By Mua Patrick, March 15, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaoundé – In what is being interpreted by observers as an appeasement to placate Anglophones amidst the ongoing social tension in the South West and North West Regions, President Biya yesterday appointed former Prime Minister, Peter Mafany Musonge, 74, as pioneer Chairman of his newly created National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism.
At the start of the week, media reports went viral that the appointment of Anglophones by the Head of State into certain strategic positions was imminent as the Anglophone crisis persists in the two English-speaking Regions.
Besides appointing Musonge who served as Prime Minister of Cameroon from 1996 – 2004, Biya also picked five other Anglophones as members of the 15- man commission.
Amongst the Anglophones appointed are: Ama Tutu Muna, former Arts and Culture Minister, legal luminary, Halle Nicodemus Ndessi (Ntumfor Nico Halle), who is president of the Bar General Assembly, Itoe Mutanga Benjamin, former Justice Minister, Mbafor Jean-Marc Afessi, president of the Cameroon National Youth Council and Ngwane George Essambe, founder and CEO of AFRICAphonie, a Buea-based international Non-governmental organisation.
In the meantime, other members of the Commission include: Oumarou Djika Saïdou (Vice Chairman), Nguoin née Ndanga Françoise, Djenabou Bakary, Mbappè née Tiki, Ngonde Ndjo’o Agnès, Abbé Jean-Marie Bodo, Abouem à Tchoyi David, Ahmadou Mohamadou Baba, Efoua Mbozo’o Samuel and Ngambo Fonjo Pierre Vincent.
About the Commission
The Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism was created by Biya on January 23, 2017.
The lengthy presidential decree creating the Commission that was first read during a bilingual newscast at 5pm on state radio also elaborately spelled out the organisation and functioning of the commission.
Pundits say the president’s move comes in fulfilment of section 3 of the constitution which partially states that “…the state shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country.” The first sentence of the same section says “the official languages of the republic of Cameroon shall be English and French, both having the same status.”
The Commission which shall be consultative in nature is placed under the authority of the President and its headquarters shall be Yaounde.
It shall have moral and financial autonomy and is charged with healing the wounds of division created by the disproportionate use of the two official languages of the country in most state business, observers have said.
“Under the authority of the president of the republic, the commission is charged with the responsibility to promote bilingualism with the attendant goal of maintaining peace, consolidating the national unity of the country and reinforcing the will of living together by the populations”, paragraph 3 (1) of the decree creating it stipulates.
The commission shall be expected to regularly submit reports and reasoned opinions to the president and to government on issues relating to the protection and promotion of the values of bilingualism and multiculturalism.
It shall also ensure the respect of constitutional provisions that make English and French the two official languages of the country with both having the same status.
According to the decree creating the commission, the members must be individuals reputed for their “competence, moral integrity, intellectual honesty and a strong sense of patriotism”. The members of the commission shall have a five-year mandate renewable.
According to article 14 of the decree creating the commission, members shall meet at least once every three months at the instance of its president but it may not hold any deliberations except 2/3 of its members are in attendance.
Commission members shall also be given a monthly allowance and other benefits which shall be fixed by a decree of the President.