President Paul Biya started the state-ofthe-nation address on Monday 31 December, 2018 by going straight to the point. As if to underline the crucial nature of the issues at stake and the critical moment in the history of Cameroon, the Head of State immediately pointed to the new “seven-year term that has just begun” saying it “could even be one of the most defining moments of our post-independence history.” Many people could want to perceive the idea of a defining moment in the life of the nation in several ways, looking at current social tension, security threats, discussions on economic transformation and so on.
Those who have been following up President Paul Biya from Maroua when he set the tone for his presidential campaign for the 7 October, 2018 poll and his oath-taking ceremony on 6 November last year, remember him referring to the next seven years as a decisive period for the country. Mr Biya equally recalled the trajectory that the country has been taken in the past decades, moving from “Greater Ambitions” to “Major Accomplishments” and presently “Major Opportunities.”
All these have accrued from efforts by Cameroonians under his leadership in the past years. The measures put in place to enable Cameroon attain the status of an emergent economy have been tailored within the various slogans he conceived as basis for his political vision, but many do not seem to understand or still stray away from the path the President defined. Even those who publicly claim to work for the President have often not demonstrated the sense of awareness concerning the objectives of his management style.
Yet, they know fully well that whatever target the Head of State defines for the country can only succeed with the total support of the masses. While staying focused on his goals and aspirations, President Paul Biya in his New Year speech for 2019 found the need to pull along those who continue to drag their feet about joining the train for a middle income economy in Cameroon. Thus the Head of State thought it important to do a reorientation and ensure that all his followers are on the same wave-length.
This must have explained why he came back to the meaning of economic emergence for Cameroon. “It is perhaps not futile to clarify what we mean by emergence. Generally, the term refers to an improvement in a situation. As commonly understood, it means the transition from an underdeveloped to a developed country. This is our meaning of the term and that is why I instructed that it should be considered as a “national cause,” President Paul Biya insisted. In spite of difficulties that have over the years prevented the attainment of various targets by the Head of State for Cameroon, Mr Biya has remained steadfast and the New Year message this time has not been different.
By harping on deteriorating terms of trade in the 1980s, global economic and financial crisis, falling oil and commodity prices, and security challenges that have hampered growth patterns in the country, the Head of State used such yardsticks to highlight how resilient the economy has been since independence. Looking at the past hurdles and the efforts to take the country forward, it becames obvious why Mr Biya remains sanguine that placing this mandate under “Major Opportunities” is suggestive of positive trends for the country. It is therefore clear why the Head of State centred the New Year’s message on why Cameroonians should keep hopes and aspirations alive in 2019. Richard