The much-awaited state-of-the-nation’s address has come and Cameroonians, likewise friends of the country, are certainly digesting President Paul Biya’s announcement that the highly-clamoured inclusive dialogue will at last hold end of this month. That sons and daughters of a united Cameroon, irrespective of their cultural and linguistic leanings, will meet to discuss how best to forge ahead a better common future is certainly raising anxiety as to its outcome.
Understandably so as events that instigated the announced dialogue (growing socio-political crisis in the North West and South West Regions) have upset the nation to its roots. And in his address to Cameroonians last evening, President Biya enumerated the losses the country has incurred in the senseless but unabated unrests that have regrettably spanned over three years. Killings, kidnappings for ransom, desecration of State emblems and symbols, destruction of public and private property, the least of which is not depriving innocent children of their inalienable right to education, are some of the deep wounds of the disorder.
But true to itself, the government of Cameroon has remained firm on the Head of State’s preference of pacific solutions to Cameroon’s problems by Cameroonians. Reason why the Head State underlined in his address to the nation that faithful to his option, he instructed government from the onset of the crisis in 2016 to engage in meaningful dialogue with Englishspeaking teacher’s trade union and Common Law Lawyers so as to seek lasting solutions to the grievances legitimately tabled by the aggrieved. President Biya first ordered the setting up of two inter-ministerial ad hoc committees: One to look into Teachers’ concerns and the other into that of Common Law Lawyers. The Prime Minister created the inter-ministerial committees immediately (November 29, 2016) which worked and tabled reports.
Like the Head of State indicated in his speech, the creation of specialised faculties in certain State universities and other higher institutions of learning notably a Common Law Section in the School of Administration and Magistracy and the special admission of exclusively English- speaking Pupil Magistrates and Court Registrars therein lend credence to his resolve to seek placatory solutions to the problems. The creation on January 23, 2017 of a National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism as well as National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Committee for ex-fighters of Boko Haram and armed groups in the North West and South West Regions on November 30, 2018 also feature on the list of proposed solutions to the surging problems.
The list is still long! Even his decision on August 30, 2017 to order the discontinuance of proceedings pending before the Yaounde Military Tribunal against alleged perpetrators of acts of violence in the North West and South West Regions and later that of church leaders and on December 13, 2018, Paul Biya, still ordering the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military Tribunals against 289 detainees arrested for misdemeanours, in connection with the crisis in the North- West and South-West Regions, are equally illustrative of government’s choice to calm tempers for all to jointly contribute in building a better Cameroon.
President Paul Biya’s September 10, 2019 state-of-the-nation’s address is thus a logical follow up of what he has said and done ever since the strike begun by teachers and lawyers of English expression got hijacked. Perceptibly, ever since the crisis began, the Head of State has severally cited constructive dialogue as the way out. In effect, Mr Biya has in successive speeches made it abundantly clear that it is not forbidden to voice any concerns in the Republic but that nothing great can be achieved by using excesses in defiance of living rules.