Open Letter to President Paul Biya – From a Retired Senior Civil Service Servant

Bobe JY Chiabi*** – In Kom

I am a Cameroonian. I am nobody in Cameroon.I have lived long enough to be able to make my observation.

The incidents of Bamenda have pushed me to think they could have been avoided. The authorities that be are now talking of dialogue. When the teachers and lawyers said out their concerns, dialogue could have immediately put an end to any manifestations. The non concern for what they were saying got them into the streets. The immediate response was to answer with tear gas and the barell of gun. A number of children are dead and, in Buea, some have been raped. This has caused shock in Bamenda, Buea, Cameroon and the world at large. Is this situation not serious enough for Cameroonians to hear their president???

I hear Atanga Nji, my son, was chased from the commercial Avenue; that the Prime minister could not hold an intended rally in the mentioned locality. By the way, is there a president in this country or not????
Just his appeal for calm and that he will personally attend to the issues could have indeed caused the protesters to think twice and bring an end to the manifestations.

I hear the rioters are saying “enough is enough” and that they can no longer be fooled. If they listen to the voices calling on them to call off the strike, they will be making a big mistake. They say their president made promises in the past an has not fulfilled any: e.g
1) they cite what the president said in 1985 that “I will personally supervise the ring road construction”. 31 years since 1985, there is no ring road.
2) When the soldiers were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the military, the president made a revelation that if the Menchum falls were harnessed, we could be an exporter of electricity. Why the small dams here and there???? Because Menchum falls is situated in an Anglophone ZONE.
3) You did mention, Mr president, that you will build a reference hospital in Bamenda…. Where is the hospital today????

Failure to fulfill your promises has ended up as an eye opener. That’s why the protesters are saying “enough is enough”. A first fool, is not a fool forever.

You Mr president, I believe you are president for all of Cameroon. Why is Cameroon Developed unevenly???? Look at the budget… For many years past, including this one, you see that no real attention has been given to the regions of the southwest and northwest.

I’m 81, and I did vote enthusiastically to join my brothers in the then East Cameroon or La Republic. There is no question of thinking that unification is at stake. The question that is before us all is, the Anglophone Problem. There is conspicuous marginalization of Anglophones….I was a civil servant under the then president Amadou Ahidjo. When he made ministerial appointments, there was consideration that some provinces are larger than others. How do you explain that the Central, South have nearly 4 out of every 5 of ministers?There are nearly 70 or more ministers. How many are from the Northwest and Southwest?????.

When we came out of Foumban, the idea of a Federal Republic was retained. We existed for sometime as East and West Cameroons. We exercised the two cultures we inherited from the English and the French. Gradually, the English we inherited is being wiped out. The alarm has been raised by the common law lawyers who have seen that the Anglo Saxon Judicial system is being tampered with, if not annihilated. The Judiciary, like any other entity, can be better grouped by someone who has grown in the system. It is obvious that if you go through primary to university in a language, you will certainly be more versed with it than someone who has learnt it as a second language. Take this simple example…A French translator translates bougie in an engine with the  English word “candle”. An English person facing an examination will immediately shout out “what has a candle got to do in an engine?”. Will you not get the vehicle at blaze???. Bougie in an engine, is a sparking plug in English.

You need to have learnt English to know this nuance. What do you say, Mr President, when a responsible person in this country says “it is ‘we’ the Anglophones who opted to join La Republic. Was it a mistake??. Should we be treated as underlings by our own brothers. I thought coming together, we needed to fish out what was good in the two cultures to build a Cameroon to be admired by the world. What are we seeing now???. Our Anglo Saxon culture is been trampled underfoot. There’s no problem with unification apart from the fact that we have gradually lost our identity. I do not think you have received instructions from somewhere to do away with the Anglo Saxon culture. If you talk of a gentleman in the world today, is it not the Anglo Saxon???.

When we were joining our brothers, we thought we had something to contribute. The evil things you are battling with now, were very foreign to us in our system. At the end of every financial year, was auditing. This made everybody who ran a budget to sit up. What are we seeing today???. People with budgets divert the money to do their private businesses. Can you gainsay what I am saying???.
State vehicles and state monies are handled as personal property. This trend is going on and on…That is why you find a whole cabinet in Kondegui Prison, not so?????.

Can you imagine, Mr president, that the state of Southern Cameroon has been reduced to two regions of La Republic!!. Southern Cameroon’s used to deal with La Republic as equals.

Today, the notion of two states has been totally lost. This is justified by the way the two regions of the Northwest and Southwest are being treated. The P.M of this country comes from one of this regions and the president thinks this is too much!!!. That is why if you see the cabinet of this country made up of 70 ministers or more, you get less than 10 ministers going to these regions, whereas nearly 4 out of every 5 of the cabinet are from the Center or South. Is it because nearly all the intelligent people of this country come from these two regions???. Admittedly, is this fair Mr president???.
How do you justify that most development efforts are concentrated in the Centre and South!!!.

Why do you get scared when the young men who do not see a future for themselves in the present state of things, and in the way they are being rough handled in this country, go to the streets?
Is it a crime to be an Anglophone????
What is wrong with expressing one’s opinion????
What is wrong with voicing out the difficulties one is facing????. We were brought up that way.
Is it not one’s right to demonstrate when no one cares about what concerns that he has written down???.
Is demonstration not one’s right to express the pain he feels???.
Is it peculiar to Cameroon???.
Is it not a world wide way of expressing one’s self???
Why should demonstration, which is one’s right, provided for by the international human rights charter, be considered illegal???
Should demonstrations be answered by bullets???.

Mr president, I plead with you not to push your own brothers, who by love for their own brothers opted and voted for a union with La Republic. Do not push them to the wall…
Listen to their complaints, dialogue with them, and provide answers to their complaints…
Stop those who provoke these young men by saying  “it is the people of  West Cameroon who opted to join La Republic…..

#Yuh Chiabi#

***Bobe J.Y Chiabi is a retired Cameroon Senior Civil Service Servant. He has been retired and living in his native village, Kom, since 1991.  Before his retirement, Bobe J.Y Chiabi served his country in many capacities, including as Senior Customs Officer, and Inspector #2 at the Ministry of Finance.