Interview: “We Will Continue To Sensitise The Public On The Virtues Of Peace”
Fai Yengo Francis, National Coordinator, NDDRC.
The National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Committee has existed for five years. What has been the roadmap covered?
Yes, the NDDRC is five years old this 30th November, 2023. As you may recall, when the Head of State, President Paul Biya created this new structure some five years ago, and gave us the privilege to head it, he tasked us to organize, supervise, manage, the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-associates of Boko Haram in the Far North and armed groups in the North West and South West Regions who are willing to respond favourably to the Head of State’s peace appeal by laying down their arms and coming to the DDR Centres.
This has been a very challenging but fulfilling mission and today, I am confident and proud to say that although the crises have not ended, we are faithfully executing our duties with concrete results being recorded on the field every day. As of today, we have a total number of 3,763 repentant fighters or ex-combatants in our three centres as follow: Mora, Far North Region (2,845), Buea, South West Region (4,91) and Bamenda, North West Region (491). We experimented the re-integration of some 70 ex-combatants at the early stage of our DDR process but the results were, to say the least, a disaster.
We are the youngest DDR structure in Africa and when you compare the present state of our institution with other such structures in other countries you will be amazed to see how much ground we have covered just in five years. For instance, we have successfully constructed three ultramodern structures in each of our three regional centres that will serve as accommodation and vocational training schools for our ex-associates.
We have already trained many of the ex-fighters in areas such as agriculture, agro-pastoral farming, hard and soft ware computer skills, electricity, tailoring, driving, and several other trades that help to empower some of them economically. In fact, many of the ex-associates in our centres are enjoying what we call the reinsertion status in the DDR process. This is the stage that leads to their full integration into normal civil life in the society.
What are some of the major achievements?
An achievement that we are very proud of is the education we are offering to the children and youths of school age in all three of our centres. Some have written and passed their GCE Ordinary and Advanced Levels and some have even gained admission and some have even gained admission into public professional schools. The fact that they are harkening to the Head of State’s call by laying down their arms and coming to the centres is one of our biggest success stories.
Our cooperation with international organizations, especially agencies of the UN system and local NGOs has also been strengthened during this period. We’ve really come a long way during these last five years but there’s no gainsaying the fact that there’s still much to be done. So you can rest assured that our hands are firmly on the plough and there’ll be no rest until we attain the peace offensive that has been put in place by the Head of State, President Paul Biya. The only thing we ask now is for all Cameroonians of goodwill to join the Head of State, President Paul Biya in working for peace to return to all parts of our country.
Have studies been conducted to know the exact number of separatist fighters in the bush?
Your question is what is called “mission impossible” in a terrorist crisis situation like the one we are experiencing in Cameroon. Besides, researching, counting and documenting the number of fighters in the bush is not one of the assignments given to the NDDRC by the President of the Republic. What interests the NDDRC is effective communication and sensitization for all the countless fighters in the bush to com...
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