Open letter to Mathias Eric Owona Nguini
I have followed you very keenly since the Southern Cameroon problem resurfaced and I will like to address your views. You gained your popularity in Cameroon by sitting on television panels almost every weekend to address current issues in Cameroon and around the world. You won the admiration of many Cameroonians. I must confess I also admired your position on governance issues in Cameroon. Permit me react to your position on the crisis that has ridden the country in recent times.
Your stance on the non-negotiability of a two state federation beats all logic, reason and good faith. May you be reminded that the state of Cameroon as we know it today is a construct dating back to October 1961. All intellectual or academic attempts to twist the history of this union is futile and manifestly demonstrates the type of intellectuals the francophone elite is producing. Back to the issue of federalism, as a political scientist, I expect you to dig into the causes of the conflict of the present-day Cameroon. Unfortunately, you limit yourself to the consequences or the present day events ignoring the causes.
It may interest you to refer to the 1961 constitution, which made provisions to the effect that any constitutional revisions affecting the form of the state are subject to a one third-majority vote in either house of assembly. Take critical note, that section 47 of that constitution is unequivocal in its terms. Before you go bashing the leaders and strategists of the present crisis, remember citizens of the former British Southern Cameroons have since 1961 cried foul against the dictatorial style of government imposed on them by the surrogates of the French administration. The simple fact that British Southern Cameroon did not co-signed the 1961 constitution and the constitution was not submitted to the United Nations is proof that British Southern Cameroonians did not approve of the constitution. Southern Cameroonians understood they were in a union where law meant little or nothing to the other party. Even though Ahidjo signed a unilateral decree making the constitution law, he failed to respect its section 47 when he called for a referendum in 1972. By this simple fact, the referendum lacked all legal standing.
Before 1961, it was clear that the union between British Southern Cameroon and La Republique du Cameroun was to be constructed on a federation of two equal states. Did you at any point remember that if there’s a country called Cameroon today it is because British Southern Cameroons willingly voted in a 1961 plebiscite to join in a two state federal country? Did it occur to you that for the form of state to change, it was to be the preserve of the citizens of British Southern Cameroon if at all there was supposed to a referendum?
The other day I followed you on TV when you refused to refer to the citizens of British Southern Cameroons as a people under International Law. May I remind you that in the 2009 case of Mgwanga Gunme and 13 others v la Republique du Cameroun, the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights recognized the citizens of British Southern Cameroons as a people under intentional law. The commission stated that, the commission finds that ‘the people of Southern Cameroon’ qualify to be referred to as a ‘people’ because they manifest numerous characteristics and affinities, which include a common history, linguistic tradition, territorial connection and political outlook. More importantly, they identify themselves as a people with a separate and distinct identity. Identity is an innate characteristic within a people. It is up to other external people to recognize such existence but not to deny it.
Besides scoring this very important point, I will advise you to read the recommendations of the commission because they squarely address the myopic arguments you have postulated all along. As condescending, as you sound when treating this issue, it is important you refer to the section of the document where the Commission requests for an open dialogue. As far back as 2009, the commission requested for dialogue and the government of la Republique du Cameroun sat silently as though nothing has ever happened. In your position as a political scientist, I would appreciate you review the genesis of the grievances and redirect your counsel to the faulting party. The government of la Republique du Cameroun has faulted all avenues for a peaceful resolution of this crisis. Remember, it did not start today.
When you read the commission’s recommendations, do not be too quick to go rejoicing because the commission recommends dialogue and refutes secession. You have been very eager to dismiss all potent arguments on separation or secession as groundless. You will read that the commission recognizes it is barred from adjudicating on issues and treaties that occurred or were ratified before its creation in 1989. Your reference to all advocacy for secession and separation as casus belli is symptomatic of the dictatorial syndrome that has affected the regime in Yaoundé. This disease would not be acute if political scientists like you show some tiny, I mean tiny degree of good faith and the intellectual capacity to conduct independent research. However, when one thinks the process and conditions that raised you to the rank of ‘maître de conference’ one immediately understands why you took part in the obnoxious Chantal Biya colloquium and why you sound so dishonest and unintellectual in your rants regarding the Southern Cameroon crisis.
All along, you keep propagating the falsehood of decentralization. However decentralization is applied or enforced in this union, the center will not hold. Take it from me that a people have the universally recognized and inalienable right to self-determination. This may sound strange to you but remember that the exercise of this right favored the construct known as the Republic of Cameroon today. United Nations resolution 1608 gives the Southern Cameroons the right self-determination. Though France and her surrogate La Rebulique du Cameroon voted against the resolution, Southern Cameroon still attained independence and have the rights and obligations that come with it. Therefore, your utterances on the authority and power that the central government in Yaoundé wields falls short to recognize the rights of an independent people under international law. It would make sense if you understand the authority and power in Yaoundé is colonial and in essence should not be exercised over Southern Cameroon. As a people, Southern Cameroonians have the right to a government. This is fact as bitter as it may be.
Your recommendation on the effective enforcement of a decentralized system of government beats all logic. The reason is simple; the people of Southern Cameroon know there’s no valid constitution in force in Cameroon. A decentralized system of government doesn’t guarantee a common law jurisdiction neither does not protect anglo-saxon system of education. A decentralized system will frustrate an administration with power from the people. We strongly believe in the role our kings play in our lives. British Southern Cameroonians believe power is in the people. We abhor ‘le commandemant’ appointed by Yaoundé. Supervisory role by appointed governors and SDOs appointed by Yaoundé is not valid within our administrative set up. We believe in an independent judiciary, which is entirely in the hands of magistrates who have proven their worth. ENAM has no place in our society. We believe in a legislature that can control the government. The harmonization drive in Cameroon has been proven to be an assimilation of British Southern Cameroonians. Unfortunately, the experiment of British Southern Cameroon and La Republique du Cameroun cohabitation has failed. In as much as you hate it, Southern Cameroon has an identity that you cannot take away. The more you preach vice about Southern Cameroon, the stronger the will of the people. Conclusively, your proposals on decentralization are merely cosmetic.
As a university don, one expected you to publicly condemn the torture, rape and maiming of students in the University of Buea. Unsurprisingly, you are interested in establishing a situation of force. You take pride in Southern Cameroonians establishing a relationship of force with the Yaoundé regime. One wonders where leaders of the Anglophone struggle have ever mentioned force. You mention military and security forces to maintain state integrity. Why do you support a regime that deploys the military to torture students whose only weapon were shouts of NO VIOLENCE or lawyers whose only weapon were MEMORANDA AND A PEACEFUL MARCH? The whole Southern Cameroon is militarized, her citizens are abducted, transferred to la Republique du Cameroun, held under inhuman conditions simply because they expressed their minds and seek justice. Others are simply kidnapped because they made phone calls, others because they walked on the streets, others because they are bold enough to say STOP injustice. After all these, a university don, claiming to be a political scientist, takes to social media and encourages state terrorism. How do you expect the citizens of Southern Cameroon to read your write up? Can you not condemn the internet blackout in the region?
I watched how helplessly you sat on Arene on Canal 2 International when journalists referred to your online insults. You see, a man with a clear mind fears nothing. Your helplessness and resort to anger and further insults demonstrate that you have lost touch with the realities of a true intellectual. Many people admired your position before now. Unlike citizens of la Republique du Cameroun who fall for cheap popularity and a superfluous use of words, citizens of Southern Cameroon apply reason and dig into the causes of every little thing before them. We know how our country attained independence, how la Republique du Cameroun and France forced themselves into our territory and are assimilating us. We have stood tall and we shall not fall back. Tell them, your caricature of write ups have failed. Advise them to kill all of us and take the territory. Do not seek to identify me. In this dispensation, you can beat the drums of war and nothing will happen to you. However, those who have opposite views are termed terrorists and you are ok with it. I preserve my identity simply because I am resident in Cameroon. If freedom of expression existed in this country, I should have signed the document. Since the dictatorship which you support has banned all discussion and opinions in support of a federation or secession, I am bound to act from underground.