It is no news any longer to Cameroonians and keen observers of the country that this once haven of peace has for some years now been grappling with security challenges. Threats posed by the bestial Boko Haram sect in the Far North, kidnappings and ransom-taking in the Adamawa, tensions with refugees in the East owing to socio-political instability in the neighbouring country and the disturbing secessionist upheavals in the North West and South West Regions are some of the eye-catching security challenges that have left no sincere Cameroonian indifferent.
In fact, they have given and continually cause sleepless nights. In the midst of these, the Head of State believes synergy is absolutely needed to surmount the challenge. President Paul Biya, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, has been relentless in calling for army/population symbiosis to stand the tests of time. Addressing some 174 young Cadet Officers, products of the 36th Batch of Yaounde Combined Arms Services Military Academy, EMIA, on Friday January 18, 2019, the Head of State once again re-echoed the need for togetherness in handling the teething security trials.
While urging the fresh men and women to remain true to the values that are the bedrock of the nation and that guide the action of the country’s Army, he said, “Together with your comrades, you will henceforth be the shield of your country. But, never forget that you are also expected to be the shield of our people. Strive to earn their respect and love through your courage, rectitude, self-denial, solicitude and professionalism.
Such values are as important as combat science.” Thoughtprovoking exaltations that have to be well assimilated and upheld! Logically so as the effects of the security threats that have enveloped the country spare no one. Innocent citizens and the military in whom the State has invested much have lost precious lives and socio-economic activities have been crippled in the insecurity-ridden localities.
If the population of the Far North Region are recovering from the trauma of insecurity imposed on them by Boko Haram, their fellow countrymen in the North West and South West Regions are yet to be delivered. And the people are really at crossroads! The role of the army, as President Biya reminded, is to secure the people and their property. Living up to the billing amidst threats from the enemy whose objective is to cause mayhem is understandably puzzling. Succeeding in this challenging mission among others requires conviviality with those to be protected.
Like a school of thought holds, working for someone without the person might easily be read as working against the person. Reason why the Head of State prayed the army to “earn the respect of the population.” The respect, no doubt, needs to be hard-earned considering the adversity and temptations that come with handling lawlessness, especially when perpetrators co-habit with the population. Army/population symbiosis is therefore indispensable.
The context at hand even makes it imperative; to say the least, non-negotiable! Anything short of the much-cherished synergy only strengthens the enemy. Embracing professionalism and love for country will bring defence forces to skip traps that can present them as enemies to the population. Giving their activities a human face would also draw the population closer to them, make the fight against insecurity a national and common cause and facilitate the unmasking of trouble-shooters.
If Boko Haram has cowardly reduced its destructive activities to sporadic suicide bombings, it is thanks to inspirational army/population togetherness. Through vigilante groups, the population is able to identify and shame the enemy. If fact, diverse carnages have been pre-empted. Inspirational approach that can be adapted elsewhere where insecurity still thrives. The army and population must therefore stand up together, like one man, for a more united and developed Cameroon wherein all citizens find a sense of belonging.