The Colbert Factor: When Biya's Last Joker Misses Target
This reflection is inspired by the fact that Cameroon authorities are behaving as if the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest was caused by some natural disaster like the 1996 Lake Nyos disaster where only an urgent humanitarian response is required.
It is the more informed by the fact that although everybody, including the government of Cameroon, knows that the real problem in the Northwest and Southwest is not related to issues of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, or fleeing refugees in Nigeria but constant deadly clashes between Amba freedom fighters
and regular government forces.
It is the more informed by the fact government officials who firstly, created the problem, secondly, denied it's existence, and finally are taxing themselves to solve the problem that does not exist, would suddenly turn around to embezzle their own contributions.
Truth is, news of an emergency humanitarian relief plan set up by the Prime Minister, on high instructions of the Head of State, is the best thing that ever happened to Cameroon.
What makes Cameroonians in general, and Anglophones in particular, wonder what and where this whole set up is about, is the fact that, as government, they collectively decided to take the second step before the first. Let me explain.
Truth be told. The Emergency Humanitarian Relief Plan set up by the Cameroonian government beats all other emergency humanitarian plans history has recorded.
From the Charles Marshall's plan to bail out all 17 affected nations in Europe; to all other emergency plans, no one has ever been as comprehensive and as detailed as the one the Cameroonian government has laid out.
Not only that it amounts to a colossal sum of over 12 billion fcfa in a country that is suffering under the weight of a heavy loan burden, Not only that Cameroon is already suffering from an acute refugee crisis in the Northern and Eastern regions, but that Cameroonian authorities accept to swallow its
own pride by openly admitting, after several attempts to deny there were any internally displaced or fleeing refugees due to the Anglophone crisis, is a whole feat.
As comprehensive as the emergency humanitarian relief plan is, it may not bare the expected fruits if an urgent comprehensive peace deal or agreement is not accompanying the emergency humanitarian plan.
Point is, everybody who has been watching the evolution of the conflict since 2016 knows that the root cause of the conflict remains the absence of a genuine,
frank and inclusive dialogue that addresses the root cause of the crisis. Everyone also knows that the displacement of people from their natural habitats was not caused by hunger or lack of shelter but by rampaging government forces and eventually, Amba freedom fighters. The natural question to ask at this
point government is opting for emergency humanitarian assistance is whether any of the conflicting parties have decided on a truce to allow such assistance reach its destination?
One point must be made clear: By opting for an emergency humanitarian relief plan, the government of Cameroon is also accepting at the same time that the conflict which for the past two years has been claimed by government as an internal affair, has now burst through the constraints of sovereignty. Given that the conflict involves a secessionist movement wishing to reconfigure the existing state, naturally makes it a subject of international concern. The very fact that government delayed in quickly addressing the root causes of the problem thereby allowing it to be transformed into an armed conflict has pushed it to be logically included now in the established concepts of international conflict. What is new are the scope and intensity of global attention to the actions of the state against its own citizens, especially as these actions against citizens on the ground violate international norms.
The action the Cameroon government has just taken, and which has been variously described by political watchers as taking the second step before the first, creates a new type of dilemma that presents unprecedented challenges to the resolution of the present conflict. How the emergency humanitarian relief assistance of over 12 billion FRS put in place by President Biya would go to mitigate the already escalating armed conflict, is a new challenge even the most informed conflict resolution experts.
Another major question to be asked is how government thinks it could successfully implement its emergency humanitarian relief plan in affected areas when it has been unable to execute its 2018 budgeted projects. Was it not elites of Lebialem meeting recently in Buea who declared conclusively that government has been unable to execute projects worth four billion FRS in Lebialem no thanks to insecurity? By the way, what is the level of execution of other emergency plans? The same President Biya decreed two emergency plans; one for 25 billions for the 10 regions for three years, and the other for youths to the tune of 100 billions. Plus, a special emergency plan for the Northern Regions as a means to counter Boko Haram. Was it not the Minister if Housing and Urban Development, Jean Claude Mbouinchou who on an inspection visit to the Northwest last month, declared that contractors are still at 15% execution of three-year special emergency projects decreed by President Biya in 2015 because of insecurity?
Was it not one of The Guardian Post newspaper editorials of last week which aptly described the 18 months emergency humanitarian relief plan as putting the cart before the horse?
Could Biya not have even pretended to give credibility to the National Commission on Bilingualism and Multiculturalism by decreeing the beginning of dialogue on federalism?
Could the emergency humanitarian relief plan not have preceded an emergency comprehensive peace plan? Is it possible to reconstruct during conflict? Better still, assume the plan is executed to the latter, can that put an end to the crisis in the North West and South West? Does it suffice to provide enough food to the internally displaced, shelter to the homeless, travel documents to those whose civil status documents were burned, and the effective return of refugees in Nigeria for lasting peace to return to the English Speaking parts of Cameroon?
The Muteff Boy's Take