The 325 Cameroonian soldiers from the second contingent that returned from the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) are all smiles.
Their joy can be interpreted from several levels. The first is that they went on a risky assignment as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) that has ended successfully. Some of their colleagues fell along the way, leaving aggrieved families and friends to mourn them.
Secondly, returning to the bosom of their families after fighting hard to restore peace and stability in the C.A.R. gives them reason to be happy. The third justification for their satisfaction is that they are being paid their rightful dues as promised by the Head of State.
The unfortunate incident last year when some soldiers organised a sit-in action to draw public attention to their unpaid allowances must now be a thing of the past, given that even those who just returned are being paid the same rate like their mates who are going to replace them. Following instructions from President Paul Biya who is also the Commander-in-chief of the Defence Forces, all the soldiers from Cameroon participating in the MINUSCA mission should not only be given their dues, but the amount augmented.
Such a measure of appeasement by the Commander-in-chief of the Defence Forces was in contrast with wishes from birds of ill-omen who were already calling for repressive measures as if to settle scores with those who dared to raise their voices for a just cause. Certainly, with the defence forces, there are more convenient avenues to express discontent. Yet, the fact remains that no two wrongs can make a right. Errors committed by disgruntled individuals must not always be corrected through punitive means.
Of course, when the Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Defence, Jospeh Beti Assomo announced on several occasions that the Head of State had asked for an increase in the emoluments to the soldiers, some people kept wondering how far the measure would go. There are even those who cast doubts on the decision. But to match words with action, the Minister was present at the, Ekounou, Yaounde Military Garrison on Wednesday 24 August 2016 when the MINUSCA contingent returned.
His reassuring presence must have come as some tonic to the soldiers, given that he brought the good news of the total payment of their allowances and the measure has since then been effective. By respecting such promises, the Head of State wants the soldiers to remain exemplary as they have always been. This is evidently another way of encouraging them for honourably defending the national colours while in the Central African Republic. Since similar challenges exist back home, the soldiers will maintain the same conduct wherever they are called to serve.
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