By Tapuka Gerald, February 11, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – The Minister of Communication and Government’s spokesman, Issa Tchiroma Bakary has said in his characteristic rhetorical speeches that there is no taboo subject as far as concerns the strike action in Anglophone Cameroon.
Tchiroma made the statement in a recent interview over BBC World Service for Africa. He told the BBC that whatever Anglophones want can be settled on the dialogue table, and nothing is forbidden. This is how he put it. “You want federalism, secession, there is no problem, come let us dialogue.”
When asked why the government is not listening to Anglophones, Tchiroma said, the government is ready to dialogue but the Anglophone groups are not ready. “We are ready to listen, those problems are welcomed in the government, let us sit round the table and we are going to find a common solution through dialogue and consultation.”
In the course of the interview, Tchiroma was unable to justify why the members of the Anglophone Civil Society Consortium who were dialoguing with the government are in jail when he continues to preach dialogue. “All those jailed were caught red-handed in burning, looting, threatening people and they have the right to their lawyers to defend them.” He said.
Tchiroma again failed to justify why human rights activists who were not involved in any acts of violence but merely expressing their dissatisfaction with the government’s treatment of Anglophones were jailed. Tchiroma became visibly upset and answered in a harsh tone that, the journalist’s “assessment of the situation is completely wrong,” and chose to focus on the fairness of the trial. The reporter also asked him why many people arrested are still languishing in jail even though they have not been charged in court. “According to our law, nothing is done in breach of the law,” Tchiroma said.
As the interview ensued, the journalist asked Tchiroma whether there is an Anglophone problem in Cameroon. The minister who had previously said in an apologetic message that there is an Anglophone Problem this time, failed to confirm it. He chose a conditional answer stating, “in case they have a problem, let them bring them to the government and the government is always ready to examine any kind of problem provided they fall within the provisions of our law and constitution.”
In the concluding questions, the journalist sought to know whether the government would discuss with those who are preaching federalism and secession, and why the many arrests and molestations by security officers if the problem was so easy. Tchiroma stated, “Cameroon government is ready to discuss with you and there is no question which is taboo. You want federalism, you want secession, no problem, what says the constitution.”
Tchroma also discussed the shutdown of internet in Anglophone Cameroon and refuted allegations it was shutdown to prevent activists from posting images of molested persons online. He claimed instead that they were using it to fan the flames of disunity and violence.
In claiming that there is no taboo subject Tchiroma is contradicting the government he represents as successive members of government have unambiguously said the gov’t will not entertain any discussions about federalism and secession.