The Sasse Old Boys Association (SOBA) mother branch in Cameroon is in turmoil following last Saturday’s August 10th 2013“selection” of Prof Ephraim Ngwafor as the new president. Prof Ngwafor will hopefully be the honorary president of SOBA, the oldest secondary school in Cameroon but his “election” was anything but honorary.
According to some Sobans who attended the meeting and who have spoken to Iroko Africa, the disruption during the elections were so vile that some quarelling members almost came to blows. An angry member was seen trying to use a chair to hit an opponent. Abuses were commonplace.Voting took place in the absence of the main challenger Barrister John Kameni who with some supporters, walked out of the proceedings a good number of times. Some members of the Buea, Bamenda, Limbe and Muyuka chapters were against the total disrespect of norms and the constitution of SOBA during the elections.
Some of the issues that raised tempers included the SOBA secretariat in Buea and fears that some outgoing EXCO members with skeletons in the cupboard were against any kind of auditing of the accounts of the association.
“For all intents and purposes, SOBA is being run in the same ramshackled way as the government of Cameroon. No wonder the school is still in such a mess and people have been waiting for the 75th anniversary celebrations to build common toilets in Sasse”, an angry SOBA member confided to Iroko Africa.
Apparently, the main problem during the meeting was the infighting by the Buea and Yaounde chapters of SOBA, represented by their respective presidential candidates, Prof Ngwafor from Yaounde and Barrister Kameni in Buea. Both were determined to succeed outgoing president Prof Nyamndi.
There were multiple procedural problems with the elections. One source told Iroko Africa “…the elections were scandalous. Prof Ngwafor and his team used their age to violate the constitution in their determination to win at all cost. This source finally did not vote because the elections were postponed to late in the evening following the quarreling between members. “If I had to vote, I would never have voted for Prof Ngwafor but I will also not vote for Barrister kameni because he too has a lot of personal issues. I cannot reconcile with him being SOBA president” he added.
Apparently, after Yaounde Chapter members realised their candidate would lose to the younger challenger Barrister Kameni (a roll call indicated Yaounde had only 91 members while Buea had 113) they refused to accept any proxy voting even though the constitution allowed this to take place. A couple of other consitutional clauses were also violated as Barrister Kameni said in a strongly worded response to the first story we published on Monday August 12th 2013 announcing the election of Prof Ngwafor as the new SOBA national president.
On the line to Buea, Barrister Kameni confirmed he was not in a “do or die fight” to take over SOBA affairs and was mostly interested in getting a complete audit of the accounts of the association which has not been done so far. He alleged more than 100 million frs CFA was unaccounted for and a number of projects were sanctioned and never carried out. Kameni said among other things, his project as president was to construct an ultra modern library for the school. He now has to wait another three years for other elections if the present elections are not declared null and void.
A couple of different sources confirmed to Iroko Africa that the battle for the SOBA presidency was particularly fierce and the position is considered a trophy because of the colossal 500 million FCFA budgeted for various projects in the school in view of next year’s 75th anniversary celebrations of Sasse college.
Sasse chapters in the diaspora have been raising funds towards next year’s anniversary celebrations but a couple of SOBANS have said they will not be contributing till there is an extensive audit of the accounts of the association.
In its 74 years, Sasse college has graduated some of the most renowned scholars, teachers, and scientists in and out of Cameroon. The college however is still housed mostly in structures that Mill Hill missionaries constructed before the college opened in 1939.
Since the UK based missionaries left Cameroon, Cameroonian principals and some SOBA executives have done little to improve the toilets, refectory and many other amenities present day students should be enjoying. Most students in the school today are children of the people who were fighting each other to manage the budget of SOBA which is one of the biggest of any ex secondary school association in the country.
Some SOBA members in the UK and US have called for fresh elections and a comprehensive auditing of the accounts of the association before they will make any future contributions.
The Buea chapter of SOBA will be meeting later today to decide on what action to take next after some of its members boycotted last saturday’s elections