Dr. Nick Ngwanyam, proprietor of St. Louis Health Institute and former senatorial aspirant on the ticket of the ruling Cameroon people’s Democratic Movement, CPDM has said he is no longer interested in running for the senatorial elections come 2018 after a failed attempt in 2013. The businessman also says his business has lost over FCFA 400 million to the ongoing Anglophone crisis plaguing the North West and South West regions. He spoke to The SUN’s Wifah Jennyhans Nde in Bamenda
Dr. Nick Ngwanyam, 2018 which is an election year in Cameroon is around the corner. It is understood that you ran for the senatorial election in 2013 but lost. Why the passion for politics when you seem fulfilled as a health expert and entrepreneur?
When the spirit leads you in a direction, you must follow the direction and when an adult tells you to follow a certain path and you trust and believe in the adult, you follow that path.
I was first of all interested in politics just like anyone else and I was in the SDF since the early 90s but at some point I withdrew because there was a problem and the problem I saw in the SDF is the fact that you couldn’t tell the chairman anything and so, it killed the charisma that was in me.
In December 2008, I was on my way to Chicago to attend the America-Cameroon Business Forum so I passed by the cathedral in Douala to have a chat with Cardinal Tumi and when I was about to leave something dropped into my mind. I asked him what can we do to effect change in this country and he taught me about platform. So he said if I must be part of change then I must get on the platform. He said it is politics; he defined politics to me as putting in place policies that work for the general good.
That was how I made a u-turn to joining the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM since they had the yam and the knife. I went in therefore, to implement policies that work for the general good. Immediately after meditating outside the Cathedral, I called my friends Ministers Ote, Shey Jones and Mr. Paul Bantar and told them that I am joining the CPDM as a senator and that was how I got into politics again.
Are you therefore an aspirant for 2018 elections as a senator?
(Expletive) I am not. I believe I am a senator at heart not interested in the FCFA 3,000,000 that they earn. I am an entrepreneur; I can grow chicken and make even more money. You can replace the word senator for leader; I am a leader and would always be.
What I can do is support a brother who is interested in running for that position to get there. Implementing policies begins by changing the way people think, that is the platform on which I am now to change the way Cameroonians think and we shall eventually implement good policies.
You are one of those Cameroonians that was badly hit by the Anglophone crisis last academic year. In what tangible terms can you estimate your losses as the proprietor of St. Louis Health Institute?
In monetary terms, St. Louis lost about FCFA 400,000,000 but the intangible losses are immeasurable. We are one of the best and biggest schools in the country where we train youths in health issues in seven departments. That’s a huge loss for many students and parents, a huge loss for the country and a huge loss for the future.
But again, this was a problem that concerned everybody so I would say it is part of our own sacrifice for the whole thing, whether we wanted it or not, we just had to be part of it. What we are trying to do now is cut losses and make sure everybody tries to recover from where they are now.
Are you hopeful your students shall come back?
Most of the students have no choice because they want the best that we are. Some of our students left for other schools East of the Mungo and from what we have heard, they are not comfortable where they are. So their comeback is not a question of choice because they want the best and are sure, the best we can offer them.
At St. Louis it is not about getting the paper but it’s more about getting knowhow and the right skill to be able to effectively solve problems efficiently. We teach them character and good morals which they cannot get elsewhere and so it is the quality we offer that keeps our students. Check with the US embassy, Public Health and Higher Education and you would get testimonials of our products.
You sound too proud of your products from St. Louis. How well placed are your products and what growth prospects have you for the institution?
The revelation of St. Louis came from the spirit and when you execute what comes from the spirit, the results can speak volume. Our uniqueness is character. At the moment we have our nurses, physiotherapists, dental therapists ultra-sonography and imaging products close to 100% gainfully employed. Those who could still be without job are those who did medical laboratory because there is over supply in that domain in the country.
Companies call to ask for our students and at the moment we don’t even have. We have some of them at the Muna Foundation in Yaounde and some of them head services there.
The mission of St. Louis is to help Cameroonian youths to be properly trained. At the ministry of Higher Education, we were given the mandate to show good example because private Higher Education just came into Cameroon. With the output we have so far, we hope to create in the days ahead, the University Institute of Science and Technology and later on, we shall create the University Institute of Agricultural Training and Food Transformation. We shall use help from Germany, India and other places which is in the pipeline already and shall be training job makers not job seekers.
What hope for this academic year, given that the atmosphere is still clouded by uncertainty?
Some protagonists for secession have said there would be independence on October 1 even though independence or no independence is a watershed point and so if there would be independence the there is no reason children should not go back to school on October 2.
St. Louis shall thus; open its doors on October 2 and the fees students paid last year shall be moved to this year so we all share the losses. Those who wrote the HND are advised to repeat otherwise, St. Louis shall not issue them any document. This is because, once again, we believe in the training and not the paper.