T he Major National Dialogue MND which was convened by President Paul Biya and which ran from September 30-October 4 2019, is a year old this week. Chaired by Prime Minister, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, the dialogue wrapped up with some recommendations outlined, to effect peace and bring solace in the country, notably in its North West, South West and Far North Regions. One year after, appraisals, judgments and opinions are being voiced by key players, observers, in line with the success of the event. Across political leanings and walks of life, Cameroonians speak to The SUN!
How did you receive the announcement by the Head of State to convene the Major National Dialogue MND?
When that announcement came last year, I was very very happy because I saw it like something which was coming to meet the needs of our country. I mean our country, because many people thought it was for the North West and South West only, but I have always made mention of the fact that, as a country, when a decision is taken, it is for the good of everybody. I looked at it like something that came to benefit everybody and so I was happy that I was part of it. I was even happier with the different resolutions which were taken in the different commissions.
What were your expectations?
My expectations were that we all as Cameroonians could make a positive impact in improving our country and I think that, that expectation was met because of what went on and the different resolutions that came out.
What particular issue was of interest to you, talking about the MND recommendations?
My first point of interest was the recommendation which came to meet our youths in the bushes, those who had been misled to stand against their own people. This came through the DDR Centers which have been opened and in that recommendation, the president promised that nobody was going to be taken to court if they came out and laid down their arms. All our children who have come out, am glad are responding positively to what they have been taught, how they are supposed to live with other people and how they can contribute to build their country. I think that it is a wonderful idea and I want to thank God for all of them who have so far laid down their arms.
What about those who haven’t laid down their arms until now?
We are all human beings and we have our own way of responding to issues. For those who have not laid down their arms yet, I continue to make the appeal that they do so because it is for their own good, that of their families, their communities and the nation. A nation is like a family; there are usually problems but I want to believe that when there are problems, you look for solutions. This is one of the solutions which I believe will help. I also want to add here that peace is not something that you serve on a plate, it is something that comes from the mind; you must desire peace for you to be able to have peace for yourself first and be able to share that peace with others and that only comes with dialogue, reconciliation, forgiveness and all of that. So everyone has a responsibility to put their hands together so that we can truly be able to enjoy peace.
What is your take on the implementation of the Special Status for the North West and South West so far?
I think that it is moving. We are at the last stage now I think, with the Regional elections which are coming up. Many people have come to find out what the Regional councils will mean to us. I want to say that Regional councils mean a lot to the North West and South West; People will have to be able to take decisions on what happens in their communities, region etc. It is such an important thing that I want to believe has come to help us. People used to complain before, that decisions about developing their area comes from Yaoundé; now decisions about developing our region will come from our region. In the Regional councils, there will be people from all the divisions and subdivisions, meaning that nobody is left out, everybody is taken into consideration and will be on the table to decide and prioritise what development comes to their area and how they come.
But some may disagree with you on the fact that the Regional Councils cover the entire nation and not just the two English regions. What is special for these two regions in the Regional councils?
You see, when there is a problem in the nation, you do not look at that problem in a small context, but you look at it on the broad context, that is, it is for the whole nation. So if today the Regional councils are for the whole nation, it is because of what happened in the North West and South West, and people have done studies to observe that if they do not engulf everybody in the Regional councils, then those other regions who are also minorities and who also have problems, would come up with problems later. So this is something which has come up to solve that particular issue of marginalisation (or whatever we used to call it) because everybody is part of it. Let me say that truly in life, there are always people who feel marginalised and in this case, I think that it has helped because the North West and South West were not the only regions who felt marginalised, so all the other regions have also benefited as a nation.
How well do you think the MND has succeeded to solve the crisis in the North West and South West regions?
Well I think that it has gone a long way to solve the problem. Many things that came out of that dialogue are already being implemented, like the common law aspect of it, our children have gone to school and are posted already to work in our areas with the knowledge that they have had; we talk about the children who are being reformed and helped; when we talk about decentralisation, we see that it was decided in that meeting that the Government Delegate should not be appointed and that has happened, they are not appointed and all City Mayors are elected. So a lot of things have truly been put in place and I believe that Rome was not built in one day but we are building our Rome very very fast and many things are coming into place.
Is there anything that the dialogue failed to address in line with the crisis?
I will just like to say that truly you cannot solve all problems at once! You know when you solve a problem, in that problem process, you can discover that there is another aspect of that problem which is not handled and then you go back to it. I want to say that at the time that the dialogue held, the things which came up were handled but in the process of implementation, other things are being discovered, they will also be handled.
Any advice on the way forward in this peace process?
Yes! Peace, peace, peace! For a life without peace cannot achieve anything. I believe we know that many people have been misled and many people who started misleading these children are not here. How do you want to rule a people and you are somewhere else and are pushing other people to go to the front line? I think that, just that should tell everybody that the people who started all of this and took it in the wrong direction (in fact, when it started, this is not the path that we thought it was going to take but people entered into it and have taken an upper hand), they are all Cameroonians but they have taken all their children abroad, all their families abroad and then they leave us here to truly suffer. They don’t want our children to go to school; they don’t want our people to go about doing their businesses which give them money to put food on their table, why?
Everybody should think because, I believe that we all have consciences. To say that you are fighting for a people, yet you are killing those same people every day! When you say you are fighting for them and you finish killing them, then what happens? It is a ridiculous situation. Let us face facts, let us realise, let us accept our errors, go back, sit down and rethink because no one has the right to take anyone’s life. If you instigate people to go and kill and torture to bring pain and misery, you are just as bad as the person who pulls the trigger.
I want to appeal to our people that four years is a long time, we have suffered enough and God has been gracious because it would have been worse. I also thank God for the President of the Republic who has a soft heart for the youth and who has not allowed it to go overboard. I want to think that we should please all put our hands together to work for peace and to bring peace to our ourselves first and then to our people.
Interviewed by NOELA EBOB BISONG