By NOELA E. BISONG, IKOME C. EPOSI, EBONG WILSON & SAH T. ANIMBOM
As efforts continue for peace to return in Cameroon’s restive North West and South West regions, the church has been put at the centre, to create a blissful atmosphere in the two regions, by convincingly selling the recommendations of the Major National Dialogue to inhabitants of the two regions. Two teams, designed by the office of the Prime Minister, Dion Ngute have been sent to each of the regions for a mission described by some as possible, but by others as impossible. The teams are headed by Bishop Nkea Andrew of the Mamfe Diocese (for South West) and His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi, (North West). The teams met together with the delegation from the PM’s office, elite and other key stakeholders of the regions simultaneously on Saturday, November 16, 2019 in Buea and Bamenda to lay the ground work for the mission. While the Special Status is prominent in the mission, but its content not yet uncovered by even those to sell it, many have described the Tumi/Nkea mission as an uphill task.
All we need is peace and for life to return to normalcy – Bishop Nkea
His Lordship Andrew Nkea, Bishop of the Mamfe Diocese has reiterated the need for peace to return to the two English speaking regions while indicating that the people are tired and just want to live their normal lives as before. He was speaking during the launch of the Regional Post Dialogue Sensitisation Caravan at the Buea Council chamber.
He said, “Whatever politics is involved, we want our children to go back to school without us trembling. Our economy is in bad state, many IDPs everywhere. For how long can we continue? We are tired. Violence breads violence and we need to sit and discuss problems we are facing and look for solutions to them.”
The Bishop equally called on the delegates to strive for collective and not personal success. “The caravan should not be politicised. We should forget about our political leanings, churches or social groups. We should use inclusive and not exclusive language…In one way or the other, all of us have contributed to the crisis. We should not judge or apportion blame to people when we go to the field. It is a collective effort and everybody must join in seeking solution to the crisis. We need peace.”
Speaking to the media, Bishop Andrew Nkea said, “We cannot solve the crisis that has been going on for three years in one day. We are reaching out to the solution of the problem and I think that is the most important for the people to understand what we discussed in Yaounde towards the solution to the crisis. We went to the dialogue from different Divisions yet the discussions from the dialogue have not reached the grass root population. We are sending out the divisional caravan to go out to the various divisions and subdivisions to explain to the people what was discussed and the expectations.” While noting that the content of the Special Status is yet to be unravelled, the Bishop simply said it means people from the North West and South West shall henceforth be treated special.
On his part, Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai reiterated the need for everyone to join the train, and join hands together in educating those in the bushes to come out and share in the message of peace.
The Regional caravan which has been launched is expected to hit the ground running in educating the population about the substance of the National Dialogue and to look for solutions to the present crisis. The report from the various delegations to the six divisions is expected to be harmonised, with the final report to be presented to Prime Minister, Head of Government Chief Dr. Dion Ngute by November 27, 2019.
The present caravan is in its informative phase and the next step that is expected within the coming weeks is the implementation phase.
Six commissions were created representing the six divisions of the South West region. Yet another issue which raised fingers for questioning was ‘how do people take seven days to solve a crisis raging on for three years counting?’ To this, Bishop Nkea made it clear that the seven days were for the beginning to an end to the crisis and not an end in itself.
The caravan comprised the Governor of the South West region Bernard Okalia Bilai, the deputy speaker of the lower house of assembly, Honorable Emilia Lifaka, Benjamin Itoe, the director of civil cabinet at the prime ministry, Confiance Ebune, former minister of forestry Philip Ngwese, the clergy, traditional leaders, frontline Anglophone activist Barrister Agbor Nkongho and other elite of the region.
What new thing shall we take to divisions? Delegates ask at NW Peace Caravan meeting
The post Major National Dialogue Peace Caravan at the conference hall of the regional delegation of the ministry of the economy, planning and regional development in the North West on Saturday November 16, 2019, was chaired by His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi, in the presence of North West Governor and representative from the PM’s office. Elite of the North West Region based in Yaounde, Douala and elsewhere listened to the raporteur from the PM’s Office disclose the content of the resolutions arrived at during the Major National Dialogue as well as the agenda for peace envisaged by the Post MND Peace Caravan.
Some selected delegates, 10 from each division of the North West will in the days ahead embark on trips to their divisions of origin, which are all affected by surges of violence to preach peace to their respective populations.
According to the PM’s office, they are to have meetings with their people in their respective divisions and report back to the regional delegations for onward transmission to the PM’s office.
Attended by members of the civil society, religious and political leaders, participants listened to the resolutions keenly, hoping to hear something new that can act as a catalyst to the peace message.
The Arch Bishop of the Bamenda Arch Diocese His Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua reiterated the words of Cardinal Tumi who said truth and justice are the prerequisites for peace but regretted that there is so far no truth as such. “The national dialogue should have been a moment of truth but one point which is very fundamental and did not come out very clearly is the fact that there can be no peace without justice. If we cannot accept the truth and do what is right, meeting the greatest aspirations of the people as the national dialogue was aimed at doing for the people of the North West and South West regions, then I am afraid we cannot have peace” he said.
Another very particular submission was that made by the President of the North West Chapter of Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists Ambe Macmillian Awa who frowned at the little or no consideration given to journalists of the region especially in times like this. “I am embarrassed at the fact that journalists of the region who know who is on the ground and know who is doing what where are carefully left out in situations like this. Are we not the fourth arm of government again? Even if you refuse to accord us that position can you not give us the respect we are due for the work of peace building we have so far been doing? If you will not have a meeting with the journalists of this region for them to tell you what holds where and who does what where, then you are heading for failure. Make good use of your journalists” he said.
There was also much tension at the meeting based on the unknown criteria that was used in the selection of the 10 delegates per division as some sub divisions like Bum sub division in Boyo was completely left out.
To who the delegates will go to speak and how they will get there, whether guarded or unguarded is the million dollar question that is yet to be answered even by the delegates themselves.