Update. Saturday February 15th 2014
It is now official. The protocol service of the presidency finally did manage to convince Right Royal President Paul Biya, to take time off his numerous vacations abroad to visit Buea, on Thursday February 20th 2014. He is supposed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Unification of English and French speaking Cameroon but that was supposed to have happened almost four years ago. No excuses are being offered for why it has taken so long and why numerous occasions, including the programmed graduation of university of Buea students had to be postponed because of the visit of one man, whoever he is.
Reports from Buea now say the town is in a state of siege as an advance security team of gun welding security operatives are in town to make sure the princely visit is uneventful. The noisy and vocal militant but divided Southern Cameroons “secessionists” movements had threatened to disrupt the occasion. Dozens have been arrested and told in no uncertain not to obstruct the event, Trigger happy troops need little excuse to gun down civilians across Cameroon.
We gathered inhabitants of Buea just want the nightmare to be over and their town to return to normal. They have been held hostage long enough. So Mr President, go quietly and leave Buea as quietly as you met the sleeping mountain own.
By Oben Carl Ayuk Cole in Buea, Cameroon
It was no accident when presidential protocol in the presidency of Cameroon decided to organize 50th anniversary celebrations to mark the reunification of French and English speaking Cameroon. Through some German stubbornness, Cameroon, a former German territory was “shared” between France and England after they defeated the Germans in the First World War. Buea was the first capital city of Cameroon though that privilege has since moved to Yaounde
The fateful decision was taken in 2010 but strangely enough, presidential protocol did not include the difficulties of rebuilding Buea, and how to fit that with the extremely “busy” schedule of Mr Biya. (Must I add here he spends half of the year abroad on “brief” private visits?)
When the decision was taken for Buea to host the president, he dutifully instructed the various Ministries concerned with the organization to help get the construction going so everything could happen by the end of -2010!
Some key projects were earmarked and embarked on. Some have completed, some are pending and others have since been abandoned. Several evaluation meetings held the whole country was told Buea was ready to host Mr Biya and whatever entourage he deices to visit the historic capital with.
The president was however taking his time to decide when he will visit.
Buea inhabitants and people of the organizing committee have waited for more than two years and at some point, believed the even had been called off.
Finally, in an interview with Charles Ndongo outside the Bastos polling station after voting during the September 2013 local and parliamentary elections, the President said that the reason for his no show in Buea was because construction works across Buea that had since been abandoned and was a shadow of what it used to be, had not finished. Evidently, the president did not explain why the whole country is so underdeveloped that massive construction works need to be carried out each time he decides to visit one of his ten “regions”. He however promised the event will take place by the end of 2013.
That was another presidential Lie.
He never came and I am writing this in January 2014 and the event might still not take place this year. The president has apparently held the people of Buea hostage by not turning up for a celebration he must be regretting now he ever accepted to be held in Buea.
December 14, 2013 was marked as the day when the President will preside over the 50th Anniversary commemorations in Buea. New deadlines were set for work to end, but instead, the more the deadline drew closer, the less that is accomplished and the more new projects are started.
It was only around December 12, when they started fixing cracks on the road and filling potholes along the high way. In the University of Buea where most of the activities are expected to take place, it was then that they started repairs on the open amphi theatre, and started bulldozing an area for a parking lot. It was eminent that the President will not meet his end-of-year rendezvous under such conditions.
The entrance to the University of Buea has being fixed for this visit and there was even talk that preparations were underway to confer the President an honoris causa (honourary degree) when he comes. I have lost cunt of how many he now has.
Contractors who never deliver on time
So are some silly contractors who cannot finish projects in time responsible for Mr Biya’s Buea no show?
Tchoungui Lionel, a resident of Buea complains that the contractors are not serious with the construction works that are ongoing and this could be attributed to the lack of adequate control measures. And that is why they keep pushing the dates forward. He adds that even the reunification monument which is one of the smallest of the earmarked projects has not been completed yet.
Some of the projects that were announced at the beginning, like the much trumpeted new Kuve Hotel have simply been shelved. Most inhabitants of Buea believe now they have been taken for one huge presidential ride.
Police Harassment and insecurity:
Fred Kome, a Buea university student says that the delay in hosting the 50th anniversary of the reunification has heightened insecurity and police harassment in the town. The police go around town arresting innocent citizens and hold them to ransom.
Fred recounts how on leaving his friends’ house in Malingo recently, after 10 pm, he was apprehended by the police at the Malingo junction. As he tried to present his National Identity card, he was instead asked to get into a police vehicle. They did not ask him any questions and did not care to listen from him. Instead, they brutalized him and dragged him to the cell where he was detained for the night. He was made to pay the sum of FCFA 15,000 before he was released.
Postponement of UB Graduation:
The 2013 convocation ritual, which in the past took place in the month of December, has been postponed indefinitely, until the presidential problematic visit.
Many students waiting to graduate have complained that the delay in the convocation ceremony has an adverse effect on their programmes. Those with plans to travel abroad after graduation cannot do so.
Another student claim that, should this ceremony fall on a difficult month, the event will not have the grandeur that it deserves. And that, graduating students who are working already may not easily go through the process involved.
Retards Business Activity and Creates inconveniences:
Mr Mbah, a Buea-based business man says that the delay in the 50th anniversary celebration is creating an unfavourable climate for business. First they have been compelled to repaint their buildings white, not considering that it has not been long since they were ordered to painted them.
Also, he said businesses are forced to close much earlier so they don’t become victims of policemen looking for the next victim to ask for a bribe.
Nsorsie Peter, a journalist has criticized the government for carrying out developmental projects only when the president has to visit or when the region has to host a great event like this. Normally, development work is much neglected.
Over dependence on the President:
Many things about the country revolve around one man, the President, which is dictatorship. The President decides when elections should hold, when a football competition final should be played, when an event like the reunification should hold. It’s crazy and the whole country must dance to the tune of the all powerful “emperor” without a crown.