Interview: “New Deal Government Has Been Progressing Steadily”
HRM Nfor Senator Tabe Tando, Member of CPDM Central Committee, talks of the administration of President Paul Biya, 34 years on.
What assessment can you make of the stewardship of the New Deal 34 years on?
As a Cameroon national that I am and one that has been at the forefront of political evolution of this country, particularly after the first republic, I think the New Deal government under the leadership of the distinguished President Paul Biya, who is a committed Cameroonian, has achieved so much. These achievements can be categorized in all the developmental programmes that he has had, be it in social, educational, infrastructural which includes roads, telecoms, stadiums, hydro-electric dams, hospitals amongst others.
Again, across the periphery of Cameroon, he has shown that he wants even development. In terms of achievements in diplomacy, he has become a mentor even to most African leaders. A mentor in the way he manages the State with peace and order. Cameroon has become an enviable State as far as peace and national concord is concern. These are qualities that are rare in a proper leadership. His tackling of worrying issues like insurgency of some pockets of people who call themselves Boko Haram as he tries to ensure that he wipes them off from his territory and even more so going into alliance with other countries and the world to make sure that we do not harbour people who are there to destabilise the country.
I think that we have achieved much under the leadership of President Paul Biya. In a nutshell, President Biya’s New Deal government has been progressing steadily, surely and in the right direction. Of course more is in stock with the envisaged national developmental agenda dubbed “Vision 2035”.
Some critics say the achievements are not enough in 34-year rule of the New Deal. What is your opinion on that?
When critics say “achievements are not enough” how do they quantify it? Where do they start and where do they end? Is it in terms of development of ports, schools, building hospitals? I will say that on the contrary, the New Deal government has done much. The country cannot be developed in a day. Even countries that we call advanced nations today took hundreds of years to attain the level they are now. So we will not say that the New Deal government has done nothing or that what it has done is immeasurable; I say no. The New Deal government is following a planned agenda and it’s progressing.
The New Deal has in the recent past embarked on the construction of structural projects like the dams, the deep sea port amongst others. Do you think that these projects constructed with loans will have a trickledown effect on the wellbeing of the population?
Naturally, the trickledown effect will be enormous on the population. Economic projects of that nature attract many other avenues of development which can transform the whole human life because they create opportunities for employment. In fact, all over the world, it is the private people who set up business in conformity with the law that creates jobs. Of course, the projects like the Kribi Deep Seaport, Memvele and Lom Panga dams amongst others are pillars for development. These are projects that show that the New Deal government is out to transform human lives and it’s doing that properly.
At 34, the New Deal has faced many challenges. What is your appraisal of the handling of these challenges?
Every regime in the world even in most developed countries has challenges of different dimensions and of course Cameroon is not an exception. Naturally, we are bound to have challenges, be it economic, political, social or diplomatic etc. But with maturity and vision, President Biya has been able to handle these challenges with the support of the nation.
Take for example the settling of the border dispute of Bakassi Peninsular in the South West Region and the war against Boko Haram in the Far North Region. You can see that there is national concord in anything that we do. Cameroonians are not people who just go out because they want to demonstrate. They do things in a mature and orderly manner. I think that this should continue in the years to come.
The principle of rigour and moralisation that marked the beginning of the New Deal seems to have been abandoned. What explanation can you give to that?
I don’t think it has been abandoned. If it was abandoned, then why are people behind bars? In fact, when President Paul Biya came up with the principle during his inaugural speech in 1982, people did not know the importance and how far-reaching that statement was. But now, they are seeing it. The truth is coming out. It has now created more awareness among people on management techniques and financial management of public funds and unfortunately for some of our compatriots, who found themselves trapped by the legal net for misappropriation of public funds.
What does the future hold for Cameroon with the New Deal?
The New Deal has set up a platform and principles which should be a tradition now for Cameroonians to know that we have to work as one and indivisible Cameroon. We should know that our destiny is in our hands. So we have to follow the economic programme for the development of our nation. I think that whenever the New Deal may hand over government to in future should preserve that power.
Of course, CPDM working now for the New Deal, we want to preserve it and preserving it means that the programme we have in hand now, is executed to its logical end. If it ends, it creates another stage for continuation. There is the need for people to have a spirit of oneness, peace and harmony and I think people are conscious of that.