Former Minister and former GCE Board Chair, Peter Abety has rejoiced that the interest of Anglophones and the entire country took center stage during the Major National Dialogue. He has expressed great optimism for the return of Cameroon’s cherished peace, especially in its two Anglophone regions. The state man noted that the Yaounde forum presented a glaring opportunity to prove that Anglophones and Francophones have no problem between themselves, as the landmark recommendation, that of granting a special status to the two English-speaking regions, was recommended by a francophone. He spoke to The SUN’s Managing Editor, Wasso Norbert Binde, at the sidelines of the Major National Dialogue. Read!
Mr Peter Betty, we are almost at the close of the Major National Dialogue. You’ve heard the many recommendations that were made yesterday. What is your general impression regarding what you’ve watched and seen these past few days?
Thank you very much. This Major National dialogue has been very much to the advantage of us the Anglophones, and I feel even a lot more comfortable that most of what we have had as advantages coming to us Anglophones, have been proposed to us by francophones. Right in the first plenary, when the Sultan of Foumban said there should be alternation of power; I think that was even the highest point and if it had been taken up in the commissions by the Anglophones, it would have gone through but it would seem like we in our commissions (Anglophones) shied away from making this point. If we will be granted a Special Status, again it was proposed by a francophone. We are actually getting out of this dialogue with a lot of advantages because the francophones really want us to be together and they want us to feel comfortable; they don’t forget that we have always been two entities that came together and it is us the Anglophones who voted by ourselves to make the United Republic. No other region joined us in this critical vote. So, this is to show that this country could really remain united and strong because the francophones value our being together.
Does this corroborate what chief Mukete said on the opening day that some of the problems is that the Anglophone elite do not tell the Head of State the truth of the matter?
I think Fon Mukete has a very steady mind and I think we cannot question in any degree what he said, that we Anglophones are the ones marginalising ourselves. However, the dialogue is now behind us, let us look ahead. We Anglophones should first of all forget about the little differences that we may have and concentrate on being together and get what we can get from this country for ourselves, our children and generations to come. If we are granted the Special Status, to me, it means we should be treated specially which might give way to equity in the sense that if we could always have 1/4 of everything, that will be alright for us; if a government is being formed and we are 1/4 of that government, that will be alright. If we could control 1/4 of the Corporations, that will be alright. We should not look forward to have half, because we are not up to half the population of the country. So we should be concerned about equity, not equality.
As an elite, what has been the reaction from Bambili where you come from, following the President’s clemency and all that has come out from this Major National dialogue?
Well some of the secessionist fighters especially in my own area are beginning to think differently; they think that it was a good thing and that had they known, they would rather have come and presented their points at the dialogue, than stay back, but unfortunately now the dialogue is over and we can only talk among ourselves but I think the reaction is quite positive. Also I think the media are the ones to educate the population a lot more than politicians.
Before this national dialogue started, you know the many characterisations that it had, like being a CPDM Congress, a biyalogue etc. But it seems this National dialogue has put all that aside because we’ve seen the other parties, for example the SDF well represented, other political parties, civil society etc and everyone seemed to have aired their minds and most of the major recommendations came from CPDM stalwarts!
Exactly! Let us go back to Sultan Mbombo Njoya, he is one of the main defenders of the CPDM and if he could come up with a recommendation like that, that there should be alternation of power! So those who thought it was a CPDM affair, they should be thinking otherwise. If you see the commission that was headed by the SDF Vice President, Joshua Osih, I think some of the most startling recommendations came from there, such as the stress on equity. I don’t know of anyone who came here to talk along party lines; Joshua Osih for example made no mention about his party, the SDF. We fortunately have really come out of this dialogue very strong because people have left their party leanings behind and really put forth the interest of the Anglophone regions and the interest of the country at large. We must note that one thing that has come out clearly from this dialogue is that francophones have become more sensitive to the fact that there were two political entities; the Anglophone entity (Southern Cameroons) and the Francophone entity (French Cameroun) and it is this two that came together.