A 12 man delegation of SOBA UK met newly elected SOBA president general Prof Ephraim Ngwafor in London on Saturday August 17 2013. Prof Ngwafor was on a private visit to the UK and following his elections and while on the visit he planned long ago, he asked to meet members of SOBA UK.
The delegation included SOBA UK President Francis Shupo Secretary General Bime Lafon ,Treasurer Ayuk Akoh-Arrey and the newly elected SOBA VP for Europe Joki Manga.
One of the issues they discussed was the hotly contested August 10th 2013 elections in Buea during which tempers flared delaying proceedings for a number of hours. The elections finally took place in the absence of the main challenger Barrister John Kameni who had walked out of the hall earlier due to an argument over voting procedures. Barrister John Kameni and some of his supporters were not happy the voting committee refused to accept their proposal for proxy voting. Some members who walked out eventually returned and there were enough members present for the elections to go ahead according to Prof Ngwafor.
According to Ayuk Akoh-Arrey, SOBA UK treasurer who attended the Saturday meeting with Prof Ngwafor, the former Yaounde 2 rector said the atmosphere at the elective meeting was not good and not what he had expected.
He said some members did walk out of the elections though some later returned. On the contentious issue of proxy votes, Prof Ngwafor and others said there was no provision for proxy voting in the SOBA constitution.
He, however, said he is personally open to a revision of the constitution that will include proxy voting.
This the Prof Ngwafor added, would be part of revisions he would like to see in a new SOBA constitution. The input from SOBA members around the world would be sort in order to revise the constitution which was written many years ago and now needed some revisions.
The elections of Prof Ngwafor generated a lot of controversy among some SOBA members according to Iroko Africa investigations and the dust has still not settled. Akoh-Arrey refused to be drawn one way or another if SOBA UK meeting with Prof Ngwafor soon after the controversial elections was an endorsement of his elections. He said “it is not the role of SOBA UK to endorse the President General but his visit here was clearly an opportunity to catch up and introduce ourselves”. In addition, an invite to the SOBA UK Convention scheduled for October 12 2013 in the City of Reading was extended to the professor, if he could make it again to the UK at that time.
“I found him (Prof Ngwafor) to be sincere, well spoken and with ambitious aspirations for SOBA and he appeared very capable to lead the association”, Akoh-Arrey said.
Akoh-Arrey said another pertinent issue SOBA UK discussed with Prof Ngwafor was the progress on the sick bay project which was started over four years ago and was now at the roofing stage. SOBA UK requested Prof Ngwafor to liaise with Bishops’ House on their behalf to facilitate the next stage of the project. He said SOBA UK now had approximately 4 million FCFA to disburse for the project but needed assurances that the next stage would be managed properly because of the change in the college principal with whom SOBA UK have had no dealings with. Prof Ngwafor promised to help liaise with the Bishop’s House to get the sick bay project completed soon.
To date, only SOBA UK, SOBA USA and Bishops’ House has made contributions to the project but Akoh-Arrey said SOBA UK will be seeking financial support from SOBA Cameroon and other diaspora branches to complete the project.
On developments he will be introducing during his 3 year presidency, Prof Ngwafor told SOBA UK members he wanted SOBA to have a website that all the various SOBA branches around the world could be affiliated to. This website would help to improve communication and networking amongst Sobans. For example, the SOBA constitution that few Sobans know about or have read would be accessible on the website. Progress on development activities would be published on the website.
SOBA UK is very keen to maintain its independence and though it wants to be affiliated to the mother branch in Cameroon, still wants to be independent enough to form its own view on any proposals from SOBA which would be in the best interest of its more than 120 registered members.
In a related development, SOBA Buea chapter whose presidential candidate Barrister John kameni was the main challenger during the August 10th 2013 elections met last Wednesday August 14th 2013 and decided to officially send a motion to new SOBA president Prof Ngwafor asking for an immediate audit of the accounts of SOBA in Cameroon.
Iroko Africa has learnt that the 500 Milion FCFA budgeted for next year’s 75th anniversary celebrations (which outgoing president Prof Ngwandi confirmed) and that arrangements for management of the funds was a key issue in the bitter rancor of the August 10th 2013 elections.
More details on the SOBA UK Convention on 12th October can found here