Cameroon Journal, Washington D.C – President Biya after hearing of the national disaster that visited the nation in the Eseka train accident, declared a day of national mourning for Monday October 24. Then, he hastily flew back into the country – and you did think he was coming to personally participate in the mourning. That wasn’t the case.
The President was absent from events marking the national day of mourning. Events which took place in various corners of the nation especially the nation’s capital, Yaoundé, Douala and Eseka where the accident actually took place did not see the participation of President Biya.
At Our Lady of Victory Cathedral in the epicenter of Yaoundé, where Biya, from time-to-time is known to worship, especially on special occasions, he was only represented; even when he was right there in Yaounde. In his characteristic cavalier attitude, he chose to have Martin Belinga Eboutou, Director of cabinet to represent him. Belinga did not disclose the whereabouts of the President who had jetted into the country a day after spending 37 days out of the country. At Eseka where there was a similar ceremony, no member of government bothered to show up. The highest authority there was the SDO for the Nyong et Kéllé division, Aboubakar Iyawa.
This snobbish and shameful attitude of Biya is not new to Cameroonians who have learned to live without their President. Since Biya himself declared war on Boko Haram in May 2014, he has never visited soldiers at the war front, nor the affected population. Moreover, he has never been present at the military headquarters when military honours were given to fallen soldiers in spite of the fact that he is their Commander-in-Chief.
In responsible governance like what obtains in countries like the United States, France, Great Britain, among others, the President personally would visit soldiers at war front to shake hands, encourage and sometimes like in the case of George W. Bush during the Iraq war, even share meals with the soldiers.
But in Cameroon, Biya has always remained indifferent when it concerns incidents of national disaster. Consider Lake Nyos in 1986, the Kenya Airways plane crash near Douala in 2007. When news of the visit of Fru Ndi to victims of the Buea mountain eruption in 2000 was leaked out, it was only then that President Biya hurriedly made an impromptu visit to the South West to save his name. In the days of the Bakassi conflict, Biya never for once saw the need of meeting with victims. He has reign for almost 35 years. Did he say he’s the one to take Cameroon to emergence? At the Cameroon Journal, we suggest that the President emerge himself before trying same for a whole nation.