By Eugene Ateh, March 3, 2017
Indeed, the one and indivisible Cameroon “was” made up of a federation of two equal states and will continue to be that way if the current regime in Yaoundé listens to the voice of moderates. I was born and started growing up in a Cameroon before 1972 that was made up of two federated states, wherein each states had its own system of; government, judicial, educational, amongst other things that were unique to each state. Slowly and steadily this Cameroon which is still one and indivisible has totally and systematically eroded the identity of one of the equal states of the federation.
The ongoing strike and school boycotts that has been going on in the Northwest and Southwest regions, demonstrates how difficult it is to erase the identity of a people. What started as a genuine professional dispute by lawyers and teachers has denigrated into a political impasse. These lawyers and teachers made a simple request. They demanded for the restoration of the unique identity of the educational and judicial systems of one of the equal states that makes up Cameroon. They further requested that any such educational and judicial changes provided can only be guaranteed and maintain by a federation. This moderate request was/is widely backed by not only the teachers and lawyers themselves, but by the civil society, the Churches, the Clergy, political parties, some members of parliament and senate and elites from the whole country.
Instead, Mr. Biya and his Ministers, either don’t understand or pretend not to understand that a Federation in whatever form still preserves the one and indivisible Cameroon they are fond of stating. By remaining adamant and not yielding to these moderate demands and instead using the Gendarmes to brutally kill, maim and rape youths and the elderly under the pretext of maintaining Law and Order, the Government has succeeded in pushing some moderates to identify themselves with extremists who have been calling for the total dissolution of the republic through the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons.
By the close of 2016 I was hopeful that the Government will finally listen to the voices of these moderates, understand and address some of the short comings of the currently failed form of unity that exists in Cameroon. Instead the Government has resorted to the arrest and detention of these moderates. Given the current stand-off, the Government has a small window of opportunity within which the one and indivisible nature of our country can be maintained. The Government should consider this a Constitutional crisis and not a Law and Order crisis. A Constitutional Council should be set up immediately to draft and or strengthen a New Constitution that spells out and protect the FEDERATION OF TWO EQUAL. The time has indeed ran out for any other form of federation, 4, 5, 10 states federation. If this does not happen within the next few months I see the country denigrating into and all out conflict for the Restoration of the Independence of the marginalized people of Southern Cameroons. Time is running out.
The Social Democratic Front (SDF) has once more taken the high road and the Government should listen carefully. The March 4, 2017 rally could be the turning point in the history of Cameroon.