The current visit to Cameroon by the Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth has already started revealing its importance. Judging from the exchange at the Unity Palace yesterday 19 December, 2017 by President Paul Biya and the august visitor, the underpinning message was that both parties share a common vision about peace, stability and the place of democracy and governance.
Since joining the Commonwealth in 1995, Cameroon has benefitted much from the organisation in terms of enriching its democratisation experience through the successful holding of free and fair elections thanks to legal and institutional frameworks that now exist in the country with support from the Commonwealth.
In addition, the use of English and French as the official languages in the country has given Cameroon access to several global advantages, making the country and its citizens privileged in most cases on the international front.
While painting the picture at the State Luncheon yesterday 19 December, 2017, President Paul Biya stated unequivocally that professional concerns raised last year by teachers and lawyers had been handled by government and the “Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism” had come as an additional institution to improve on the daily realities of togetherness in the country.
Consequently, those who had any other demands outside the structure put in place by government were out to foment trouble and to government, they simply are “a terrorist organization with purely secessionist motives.” With recent cases of assassination of uniform officers in the North West and South West, the Head of State had to make it clear that “As Guarantor of institutions under our Constitution, and in particular of national unity, it is my duty to restore order and punish those guilty of these murders.”
Any other lapses being considered in relation to the current social tension in the two regions ought to be viewed as problems linked to the difficult economic hardship that Cameroon is facing as a result of a drop in oil and commodity prices sequel to the 2008 economic crisis. The reaction of the Commonwealth Secretary-General to President Biya’s speech was a reflection of the common concerns between Cameroon and the institution.
By pointing out that Cameroonians should give priority to dialogue in settling their differences, the Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland was re-echoing the message the many across the board in the country have kept insisting on.
That is, the need for people to avoid extremism, seek common ground and learn to be tolerant no matter the challenges. She also pointed out that the Commonwealth could not standby and watch a valuable partner like Cameroon loss touch with the much-cherished peace, unity and stability the country has known over the years.
By urging Cameroonians to embrace peace and dialogue in solving all problems, Baroness Patricia Scotland is recalling the view that no meaningful development can take place in chaos and it would be wrong for anyone to think that the right way to go in tackling differences in the country should be through war and conflict.
Threats like those posed by Boko Haram and the social tension now coming from the North West and South West Regions are in no way welcome in a nation that has for long been cited as an example to follow on the African continent.
The various audiences that the Secretary-General will be holding as she continues her visit in the country will certainly give her the opportunity to push down the need for the entire population to privilege values that can enable the country to stay on the path of progress and meaningful development.