The clouds are gathering and the looming catastrophe is palpable and frightening. But as long as Biya continues to ignore calls for federalism, Anglophone separatist agitations will grow even stronger.
With schools having all but failed to resume in Southern Cameroons; as the Anglophone problem continues to fester with no visible end in sight, the greatest responsibility of the president today is to give this nation a pathway to unity in diversity. And by this is meant, Paul Biya should urgently respond to the increasing calls for a return to federalism.
Different persons from diverse backgrounds, including foreign diplomats have repeated the call for the nation to return to the federalist temper which governed Cameroon in the early years of nationhood. In 1972 when Ahidjo staged a constitutional coup d’état by unilaterally abrogating the federation, it was clear disenchantment was inevitable. Centralization has created a buccaneer mentality and booty-sharing tradition evident in the selfishness, mindless exploitation and insensitivity amongst the vampire elite that have captured and taken Cameroon hostage.
What is plaguing the nation today is not just conflicts that are inevitable in any union. They are rather crises the country and its leaders have refused to resolve because they benefit from them. Unfortunately, the current threat to national unity cannot be wished away by military force because force can subjugate people, but will solve nothing. The meaningless show of crude power has no redeeming political value as it closes the door on dialogue and harden Anglophone resolve for independence. Anglophones cannot be stopped by the fear of civil war and death. So, the government should swallow its pride and vanity and open dialogue on returning the country to federalism while there is still time. The letter and spirit of federalism will address the tension in the country. Nation-building is not for the faint-hearted. With the proper political will and focus, the Anglophone problem can be peacefully and decidedly resolved.
President Biya should order the release of all remaining detainees and create a commission to investigate those who have been killed; and hold accountable those responsible, while compensating the families for the wrongful death of their loved ones. Now is the time for the Biya to set the machinery in motion for Cameroon’s greatness as a federation. That way, he would etch his name in the history books as the architect of modern Cameroon.
Biya should see the Anglophone problem as an issue of national survival. And time is no longer on his side. After October 1, resolving the Anglophone problem will be akin to aborting the baby after delivery. Mr. President, act now and save Cameroon.