government in a huge messy economic quandary. The crisis is a true nightmare to this once-upon-a-time oasis of peace. It is indeed a millstone around the government’s neck.

The government is gradually recognizing that declaring a war on its own people has been a big mistake, as the impact of the war is spreading into East Cameroon. With a large influx of internally displaced people into East Cameroon, housing and food have become very expensive in those cities receiving the internally displaced. Douala and Yaounde have been home to most of this internally displaced people and these two cities lack the proper infrastructure to handle such situations.

Declining oil revenues and falling production of some of the country’s major employers like CDC and Pamol implies that the government is heading for a financial disaster. This is exactly what is causing frustration within the government and the frustrations has pushed army soldiers to burn villages and kill young adult males in a reckless campaign that will make reconciliation impossible.

But the bad news is only getting worse by the day. Cameroon’s civil servants are facing the prospect of not receiving their salaries in the months ahead. For now, lecturers at the University of Buea have gone for three months without a salary and they are threatening to go on strike. This is bad news for the government which is cash-strapped and has many crises on its hands.

If well organized, the strike might spread to other sectors of the economy. Cameroon is like a tinder box and any spark could trigger an inferno. Cameroonians are sick and tired of the government’s indifference to their plight and they want to take the bull by the horn. The government’s abusive use of the military and the country’s institutions has been one reason that most frustrated Cameroonians have not been demonstrating, but the mindset is gradually changing as the Diaspora plays a critical role to sensitize those back home.

Meanwhile, as the government pursues its military campaign and rejects all calls for a peaceful and inclusive dialogue, many women in East Cameroon have taken it upon themselves to change things. They are now making the most of a bad situation, as many Southern Cameroonians migrate to East Cameroon to avoid being caught up in the government’s collective punitive expedition. They are using their bodies to bring about that dialogue the government is refusing to hold with Southern Cameroonians in a bid to de-escalate things.

The efforts seem to be paying off as perceptions of who the Southern Cameroonian are changing. When many Southern Cameroonians were fleeing the military’s violent operations in the two English-speaking regions of the country, not many thought they could be useful on the other side of the Mungo. Many had left their villages and cities for places they did not even know. Douala, Bafoussam, Dschang, Yaounde and Edea are some of the cities in which some of these young energetic, but idle internally displaced boys have settled.

Many were helpless when they got to these places. They knew nobody. They have been living rough and accepting whatever nature throws at them. The frustration of abandoning home has been huge and the fear of never returning to their native Ambazonia has be stalking them like a stubborn shadow.

Hunger and the stigma of being considered by their own government as terrorists have been robbing them of their smiles. But this is gradually changing. The smiles are slowly returning, and hunger, considered to be their companion, is gradually migrating to other places.

The Ambazonian has finally found work in East Cameroon. The idle boys, whose biceps and triceps are hanging loosely as if meant for destructive purposes are now fully employed as women in East Cameroon who were undersexed and sex-starved have now found a huge pool of studs who are impregnating them at an unbelievable rate.

In Douala where a huge segment of the male population is suffering from erectile dysfunction and low libido, the women are now looking in the direction of young Ambazonians who are prepared to do whatever comes their way.

Sources in Douala say, the old men do not know what to do with the young Ambazonina whose muscles spell danger to them. The old expiring men whose sex lives are in chaos are scared of these young Ambazonians, especially as the news from the warfront speaks of the bravery and determination of Ambazonians.

While the men are scared of the boys, the women, for their part, are licking their lips and smiling. The women, who have been suffering in silence, are having a never-ending party and this can be seen from the number of women who are carrying distended stomachs.

Our sources say pregnancy rates in cities like Bafoussam, Yaounde and Douala have gone up by 10% and this number is expected to rise as women open up and Ambazonians grow in confidence.

Speaking to a lady in Douala who is happily spotting a pregnancy, she said hers was the kingdom of happiness. She could not hide her glee as her cry for many years has been to be pregnant. An Ambazonian has made her dream to come true and she is now on cloud nine. She now only swears to Ambazonians.

Also, a married woman in Douala told the Cameroon Intelligence Report reporter that her husband had been neglecting his duties and this has been a bone of contention in their home. Before Ambazonians showed up in Douala, there was a lot of fighting in their home.

She added that ever since she met a young helpless Ambazonian, the fighting in their home had reduced.

I hate the war in the two regions of our country because so many people are being killed. But the fighting out there has brought more peace than war to my family. My husband has been wondering about the sudden change in my life. He does not know he is being helped by an internally displaced person. We are all happy. I get the sex I need and the Ambazonian gets his food and a little money. My husband now sleeps in peace,” she said.

Cameroon is indeed at the crossroads. With elections around the corner and the fighting in the English-speaking regions raging on, it is clear that a disaster is lurking somewhere and before long the country could be transformed into an inferno. The frustration in East Cameroon is also mounting, as many people fall into abject poverty. It is becoming increasingly clear that Mr. Biya is not the man to lead the country to the land of promise. His time is up and there is a consensus around the world that he has overstayed his welcome.

By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai in the United Kingdom