President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: Knowing the Man, the Leader, and the President
14, April 2020
Julius AyukTabe was born in Ewelle village to a mother from Kembong and a father from Ewelle on the 2 May 1965. Both villages are in the Eyumojock Local Government Area, Manyu County in Southern Cameroons. He started primary education in his village and later at the border village of Ekok. He was the only pupil to pass his Common Entrance examination in List A in 1978 which led to his admission to the prestigious Government High School Mamfe where he spent seven years and obtained his GCE Ordinary and Advanced Level certificates. He was appointed Senior Prefect of GHS Mamfe- an institution with more than 1,700 students in the 1984/1985 academic year. The adage ‘the child is the father of the man’ was used to describe him whilst in primary and secondary school as his leadership skills were noticeable.
SCHOLARSHIP TO STUDY IN GREAT BRITAIN
As the Senior Prefect, he was expelled from GHS Mamfe on the 25th of January 1985-a decision that compelled him to prepare for his GCE A-Level from home. After passing his GCE A-Level examination with exceptional grades in 1985, he was one of two students in GHS Mamfe to be offered a scholarship on academic performance. He studied Computer Science and Mathematics at Keele University in the United Kingdom. He graduated with honours in 1988 and proceeded to the University of Sheffield where he took a Master’s degree in Control Engineering in 12 months. His lecturers and the administrative staff at the University of Sheffield were impressed with his IQ & performance and recommended that he enroll for a PhD program immediately.
After writing his PhD proposal, British Aerospace offered to fund part of his PhD program on Flight Control after he worked on his project for them for six months, on “Fault tolerance of flight control”. Whilst waiting for the Cameroon government to confirm its commitment to fund part of the program, he was invited by the then Board Chairman of Cameroon airlines, Minister Augustin Frédéric Kodock, whose board was impressed with his PhD proposal and his determination to undertake research in a subject that will benefit Cameroon Airlines. Shortly after returning to London to start his PhD program, he found that the government of Cameroun had discontinued its PhD scholarship in engineering courses.
Undeterred by this minor disappointment, Julius Ayuk Tabe returned to Cameroun in 1990 and was among the pioneer badge of PhD students at the Yaoundé Polytechnic in 1991. His authoritative and attractive academic achievements in the United Kingdom meant that he didn’t have to take long to enter the job market.
He was employed as a Systems Analyst and a software developer at the National Electricity Corporation (SONEL) at its Douala office in 1991. While in his forte, he joined a team that designed a major part of the customer billing application which was deployed throughout Cameroon. He said “when I joined SONEL, the cashier systems were almost completely manual. Computers were only used in cashier operations in Douala, Yaoundé, Garoua and Victoria. In my first years at the corporation, a team of young engineers and I developed computer applications throughout the nation.”
As the years passed at SONEL, he moved from application developer to the customer service and distribution arm of the business. He moved to Yaoundé where he was the head of the Sales and Marketing Division. He was later promoted to Delegate of the Adamawa province and transferred to Ngaoundere.
THE GCE BOARD CONNECTION
It was during his time at SONEL Douala that Julius Ayuk Tabe performed one of the most under-reported charitable duties ever undertaken by a Southern Cameroonian. It’s worth recalling that the creation of the GCE Board by the French Cameroun government in 1993 was part of this familiar battle of oppression. The people of Southern Cameroons demonstrated for days in front of the Ministry of Education in Yaoundé before the institution was reluctantly created by Dr Mbella Mbappe’s ministerial decree and the French Cameroun regime. It was thus understood that there would be no adequate allocated finances and material resources to the GCE Board. For the GCE Board to succeed, Mr Ayuk Tabe volunteered his services.
Without a laptop or personal computer, but propelled by a genuine affection for computer software design and goodwill, he single-handedly produced a twenty page document and proceeded to design and develop the computer software that automated the processes of the GCE Examination, from registration to the production of results. Phenomenal! Working tirelessly with Mr Matthew Akoko and Mr Azong Wara, the Pioneer Deputy Registrar and Pioneer Registrar of GCE Board respectively, he accomplished this astounding task of delivering the revolutionary software on time at no business cost to the newly created organization.
Impressed by Mr. Ayuk Tabe’s contribution to the advancement of the GCE Board, Mr Andrew Azong Wara, the institution’s head, said that “when the story of the GCE Board is written, it won’t be complete without mention of Ayuk Tabe after the work he did in writing all the computer programmes that helped us kick-start our project”. It’s worth mentioning that at a seminar in Cambridge, UK, computer programmes used to facilitate the GCE, GCSE exams were marketed to the fine of £80,000. The Cameroon GCE Board declined the package as Julius Ayuk Tabe had delivered software of equal effectiveness. A team of IT engineers were sent from the UK to appreciate the software he had developed and needless to say they were impressed.
HEAD-HUNTERS AND CISCO SYSTEMS
With his talents, global head-hunters were never far away. It is said that when you start, you look for work, as you approach virtuoso, work looks for you. In 2006, an opportunity came that matched his talents and ambition. This was the top job at Cisco Systems which obliged him to move to Lagos-Nigeria. At his new job, he led the Cisco Networking Academy as its manager for West and Central Africa. Julius Ayuk Tabe said “leading the programme in 23 countries in the African sub-region was one of the richest professional experiences of my life”.
The highly innovative Julius Ayuk Tabe worked for CISCO Systems for five years (2006-2011), during which he developed programmes for hundreds of institutions and helped to give valuable, employable and certifiable skills to thousands of youths. This brought a lot of joy to him and he could not hide this feeling when he said “my joy today comes when I go into an event and meet people who come to me with pride to say that my advice and mentor-ship led them to CISCO and a new rewarding career. In fact, some of these young boys and girls are already becoming the leading network experts in the companies for which they work. One who studied and got his certification from the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana became a pioneer network staff at the Liberian Presidency working for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.”
RETURN TO THE FORTRESS OF LEARNING
In his mind, Julius Ayuk Tabe knew that as a distinguished scholar, the most suitable environment to share his knowledge was in academia. His next move was to accept an offer from Dr Margee Ensign, the then President of the American University of Nigeria to work as the pioneer Chief Information Officer for Africa’s Premier Development University in Yola in 2011. Under his watch, his office was charged with the design, deployment, and maintenance of the University’s computer network application systems and training in information and communication technology among other roles. As a member of the University’s senior management, he helped the drive to 24/7 internet usage and a complete wireless campus to improve the use of e-resources which make up 99.9% of its study material.
His leadership skills meant that he rose quickly to the position of Assistant Vice President and Chief Information officer in a role that meant he led four departments; Information Technology, Auxiliary Services, Information Systems, and the University Library. His office of support team was made up of Americans, Spaniards, South Africans and Nigerians, with himself representing the Southern Cameroons. He remarked that they were a joy to work with and a sense of personal fulfillment to lead such a talented team of people.
FATHER FIGURE TO ALL
Many French Camerounians& Southern Cameroonians study at the American University of Nigeria. The search for father-figure by freshmen in a University far from home is not uncommon. That is a role he excelled in. His residence in Yola remained open to students and visitors from home, with his house described by some of the students as a refectory. Whenever there was an event to be hosted in Yola, Mr Ayuk Tabe’s house was the sublime location and entertainment centre.
THE FAMILY MAN AND PHILANTHROPIST
Returning from the United Kingdom in 1990, most people would shop for their families but he didn’t do that. Having lost a friend back home, while he was studying in the UK, upon his return, Julius bought memorabilia and a trophy to organise a football tournament for the late Arreymbo. Arreymbo’smemorial trophy was played in Ewelle in the summer holidays of 1991 with CFAF 1,000,000 as prize money.
In 1999 when John Ngu Foncha, a Southern Cameroonian of colossal standing died, Mr Julius AyukTabe in his capacity as President of Anglophones in SONEL Douala lobbied for a company bus to take Southern Cameroonians working in SONEL Douala to attend the great man’s funeral in Bamenda
In 2007, Mr Julius Ayuk Tabe and his wife set up the ATAB (Ayuk-Tabe-Agbor-Bakia) Foundation which was to empower and support people in entrepreneurship, health and education. They recruited two graduates from the University of Buea and trained them in Nigeria for months through NGOs in Port Harcourt, Enugu and Lagos. Upon completion of their courses, their employees went to villages in Eyumojock LGA to train people on self-reliant initiatives and disease prevention. The ATAB Foundation gave scholarships to schools, provided books and uniforms to pupil and students. Potable water and filter bottles were also provided. During holidays, football tournaments were organised and sponsored by the foundation.
In 2012, while the Chief Information Officer of the American University of Nigeria, Mr Ayuk Tabe and Dr Mathias Fonkam enrolled ten Southern Cameroonians and assisted them in achieving full scholarships to study at the American University of Nigeria for four years at the annual cost of US$20,000. As a befitting testimony, one of these students who graduated in 2016 visited him in January 2020 at theKondengui Main Prison to inform him that he had been offered a job in Germany.
In 2017, Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe paid tickets for refugees who traveled to the USA from Nigeria. For most of 2017, records and personal testimonies corroborate that he spent an average of US$2000 monthly for the Ambazonian struggle, supporting our displaced people. Whilst detained incommunicado at SED Yaoundé, for the first thirteen months, a sum of $100 a month was still deducted from his bank account as his contribution to the Ambazonia struggle.
On the 29th of September 2017, French Cameroun military attacked Sisiku Ayuk Tabe’s plantations and farms in Eyumojock LGA, destroying over 60 hectares of farm land, fish farm and livestock. All twenty-eight workers were chased away and the farms and plantations have grown wild ever since. After this attack, his farms and fellow villages suffered considerable damage to person and property. He instructed a team to evaluate and ascertain the cost of the damage. When the cost of CFAF 3,800,000 was reported, he sent CFAF 1,900,000 as 50% support to the affected people.
Mr Julius AyukTabe is happily married to Mrs Lilian Agbor Bakia with whom he has made all these professional moves from Douala through Yaoundé to Ngoundere, Lagos and Yola. Their loving union has lasted since 1992. They are blessed with four wonderful children all of whom are University Graduates.
THE CORONATION: MANYU ROYALTY
In 2015, following his distinguished academic and professional achievements as well as his philanthropic work, his family, village and the custodians of Manyu culture invited him and bestowed upon him the utmost title and responsibility awarded to a son of their County – the title of Sisiku. This enormous responsibility and veneration is only bestowed upon the honourable and visionaries.
AMBAZONIA CALL OF DUTY
Sisiku Ayuk Tabe was elected the Chairman of the Ambazonia Governing Council during the third conclave which ended in Nigeria on 10 July 2017. Due to his leadership skills and commitment to the Southern Cameroons cause, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe was subsequently elected as the President of the Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia. Following his “Takumbeng call”, on 22 September 2017, there were worldwide and widespread demonstrations in Southern Cameroons led by women, with peace plants and patriotic chants for the release of their people detained due to the crisis and the freedom of Southern Cameroons. These peaceful demonstrations were met with ferocious brutality by the French Cameroon military. On that day, Sisiku and many leaders of the struggle accompanied the “Takumbengs” in a mammoth demonstration in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
AMBAZONIA INDEPENDENCE DECLARATION
On the 1 October 2017, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe led the people of Southern Cameroons to reclaim their freedom by declaring independence and naming the country Federal Republic of Ambazonia. His position as Chairman of the Governing Council and eventually as President of the Interim Government of Ambazonia took him to many parts of the world. His tours drew attention to the plight of the suffering masses of Southern Cameroonians. His charisma triggered a sense of identity among Southern Cameroonians who saw a dedicated and selfless leader.
President Ayuk Tabe was abducted from Abuja, Nigeria, with eleven members of his leadership team on Friday 5 January 2018 from a hotel (Nera) recreational park. Ten of them were eventually extradited to French Cameroon in total disregard of international law.. They were kept incommunicado for eleven months and eventually in a kangaroo court session lasting over 20 hours, they were tried and sentenced and are now serving life sentences. Though abducted for restoring the independence of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, he has remained unfazed and committed to the total independence of Southern Cameroons. Despite being held incommunicado for close to a year, both in Nigeria and in French Cameroon, the leaders emerged strong against all seemingly insurmountable obstacles and odds.
President AyukTabe has evinced an irrevocable determination to defend the goals of the Southern Cameroons revolution. He has demonstrated to the people of Southern Cameroons and the international community that he understands the universal tenets of peace, justice and freedom.
President AyukTabe, for your resolve and personal sacrifice in defence of the people of Southern Cameroons, you deserve our respect, prayers and profiling.
Written and narrated for CAMCORDNEWS by Asu Isong