Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Doubtful of transparency:Two ministers walk out on PM over CAMAIR.Co

With allegations of involvement in the Albatross scandal still lingering over him, Ephraim Inoni appears to be in more trouble.
Two ministers have rejected his directives to append their signatures to a document in connection with the acquisition of aircraft for the government-proposed new carrier, Cameroon Airline Company, CAMAIR.Co, doubtful of the transparency of the transaction.
The ministers are Lazare Essimi Menye, minister of Finance and Gounoko Haounaye, minister of Transport.
Upon verification, our sources have confirmed this development which has been reported by two newspapers, Le Front last week and La Nouvelle Expression this week.
On two separate occasions, Essimi Menye and Gounoko turned down the prime minister’s directives to sign the document. Their refusal is said to have slowed down, if not stalled, the progress of the creation of the new company which President Paul Biya directed should be operational as soon as possible.
Essimi Menye and Gounoko are reported to strongly disagree with the role to be played by a company called Lions Aviation Group (LAG) supposedly owned by a lady called Beatrice Tanyu, based in the United States.
The company is expected to lease aircraft to CAMAIR.Co for the first year for a fee of 5 billion FCFA. During the course of the 12 months all 15 officials of the company will earn a monthly salary of 40 million FCFA payable by the Cameroon government.
Essimi Menye and Gounoko are doubtful of the track record of Lions Aviation Group, information which they don’t have and even doubt the company. Le Front newspaper went so far as to suggest that Beatrice Tanyu is of the in-law family of the prime minister. This is not a fact The Herald verified.
The Herald understands furthermore that the matter has been referred to President Paul Biya.
Ephraim Inoni has allegations of embezzlement of public funds still hanging over him in what has since been known as the Albatross case. In company of other senior public officials when he was assistant secretary general at the Presidency. He is alleged to have taken public money in the transaction.
On the directives of President Paul Biya he has been questioned by the state counsel more than once for a case filed against him that has so far not been disposed of.

source,The Herald

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By Yemti Harry Ndienla

The U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon will lead a delegation of about 60 top African business executives and entrepreneurs to Chicago for a trade mission and business forum. The event which is expected to take place from November 10 to 13, 2008, is being organized by the said Embassy through US trade related agencies in collaboration with Makuna International (MI), Chicago Midwest; African business executives and entrepreneurs; and U.S. company representatives.

A joint press release issued by the organizers called on US companies to meet with members of the delegation who represent various sectors including farm equipment and supplies, prefab housing, restaurant/hotel supplies and equipment, agro commodities, road construction equipment, communications and internet technology, computer and computer supplies, cosmetics, grocery supplies, movie and audio production, industrial supplies, drugs and hospital supplies, food and drink processing equipment, insurance, baking equipment and supplies, petroleum, shipping vessels, freight forwarding, coffee, cocoa, ethnic Foods, animal feed technology and supplies, tropical woods and more.

“Significant discussions regarding the project to build 5500 homes in Cameroon will take place during the forum. A vendor conference for the project will take place and US companies offering goods and services in the housing sector – construction equipment, finishing, materials, water and sewage treatment, appliances, doors, windows, furnishings, plumbing, electrical systems, internet delivery, road construction, security, etc., - are invited to the vendor conference,” notes the same release, “Organs of the US government that support international trade will present information about their services during the forum. Investment firms, banks that provide international trade loans, and representatives from freight related companies are also invited to meet with the delegation”.

In course of the forum final preparations will be made by US companies to attend the largest business expo in the West Central African Region better known by its French language acronym PROMOTE. Promote 2008 which is expected to take place in Yaounde, Cameroon, from December 6 to 14, 2008 is an event that brings together about 1,500 companies from over 50 different countries around the world.

Beside giving a unique opportunity for US companies that want to reach and explore new markets to expand their product into the West Central African region, including the oil and gas rich Gulf of Guinea, the forum equally provides an opportunity for partnership and agent discussions.

It should be noted here that Cameroon is the largest economy in the Central African sub region and has vast mineral wealth including petroleum and natural gas. Cameroon is also a top coffee and cocoa producer, among other commodities.
Though attendance to this event is free for US companies those interested are expected to contact MI who will schedule one-on-one meetings between the trade delegation and US companies. A handful of US companies will have the opportunity to give presentations on their company and products to the entire delegation. US companies can also appear in the forum brochure by providing a half page company profile and a picture of the representative who will attend the forum.
The release concludes: “This event is part of efforts by US embassies around the world to increase US Exports. It is also an important part of the commitment of US Embassies worldwide, which is to support the private sector development in local communities”.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Guard escaping with President Biya’s money arrested

He was intercepted on the third floor of Wardolf Astoria hotel in the US where the president is putting up for the UN general assembly as he tried to escape with the president’s heavy-loaded suitcase of money

A close military aide of President Paul Biya, who attempted to escape with an important sum of the president’s money during his current stay in the US, has been flown back to the country. Reports say he is being held at the presidential guard detention cell at Unity Palace.

The presidential guard, whose identity we got simply as Lieutenant Emane, is reported to have been intercepted when he was suspected of trying to escape with the president’s usually heavy-loaded suitcase of money on the third floor of Wardolf Astoria hotel in the US, where the president is lodging as he attends the 63rd UN general assembly.

Le Jour newspaper reported that the man who has visibly always been a loyal, docile and an unsuspecting character was picked up thanks to the Swiss security men who alerted the presidential security at the hotel of suspected movements by a vehicle outside the hotel building.

And a prompt investigation by the security soon revealed that the vehicle was about to be used by the lieutenant who was planning to escape with the president’s billions of FCFA.

Back in the country, he was whisked off at the airport by presidential security men in plain clothes and conveyed straight to the detention cell at State House.

The lieutenant is said to have won the president’s trust and confidence that allowed him to enjoy the dignity of the president’s closest errand boy. Sometimes he was bearer of the president’s confidential mails, we learnt.

He has since his incarceration been interrogated several times by interrogators of the presidential guard and the judicial police.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Cameroon: Outspoken musician jailed

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

One of Cameroon's outspoke musician, Lambo Sanjo Pierre Roger, a.k.a Lapiro de Mbanga, will from Wednesday ,September 24th 2008 spend three of his remaining years on earth in jail and pay a fine of over FCFA 200 million in compensation for damage.The sentence was passed in Nkongsamba last 28th September,2008

Lapiro, who is also a traditional ruler and SDF scribe was arrested and detained since April this year for inciting youths to revolt during unrests last February.
The jailing of Lapiro is a reminder to all Cameroonians that freedom of speech has its limits in the country and anybody who think he/she can write, speak or sing what he likes must be ready to pay a price. Lapiro, who is also known as “Ndinga-Man, has been an ardent critic of the regime and particularly against the recent amendment of the country's constitution that will allow President Paul Biya who has been in power since 1982 to seek re-election in 2011. The president is showing no sign of leaving before his death. Unfortunately, Lapiro will only be released after the 2011 presidential elections.

Soon after his arrest, Lapiro was briefly held at the Mbanga prison before being transferred to Nkongsamba at the behest of the state prosecutor. But was later transfered to Mbanga at his request. His trial, begun last 8 July at the Nkongsamba High Court where he started defending charges that he instructed droves of protesters last February to raze banana plantations and some companies in the Mbanga area.

His lawyers, led by the SDF’s Augustin Mbami, rated as sharply contradictory evidence emerging against their client at the last court hearing. Meanwhile, during a lengthy 15-hour- cross examination during one of the sessions, a total nine witnesses including the mayor and DO for Mbanga, heaved particularly incriminating evidence against the Ndinga-Man.

Pierre Monama, a staffer with the Societé des Plantations de Mbanga [SPM], which was razed during the February protests, said the company managers rang Lapiro, imploring him to pacify raging rioters who had besieged the company premises. The mayor of Mbanga, Jacques Mbonjo said from his office window, he spotted Lapiro emphatically dishing out instructions to rioters on structures to tear down. According to him, the musician had more than a hundred riot-ready youth at his beck and call between 25 and 28 February.

Mbanga DO, Simon Nkwenti, on his part said Lapiro claimed to be the only one capable of calming the riotous youth, and so he gave him the authority to do so. But he said the musician never reported back to him, and he was scandalised that the man he considered an opinion leader attempted to extort money from the SPM managers for the purpose. He said Lapiro engaged a bargain, demanding an upfront payment of between 500.000 and 2 million FCFA to placate the rioters.

It should be noted here that Mbanga, one of the sub-divisions in Littoral, was one of several Cameroonian towns that saw riots in February against the high cost of living and the constitutional reform which Lapiro, is author of a song.

Authorities had accused Lapiro, an influential member of the opposition Social Democratic Front, of being one of the orchestrators of the riots.

Like his wife, Lapiro's supporters have said the 51-year-old singer is victimised for his songs, which often criticise the government. Lapiro's wife has repeatedly denied that her husband had taken part in the riots. She once told AFP that he (Lapiro)had actually "calmed people down so that they wouldn't set fire to the city hall," in Mbanga.

Thus, the judgment is really a sad news for the fans of Lapiro and his family. However, without leaving out the possibilities of going on appeal, others believe he will probably use the 3 years in prison to develop enough inspiration to slap back the present regime with his usual "burning" satiric lyrics.

Like the Messiah did suffer for the sake of humankind, others say we have to "carry our cross and those of others". And for artists like Lapiro singing about the plight of the man in the street, there is reason for him to carry his cross...as he scales the walls of a dilapidating prison.

“The prisoners will certainy welcome Dinga Man in"triumphant entry"as he entertain his prison fans. Besides, a hero of Lapriro's caliber is much hailed in trouble moments and such moments give him the stamina and reason to live. To live not in despair but in hope that the storm will soon be over”.

Whatever the case, the said ruling has been criticized by many for being politically motivated

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Operation Epervier: Who is Fooling Who?

By Tazoacha Asonganyi

What is going on in Cameroon codenamed "Operation Epervier" has become a source of much fun. It is well known that mismanagement, corruption, and the embezzlement of public funds have been going on for a very long time, and that most barons of the CPDM regime are tainted with these ills. It is in full knowledge of this fact that there is no total onslaught against the scourges, since it would destroy all the barons and cronies... and with them, the regime! Better to play fast and lose with the expectant population: offer as the visible part of a huge corruption iceberg, selective probing, arrest, detention, trial, and imprisonment of some of the barons, most of whom are being humbled with temporary defeat for their involvement in a subterranean power game.

The recent outing of business magnet Yves Michel Fotso and the subsequent reaction of Biyiti Bi Essam, the Communication Minister, confirm the dictum that no secret is ever a secret! All tight secrets eventually become public knowledge because those in the know each usually tell one or two close confidants, so the information slowly spreads until sooner or later, the secret becomes known by all. This is why most of what Fotso said was already public knowledge. The response of the regime we are witnessing has more to do with the fickle nature of power in our setting than a determined effort to fight corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

The role of the Minister of Communication is not to stand in for the Attorney General but to ensure that the people are informed about the activities of the government; it is also to guard and promote the marketplace of ideas. Debate on public issues should never be inhibited on the unproven assumption that it will influence the course of justice; it is indecent for government to prohibit expression simply because it disagrees with the ideas expressed.

Further, at the end of the recent visit of the IMF evaluation team to Cameroon, Essimi Menye, the Minister of Finance declared over CRTV that the comings and goings of people from the international body are testimony of their effort to walk us like babies until we can know how to walk! Put in the context of the fight against corruption, we can say that corruption was allowed to go unpunished for over 20 years because, like babies, we did not know that it would spread and clog the whole system! And in spite of all the "help" to get us to walk, we have refused to see the importance of article 66 of the constitution on the declaration of assets, to the fight against corruption!

These ministers are making these declarations in a country where in the ‘50s and ‘60s there existed in one part of the country, a Commissions of Enquiry Ordinance (Cap 36 of the 1958 laws) which empowered the Prime Minister to appoint a commission of inquiry into any department of government to investigate possible wrongdoing, like corruption, embezzlement of public funds, favouritism, and others. Using these powers, the PM appointed such commissions, especially into the affairs of West Cameroon Department of Lands and Surveys (notice No. 90 in West Cameroon Gazette No. 13, Vol. 7 of 1 April 1967), into the activities of the West Cameroon Development Agency as from 1959 (notice No. 61 published in West Cameroon Gazette No. 14, Vol. 8 on 27 March 1968), and into the West Cameroon Electricity Corporation (notice No. 98 published in West Cameroon Gazette No. 20, Volume 8 of 30 April 1968).

The appointment of the commissions was always accompanied by terms of reference that always had the following proviso: "The sessions of the Commission will be open to members of the public. Any person who has any information that may be of assistance to the Commission should communicate such information to the Secretary of the Commission, Division of State Development, Prime Minister’s Office, Buea. Any person who wishes to give evidence before the Commission should also contact the Secretary to the Commission".

The commissions used as guiding documents, two important companions of every public servant, namely, the "General Orders" and the "Financial Instructions" . Their findings were submitted to the PM, and then made available to the general public. When wrongdoing was established, the files were transferred to the judiciary for due process to take its course.

"Operation epervier" is an attempt to fool the rest of us. Nearly fifty years after these Commissions, Biyiti Bi Essam is wrong in giving the impression that public debate on corruption issues would influence the course of justice; but Essimi Menye may be right in saying that we are not different from babies being taught how to walk! Babies or no babies, it is good for the regime to keep in mind that it is possible for future leaders of Cameroon to audit the goings-on in any area of government in Cameroon, during any chosen period since independence.

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Poverty reduction: World Financial bodies determine to help Cameroon

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Though Cameroon is so reluctant to implementing decisions of some international bodies, others have expressed their determination to help to continue designing and implementing good policies that will accelerate growth and fight against poverty in the nation considered one of the poorest and most corrupt in the world. The move which government authorities say will go a long way to boosting the country's new poverty reduction and growth programme, was made by Dhaneshwar Ghura,who lead a joint International Monetary Fund, World Bank and African Development Bank review mission to Cameroon, recently.

The new poverty reduction plan is expected to be ready by the end of 2008 thus the team were in Cameroon for a two-week review of the country’s three-year programme supported by the IMF under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). The review period, which is the sixth and last conducted by the team ran from January through June 2008

“Growth started picking up in 2007 and is expected to continue. This year, it is expected that growth in the non-oil sector will reach 4.6 percent”, said the team leader. Adding, “We are very pleased the emergency measures that were put in place in March and April 2008 to attenuate the impact of rising fuel and food prices have started to have a positive impact on the population, economy and purchasing power”.

Though Ghura is on the opinion that a lot of progress has been made in reinforcing public finance management, revenue mobilisation, use of this revenue for poverty reduction and growth, opinion leaders believe very little has been done owing to the fact that the country is still corrupt and rank high in bad governance. However, Dhaneshwar Ghura, emphasized the role of the IMF which he said is to help government strengthen growth and further reduce poverty in a budgetary and macro-economic framework that ensures that the spending is compatible with the resources and that within the spending, the larger share is spent in priority aspects.

On the other hand the mission also touched on other issues such as the 2009 annual budget which to the head of the delegation, is expected to ensure the boosting of investment in energy and agricultural sectors among others.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chad in trouble with World Bank

Failed to honor arrangement on pipeline project

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Reuters reported recently that the World Bank has pulled the plug on an oil pipeline agreement with Chad after long-standing tensions with the government over failed promises to spend the oil profits on programs for the poor. “Chad prepaid the outstanding balance of $65.7 million under the $140 million loan deal on Sept. 5 following talks with the government of President Idriss Deby.

The impoverished central African country is expected to earn about $1.4 billion in oil revenues this year” note the same source.

It should be noted that the pipeline was one of the World Bank's biggest investments in Africa and billed as a test case for how Africa's oil wealth could benefit the poor if spent properly.

But according to the World Bank, “Chad had failed to comply with agreements, in which the government agreed to set aside a chunk of its oil revenues for local communities, health and education”.

The news agency said after two agreements since 2001 with Chad over the pipeline and no progress, World Bank President Robert Zoellick wrote to Deby in August saying the bank could no longer support the project and urged him to prepay the balance of the loan and end the arrangement.

"Regrettably, it became evident that the arrangements that had underpinned the bank's involvement in the Chad/Cameroon pipeline project were not working," the bank statement said.

"The bank therefore concluded that it could not continue to support this project under these circumstances. "

A government official in N'Djamena told Reuters the bank's decision would not affect the country's oil output.

Reuters said further that The World Bank backed the $4 billion, 170,000-barrels per day Chad-Cameroon pipeline, operated by U.S. major Exxon Mobil, by financing a portion of it in 2001 on condition profits were spent on programs to reduce poverty.

The 620-mile (1,000 km) pipeline, which carries oil from Chad through Cameroon to international markets, was heavily criticized by aid agencies which warned that Chad was marred by corruption, political instability and human rights abuses.

Former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz halted lending to Chad in January 2006 and froze a dollar account at Citibank in London after the government made a grab for the oil revenues by altering an oil law to access more of the profits.

Relations were restored in April 2006 when the agreement was renegotiated and the government promised to allocate 70 percent of budget spending in 2007 for programs for the poor.

Over the past year, however, Deby has signed several decrees handing him personal control over the landlocked oil producer's finances and circumventing World Bank attempts to ensure a large share of oil profits go to social spending.

Relations with the bank have worsened as the government has tapped more of the oil profits for military spending amid growing threats by rebels and increased costs related to refugees fleeing the Darfur conflict in neighboring Sudan.

The bank had been warned by local and international development groups that the pipeline project had little chance of reducing poverty, said Ian Gary, senior policy advisor for extractive industries at Oxfam America.

"The project's record of failure proves these warnings correct," Gary said. "Looking forward, the World Bank must absorb the lessons of failure from this and other oil and mining projects around the world and avoid financing such efforts in places not yet ready to manage the risks."

The World Bank's decision on the pipeline does not affect its existing seven development projects in Chad and a bank mission is expected to review the projects shortly.

Nor does it affect an agreement between the World Bank's private-sector lender, the International Financial Corp, and the pipeline's operator Exxon Mobil, including environmental and other monitoring of the pipeline.

The World Bank said it recognized Chad's problems and was willing to help, despite the parting of ways over the pipeline.

"If the government of Chad wishes to focus its energies on a program to support inclusive development to overcome poverty, assist displaced people, and improve governance and effectiveness to achieve results, the World Bank is willing to work with Chad to assist," the bank said.

In conclusion, Reuters reported that the bank looked forward to talks with senior Chad officials in Washington at the end of September on future relations and a development program that reduced poverty.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Western missions join the fight against corruption in Cameroon

Pledge to repatriate embezzled funds stashed in foreign bank accounts

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

There exist many lame duke commissions created by the government of Cameroon to fight against corruption and embezzlement of state funds. These include structures like; the Supreme State Control, the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court, the Good Governance Programme, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC); the National Agency for Financial Investigation (ANIF); The National Commission On Human Rights and Freedoms; Election Cameroon (ELECAM). Not leaving out anti-corruption units and various economic and agricultural commissions intended to monitor and check corruption in various government structures among others.

Just recently, the judiciary claimed to be exercising some powers which many may be trapped to believe is a free hand to investigate and bring to book persons suspected of corruption and embezzlement of state funds.. Though many may be tempted to believe the famous “Operation Sparrow Hawk” has given teeth to the fight as some top ranking government functionaries have been arrested and jailed for corruption and embezzlement, many officials charged with the management of state resources end up carrying them away. The case of the cashier in Douala who escaped with huge sums of money recently is still fresh in our mind. All these attest to the fact that the country is still corrupt. Besides, the country is also noted for flawed elections, sluggish democratization, poor human rights, bad governance records, and a hostile business climate, among others.
The question many here are asking is “why does corruption continues to plague our society in spite of the ruthless attempts to punish culprits?”. Well, others believe there is therefore the need to diversify the approach by taking the crusade to individual level.

Time and again officials are being called to; open a new front in the fight in their various departments; wage a relentless war against corruption and embezzlement and to consider the fight against corruption a priority of priorities. Yet, the country is still corrupt. Who is deceiving who? It is that the appeal is falling on deaf ears?

Yes, there is great need not only to diversify the approach but to work in total collaboration to win the fight against corruption. No single structure, no matter how powerful, will win the fight alone.

It is within this backdrop that Cameroon’s multilateral and bilateral partners including some Western governments; NGOs and the media are working in collaboration in the fight against corruption and towards the repatriation of embezzled state funds that are stashed in foreign bank accounts. The very partners code named the 8+6 Group are those who campaign for Cameroon’s attainment of the HIPC initiative of April 2006. But they are totally disappointed that part of the money is being embezzled and taken abroad by some unscrupulous Cameroonians

The Western governments, including the The Netherlands, United States, Britain, Japan, France, Canada, and donor institutions like the World Bank, IMF and the UN development programme are working towards the repatriation of stolen funds from foreign banks to Cameroon.
Many commentators assessing President Paul Biya’s anti-corruption campaign, dubbed “Operation Sparrow Hawk” are of the opinion that the most important aspect of the campaign is the repatriation of the stolen funds (Being described as more colossal than believed by many) which could help in development projects and in improving the standard of living of Cameroonians.

Although the partners believe president Paul Biya is genuinely fighting corruption, many critics believe the president is using the campaign to eliminate his main political opponents. Whatever the case, the campaign had to begin somewhere before attaining its most crucial point.
Even so, the president has to be blamed for being a stumbling block to the application of Article 66 of the country's constitution which requires that public officials should declare their assets before and after taking office.
The fight against corruption has to begin from the declaration of assets. An initiative hat would help the anti-corruption campaign to track down everybody including; the military; police officers on the road; and other public servants who request for bribe before rendering services to Cameroonians.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

UNFPA accused of implementing murderous plan to Cameroonians

Opinion leader writes to County's Minister of Public Health urging him to "resist the diabolic efforts of UNFPA to stop our population growth so that we remain undeveloped and poor".

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

The body also seeks to improve the lives and expand the choices of individuals and couples. Over time, the reproductive choices they make, multiplied across communities and countries, alter population structures and trends. Furthermore, equally UNFPA helps governments, at their request, to formulate policies and strategies to reduce poverty and support sustainable development beside assisting to collect and analyse population that can help them understand population trends. And it encourages governments to take into account the needs of future generations, as well as those alive today.

It is with this backdrop that the UNFPA office in Yaounde, Cameroon recently donated materials worth CFA 260 to assist Health services and reproductive health care in Cameroon. The donation which If put to proper use will help improve the country's healthsector over the next five years includes amongst others; seven 4-wheel-drive pickup vehicles; four Prado jeeps; 18 motorbikes; male and female condoms and other reproductive health kits.
While analyzing the functions of the various gifts, UNFPA country representative, Faustin Yao said the donation was part of the organisation’s contribution to the improvement of the quality of life and wellbeing of Cameroonians through promoting quality reproductive health services.
While four of the pickup vehicles will be retained to serve UNFPA’s representations in the hinterlands of Cameroon, the representative told Cameroon’s minister of Public Health Andre Mama Fouda, that the other three will be put at the service of the drug distribution service, CENAME, of the Ministry of Health.
That the motorbikes will serve UNFPA intervention zones of the Centre and South provinces while the condoms and reproductive kits will also be distributed in UNFPA-supported health districts in the country.
On the other hand, the condoms and contraceptive kits some will be distributed as part of UNFPA’s humanitarian assistance to some 65000 Chadian and CAR refugees settled in Langui in the North and parts of East provinces of Cameroon.
The UNFPA according to a pres release, will be providing over CFA 7.1 billion FCFA (contributed to the greater part by UNFPA and by multi-donors and co-donors to a lesser part (2.1 billions)) as assistance to the Cameroon government over a 5-year period. Meanwhile the UNFPA’s assistance to the government of Cameroon in 2008 is estimated at 1.3 billions with one billion of this amount reserved for the health ministry alone, to boost reproductive health.
But in an open letter to the country's minister of Public health Andre Mama Fouda, one of Cameroon's widely acclaimed opinion leaders, Chief SN. Ngwana, described the gift as a murderous plan to Cameroonians by government and UNFPA. Hear him,

What is more disturbing is the fact that the Cameroon Government and UNFPA intend to implement a murderous plan which spans from 2008 to 2012”.

Full text of the letter has been published separately

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Unhealthy political climate: 120 Cameroonians jailed over forged applications to US

An estimated 12,000 visas applications are received by the embassy each year

William Swaney, head of consular service at the US embassy in Yaounde - Cameroon, has revealed that about an average of 10 Cameroonians per month and 120 are jailed yearly due to fraudulent applications to the US. “We work in close collaboration with the police and gendarmes. Whenever we discover cases of fraud, we call their attention,” Swaney, told a local newspaper, Le Jour, recently.
By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Some of the fraudsters are currently serving various jail terms or awaiting trial at the Kondengui maximum security prison in Yaounde.
There is no gainsaying that many Cameroonians increasingly running away from their country using whatever means. While some are running due to unhealthy political climate, disregard for fundamental human rights and the non-respect for merit from the repressive CPDM regime of president Paul Biya, no doubts others are doing so due to abject poverty, unemployment, endemic corruption, favoritism and tribalism. Besides, many others are running away from unhealthy traditional practices, witchcraft among many others. Meanwhile, others are attracted abroad by the numerous job opportunities leading to higher income, including better educational, social and health facilities.

On this score, an estimated 12,000 visas applications are received by the US embassy each year. Talk less of those of other European countries. Like the US embassy, the numbers keep increasing year – in - year out. Reason why an estimated 13,000 applications have been envisaged at the US embassy this year.
Though the consular officer told Le Jour, that about half of those who applied where issued a US visa, he however regretted that embassy authorities are now contemplating to reduce the number of visas issued because of fraud coupled with the fact that most Cameroonians who obtain non-immigrant visas to the US end up not returning to their country and even those who go there with student visas never enroll in any schools.

While advising against the use of intermediaries by visa seekers and those applying for visa lottery, Swaney warns perpetrators of fraud that the embassy has strengthened vigilance and now works in close collaboration with authorities of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation and the police and gendarmes to track down fraudsters and combat fabrication of fake documents. And said further that civil status registration services have been sensitised and reinforced with modern information systems to help them better manage records.

While emphasizing that visa seekers should apply in person, the head of consular service advised those not well informed to consult the consular service for authentic information to avoid spending huge sums of monies to unscrupulous intermediaries who have no idea on how the embassy operates.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Open letter to Cameroon's Minister of Public Health

The minister of Public Health,
Andre Mama Fouda.
Dear Sir,
What is the UNFPA? The UNFPA is the United Nations Population Fund.
Its origins.
After the sudden collapse of communism and the end of the cold war, there was a shift of priorities from military to economic security. America and the Western Powers woke up to a hash reality.
The population of Africa and other developing countries were growing too fast for comfort. They could become demographic superpowers causing a shift in the balance of power. Population size is getting more and more important as the determinant of international power. The United States of America and the West powers knew this and they were not resting on their oars. They took the fight to reduce the population of the developing nations as a priority.
The developing countries must be stopped at all cost through POPULATION CONTROL
They spread “OVERPOPULATION SCARE”: - Sustainable development. Using the fallacy of Malthusian Theory, of population ideology to influence international agencies and governments.
Invoking so called new “women’s rights” while underestimating
and undermining the woman’s vocation to give life.
ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS; Invoking them in an excessive or improper way to justify coercive population control
CONTRACEPTIVE IMPERIALISM: Attempt to spread abortifacient products such as RU486, Norplant, the patch, and pills in very poor countries, where experts say that “natural methods of birth control are easy to teach and understand. The health of a mother is furthered through spacing childbirth in a natural way, which harms neither mother or child. No side effects.
STERILIZATION AND CONDOMS: The global spread of sterilization and condoms
With branches all over the developing world , is the most effective organ used to control population growth. The organization works mainly among women promoting pills, contraceptives, condoms, sterilization and abortion. It has been most successful among poor and illiterate women. The ignorance of these women is exploited and many of them have suffered terribly, morally, mentally and physically. The main aim of the International Planned Parenthood Federation is to stop the population growth of the developing countries. The organization receives billion of dollars from sponsors, and bribes people and ignorant or irresponsible African governments to promote its work. They concentrate on condoms as one of their most effective instruments.
These have been the main instruments used by big organizations like the IMF, USAID, UNICEF and UNFPA. See their conditionalities on soft loans.
The population control ideology asserts wrongly that, in order for a nation to advance economically or socially, it must reduce the fertility rate of its people to replacement or below. This contention ignores basic economic and demographic realities, namely, that nations with relatively large populations have more weight on the world scene and that as shown by late Julian Simon, population growth is positively correlated with economic growth.
Immediately President George W. Bush came to power he stopped American Policy of Depopulating Developing countries.
The Bush administration is doing everything possible to reverse and distant itself from this inhuman and heinous policy.
The first thing Bush did was to stop all government funds for population control of the developing world. He cut off the funding of UNFPA, but the EU announced that it would make up the shortfall in the UNFPA budget. UNFPA officials and their pro-abortion and anti-life allies greeted the EU decision with great joy.
Now UNFPA is heavily funded mainly by EU countries and pro-abortion and other anti-life organizations.
It is very unfortunate that although African countries and other developing countries are members of the United Nations, they have little or no influence in this committee of nations. The UNFPA has become Africa ’s number one enemy in depopulating the continent. Africans are fighting against the scourge of diseases, famine, and wars, but how can Africans fight against the UNFPA, which presents itself as doing good when in fact it is spearheading depopulation of Africa and thereby keeping the continent poor.? How can Africa fight a monster which has billions of dollars to carry out its work of dearth using lies, coercion and down right bribery?
The aid from UNFPA is a “Trojan Horse”, a poison coated with sugar. What African countries must do is to condemn the nefarious activities of the UNFPA and to campaign at the U.N. for UNFPA to stop its murderous policy of depopulating Africa and other developing countries.
Unfortunately, Cameroon is one of the Victims of UNFPA.
When UNFPA talks of “reproductive health services” it means, Abortion, contraception, sterilization, and condoms. This is the language or concept which entered the U.N. vocabulary at the 1994 Cairo Conference, which the present Bush administration and other developing countries are against.
Mr. Minister, I read with great concern and apprehension, in the Post News paper No.0984 of Monday, 08/09/08, that you got UNFPA gift material worth over FCFA 250M. What is more disturbing is the fact that the Cameroon Government and UNFPA intend to implement a murderous plan which spans from 2008 to 2012. In the next five years, UNFPA will provide FCFA 7. billion as assistance to the Cameroon government including FCFA 2.1 billion as funding from multi-donors and other co-funding sources(to depopulate Cameroon and keep it poor)
Any fool can see at a glance that the transport vehicles supplied are meant to distribute quickly the murderous equipment supplied:
7 Hilux pickups, worth 86 million
4 Prados, worth 34 million
18 motorbikes, worth 12 million
The depopulating and killing equipment
Male and female condoms
Assortment of contraceptives: worth 72 million
UNFPA also provided reproductive health Kits for caesarean section, delivery, episiotomy, and mini-laparotomy kits, traditional birth attendant kits and vacuum extractors worth over 8 million ( UNFPA equipment to be used for reproductive health services) (abortion, contraception, sterilization and condoms)
Mr. Minister, may I remind you that Abortion and sterilization our criminal acts punishable under the Cameroon Law. There is no doubt in my mind that UNFPA intends slowly to influence the moral minds of Cameroonians and their sensitivity against murder.
From the above you can see the intentions of UNFPA. No malaria tablets or drugs for other diseases where donated, only items to control our population.
We abhor and condemn the activities of UNFPA and we appeal to the Cameroon Government to resist the diabolic efforts of UNFPA to stop our population growth so that we remain undeveloped and poor.
By Chief A.S. Ngwana

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hospital-acquired infections: A rising public health problem in Cameroon

Cases of patients dying in hospitals, not from the illnesses that took them to the health facilities, but rather from an ailment they picked up during their stay in the structures are becoming common. Medical personnel and visitors are also exposed to such infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi or other agents that loom in health care structures. With a prevalence rate of 10 to 20 per cent, hospital-acquired infections in Cameroon, call them nosocomial infections, have become preoccupying. They constitute a rising public health problem, wherefore the holding of a medical conference in Yaounde on the issue last week.

This distress cry was long overdue. For, how would such infections not be common when the hygienic condition in most health facilities is sloppy? How can this not be possible when the nauseating “hospital smell” is omnipresent in most health care strctures? How would this not be possible when some health personnel fail to observe basic hygienic roles such as washing their hands when they move from one patient to another or after touching body fluids, secretions and contaminated items? And how would this not be possible when patients are examined with the same equipments without prior cleaning? And, how would this not be possible when ants, flies, cockroaches, rats and other vectors of diseases, play freely in hospital wards and surroundings?

So, are we doomed? Are we condemned to live with such infections forever? Definitely not. There is hope. Although the risk of contracting a disease in the hospital milieu cannot be completely wiped out, it can be reduced. Studies hold that approximately one third of nosocomial infections, which are generally difficult to treat, are preventable. The solution lies in the hands of health practitioners and hospital managers. Generally, it’s a problem of hygiene. In effect, most of the germs are transmitted by hands that have come into contact with patients, items or surfaces contaminated with body fluids containing the bacteria. Wherefore the need for health care providers to adopt risk-free attitudes. Isn’t it said that “cleanliness is next to godliness”?

The wearing of gloves, masks and gowns, washing of hands, appropriate handling of laundry and other hospital accessories is important. In the same light, the hospital surroundings should be kept clean. Old and dirty buildings with dust and debris that can cause fungi and other infections should be renovated, while the floor should be cleaned as often as need be.

This demands better professionalism on the part of the health care providers, more follow-up of the sanitation conditions by the hospital managers and above all, the proper handling of patients. For, it is deplorable that, out of negligence, those in hospital grounds should be unduly exposed to infections.

Culled from Cameroon Tribune

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Politicians And The Media Circus

This article is dedicated to Mpodol Um Nyobe who actively sought the freedom of Cameroon from colonialism and neo-colonialism, but whom French journalists presented to the world as a dangerous communist agent and convinced "us" to cooperate in his murder 50 years ago (on 13 September 1958).
By Tazoacha Asonganyi
The news media are like a great pumping heart that circulates ideas, opinions and images in society and permits individual citizens to make up their minds about issues. In a sense, the media are the great levellers, permitting every current of opinion to be heard, permitting different faces and characters to be known.

Public opinion is like a vane that determines the direction of the wind; the information circulated by the media constituting the wind. The blowing of the media wind influences the direction of public opinion, which keeps changing as it gets fed with information, different points of view, different images, and different sound bites.

The motor of the media is the journalist. Journalists are the ones that select the commodities for sale: news and good ideas. Without necessarily being part of what happens, they report news of the happening. Some are opinion journalists, colouring their reports with their personal points of view; other are just plain good journalists reporting faithfully each happening. To their own good ideas, they add those of various contributors to accompany the news in their media outlets.

The massive information current created by the media could make and break reputations. It showcases all types of journalists. Some may get personal, but such are too transparent to be harmful. Others are more sophisticated, and can turn your words around to ridicule you: those are the ones that can be harmful!

Politicians always want to raise a curtain between their private lives and the public. They lay claim to two private lives that the journalist should keep away from: the domestic and the private dimension of their public lives. But politicians, so long as they seek the people’s mandate, cannot separate the private from the public because voters want to know everything about them. It is the duty of the journalist to facilitate this. The screaming of the McCain/Palin campaign under the boot of the press only highlighted this.

Apart from their private lives, another headache for the politician is the engineering aspect of journalism: cutting and pasting to create texts, images, and sounds. One shot plus one shot; one sound plus one sound: that is the work of professional image makers; of political kingmakers! Many politicians have fallen prey to such engineering.

During the 1976 presidential campaign in the USA a journalist put a question to Jimmy Carter in the religious realm: have you ever committed adultery? He delved into the bible, quoting Mathew 5: 27-28 that says that he who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery. After all of it the journalist repeated the question and Carter responded: yes, I have lusted. The answer nearly cost him the election because the news media were awash with his admission of having committed adultery, without any mention of the lecture from Matthew!

Margaret Thatcher learned the hard way too. Following a victory at a battle during the Falklands War the journalists kept pestering her with the question: what next? In anger she responded that they should just rejoice; rejoice at the victory of the forces. The next day the press was awash with the headlines that she said the British should rejoice in the war (as if war was something to rejoice about!).

John Fru Ndi may not easily forget that although he may never have made the statement himself, the statement that Paul Biya is a bloody liar was attributed to him in a shouting headline. The fuss over the authorship of the statement only helped to reinforce the fact that the journalist did his job well!

Journalists are always hungry for drama, splits, and clashes in politics. This is why it is interesting that Augustine Frederick Kodock, a factional leader of the UPC had the guts to issue stern warnings to journalists about reporting on the UPC! Following such effrontery, the journalists seemed to only tiptoe through the shattered terrain of the UPC until one of them in front page coverage, called the bluff and gave a detailed analysis of the problems in the beleaguered party.

Some people think that being in politics is an exercise in vanity – being heard and seen for the sake of it; being at the centre of media events - the television cameras, the regular meetings with journalists, the quotes and regular reports that come up in the media. In the final analysis, opposition politicians end up seeming to be doing little more than seeking cheap popularity out of managing the image of the regime they seek to unseat! The more they are heard and seen, the more "democratic" the regime is thought to be. So long as not much is moving right, it all ends up like a big media circus, a refuge from where they air their grievances without any organised plan to break the vicious cycle.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pan-African Parliament in need of Government support

The Pan-African Parliament was established in March 2004, by Article 17 of The Constitutive Act of the African Union, as one of the nine Organs provided for in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community signed in Abuja , Nigeria , in 1991.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

The establishment of the Pan-African Parliament is informed by a vision to provide a common platform for African peoples and their grass-roots organizations to be more involved in discussions an
The ultimate aim of the Pan-African Parliament is to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage. The body has as objectives amongst others to Promote the principles of human rights and democracy in Africa; Encourage good governance, transparency and accountability in Member States; Promote peace, security and stability;
Contribute to a more prosperous future for the people of Africa by promoting collective self-reliance and economic recovery; Facilitate cooperation and development in Africa; Strengthen Continental solidarity and build a sense of common destiny among the peoples of Africa; and to Facilitate cooperation among Regional Economic Communities and their Parliamentary fora.

But, the body seems to be sailing in trouble waters and the President Hon. Dr Gertrude Mongella, has sounded a loud cry for help. Thus has called on the government of Central African Sub-region to continue to strengthen the members of the Pan-African Parliament from their countries as the Parliamentarians contribute to the integration of the African peoples.

Contentious of the fact the Central African Sub-region was lagging behind other sub-regions of the continent in terms of communication network Hon. Dr Gertrude Mongella, says governments should work to ease communication so that the MPs can move freely, share experiences and foster African integration. “Pan-African Parliamentarians come out of National Parliaments. Issues discussed at the continental level should be very well known to them so that they can disseminate the information back to their Parliaments”. Adding, “we need to see more movement of people from one place to another. We want our people to move and share the resources available in the African continent”. With more emphasis on the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the President of the Pan-African Parliament said, “we wish to see the strong CEMAC Parliament that unites people of the sub-region”.
Pan-African Parliamentarians were in Yaoundé, Cameroon for the third consultative meeting between Regional Economic Communities and Regional Parliamentary Fora.
There is no doubt that by using the Parliamentarians, various government can forge ahead with continental solidarity and integration.

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Tobacco users suffer from chronic diseases and the public deserves protection from secondary inhalation, says WHO official

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Though many countries in African are making efforts in the fight against tobacco consumption in their respective countries in particular and the continent in general a lot still has to be done. Dr Luis Sambo,World Health Organisation (WHO), Regional Director for Africa, says tobacco users suffer from chronic diseases and that the public at large deserves protection from secondary inhalation. Dr Sambo's statement was not new to Africa, where statistics indicate that 25 per cent of youths in the continent are tobacco consumers. Experts have equally warned that Tobacco poses a serious threat to the region’s health and development efforts. Little wounder why Ministers of health for the WHO Afro Region, reaffirmed their commitment to control tobacco use during the occasion of the third meeting of the conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control holding, which took place in Yaounde Cameroon, recently
The WHO Regional Director for Africa further expressed great concern on the plight of women when he said, “By Virtue of their multiple roles, women constitute a key link in the chain of development, and efforts must be made by African countries to ensure that women are in a state of physical, mental and social well-being to be able to carry out their numerous responsibilities”. Though many African countries claim to put women on top of their agenda (for political), a huge majority of them women are still unaware of their rights to health, education and life. Reason why many women continue to be victims of socio-cultural discrimination, harmful practices, gender-based violence, forced marriages, early, unwanted and excessive pregnancies.
Consequently, the Regional Director has proposed a plan of action which countries should implement to improve women’s overall well-being so as to enhance their contribution to development efforts throughout the region. The action plan includes the integration of women’s issues into national policies, improved clinical services for women, strengthening the capacity of women.
At the end of the meeting which also focused on the fight against cancer and the harmful use of alcohol both WHO and the 46 ministers of health stood together and recommitted themselves to take all actions that can bring about effective tobacco control in all countries in the African region, to vigorously control the youths from influence by the tobacco industry and proposed strategies to prevent and control cancer. In Cameroon for example the consumption of tobacco is quite alarming especially among youths. A survey conducted by government in some 13 secondary schools in the nation's capital of Yaounde recently revealed that over 40 percent of student are smokers

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African Traditional Medicine Day: Time for collaboration between traditional and biomedical practitioners in Cameroon

The World Health Organisation holds that traditional medicine has a central role to play to deliver priority health strategies but that for this to be possible there must be a perfect synergy between conventional and biomedical practitioners

By Fai Fominyen Ngu Edward and George Esunge Fominyen

The nascent 21st century has seen poverty across the world. It has also witnessed the re-emergence of some diseases (e.g. tuberculosis) and the difficulty to find permanent solutions to health care challenges like malaria, river blindness and HIV/AIDS. By defining priority health care programmes in areas like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and immunisation, Cameroon’s government seems determined to provide good health for its citizens. However, for such priority health programmes to be effective in such an under-developed and poor country, it is essential that there is adequate collaboration between traditional healers, biomedical practitioners and health authorities.
Traditional healers are more present in African and Cameroonian communities more than any other health care providers. The first people who often manage severe malaria cases in most villages where there are no biomedical doctors are healers; they are also the first to be consulted if a cough is not heeding to home treatment.

They often provide a cheaper alternative to health care that is often costly within the context of ambient poverty in the country.

Traditional medical practitioners have thus acquired the confidence and respect of their communities, especially in rural areas. As a result they are more than just health care providers. They have historically become reference points for traditional governance, participating in guidance activities and the resolution of disputes in their localities.

How healers and biomedical practitioners can deliver priority programmes

According to the World Health Organisation, traditional medicine has a central role to play in the 21st century to deliver priority health strategies. Partnerships between communities of traditional medicine, public health and health research have great potential, particularly in areas of prevention and management of diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and many chronic diseases.

If traditional healers are fully recognised as partners in the delivery of health care; public health officials could tap into their potential as confidants of most persons at risk of contracting and persons living with TB, Malaria or HIV/AIDS, to communicate key prevention and management messages. This could happen when authorities support the selection and training of healers as information, education and communication agents.
A good example is an initiative undertaken by the Christian Children’s fund in South Africa. Realising the importance of incorporating traditional healers into its HIV/AIDS awareness programme, a nurse/traditional healer of the CCF developed a training programme for traditional healers in South Africa that combined traditional healing methods with modern health practices. 14 local healers thus attended a five-day intensive HIV/AIDS training session sponsored by the CCF. Using a variety of techniques including lectures, role playing, song and dance to convey the skills and knowledge needed within the traditional healer framework. Topics ranged from the basics HIV/AIDS, symptoms, diagnosis and sterilisation of instruments, to the psychological impact of HIV/AIDS, counselling at risk populations and confidentiality.
At PROMETRA Cameroon, when we carried out such training in Limbe in 2005 and 2006, doctors from the Limbe Provincial hospital were present and supported the initiative. Such collaborative work would prevent healers from spreading inaccurate information and rather pre-dispose them to become potential relays for any massive anti-HIV campaign. If such a process could be integrated in the methods of the National HIV/AIDS Control Committee or the Anti-Malaria Committee it seems more likely that the efforts of these bodies would be more effective on the ground.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Information Technology: Canada and Korea to help Cameroon improve sector

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

IT (information technology) is a term that encompasses all forms of technology used to create, store, exchange, and use information in its various forms (business data, voice conversations, still images, motion pictures, multimedia presentations, and other forms, including those not yet conceived). It's a convenient term for including both telephony and computer technology in the same word. It is the technology that is driving what has often been called "the information revolution." In the world of globalization, Information system is such where data are collected, classified and put into process interpreting the result thereon in order to provide an integrated series of information for further communicating and analyzing. In a progressively more spirited worldwide atmosphere, Information System plays the role as ‘enabler and facilitator’, which endows with tactical values to the officialdom and considerable step up to the excellence of administration. ‘An Information System is a particular type of work system that uses information technology to detain, put on the air, store, retrieve, manipulate or display information, thereby partisan one or more other work structure’. In totting up to taking sides assessment making, co-ordination and control, information systems may also help managers and workers investigate problems, envisage complex subjects and generate new merchandise or services.
But the system is far less developed in Cameroon. However, the government started a programme for the construction of Multimedia centres in some rural parts of the country, in a bid to bring IT closer to the population. Unfortunately, the programme died a natural death if not in coma. On this score, the government of Cameroon went out for assistance from friendly countries. So far, two (Canada and Korea) pledged to assist the programme. And if things work out well Cameroon’s Information and Communication Technology will in a few years ahead witness a significant transformation
A recent agreements signed between the government of Cameroon, represented by the Minister of State for Posts and Telecommunications, Maigari Bello Bouba and the Mobile Money Cameroon consortium in the present of the Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon, Jean Pierre Lavoie, is expected to see the construction of some 300 new multimedia centres, across about 20.000 villages in the country's rural areas on or before 2015. The multimedia centres which constitute a veritable tool of development are not only expected to provide about 900 jobs but to facilitate communication and render it cheaper and easier for the rural masses.
On the other hand the government of South Korean is expected to bring in a new security device for carrying electronic business more efficiently and at low cost. The Public Key Infrastructure will therefore be installed and this will necessitate three things: a certification authority, a registration authority and a technical architecture made up of server, computers etc. The certificate to be delivered by the certification authority will be used in signing documents digitally to authentify the emission of documents.

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“Advanced Democracy”

In less than two months Americans will be going to the poll to elect a new president. Despite having a population of over three hundred million people, only four political parties exist. What puzzles most is not the number of political parties as compared to their population, but the fact that the campaign is void of the usual language we are use to during elections. For example, I am leader of…party… if you vote me to the post of president, the road from Division X to Y will be tarred, a secondary, primary and nursery school will be created in your locality and above all your sons and daughters will be appointed to high positions…That apart, the campaign is based on political, economic and social projects and not on buying of consciences and intimidation…Though up to now, Obama and McCain have been critical of each other on issues that definitely touch on the lives of Americans…the question that keeps burning on many lips is why people keep talking of “advanced democracy” when American voters have not yet been provided free food and drinks by any of the candidates….!!!

culled from Cameroon Tribune.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Lesson from Bakassi: Cameroon should usefully occupy all its border areas and be seen to be in full possession of all it claims belongs to it

The final retrocession of Bakassi to Cameroon, last August 14 provides good auspices to revisit our nation’s boundary policy. Cameroon has never really had a boundary policy. This is manifested in numerous ways: there is hardly any attempt to see to the effective demarcation of boundaries; there is a crying absence of basic and essential facilities at boundary areas, leading to nationals looking over the borders for such services; there is no clear policy of making our border locations attractive to neighbours of foreign countries in such a way that such neighbours see Cameroon as a more interesting destination compared to available facilities in their own countries. And so on and so forth.

Cameroon claims to be, and it is indeed, the economic pace-setter for the Central African sub-region just as Nigeria is for the West African realm. But Nigeria’s frontier policy and that of Cameroon are simply like comparing day and night. At the principal border posts between Cameroon and Nigeria, one observes a determined policy on the Nigerian side to leave the impression that life is pleasurable on the Nigerian side. At the Ekok-Mfuni border posts into Nigeria one discovers a well-kept asphalted road on the Nigerian side after a tedious journey on the Cameroonian side from Mamfe. The same image can be transposed for the other border posts in the northern parts of the country.

Because of this well-managed border policy, adjoining populations always easily make an informed choice: if there is any choice to make at all, they would rather keep aside patriotism to embrace those with handy facilities. School and health facilities, roads and social security have no peculiar national colouring because people are, above all, in search of better life.
As at today, Cameroon has scores of entry points into the neighbouring countries of Central Africa, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Nigeria. Many are formal entry points materialized by check points and attendant customs or immigration services. But many others are simple routes which link populations across the official divide. In none of these locations are there any symbols which make our country stand out distinctively or which particularly attract visitors into our country.
The issue here is not about securing our boundaries and identifying them in a manner as to stave off visitors. It is about making our land a distinctive destination in such a manner that anyone coming into it feels that there is something different from his or her home country.
Because of the belief that the pasture is always greener in the neighbour’s yard, there are millions of Cameroonians and Nigerians who mutually cross borders into each other’s territory. But while the Nigerians make an effort at border posts to attract Cameroonians by positively advertising their country, Cameroonians have rather relied on their legendary hospitality, neglecting the useful initiative of improving the condition of life in the border areas which, in the first place, is a diplomatic tool in improving the image of the country.
The definitive settlement of the Bakassi palaver has provided us the auspices to address the pressing question of border management. If we had so much trouble regaining our Bakassi, it was because – as jurists helpfully argued – possessory title is subservient to legal title. We were absentee landlords in Bakassi and it is not because others occupied Bakassi and made good use of it that they became rightful owners. Lawyers, in their attempt to un-build this legal principle, also argue that “occupation in ninth-tenth of the law”. And this is probably why the Bakassi palaver dragged on for such a long time.
To avoid such legal labyrinths as we observed in the Bakassi issue, it is necessary for Cameroon to usefully occupy all its border areas and be seen to be in full possession of all it claims belongs to it. There is a lot of work to be done.

Originally published in Cameroon Tribune.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Power to The People.

By Tazoacha Asonganyi

Democracy is usually defined as government by the people for the people. In spite of this definition, many "democratic" political parties around the world proclaim as their principal mission, the giving of power to the people, for good reason. Judged within our own context in Cameroon, the definition is an abstraction managed by those in power to protect their positions while leaving the people with the illusion of power. It is one of the distortions of politics to which the people have fallen victim.

Those who coined the above definition adopted constitutionalism as the trunk road of democracy. And the constitution, wherever, whenever and however it is drafted and adopted, always has as its opening statement the redundant "We the People...", to give the impression that it is the product of the will of the people. The people are said to retain sovereignty, to constitute the state that they authorise to act on their behalf, to be omnipresent, to only delegate their power to legitimate political representatives for specific ends.

The reality, however, is something else! In Cameroon, the constitution ends up being just rules and procedures to regulate the affairs of those who have power – the "legitimate representatives" of the people - giving the impression to the powerless people that there is wisdom and justness in their powerlessness.

In whatever manner the "legitimate representatives" obtain the delegation of power from the people, once they get on the stage, the people remain just pawns in their political "power" game. The people no longer say what they say; they say what their representatives say they have said. They no longer are what they are; they are what their representatives say they are.

In the end, the people count for nothing except to go through the mill of pre-established and well regulated rules and procedures to keep those who have "power" in power! Former pillars of the "power" structure like Ahidjo who are no more, are remembered through some lifeless, harmless gadget - a football field, a road, an airport – that bears their name. But some like Um, even lifeless, remain a threat! Such remembrance does not depend on the opinion of the people; it all depends on what the name brings to mind: continuity or change; colonialism or independence; neo-colonialism or freedom!

"Power" in our country is little more than ephemeral – manipulative, tenuous, fluid, and threatened – because it is not derived from an empowered people. It is more about indulgence – big chauffeured- cars, guards, servants, embezzlement, corruption, greed – or the liberty to bully, humiliate, take revenge. It is permanently under siege, under the spell of evictions and successions. Such "power" derives from invisible, neo-colonial forces whose interests are at variance with the interests of the people. From their position of empty power, the "powerful" celebrate the fulfilment of petty ambitions, and engage in narrow, selfish calculations.

The only thing that actually links the people to "legitimate representatives" is election – the vote. Yet, this professed value of democracy and freedom is undermined in Cameroon, and in the process, the people are undermined. We have moved from election to election, leaving the people in anguish after each cycle, while the "powerful" go about their business as if they enjoy the confidence of the people!

In principle, empowering the people is supposed to mean providing them with health, education and skills to produce goods and services, providing them with regulated markets for their goods and services, providing them with infrastructure for moving the sweat of their labour from farms and industries to markets, providing them with opportunities for gainful work, providing and enforcing protective legal frameworks in an open system, providing a social net to cushion incidental missteps and mishaps.

Empowering the people means providing them with an electoral system that allows them to get rid of unrepresentative "legitimate representatives" , unpopular governments, and ineffective party leaders in a rapid and direct manner. When empowered people vote, they expect that the representatives that come on stage will move the country or the grouping in the direction they want it to go; they feel that their votes count, that they can influence the decisions that affect their lives.

Central to the success of democracy and the economic and social development it brings, is the total engagement of an empowered people to make things happen according to their will. The sovereign people are the only significant, long-term threat to the hegemony of the "powerful" that confiscate their power.

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