A Year Dominated By Political Events
The year 2016 was not an electoral one, but curiously remained trapped in political concerns in Cameroon with passionate debates over the next presidential elections.
Supporters of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM organized public rallies to urge their National President, Paul Biya to stand as candidate in the next presidential polls. As the discussions witnessed a lull, other intermittent political events occurred in the last quarter of the year like the sit-in strikes by Common Law lawyers and the Cameroon Anglophone Teachers Trade Unions. This turned viral with irate individuals attempting to hijack the complaints by calling for a total review of the form of the State.
Neither the political agenda warranted the election of a new President nor did the Common Law Lawyers and Teachers Trade Unions bargain for political excesses in the demands they expressed, especially with the loss in human life and property. While the CPDM calls rolled on, the Head of State instead had an eye on how best to take forward his economic agenda for Cameroon.
The Yaounde International Conference from17-19 May on the theme; “Investing In Cameroon: Land of Attractiveness”, brought in economic gurus like Nigeria’s Tony Elumelu of the United Bank for Africa, Paul Fokam, President, Afriland First Bank Group , and Un-Chan Chung, Prime Minister, of South Korea (2009-2010), amongst others.
He also made two quick visits to the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 3rd to 4th May for a bilateral meeting with his counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari, followed on 14th May by another trip to Abuja to attend the 2nd Regional Summit on Security in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries. Of course, Boko Haram extremist threats, which Cameroon defence forces have valiantly fought back, occupied centre stage at the Abuja discussions.
Disturbing repercussions of the terrorist attacks in the Far North Region of Cameroon and the other spill over, like refugee crisis and internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as the problems of immigration drew attention at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York. As one of the world leaders at the summit, the Head of State came out strong to present the graphic picture of the burden Cameroon faces from refugee influx. High-profile UN officials, including the incoming Secretary-General, António Guterres, have been to Cameroon of late either to show compassion or offer support to Cameroon, given the over 300,000 refugees in the country.
Such central position occupied by Cameroon on the international scene became evident by the close of the year as the country hosted an extra-ordinary summit of Heads of State of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC in Yaounde. Besides public discussions, talk of the need to restructure the economies of the sub-region remained rife even after the CEMAC Summit.
Such an economic environment imposes on countries of the sub-region the need to join the global trends which offer the youth opportunities to tap from their talents and ensure viable economic growth. Cameroon has already been eying the digital economy as an alternative sector to trigger growth and progress in the country. Thus, young inventors like Arthur Zang, Alain Ntep, etc. have been in the limelight throughout the year for their high-tech innovations.
Sad moments like the Avian Influenza that almost destroyed a hitherto vibrant poultry sector in the country still lingers on but, robust efforts by government and foreign partners have helped to attenuate the impact of the flu. Perhaps, the most shocking incident that Cameroonians had to tackle in 2016 was the 21 October Eseka train accident that took away over 70 lives with untold material damages.
However, the resilient posture by Cameroonians enabled the nation to successfully organize the National Festival for Arts and Culture, known by its French acronym, FENAC, with some 130 artists awarded medals of recognition by the Head of State. In another note of gaiety, the Africa Women Football Cup of Nations hosted by Cameroon from 19 November to 3 December turned out to be a huge success. Although the girls of Team Coach, Carl Enow Ngachu lost the trophy to the Supper Falcons of Nigeria, they won the hearts of the entire nation.
Thus, the reception offered to them at the Unity Palace on 8 December by the Presidential Couple. This publication delves into the issues raised and goes on to include analyses on the salient events of 2016.