By Simon Kalla, Ikome Christie-Noella&NoelaEbobBisong (on special assignments at Mungo Bridge, Buea and Limbe)
The Prime Minister, Head of government, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, triumphantly entered the South West region on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 in a visit which he describes as “one to rekindle peace and hope to the population”, but one also described by some as his home-coming, following his appointment as Cameroon’s Prime Minister early this year.
It was a rousing and red-carpet reception given by South Westerners to one of theirs and befitting of a royal father, chief of Bongongo village, near Lobe in Ndian Division.
PM Joseph Dion Ngute had his first stop at the historic Mungo Bridge, where he was received by South West Governor, his collaborators, top South West dignitaries, elite, among others, and where he shook hands with them and was dressed with a traditional regalia and libation was done.
He then took off to the Tiko roundabout, where he rhetorically questioned women and youths if they were not yet tired of the crisis, and they all told him they are tired and looking for a positive solution from the government.
The PM then continued to Mutengene, where he stopped at the Mutengene roundabout and greeted the population which was anxiously beside the road holding peace plants, and they equally pleaded with him to use his calmness to bring an end to the crisis.
From there, he continued through Mile 14 to the Mile 17 Motor Park, where drivers, also standing with peace plants pleaded the PM to seek for solutions so peace can return.
The students and teachers of Government Bilingual High School Molyko were also standing by the roadside to welcome the PM, who greeted and urged them to take their education seriously which he said is the fundamental right of a child.
From then, the PM headed to Bongo Square where he was also greeted by children, women and youths chanting, “we need peace”. Dion Ngute assured them that his arrival in South West is to seek for peace in all its forms so that the country can be united back as before.
The Prime Minister came bearing a message of peace, dialogue and reconciliation from the Head of State.
“The boys (Amba) should leave the bushes, drop their weapons and be reintegrated into the society, and the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee is there to assist in their rehabilitation. There is an absolute guarantee that individuals who want to drop their weapons will face no retribution but instead will have a future as right now they have no future in the bushes”, Dion Ngute said.
“If they want to come back home, they can see the Divisional Officers, Church elders, priests etc, so that they arrange for where the boys will keep their guns and be reintegrated in the society”, the PM advised, and continued that “The Head of State did not send me to fool the children, that when they come out they will be shot. Military has no reason to be here but just for the crisis that they are here. If there were no crisis, the military would not have been here”, he said
Chief Dr. Dion Ngute once more reiterated the Head of State’s willingness to dialogue and pave a way forward for the crisis to come to an end, but insisted the issue of secession is not on the table. “…The Head of State said he will look for employment for those who will drop their arms. Apart from secession (it will never be in the country), any other problem they have he (President) is ready to hear and a collective decision will be taken. So there is no need for them to stay in the bushes anymore”.
He added that “Kidnapping must come to an end. Innocent children, fathers, mothers are being kidnapped which is not a good thing. We had tourists visiting the region which was good for the economy, but that is not there anymore. We must look for solutions to the crisis”.
The PM equally regretted that “The Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC which used to be the biggest employer in Cameroon is now a shadow of itself. Workers have been forced to abandon the plantation as several of them have been beaten, fingers chopped off, bruised by separatist forces. We are pleading that all these things that our grandfathers left to us should be protected. We have destroyed schools, hospitals and others which were left to us by our fathers and we too have to protect and build for our children”,he said.
Peter MafanyMusonge, former Prime Minister and Head of the Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Commission, said everyone has to work so that the much talked about peace can return to the country. “Let us fix the country as it was before; people have suffered and the suffering has to finish. Let us be disciples and carry the message to every quarter, calling on those boys (Amba) to drop their weapons”.
It should be noted that women of the South West and North West task force could be spotted in their numbers sitting on the ground chanting and decrying the massive killings of their husbands and sons as a result of the crisis.
Cameroon’s Prime Minister, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Nguteannounced that a machinery hasbeen put in place by President Biyato consult leaders of the Anglophone crisis, so as to have the much needed inclusive dialogue, which many have been clamouring for. He made the revelation during the consultative meeting he had with stakeholders in Limbe as well as the population, at the Limbe City Council Hall, on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.
Joseph Dion Ngute, while recognizing that president Biya had organized and conducted dialogue since the beginning of the crisis through various agencies, said the President has however come to realise that such actions have not been enough, as “people want to dialogue in a specific format, where people will sit round a table and have a discussion on issues; he has accepted to have that dialogue”.
The PM stated that “it must be inclusive dialogue; in other words, we must talk to even the people who are sponsoring these actions of civil disobedience, because he said, if we do not bring in the people, we will be talking to ourselves and that will not be useful. He has put in place a machinery to contact the people who want to talk so that the dialogue can be organised and we can talk”.
He assured the Limbe population that “The Head of state has said we cannot win a military war against our own children, he doesn’t want that; the military is there to protect the civilian population and their property; that is why heavy artillery is not used as in a major war, it is not a war as such, it’s a crisis, unlike in Boko Haram in the North where we use all our military might to fight them”.
Amongst other things, Dion Ngute announced that “The Head of State told me specifically that he will create a system where some of these young people, not only those in the bush but those outside can be given special recruitment into various corps of the state”.
While noting that good political practices cannot succeed in an atmosphere of violence, Dion Ngute reminded the people of Limbe that “We have only one country, and we must take care of it, we can’t let it go into pieces”.
He further said “The Head of state has been particularly concerned about the lack of schooling in most parts of the region…his fervent wish is that come September, all the schools of all the villages of the Southwest region should go operational”.
Again, the PM said president Biya has a lot of sympathy with traditional rulers who have been forced to flee their palaces because of violence. “He has asked me to reassure them that as the situation gets better, those who want to return can do so, with the state accompanying them from a logistic and security perspective”.
In line with the issue of Decentralisation, Dion Ngute agreed that“it is at the core of this crisis, and there is work going on to see the kind of decentralization that can collectively be satisfactory to all the regions”.
The PM again made another revelation that “There is also going to be a conference where people will air their view” and assured that the population’s worry concerning the release of those being imprisoned as a result of the crisis will be channeled appropriately. “Concerning some of the things said here, I heard the echoes from outside which made me to understand that, that is the voice of the people, as they expressed their approval, I have taken note of that”, Dion Ngute said.
It should be noted that PM Dion Ngute carried a similar message to Kumba on Thursday, May 16.
Motanga Andrew Monjimba
We are happy to have you and your entourage in this our town of friendship. The town has said no to ghost towns, no to boycott of schools, no to anything negative that will disturb our progress. We plead with the PM to take back to the head of state that the people of Limbe in particular and the South west in general are behind him and we will continue to stand behind him in a one and indivisible Cameroon.
MbellaMoki Charles, SW Senator
Dion Ngute has carved out a new agenda and a new beginning not for himself but one that has brought pride to those of us of the South West. who believe. I appeal to the people and living forces of Southwest that this is our finest hour; since the head of state and the entire country looks on us for leadership, to work together, and project to the whole country that the South west can be the game changer.
Hon EtombiIkome Gladys, Fako East MP
Women feel the most pain in the present situation;I plead that the dialogue process should be accelerated so that it will quickly ensure the end of the crisis. Women must be instruments of peace and use good speech to restore our two troubled regions.
Helen Ebai, Retired Magistrate,
How can those in the bushes come out when their opponents are still holding guns? Government should start releasing those arrested in line with the crisis,let the president release them so that it can create an enabling environment and give them confidence for those in the bushes to come out. There’s been a lot of talking which is idealistic but not realistic. There is no assurance in words only; confidence must be created in people.
Chief DrAtemEbako, Chief of Talangaye
Much as it is in the context of a very difficult situation described as a crisis, I see in it a huge window of opportunities that is opening. This is not the first time that we are having such a difficult situation, we had a similar situation back in the 90s and we sailed through. What I will like to suggest is the fact that the opportunities that this difficult situation is opening up should be able to be materialized; we should not lose them anymore like we did in the 90s; we should be able to put in place a process of governance and development that will involve and include all strata of the population so that they will feel they are doing it themselves. I will draw the economic opportunities like the sea with fish, timber, the Limbe Deep Seaport, the reviving of the then West Cameroon Marketing Board etc.