It is generally agreed that war is easier to start than to end. Even worse, when people insist on fighting, the destruction at the end is always too gruesome for any lucid mind to bear. Three years of conflict in the North West and South West Regions have already left visible signs of despair and disillusionment. The maiden working visit of Prime Minister, Chief Joseph Dion Ngute to the North West from 9-12 May and to the South West Regions from 14-17 May 2019, carries seeds for hope.
The numerous audiences he granted to the key actors like traditional rulers, local administrative authorities, journalists, petty traders and memorable encounters in markets in Bamenda, Kumba, and Limbe speak volumes. In addition, the down-to-earth approach adopted by the Prime Minister Dion Ngute by not only speaking in Pidgin, but threatening to go on his knees in exchange for peace, visibly won many hearts and created room for hope.
Above all, the message he took along that the Head of State remains open for dialogue on every topic except breaking up the country, equally came to add to several other measures already taken by President Paul Biya to respond to concerns raised by teachers and Common Lay trade unionists in the two regions.
News that over 20 armed separatists had willingly decided to drop guns in Kumba and the effective transformation that the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Committee headed by former Governor Fai Yengo Francis has been recording on the ground could serve as lessons to many.
For the past three years, the level of mistrust and doubt created by the tension in both localities made some people so dejected that nothing else appeared feasible. The protracted nature of the problems during the past years has simply demonstrated that the art of nation-building has never been a day’s job. From the onset of the disenchantment in the North West and South West regions, the Head of State proffered solutions. And each time situations turned soar, he came up with other measures as the occasions required.
Across the country, a common sense of empathy and desire for cohesion has continued to grow, making way for openings that could bring back the situation to normalcy. Counting the cost of what has so far taken place in the two regions is already difficult because of the enormous damage done. The spotlight being projected on the country as a result is not needed either and there is every reason for the situation to be brought to an end.
Fortunately, the general consensus for dialogue rekindled by the visit of the Prime Minister and the genuine desire for peace that has been expressed are factors on which Cameroon must build to ensure a better future, especially in the North West and South West regions.
Tempers may flare up at any given moment in the history of a nation, but the essential thing will be that people accept the wisdom in dialoguing. Of course, this can only be possible if citizens have the sense of patriotism, frank talk and couraged to face challenges and identify issues that unite rather than divide them. The combination of both grassroots and elitist approaches that Prime Minister Dion Ngute has taken in tackling the crisis should be able to resonate across the board for reason to take centre stage so that peace can reign again.
Any pretentious attitude that borders on ignoring the level of pain being inflicted on the population by the ongoing tension in the North West and South West Regions can only give way to further dejection. All Cameroonians have the opportunity to accept the olive branch the Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, offered in the restive regions on behalf of the Head of State. And the time is now.