Issues At Stake
When The Reconstruction Cart Is Put Before The Ceasefire Horse
By Yerima Kini Nsom
Newspapers have been awash with encomiums on the Prime Minister, Chief Dr. Joseph Ngute, for -appointing two competent officials to pilot the Northwest-Southwest Reconstruction Project. From every indication, nobody has cast aspersion on the competence of Minister Paul Tasong and Mayor Donatus Njong. The issue here is pegged around how these two gentlemen will carry out reconstruction in the war-torn regions wherein the rumble of artillery gunfire is the only language that the belligerents understand.
The reconstruction project is a laudable initiative. Yet it is a real enigma as to how it will be implemented without a ceasefire. Conventionally speaking, such a project is usually initiated after a ceasefire. Right, now destruction is still going on. Can reconstruction be common bedfellows with destruction? Without embracing pessimism, it is difficult to imagine how government intends to reconstruct the over 400 villages that have been burnt down in the two regions when bullets are still flying, when people are still being kidnapped and when armoured cars are still destroyed. Even if we succeed to reconstruct, for instance, some of the public buildings that were destroyed, is there any guarantee that such structures will not be destroyed a second time.
Let us apply simple logic here. Somebody who is travelling from Bafang to Doula, must think first about crossing the Nkam River Bridge that separates Nkemkem from Melong before he ever thinks about crossing over the Bonaberi Bridge. Is it our penchant to stand reason on its head all that time that makes us to be averse to every rule of chronology and priority? It is sad because nobody is talking about a ceasefire anymore. Even the media have tilted their attention towards the coverage of the covid-19 pandemic. Thus, the extrajudicial killings are going on with little media attention. This means that some of those gruesome human rights abuses and violations, including the killing of unarmed civilians and the burning down of houses in the two regions are pathetically under reported.
The men in uniform who are reportedly responsible for such medieval cruelty have continued to enjoy impunity. The commission that was reportedly set up to investigate the massacre of civilians, including pregnant women and babies in Ngarbuh, has remained silent. Such silence lends credibility to claims by my colleague, Bouddih Adams, that the best way to burry any issue in Cameroon that needs public accountability is to create a commission of enquiry to investigate it. The commission has remained comatose just like the one that was hunched with the responsibility of beaming its searchlight on the killing of a baby in Muyuka last year. Many members of the Endeley commission have finally joined their ancestors without telling us the truth behind the killing of students at the Yaounde University, including one Djingoer Collins.
The structures the reconstruction project is set to rehabilitate is for people. So let us seek ways of stopping the killing of these people whom we claim to be reconstructing for. If we allow the situation to continue, they will be no people to use the structures after their eventual reconstruction. What Cardinal Tumi condemns as the indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians by people in military uniform, has not stopped. The separatist fighters instantly kills any civilian who is suspected to be having any dealings with soldiers. Once the soldiers have any challenges with the separatist fighters, they vent their anger by mauling down some civilians in the area. The incident in which men in military attire gunned down ten civilians in Mamfe last week, is not an isolated scene. The only crime of those young people who have been dispatched to early graves, is that they happened to be by the roadside in a small market when the truckload of men in uniform was passing. The scene in which separatist fighters overturned an amoured car, killing all its occupants who were mostly councilors of the Oku council is still fresh in our minds. The separatist fighters block roads every day and kidnap people for ransom. Can we reconstruct in such a situation? It is unfortunate that the authorities have only paid lip service to a peaceful solution to crisis. If this is not the case, someone should explain to us why the recommendations of the Major National Dialogue have not been implemented many months after the forum took place in Yaounde.
This is an indication that hypocrisy took centre stage during the forum. The centrality of the issue here is that the regime pretends to be struggling to solve the Anglophone problem with the same mindset that created it. Instead of addressing the grievances of the Anglophones as it were, word benders of the establishment have continued to take refuge in prevarications. Let truth be told! We should prioritize the initiation of a true dialogue to end the crisis so that we can conveniently reconstruct the two regions in peace and tranquility. Otherwise, the much talked about reconstruction will turn out just to be another way of playing to the gallery. After saddling Tasong and Njong with such an important assignment, we should do everything possible to provide them with an enabling environment to deliver the goods. Otherwise, the appointment will only turn out to be the jinx that will consign the duo to the wrong side of history, after they would failed woefully.
I raise my case.