Bernard Okalia Bilai, South West Governor.
A presidential decree was signed creating the National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Committee. How did you receive this decree?
I received it with a lot of satisfaction. This is because the issue of demobilization has been raised and we received a lot of information, and we are even in contact with Divisional Officers, Senior Divisional Officers and many church leaders, traditional rulers who are giving us information on how some young men are forced into separatist groups to fight the State. But that they are also willing to come back to normal life. So we have put in place a whole organisation on how to manage it. But we were doing it locally. Now that the Head of State himself has put in place a whole administrative structure, we will receive adequate means to continue and rescue those Cameroonians who have been misled and those who were enrolled by forced into separatist movements. They have realised that they were fooled and are afraid to come back. They do not know what to do. So it is a very good news to us and we are happy for the creation of the structure by the Head of State.
What measures have been put in place to execute this Presidential Decree on NDDRC?
We have identified some structures which are already operational and will welcome the young men who lay down their arms. We have already done renovation works and the structures are there in all our six administrative units. Now with the blessing of a Presidential Decree, we are expecting to receive adequate means to continue to do the rehabilitation and reinforcing the structures.
There are calls from the administration and persons of good will for separatists to lay down their arms. To whom should these separatists go after laying down their arms?
I know that most of them are afraid but we have taken all the measures beginning at the level of the Head of State himself. I want to reassure them that they should not be afraid. We know that they have been misled and misguided. For now they should come to the State, we have some facilitators among whom are religious and traditional leaders. At the level of the administration at the grassroots there are the Divisional Officers and Senior Divisional Officers. There are also the military officers who are there in villages to prevent any sad event. These are among the facilitators. So any separatists should present themselves to them.
When separatists begin laying down their arms, how will they be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society?
Last week I met with local authorities and told them that if anyone comes with a se paratist who had dropped his arms, the person should be taken and registered at a centre. There is guarantee to everyone that they shall be well taken care of and re-socialised. At any moment, a facilitator being it a Priest, Pastor, traditional ruler or a politician can come and verify that the person is there and doing fine. If we want to carry out this exercise successfully, all of us must forgive each other. We know that the separatists have hurt not just the state but even the population. If we do not forgive, how are we going to put an end to such a situation? So we are sensitising all the facilitators to reassure the young men in the bushes with guns that if they come and drop their guns, they will be protected by the State and the entire community. In the State’s programme, it will ensure that they have something gainfully doing according to the ability and their skills after rehabilitation.