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Anglophone Problem: Lawyers, Teachers Bent On Federalism As Only Solution 

By Francis Tim Mbom

Lawyers have reiterated their stance that ‘Federalism’ is the only way to solve the current impasse Common Law lawyers and Anglophone teachers have with the Government.

The lawyers took their stance after the ‘No to Federalism’ outing by the CPDM party in Buea on December 6, and their aborted attempt to hold a rally in Bamenda on December 8.

In their reaction as to the “no federalism” call by Jean Kuete and his party militants in Buea, the lawyers were unanimous in the re-affirmation of their stance that Federalism, which was the system of governance opted for by the Southern Cameroons leadership before October 1, 1961, remains the only solution to the Anglophone Problem as tabled to the Head of State, Paul Biya, through Prime Minister Philemon Yang, when he went to Bamenda a week ago.

Barrister Henry Ngale Monono, a prominent Limbe-based lawyer, had this to say:
“The Government has been ill-advised.

It is not a party matter. It is a nation, a people, the Anglophone community putting their foot down and saying, ‘enough is enough.’ We can no longer be 2nd class citizens.

The lawyers and the teachers have sparked a fuse of unrest and unless and until the Government takes appropriate measures to diffuse the situation, it can degenerate into a situation where base instincts will arise.

“The Northwest and Southwest are saying the same thing and many Francophones are even supporting us.

Because every Anglophone is now aware that when they tell you that ‘Cameroon is One and Indivisible, they simply mean to say ‘we have been assimilated.’

We find ourselves in a situation where the people advising the Head of State don’t tell him the truth or, maybe, they lack the intellectual competence to understand what is on the table. The Anglophones are a people. We have a common culture, common language.

The Francophones want us to think like them, behave like them, act like them which is not possible.

Some Anglophones, given the intransigence of the Government to satisfactorily respond to the crisis, think that Anglophones, as a nation, should now file a suit against the Government at the International Court of Justice.

The International Court of Justice cannot come and put order in Cameroon. Cameroon is a sovereign state. The international law is no law because the International Court does not have a bailiff to execute any judgment against Cameroon.

As Cameroonians, we must be able to solve our problems. It is only when a situation degenerates into warfare that you will see the UN come with its peace keeping forces.

President Biya is normally somebody who takes his time. You remember in the multiparty days, there was a lot of ‘dimabolaism.’ But at the end of the day, Biya said there will be multipartism.

I am sure that at the end of the day, he will decide. But as we are saying, Federalism is the only way out of this situation.

We the Anglophones have been pushed to the precipice where the ordinary Anglophone is saying that it is either federalism or secession. Federalism is the only way out.

Why is it that when you have a land certificate problem in Limbe, it should only be the Minister right in Yaounde who can cancel that Land certificate? Over centralisation is bad.

We want Federalism so that power should divulge away from the center onto the peripheries. We are tired of a centralised State.

We as Anglophones know what Federalism is. It has worked in America, Nigeria and India. It has even worked here before Ahidjo and Biya came and did what they did. So, we in Anglophone Cameroon, we want Federalism.

The Minister of Justice is the one who has contributed to the rise of base instincts where people are now killing each other as has happened in Bamenda and Kumba.

In fact, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Communication and Higher Education should be sacked.

The arrogance with which these Ministers, plus Jean Kuete, have addressed this situation is unbecoming.

They cannot treat people with such superciliousness. Can 2000 lawyers all be wrong? Can 20,000 teachers be all wrong? Can seven million Anglophones be all wrong? I think these individuals should re-examine their intellects and see how best this problem can be resolved.

Barrister Collins Arrey

Barrister Arrey Collins of   Limbe

Barrister Arrey Collins of Limbe

The recent CPDM or SDF rallies have nothing to do with the lawyers. But when the voice of the people comes calling, there is nothing you are supposed to do as a reasonable person, than to respect it.

When the people rise up and say this is what they want, a democratic Government should be able to give a listening ear.

As a Common Law lawyer, all I am begging is for the Government to give a listening ear to the people. We Common Law lawyers are not happy with the current situation.

Cameroon has always been a peaceful country. But if the people have risen up today and have said these are their problems, I am begging on our Government to listen to its people. What is happening today as in Bamenda and elsewhere was not in any way instigated by the lawyers.

All we are saying is that if they could not listen to us because, maybe, our voices were too few, then, the people have taken up their destinies into their own hands and the Government must listen.

We are preaching national unity as they say, but this time under a federal system of Government as the way out.

Issues raised against Anglophone marginalisation are real. We are entreating the Government, with all due respect, to go back to the Lawyers’ memos, look at them and say something.

The Government needs to go back and reread the preamble of the Constitution of this country and they will find that all we are asking for is the respect of our values as enshrined in this constitution.

Retired Teacher, Moki Monono

Retired Teacher, Moki Monono

Retired Teacher, Moki Monono

Initially the lawyers had some complaints about the ‘Francophonisation’ of the judicial system this way. The teachers also had some complaints. The root of the matter is that the Anglophone community in Cameroon is asking for Federalism.

The problems of the lawyers and of the teachers fall within our conception of what we see as a Cameroonian State which is no longer functioning. That is why we want a Federal State where we can run some of our own affairs.

If you look at the present Constitution of Cameroon, it talks of a decentralised Unitary State.

The Government itself does not believe in this decentralised Unitary State. We are supposed to, as per this constitution, have regional assemblies which will deliberate on various problems within the Regions.

Even then, if you look at Article 67 of the Constitution, the Regional Assemblies will still be controlled by appointed delegates from Yaounde.

So, we say we are tired of that kind of colonialism. The Head of a Region must be a democratically elected leader, answerable to the people of that Region.

We don’t want a pro-consul sent from Yaounde to come and supervise our being here. So, what we need is a strong federated State.

It can be in the form of one state, encompassing the Northwest and the Southwest, or it can be a two state federal structure with the Northwest as a federal state and same for the Southwest.

The West Region, too, will have their own State which will enable them to be able to handle the problems affecting them in their own Region just as the Betis and the others.

I don’t believe that when Anglophones ask for Federalism, it should be that they are moving towards secession. No! We are Cameroonians and will always remain Cameroonians.

But we have been so marginalised and made so angry that among the youths, there are many who already think secession is the best option.

The bulk of the population and the most reasonable among the Anglophone folks are looking for Federalism and not a semblance of it. Some Francophones are angry that we are complaining.

We are complaining because so many things are wrong with Cameroon.

If you want to go to ENAM, you must only bribe your way in with millions; Ecole Normale Superieur and the others, the story of bribing is the same. And when you go and look closely at the lists of students admitted into these institutions, you might not see names of Anglophones.

So, our objective is not only to free the Anglophones but Cameroonians as a whole from these malpractices.

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