Editorial The Sun Newspaper: Moving Forward...
In the chequered history of the Cameroon nation state, few crises have rocked and touched its soul like the current Anglophone crisis. A lawyers’ and teachers’ strike has willy-nilly escalated into a full-blown protest by the people of the North West and South West regions with already incalculable consequences.
The two most obvious consequences are the breakdown in the judicial system as courts are paralysed due to the absence of lawyers and the non-functioning of schools from the primary to the tertiary level for the past two months.
Added to the above two negative factors is the steady squeezing of the economy of these regions with crippling ghost towns which are being faithfully respected by the population and exacerbated by the shutdown of internet services in both regions.
The current situation is unprecedented and eerie enough to summon both the authorities and protesting parties to discard might and pride so that level-headedness and wisdom can prevail.
Reacting to the current crisis in his end-of-year address to the nation on the eve of the New Year, President Paul Biya promised the creation of national supra structure that shall be saddled with the task of diagnosing issues like the Anglophone problem and proffering practical solutions on how it can be whittled down. Last Monday, January 23 that promise became a reality through a presidential decree that created the National Commission on Bilingualism and Multi-culturalism.
Those versed with the workings of our government and who have always criticized it for inertia and slowness, can attest that the time-lapse between the promise and the creation of the commission is very uncharacteristic of our president who likes to take his time on such matters. It is at best an indication that there is fire in the house and that speed and urgency should dictate government actions.
It is satisfying to note the general positive reactions that have greeted the creation of this committee and the call for it to be given a chance. Nonetheless, we are also not oblivious to some genuine reservations that have been raised in some quarters notably on who will sit in it and most importantly, the fear that the Anglophone problem should not be diluted in the multicultural phraseology.
Another reservation is also the sad memories that Cameroonians have about such commissions in the past and we want to believe that this is not just another commission.
These are legitimate concerns which we think should be brought to the attention of the Head of State especially as we think it is the current Anglophone crisis which is the immediate cause that has led to the creation of this committee notwithstanding the fact that other regions of the country have of recent past also bitterly complained in different memorandums to the president.
We in this newspaper think it is time to move on from the current impasse which has led to the instauration of fear and terror in the Anglophone regions. To be candid, we can’t pretend to know the solutions talkless of mastering the modalities and methodology of resolving the current crisis.
However, we think the creation of this committee is a huge factor in the resolution of the ongoing difficult Anglophone equation. There is always a beginning in resolving a problem. If we add this committee to the solutions proposed in solving the specific contentious points raised by Common Law lawyers’ and Anglophone teachers’, we strongly believe the parties must strongly look into the denouement of the current situation. One thing is certain, the Anglophones have cried loud and clear and nothing can be the same again in this country.
The president’s latest action should be appreciated in all its dimension and he has to be encouraged so that he can go on. But this will also depend if he has positive indications from the other side. It is always good to put ourselves in the shoes of rulers during certain situations. Diktats and ultimatums always pushed them on the defensive and produces a backlash.
What we are saying in effect is that the primary rule of negotiating or dialoguing is for both sides to make concessions.
We are aware that the dissolution of the SCNC and especially the Consortium and the continuing arrest and detention of those linked to it has added another dimension to the current crisis. Be that as it may, we believe all parties can still work out a win-win situation so that normalcy return so that our children can go back to school, the courts can be fully functional again and businesses can go on hitch-free.
The Sun Newspaper