COMMENTARY: Deep Sited in The Failed Union Was Ahidjou’s Insincerity of Heart

Former Cameroon Head of State Ahmadu Ahidjou

By Ncheuv Tiku Nkwoh, Friday January 20, 2017

On the 11th of February 1961, Southern Cameroons voted in an imposed plebiscite to join La Republique du Cameroon. The Plebiscite was imposed because it forced Southern Cameroonians to two unpopular choices and violated Article 76b of the United Nation’s Charter which states “To promote cultural, economic and educational advancement of the Trust Territory and to lead the territory to self-government and/or independence.

The new country was to be called Federal United Republic of Cameroon consequent of the plebiscite results being in favour of joining La Republic du Cameroon.  This was an aggregative federation formed between two states of equal status which have internationally recognized boundaries.

Ahidjou craftily changed the name from Federal United Republic of Cameroon to Federal Republic of Cameroon. It must be noted that after the Plebiscite Regulation 1608(XV) of the 21st April 1961 had to usher in an Act of Union within the ambit of Article 102 of UN Charter. This was not done and up till date, there is no Act of union consummated and deposited with the secretariat of the General Assembly of the UN. However, the union came into existence with a Federal Constitution which recognized the equality of the two states in its clause 47(1) which further states that “NO BILL TO AMEND THIS CLAUSE MAY BE INTRODUCED IF IT TEND TO IMPAIR THE UNITY AND INTEGRITY OF THE FEDERATION”. 

It, therefore, stands to reason that the Referendum of 1972 was illegal and thus an “impeachable crime” because it violated the above clause and changed the name of the country to United Republic of Cameroun. This is the genesis of the Anglophone problem and the progressive marginalization of the Anglophones.

The Teachers and the Common Law Lawyers’ strikes in Cameroon are the brain child of this Anglophone problem. The strikes are valid and also derive from the questions asked Adhidjou during the 4th committee of the 13th session of the UNO on the 25th February 1959 and their answers. I quote the questions and answers here below in their detail. 

Question 1

What are the Cameroonian government’s plans in the matter? In other words, is there a timetable for the unification? (Question by Liberian, Indonesian, and Yugoslavian representatives). Have these plans been communicated to the Cameroonians in the Cameroons under British Administration? (Question by Liberian representatives).

Answer (Ahidjou)

“I thought that my position on this point (unification) was well known. However, these questions will enable me to explain it in greater details”.

1) The unanimous desire of the Cameroonians under French Trusteeship has already been emphasized. This desire is not known, nor has it been in the past the monopoly of any one man or any one political party.

Question 2

 What form might this unification take? (Question by representatives of New Zealand, Liberia, and Mexico).

Answer (Adhijou)

“The problem, however, is a practical problem; namely, to ascertain the most appropriate means of achieving this reunification. The means will depend, on the position to be taken by our brothers under British Administration when they explain in greater details the intension which they have already indicated to us in broad outlines. In this connection, we noted with pleasure the statement by the Prime Minister, Mr. Foncha.

“At this stage in the problem, we should like to point out that the situation today differs from that prevailing last December. At that time we might have feared that the fate of the Cameroonians in the British zone was irrevocably determined without having an opportunity to be consulted on the problems of

unification. We might have feared that our brothers had embarked irrevocably on course which would exclude any possibility of an option. It must be admitted that little information had been provided on this question in view of the doubts, obtaining we were inevitably determined to take a very clear stand as our brothers in the British zone were not able to do so”.

“I should not like the firmness and clarity of our stand to be interpreted as a desire for integration on my part which would sound the death knell to the hopes of our brothers in the zone under the British Administration”.

“We do not wish to bring the weight of our population to bear on our British brothers. We are not annexationists”.

“In other words, if our brothers of the British zone wish to unite with an independent Cameroon, we are ready to discuss the matter with them, but we will discuss it on a footing of equality”.

“For our part, we are ready to resume contact with the authority of the British Cameroon. We, would, however, be inclined to think that Cameroonian soil remains the most promising place for such conversations. The problem of unification which remains a common problem and one very dear to our hearts would certainly benefit by being considered without polemics or passion, without preconceived notions, and with the same desire to reach a constructive and really common solution. When we have reached the slightest measure of agreement we may endeavor to give effect to it by means of appropriate measures. These procedures should be such as to avoid imposing on Cameroonians on either zone a choice that is not their own. They will be discussed among ourselves”.

These discussions at the UN brought out Ahidjou’s insincerity of heart as he continuously introduced bad faith into the machinery of the state; such as can be seen in the exclusion of Anglophones from power sharing, the paralysis of economic activities and in short, making them second class citizens until Biya took over in 1982, continued in the same veil and illegally changed the name of the country to La Republique du Cameroon, the name of East Cameroon at independence on the 1st of January 1960.

President Biya did this in a meeting in Bamenda in 1984; the birth year of the CPDM. It should be noted that he did it without consulting parliament or putting it to vote in the meeting. Therefore La Republic was the first to secede from the union in 1984 giving Southern Cameroons the opportunity to pursue independence within the ambit of Articles, 76b of UN charter.

The case for Federalism

Anglophones should not vote twice for federalism. A two-state federation achieved in 1961 should be declared following the Teachers and Common Lawyers’ strikes and as a condition sine qua non in their

present deliberations. This does not need the endorsement of parliament because it is strictly an Anglophone affair and should not concern Francophones because they did not vote in the plebiscite. What if the referendum is rigged?

It should be fool hardy to remain in a union in which the Anglophones’ future is compromised. If federalism happens to be the last resort then West Cameroon must constitute only ONE federated state to maintain its cultural heritage. The federalism document must be endorsed by the UN and the AU before schools can resume. The AU comes in because it has legitimized our cause and recognized us as a people in its Banjul declaration.

Should the demands for federation comprising two states of equal status as was the case with the Federal United Republic of Cameroon fail, then West Cameroon should be obliged to ask the UN to implement Art 76b of its Charter and Resolutions (1514-XIV) of the 14th December 1960 on the granting of independence to colonial Territories and Peoples.  

N/B: All teachers’ demands if accepted in the ongoing dialogue must be put into practice before schools can resume since our country has become a “Land of Promise”. Those going to school are, ipso facto, the children of the head of state, who up to now does not want them to go to school by refusing to grant the just demands of the teachers.

Therefore no person or group of persons should urge teachers to resume duty without first urging the president to return all those arrested and locked up in prison in Yaounde following the crises and to grant the teacher’s requests. The consequences of a failed strike, should this one fail, are better imagined than lived. 


Ncheuv Tiku Nkwoh, holds a Masters in International Relations, and contributed from Lagos Nigeria.


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