Anglophone Marginalisation: The President missed the point

EDITORIAL 17 Sep 2019
Anglophone Marginalisation: The President missed the point

When it was announced a few hours in advance, that the head of state will address the nation on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, the only surprise was that, against the traditional practice of addressing the nation on December 31 every year and on the eve of Youth Day, his recent outing had nothing to do with any important national event. It simply put a guess on every mind that this must certainly have something to do with the ongoing Anglophone crisis. What exactly was going to be the focus of this speech was therefore the main question.
To every Cameroonian, Anglophones in particular, and to a large extent, the international community, the guess was two-fold, namely, the convening of the much called for inclusive dialogue and, the granting of clemency to the convicted Ambazonian leaders, the prerogative of which the constitution places on the office of the president of the republic. Whatever the case, his ultimate call for Dialogue must have soothed the minds of many and raised hopes that we are at least getting somewhere. Our disappointment is however that as far as the Anglophone problem is concerned, particularly in the area of marginalisation, the president certainly missed the point.
This apart, the issue of the marginalisation of the Anglophones constitutes only one of the many ills that have befallen the Anglophones as a people, as a political entity, with a sound political and cultural background, that cannot easily be questioned without consulting reassuring references. The attempted assimilation of the Anglophones is perhaps a major encroachment on their cultural being. To question the president’s perception of regional balance as portrayed in his recent speech, we strongly believe should not be considered as an overstatement.
The truth is that the president simply reaffirmed what he described as his faith in his regional balance policy, which has always prompted him to appoint a prime minister from the two Anglophone regions since 1992. By this affirmation, we presume the personalities in question include, Simon Achidi Achu from the North West region, Peter Mafany Musonge, Ephraim Inoni, both from the South West region, Philemon Yang, from the North West region, and now Chief Dion Ngute, also from the South West region. It is obvious that this in no way removes the stigma of marginalisation on the Anglophones.
There is certainly an Anglophone problem that goes far beyond what the president may describe as a regional balance policy, which only raises the suspicion in the minds of many Anglophones that, the reservation of the post of prime minister exclusively for the two Anglophone regions since 1992, serves two distinct purposes in the marginalisation process. In the first place, the fear is that it stands as a wedge between the presidency and the Anglophones. Secondly, it sustains the dichotomy between North Westerners and South Westerners, and so this office is brandished as a priced jewel for the people of the two regions to scramble for.
This apart, the post of prime minister is the least in the ranks of the power game, coming fourth place after the president of the republic, president of the senate, president of the national assembly and even president of the economic council. Bearing the title of head of government sometimes sounds like a mockery of the holder of that office. One may ask, which of the ministers in Dion Ngute’s government actually owes allegiance to the prime minister. The truth is that they are answerable to the head of state who actually appoints them along with the prime minister.
Talking about regional balance while looking at the case of ENAM, it sounds really humiliating that out of about two thousand who were admitted, only forty were Anglophones. Share the rest among the other eight regions. Will there be any justification for anyone to talk of regional balance in this matter? Does the number of divisional officers, senior divisional officers, ministers etc. appointed throughout the national territory reflect this regional balance when it comes to the case of the two Anglophone regions?
One may also be tempted to ask, how many Anglophones have been appointed into strategic ministries, besides Atanga Nji who, for one reason or the other was made minister of Territorial Administration. The Anglophone problem certainly has its roots deep down there, which no one should pretend not to know. It is largely an institutional problem involving two diverse languages and cultures.
The Tripartite Talks in 1992 was an offspring of the Anglophone problem which failed to be addressed from its roots. It ended up with half measures, leading to the 1996 constitution which emphasized the option of a regionalised central government and a decentralized programme which has been crawling for nearly twenty three years. If today, the head of state seems to have seen the need for dialogue, we think it is another opportunity knocking on our door. Let us not toy with it in the nature of other foiled attempts at finding a solution to a glaring problem.

About the author

Leave A Reply

Leave A Reply