A preacher once told his congregation: “Next week, I plan to preach about the sin of lying. To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17.” The following Sunday as he prepared to deliver his sermon, the pastor asked for a show of hands. He wanted to know how many had read Mark 17. Every hand went up. The preacher smiled and said: “Mark has only 16 chapters. I will now proceed with my sermon on the sin of lying.” This joke says a lot about human nature, but shows how Francophones are often caught committing the sin of lying about the Anglophone problem. Francophones are wont to wish into reality what is not there, and to deny the truth when it suits them. Lying is a sin that was committed by five Francophone Ministers who told the world at a press conference that there is no Anglophone problem in Cameroon. The integrity deficit associated with lying about the Anglophone problem is a travesty that insults and diminishes every Cameroonian and must stop.
The point must therefore be made, and with emphasis, that there is an Anglophone problem but the problem is deeply embedded in the asymmetrical political structure of the country, which has led to institutional paralysis engendered by leadership failure. Anglophones are divided over the Anglophone problem, just as Francophones are united in their bellicosity and belligerence towards Anglophones whom they cast as treasonable felons and secessionists who cannot be trusted. Francophones have used this self-fulfilling fallacy as an excuse to exclude Anglophones from the commanding heights of decision-making and treat them as second class citizens. But facts don’t lie like the lying laity of Mark 17.
Consider this: over 55 years after independence and re-unification, there has never been an Anglophone President or an Anglophone Secretary General or Director of Civil Cabinet at the Presidency. Nor has an Anglophone ever held the strategic ministerial portfolio of Defense, Finance, Territorial Administration, Communication, External Relations, National Education or even in charge of the Police, Gendarmerie, the Army and Intelligence services; not even ambassadors to English-speaking countries like the USA and Nigeria. For a region that represents about 20% of the population, accounting for over 60% of GDP, the fact that the lone oil refinery named in French (SONARA) is in Anglophone Cameroon, yet has been run by Francophone general managers with a predominantly Francophone workforce since its creation is unacceptable. It just cannot be that there are no competent Anglophones to occupy these positions.
As if that was not enough, higher institutions like the National Polytechnic, ENAM, IRIC, ESSTIC, INJS, IFORD, CUSS, Public Works, ENSPT, IRAD, are heavily laden with French courses; another way of saying, Anglophones need not apply. Although Cameroon is officially a bilingual country where both English and French are equal, when has the president ever made an official address to the nation in English? All official correspondences are in French, even when directed to Anglophones. French is the language used in the administration, police, gendarmerie, army and the courts. Anglophones have to seek translators at their own expense. All road signs are in French and there is not a single word in English on the FCFA currency in circulation; is this constitutional?
The facts and figures of Anglophone marginalization under President Biya are staggering. Of the 700 ministers appointed since Biya took office in 1982, only 76 (10.8%) have been Anglophones. In the current 63-member cabinet, there are only six Anglophones (9%) and only, Philip Ngole Ngwese (2%) out of the 38 Ministers has a cabinet portfolio. There are four Anglophone Secretary Generals (10%) and three Anglophone DAGs (7%) in the central administration. In state corporations, there are less than 15 Anglophones (11%) out of over 130 general managers. Of the over 130 Board chairmen of state corporations, there are only 10 Anglophones (7%).