President Paul Biya yesterday 16 January, 2019 chaired the first Council of Ministers’ Meeting after the cabinet reshuffle of 4 January, 2019 that ushered in the Dion Ngute era, as Prime Minister, Head of Government. The meeting yesterday was expected, not just as a simple respect for tradition, but because the new government comes after the Head of State on 6 November, 2018 took the oath of office for another seven-year tenure. Christening the mandate as one of “Greater Opportunities” means he will obviously require the support of Chief Dr Dion Ngute and his cabinet to deliver.
New faces in government as well as those who have served Mr Biya over the years had the advantage yesterday to get orientations from their champion on how best to carry on with business across the country where the challenges are as varied as they are complicated. Threats of insecurity, division, corruption, poverty, and so on, have kept bedevilling the country and those appointed into government will have to take bold steps to ensure that citizens of this country should feel proud and happy to belong.
Issues like economic development, peace, problems faced by the youth such as job scarcity were understandably top on the roadmap that President Paul Biya laid out for his ministers, according to the Prime Minister’s statement to reporters after the Council of Ministers’ Meeting. To meet the set goals, the President prescribed collegiality, solidarity and hard work – all values which are sine qua non to good results.
Although it may seem obvious that cabinet Ministers should know that they need to work as a team to succeed, the reminder by President Paul Biya had its entire place. Cameroon has had some vexing issues in the past which were blamed on the lack of cohesion and coherence from Ministers. Sad memories by the country of the lost of the hosting rights for the 2019 African Cup of Nation (AFCON) are still fresh. The commitment by Mr Biya that works on the infrastructure designed to host the competition in future will continue, should ring a bell to the Cabinet Ministers who are expected to pursue the different work sites. So much of the country’s resources have been spent on building AFCON football stadiums and other related structures and it will be inconceivable that errors of the past should be repeated.
Also, with new crisis zones having developed in the North West and South West Regions and sporadic attacks by Boko Haram extremists in the Far North Region, as well as the gradual return to peace in the East Region following the influx of refugees from the Central African Republic, Cameroon still has much to tackle. It may be preposterous to think that all the hurdles can be listed here; the truth is that the current government will have little time to rest.
The Head of State has repeatedly insisted that the country is facing a turning point in its history. Be it during his presidential campaign message in Maroua on 24 September, 2018; the oath-taking ceremony for the current tenure on 6 November or the End-of-Year message to the Nation on 31 December, 2018, President Paul Biya has insisted that; “The seven-year term that has just begun should be decisive for our country. It could even be one of the most defining moments of our post-independence history.” National discourse over Cameroon as an emerging country by 2035, which the President defined as the transition from an underdeveloped to a developed country still requires reinforcement and ministers stand a better chance to get the country through that goal. Of course, in that past, there have been several efforts to galvanise frontline actors in the implementation of policies laid down by the Head of State and whenever the occasion presents itself, those involved ought to be reminded of the roadmap they must implement. That is exactly what President Paul Biya did yesterday at the Unity Palace in Yaounde.