Of the Dion Ngute gov’t

EDITORIAL 14 Jan 2019
Of the Dion Ngute gov’t

To those who have been following very closely, the governance process in Cameroon, beginning with the formula for the appointment of a prime minister/ head of government, a process usually followed by the naming of a cabinet, all this by the head of state, bears some worries.
Indeed to cynics, this formula has for too long raised a number of fundamental questions, the most prominent being the one which tends to seek clarification about who actually runs the government under this system. Is it the prime minister/head of government, appointed by a presidential decree, or the head of state himself, who also widely enjoys the prerogative of appointing by a series of accompanying decrees, ministers who must work with the prime minister? To a point, we in this Newspaper tend to read some sense in the concerns of critics of the system.
Experience has shown that successive prime ministers under this formula, which allows the president the wide prerogative of naming ministers, who are expected to work with the prime minister, in his capacity as the head of government in the true sense of the designation of the office has its limitations.
In a situation such as we are trying to outline here, the prime minister certainly does not seem to possess the free hand to formulate policies that are likely to portray the vision of a man who has been entrusted with the responsibility of heading a government from whom results are expected.
The truth here is that the mere fact that the president appoints his ministers and merely assigns them to work with a prime minister, who has not been given the powers of naming a cabinet of his own so as to manage the affairs of government in his own assessment of the needs of the nation he governs, is condemned to remain a puppet even to those he is expected to direct as head of government.
Have we not very often heard it being pronounced even by the prime minister that he is acting on the instructions from the head of state? Have the ministers not also very often echoed the same pronouncement about instructions coming from the head of state? So can a government be seen to perform when in fact it depends solely on orders from the head of state? Under such circumstance who should be held responsible for imminent failure?
What is obvious in the process of good governance is that the head of state outlines a broad policy guideline of the direction towards which he intends to lead the nation. The rest of the ground work is therefore left in the hands of the appointed prime minister and his appointed team to use their initiatives and resourcefulness to attain the set goals of the policy guidelines. In this way the prime minister and his team will certainly be prepared to share credits for their success or bear the blame for their failure. This is where we strongly believe that cabinet reshuffles in our context has simply become a mere formality as well as a source of wasting our much needed financial resources by contending with too many ministries, simply to compensate allies who have excelled in their loyalty to the regime.
In the recent announcement of the appointment of a new prime minister, Chief Dr Dion Ngute, to replace a north westerner, Philemon Yang, surprises only those who do not care to know much about how the country functions. The office of prime minster has always been brandished as a precious jewel to the two Anglophone regions of the country. This can easily be discerned from the way in which it rotates so flexibly between these two regions, knowing fully well that it bears no significance in the process of good governance in our context. It is designed to appease the people of the two regions at the surface and at the same time promote a dichotomy between the peoples of the two regions.
That the appointment of Chief Dr. Dion Ngute at a time when the world expected the head of state to have come out with some semblance of a solution to the Anglophone crisis is a big disappointment to many who have this country at heart. Whatever considerations pushed the head of state to choose a military solution to the crisis, as was disclosed in his end-of-year speech, we would not relent in our persuasion for him to rethink his decision. The situation is a political crisis that needs a political solution on a round table. Dialogue remains the solution.
Let Dion Ngute therefore look at himself as an Anglophone and with his background as a diplomat we expect him to do everything that his high office demands of him, to change the course of events by injecting new blood in the government he now heads and take the credit for doing so.

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