Last quarter, voters went to pools in Cameroon. Without doubt, October 7th presidential elections were scandalously rigged. Live on TV, a Constitutional Court presented grossly falsified reports. The legitimacy of sitting head of state, Biya Paul, is at minimum a dupery. But for Cameroonians, things are normal. Francophone-Cameroonians is more appropriate, since that election was impossible in NW and SW regions of the country. Rigging elections, brutalizing opposition parties’ members in voting stations, state officials lying publicly are a normalcy for Cameroonians eastside of the Mungo River.
When a president “elected” in such circumstances appoints M. Momo Jean de Dieu minister deleguate for justice, the latter is surrounded by the crowd and celebrated, regardless of his initial political stands and criticism on the regime he is now proud to “serve”. Nobody questions his moral integrity, his values. A providential decree from Etoudi Palace has sanctified him, as a papal bull from Rome can do.
A minister embezzles public funds from a program designed to provide state universities students with laptops. He publicly attempts to convince national opinion 32GB is same as 500GB, he is promoted by his boss. A head of state makes an official commitment his country will be ready for the 2019 AFCON. Billions of taxpayer money are distracted. Cameroon is stripped of right to host that tournament. The leader, who must led by example, minimizes the scandal, does not even examine his unfulfilled statement and promotes officials in charge of that unsuccessful project. For Cameroonians, it is business as usual. Nobody asks for accountability. It was the money of Biya Paul. Not the fruit of their daily sacrifices and heavy work.
In this context, where ethics and values are disregarded, the holder of a public duty can distract national revenue for his personal use. By the moment he is a General Manager, General in the army, minister or police officer appointed by the presidential papal bull, he is a decent man, not a thief. And corruption becomes a virtue.
The situation is already dramatic when public morale is disvalued. It turns to worse when what is valuable is branded as ridicule and negative. Those who promote integrity, patriotism, hard work, courage are humiliated, sidelined and sometimes punished by the society. Honest and successful entrepreneurs, inventors, artists are never granted an audience to Etoudi Palace. The widow and children of late Elie Ladé, who sacrificed his life to avoid a terror attack by Boko Haram and saved many in a market in Mora in 2015, can never be invited to see “their” head of state. However, Moulin Fournier and Vanderbusch families liberated by the same terrorist organization, after an undisclosed ransom paid with Cameroonian taxpayer money, were immediately admitted to Unity Palace. A feyman had the privilege of a reception by a prime minister at the Star Building in Yaounde. We know why we are in this and how it happened.
Cameroon is built on a lie. Those in charge since 60 years are not those who fought for our alledged sovereignty. As former French prime minister Pierre Messmer stated: “we gave independence to those who did not want it”. All heroes who stood for a truly united, free and independent country were assassinated by French colonial administration, with complicity of the current regime. These patriots are since then labeled as Maquisards, meaning the Cameroonian context bandits, criminals, terrorists. The head of state has never spelled the name of Um Nyobè, Ntumazah, Moumié, Afana or Ouandié in public. These historic figures were elevated to the dignity of National Heroes. But no street in Yaounde, no airport, no high school, university or hospital is named after them.
The sense of sacrifice for the common good, respect and fear for what belongs to all, public funds, integrity and patriotism will be valued in our country, we will have a genuine Republic only when our state is laid on two solid foundations: legitimacy and truth. The People of Cameroon alone can make this happen.
Ogolong Ondimoni Ombano (JMTV+)