Southern Cameroons Crisis: Mayor Ekema receives 500 million for “monthly cash bribe scheme”
Biya regime has paid the sum of 500 million FCFA to mayor Ekema Patrick of the Buea Council as part of a monthly cash “bribes” scheme to raise the Bakweri youth against other Southern Cameroons tribes residing in the Buea municipality. The money was handed to the mayor secretly by the Francophone Minister for Defense, Joseph Beti Assomo.
French Cameroun officials in Yaounde are bankrolling a CPDM government initiative to pay Anglophone elites, traditional rulers and community leaders monthly wages to get them talking to the Biya regime. News of French Cameroun’s involvement to destabilize the revolution came as the Defense Minister, Beti Assomo met Mayor Ekeme Patrick during a recent visit to Buea. He then held talks with some elites from Manyu, Ndian and Kupe Manenguba appointed by Prime Minister Philemon Yang likely to be involved.
The new strategy comes amid growing violence across Southern Cameroons caused by the French Cameroun dominated armed forces. The few Southern Cameroonians still militating in the ruling CPDM crime syndicate have accused the Biya administration of “losing the support of Southern Cameroonians”. The bribe scheme is seen as the first step towards winning back influential Southern Cameroons elites and tribal elders, on a county level.
The elites were handpicked by Prime Minister Philemon Yang after a French Cameroun government auditioning that was carried out by the governors and prefects of the territory and they are expected to earn about two hundred thousand a month for attending up to two meetings. But critics fear the payments, which are about 30 per cent more than civil servants earn, are President Biya’s way of bribing Anglophone elites to deliver support ahead of elections next year.
A senior Cameroon Concord News policy analyst in Yaounde said: “If this is perceived as more political patronage, or bribery, it runs the risk of generating friction and resentment.” The Biya regime is financing a similar initiative in the Bamenda State where thousands of French Cameroun troops have been deployed.
It comes ahead of a major strategy review by the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Governing Council which is expected to advocate a major intensification of the ghost town operations. A statement issued by the Chairman of the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, Barrister Agbor Felix Nkongho purportedly condemning the so-called visit of Southern Cameroons elites was treated as inconsequential by agents of the Governing Council.
A senior CPDM personality who spoke to us at the time of fling this report but sued for anonymity said existing French Cameroun government strategies had seen the Southern Cameroons Governing Council gain ground: “We don’t want to create militias, but we need to be empowering leaders like Ekema Patrick. Equip them, not just with weapons but with whatever it takes, so they can protect their territories against secessionist influence.”
Mayor Ekema had discussed the plans with the anti-Anglophone Justice Minister Laurent Esso when he visited Douala and got 60 millions FCFA from the Douala City Council and lied to the press that the amount was 13 million. Prime Minister Philemon Yang has promised to increase support for “community defence initiatives, where local volunteers are recruited to defend homes and families.” But the plans will meet with a stonewall because of a lack of Southern Cameroonian support.