In the fight between Government and the Ghost, which is raging in the Anglophone Regions, the latter seems to have overpowered the former and is now reigning supreme.
Despite the campaign on the State broadcaster that schools would resume on Monday, February 6, following a communiqué signed by some of the teachers’ trade union leaders calling of the teachers’ strike, school compounds were deserted on that day. The ghost was even more present than ever before. Its presence was so overwhelming and overbearing that could be felt even by the troops deployed in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, to stop the looming ghost.
Gendarmes deployed in Bamenda were overheard complaining: “Comment les gens si sont têtues comme ca? On les dit d’amenez leurs enfants a l’école, ils ne bougent pas. On les coups l’internet, ils sont la. Il n’ya personne dans les routes. Il n’ya pas l’eau à boire … meme pour payer. (Why are these people to stubborn like this? They have been told to take their children to school, no one has budged. They are cut from internet connection but they are not bothered. There are no people in the streets. There is no water to drink, not even to buy [our translation].
When Governor Lele visited schools in Bamenda and found out there were no children in the schools, he decided to tour the Region and exhort parents to send their children to school. From Mezam through Ngoketunjia to Bui and Donga Mantung Divisions: “Strike or no strike, exams must be written!” He thus urged parents to send their children to school. But parents are not heeding to the plea and are apparently promoting the strike by keeping their children at home.
After the xenophobic outing in Buea against Northwestnerners (graffi), some Ministers, Ngolle Ngwesse and Paul Elung, reportedly visited their native Kupe Muanenguba Division and invited traditional leaders to Tombel. Having piled a huge mound of money on the table, they told the Chiefs that the money was for them; so that they can go and convince parents in their villages to take their children to school.
One of the Chiefs looked at the money, starry-eyed, and then raised his hand. Permitted to speak, he got up and asked: “So, this kind (amount) of money is in this country and we haven’t even a kilometre of tarred road in our area here? I am sure you Ministers had to bump into stones and tear through the bushes to come here. Can’t you use this money to give us a road? Well, I just thought I should make this point.”
When he sat down, one of the big men, in response to the issue raised, explained that the money on the table was for the pressing, urgent issue of children going back to school. He said when that is done with, they would come back to discuss the road issue.
The money was then shared to the Chiefs and the Ministers travelled back to Yaounde. But the following Monday, February 6, what was expected did not happen. The ghost seemed to have descended to the area and there was not even the soul of a child in any of the schools around.
Irked by this, one of the local administrators decided to conduct a tour of the schools and make a roll call of teachers, head teachers and principals. In one of the Government colleges, he met the principal and teachers but not all of them were there.
He asked for a list of those who were present, promising hell to those who were absent, but the principal advised that he should rather take the list of those who are absent. When the list was made, the principal took it to the administrator and, behold, top on it was the name of the administrator’s wife who is a teacher in that school. He got furious. Apparently, someone got to the wife on phone and, about half an hour later, she rushed in panting. On the list, it was added against her name that she came at 1.00 pm and that she has always been absent. The DO, seemingly did not want to take it along. He finally left saying the principal should send the list to his office.
In Buea, education authorities decided to tour schools to assess the responsiveness to the call by Government. On their way to Bokwaongo, they met a few students going back home. Asked why, the children said there had been only a few of them in school and classes were not going on. Hence, they decided to go home. The authorities were dumbfounded.
The Governor of the Southwest, Okalia Bilai, was so disappointed and became so apprehensive when he visited schools and found out that they were deserted. In the frenzy, he verbally assaulted a few teachers, head teachers and principals that he met in school compounds.
At Lycee Molyko in Buea, only Francophone students were found on campus, some playing on the playground.
At GTHS Molyko, the Governor asked for all the teachers to come out. They did but there were no students at the school. He then pointed at one teacher and accosted him: “You! Where is your child and why didn’t you bring him to school?
The teacher replied that he doesn’t have a child. That he is not married.
“What are you waiting for, at this age?” the Governor fired
The man replied that it his right to marry or not to.
The Governor then turned to another teacher and asked why he didn’t bring his own child to school. When the man answered that he has no child, the Governor got furious, grumbling that this must stop.
At GHS Buea Town, the Governor confronted the principal of the school by asking why she did not bring her children to school.
“At this [advanced] age, your Excellency, can I have children still in secondary school?” she quipped.
The Governor then asked why she did not cause her teachers to bring their children to school. The principal explained that the school was still new and most of the teachers still young – some of them must have just started thinking about marriage.
The Governor asked the principal to compel the teachers to get married and make children so that they can bring them to school.
“L’état c’est le pouvoir. Que c’est que vous voulez montrer?” the Governor fumed.
In a meeting with proprietors of private schools, the Governor gave them a 48-hour deadline to open the gates, beyond which, he would seal the schools forever. The threat also included mission schools.
Proprietors could be heard grumbling that they borrowed huge funds from banks to build their schools. They asked if the Governor would pay back the money to the banks or rebuild the schools if they are burnt. Some asked if the Governor and Mayor have already compensated those shop owners who heeded their threats and opened their shops during ghost town and they were burnt. The 48 hours elapsed but the school gates remained closed.