The Battle of The Chiefs – NOWEFU, SWECC Leadership Stalemate

ChiefsBy Mua Patrick, September 1, 2016

Cameroon Journal-Yaounde – The crisis that has been rocking the North West Fons Union, NOWEFU, may come to an end this November as fresh elections to pick a new leader for the group is highly anticipated.

On Wednesday, we gathered that an extraordinary elective general assembly of the union is set to hold in November.

The Eye newspaper reported Tuesday that a new constitution for the outfit had already been drafted and is now awaiting adoption by the general assembly, citing an unnamed source.

A prominent North West traditional ruler told The Cameroon Journal by phone that the new constitution pending approval has also introduced the post of President of the general assembly. We gathered that as per the new constitution, only a former president is eligible to be elected president of the general assembly.

While it is yet unclear when exactly the elective general assembly of the crisis-stricken NOWEFU will hold in the month of November, it remains clear that Donga Mantung division would produce the next president general of the group. The post of the president of NOWEFU, it should be noted, has been rotatory amongst the seven divisions of the North West and it is now the turn of Donga Mantung.

Last year, it was highly whispered that Fon Ibrahim Japbfu Nfor, traditional ruler of Nkambe, may emerge NOWEFU president, succeeding Fon Teche Njei whose three-year mandate long expired in 2015.

Ever since the mandate of Fon Teche, who is also Senator, came to an end, NOWEFU has been mired in crisis. Two factions later emerged as some fons indicted Fon Teche for trying to modify NOWEFU’s constitution in order to stay on in office.

In June 2015, one of the NOWEFU factions led by erstwhile president, Fon Chafah XI of Bangolang dragged the sitting president, Fon Teche Njei, to a Bamenda court.

As the Bamenda court began hearing the matter, Fon Chafah, who doubles as permanent secretary of the Cameroon Traditional Rulers’ Council, had told The Guardian Post that all the North West fons wanted by then was to get the court to stop Fon Teche from going ahead with his planned move to organize an extraordinary assembly to change the union’s constitution.

Fon Chafah, who is also a fourth grade magistrate, had warned that as per the union’s constitution, only a general assembly could vote to change the present NOWEFU constitution and not an executive meeting.

The wrangling and bickering first emerged when a handful of some of the union’s executive members led by Fon Teche met at the Bambui Fon’s palace on May 29, 2015, and resolved among other things to revise NOWEFU constitution. But Fon Chafah, brandishing the union’s constitution, had argued that only a NOWEFU general assembly can vote for such a revision. The North West fons, he had noted then, were also appealing to the Mezam High Court to stop Fon Teche from masquerading as NOWEFU president.

Like NW like SW

The tussle in the South West region might be different from that of the North West Fons Union but the stalemate within the South West Chiefs Conference, SWECC, might not come to an end any time soon.

Going by the constitutional provisions of SWECC, the mandate of the current executive committee led by the paramount ruler of the Bafaws, Nfon V.E. Mukete, who is also eldest Senate member, was supposed to have ended in May 2016.

According to earlier pronouncements by the conference’s officials, the elective general assembly of the group has been billed for this month, yet Fako division which is expected to produce a candidate to succeed Nfon V.E Mukete has remained divided over the choice of Chief Njombe Njoke Johnson. Chief Njombe, third class traditional ruler of Wokaka, a small locality near Buea, is the current president of the Buea Chiefs Conference.

At a Buea meeting, some Fako chiefs had settled on Chief Njombe as candidate though the decision has since sparked controversy amongst Fako chiefs.

The current president of the Fako Chiefs Conference, Chief Mokoto Njie, who is also former mayor of Muyuka, had told newsmen in Buea that all was set for SWECC to get a new leadership. He, however, emphasized that whatever happens in the forthcoming election, the winner will be a Fako chief.

Reacting to the choice as a candidate for the race by a handful of chiefs, the Chief of Upper Muea near Buea, David Molinge is quoted as saying the choice of Chief Njombe Johnson Njoke would weaken the credibility of the Chiefs conference as he lacks the necessary pedigree to manage the association. Chief Molinge had insisted that a candidate for the race must be one who will be able to represent Fako in order to raise the reputation and credibility of the union to commendable standards.


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