The Regional Assembly: What needs to be explained

EDITORIAL 29 Jan 2021
The Regional Assembly:  What needs to be explained

What easily catches the mind whenever the issue of the regional bodies is concerned is the difference in the appellations of the regional bodies of the two Anglophone regions and the rest of the eight other Francophone regions of the country.
In the case of the two Anglophone regions, the regional bodies have been labelled “REGIONAL ASSEMBLIES”. The contrast is that in the case of the other eight Francophone regions, they have been classified as regional councils. We consider this a serious intricacy that needs to be properly and convincingly explained to the Anglophones, otherwise it would be seen in a different light to represent the content and colour of the much pronounced SPECIAL STATUS for the two Anglophone regions.
No one needs to remind the Anglophones that, the federated state of West Cameroon, which later unified with the Republic of Cameroon, to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, was founded on a special status that was overtly reflected on the mode by which it functioned as a political entity, through a well defined legislative procedure. There was the House of Assembly that proposed laws. There was a speaker, or president of the House who conducted the proceedings of the business of the House.
On the other hand, there was also the House of Chiefs, which played the role of the Upper House of the Legislative body of the state of West Cameroon to which Bills passed by the House of Assembly were submitted for further debate. In this process, the chances are that where a Bill is found lacking or not represent the collective interest of the people, it is sent back to the House of Assembly for amendment or outright rejection.
These two legislative bodies constituted a credible legislative procedure that helped in guaranteeing good governance. This must therefore be considered as an important item on the agenda of the special status pertaining to the Anglophones. There are other items relating to the administrative, judicial, and educational procedures which must be addressed while considering the special status issue, on the basis of which the federated state of West Cameroon was founded.
If therefore the issue of special status is being invoked in the present context of Cameroon, it should not be considered as a gift to the Anglophones. It is their right and no one should arrogate to himself the right to turn the special status into a gift. Neither must there be any attempt to alter the full meaning of this right. We therefore share with many right-thinking Cameroonians particularly Anglophones, who are frantically questioning the rationale behind the present mix-up in the composition of the regional assembly Exco.
For example, holding at the South West Court of Appeal in Buea a fortnight ago members of the South West regional assembly Exco were sworn-in and this included Mr Bakoma Elango Zachaeus, as president. He is assisted by the president of the South West House of Chiefs, HRH, Chief Atem Ebako. The taunting question which crosses the mind of anyone who looks critically at the whole issue is, whether the House of Chiefs has therefore been stripped of its own functions as a body that should independently offer its own contributions to the running of the region as a second voice, if not a second force, in strengthening the governance process of the region.
We have taken our time to outline the functions of both the House of Assembly and the House of Chiefs as it obtained in the former West Cameroon, or, the former Southern Cameroons before reunification, and the difference is miles apart in what is being put in play today.
In the final analysis, all what we have said only leads us back to the major question namely: If this is so for the two Anglophone regions, going under the label of Regional Assemblies, how is it with the other eight Francophone regions, which go by the title of regional councils. What is the difference then, between the two political labels? Should the Anglophones therefore assume that the label of REGIONAL ASSEMBLIES accorded the two Anglophone regions automatically qualifies them for a special status? We think this question calls for explanation, before the chiefs start celebrating their swearing-in.

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