By Mbom Sixtus, January 5, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaoundé – Teachers and lawyers in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon have called on students, taxi drivers, commercial bike riders, and businessmen in Anglophone regions of the country to observe a ghost town on Monday January 9, by staying at home. This, they say, is in protest against machinations of state officials trying to get schools to reopen without solving problems raised by striking teachers, lawyers and citizens in the two English-speaking regions.
The call is contained in a January 4 release by the Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, popularly known as The Consortium-a body, created in the wake of over three months of protests, to negotiate with government on behalf of West Cameroonians otherwise referred to as Southern Cameroonians or Anglophones.
The Consortium’s release points out that “ever since lawyers and teachers of West Cameroon raised critical issues relating to their existence government has not taken any concrete steps to solve them. Rather, they (government officials) have been moving around trying to undermine the people’s aspirations and to get schools to start without solving the problems our children will face in future.”
The release, however, does not point out the antics of the Biya regime. But analyst link it to recent pranks which include issuing invitations to opinion leaders to meetings organised by Divisional Officers in Anglophone regions to discuss reopening of schools on Monday January 9.
The Consortium’s release was made public after the publication in the National Bilingual daily, Cameroon Tribune on January 4, of a letter signed by Atanga Nji Paul, Minister in Charge of Special Duties at the Presidency, and other stalwarts of the Biya regime, on behalf of North West and South Elite, Senators and MPs.
In the letter, a larger part of which was a paraphrasing of President Biya’s December 31, 2016 message to the nation, Atanga Nji and other CPDM lackeys plead for schools to reopen in the North West and South West regions. They also plead with all teachers, teacher’s syndicates, school proprietors, parents, the civil society, politicians, traders, students, economic operators to ensure that schools effectively resume to save the school year and secure children’s future.
It is apparently partly in reaction to the call from Atanga Nji and his peers, that The Consortium issued the call for a ghost town. Barrister Felix Agbor Kongho, Tassang Wilfred and Fontem Neba, who signed the release on behalf
of The Consortium urged; “No one should betray the cause. Oppression, marginalisation, deprivation must end…we can no longer be fooled. We need action. Not promises. No Street marches, no demonstrations, no confrontation with the police.”
Government Bows, Fulfils One Condition
A few hours after the call for a ghost town went viral on social media, a statement from Paul Ghogomu, head of the ad hoc inter-ministerial committee in charge of finding solutions to the teachers’ strike, was read over national TV. It fulfilled one of the prerequisites the teachers outlined for dialogue to commence-inclusion of representatives from the South West region in the committee. Prominent on the list of additional names, is George Ngwane, peace activist, educationist and political analyst.
Another precondition is the unconditional release of youths languishing in prisons in Yaoundé. They were arrested for allegedly taking part in the December protests in Bamenda and Kumba. Human Rights Cameroon NGO says most of them are volunteers who were arrested while donating blood at the Bamenda regional hospital.
Worth noting is the fact that the Consortium, has categorically stated that the only solution to the on-going crisis is the return to federalism. But President Biya and PM Yang have stated vehemently that negotiations for the modification of the form of the state of Cameroon will not be entertained.