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Interviewed by Yerima Kini Nsom — International lawyer and peace crusader, Barrister Ntumfor Nico Halle, says in this exclusive interview that “the worst enemy of the Anglophone in Cameroon is the Anglophone.” Nico Halle made the observation on the eve of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the reunification of Cameroon in Buea on February 20. In his usual vocal manner, the lawyer said despite accusations that Francophones marginalise Anglophones in Cameroon; the greatest enemy of the Anglophone is the Anglophone. Read on:

The Post: The 50th anniversary of the reunification of Cameron will be taking place in Buea on February 20, what are the issues you expect the various stakeholders to handle during this event?

Barrister Ntumfor Nico Halle: Before I go to what I expect of stakeholders, I will like to take you down memory lane and indicate that this reunification that we are celebrating now was meant for the unity, integration and the peace of Cameroon. It was also meant for mutual trust, it was meant for justice and equity. Unfortunately, it was not properly handled from the onset. Some of our forefathers, the unifiers went to unify Cameroon in diverse camps, with diverse opinions, with parochial interests.

Because if they were a united front, they would have stood for a cause, they would not have allowed themselves to be outsmarted. I have the impression that even now that the division still exists; it does not go well for any permanent peace and national integration. I do appreciate the efforts that they made. But as I said earlier on there were lapses in the negotiations as per history that we read.

What are the lapses you are talking about and what have been the consequences over the years?

People have blamed it on the level of education. I take exception because these were politicians who had experienced politics in the former Republic of Nigeria and they were not naïve, they were not docile to the best of my knowledge. The major lapse that I find in the reunification arrangement was the division in interest, which has haunted us up to now and has continued. You even see right now, there are many more political parties than there were in those days. A people who cannot unite themselves behind one idea are doomed.

Some observers hold that the politicians of Southern Cameroons were honest while their counterparts of East Cameroon were very dishonest…

I will differ because if the people were united, they would have debunked the dishonesty of the other side. You will see clearly the manipulation that you are talking about because I think what I see as a problem has been because of our underdog position; our second fiddle position. Our bootlicking position is because of divisive tendencies that we don’t agree.

If you know the rate and the extent to which the Anglophones themselves fight against each other, you will be scandalised. The Anglophones are a force; the Anglophones are very intelligent, peace-loving, I even say patriotic. But a few who are in leadership positions had this parochial self-interest position that did damage and continues to damage the interest of Anglophones.

So, don’t blame it on the Francophones and that is why I have said, and continue to say, the Anglophone’s first and worst enemy is an Anglophone. You know so well how many Anglophones have brought down Anglophones. Come to think about it, tomorrow you hear that somebody has been appointed General Manager, Minister, Minister Delegate, Prime Minister or Secretary General; it is only the Anglophones who fight and bring him down.

You said bluntly on CRTV Radio a few years ago that anybody who does not admit that there is an Anglophone problem is dishonest. What is the Anglophone problem and how can it be solved in Buea?

I did not only say the person is dishonest. I said anybody who says there is no Anglophone problem is dishonest, hypocritical, a liar and should never be trusted, that is what I said. The Anglophone problem is the Anglophone. That is the first problem. When a house is torn apart, it is divided against itself then of course you open up for a stranger to come in and take the spoils and take benefits and take advantage.

So, why are Anglophones a force to reckon with in this nation? The average Francophone respects the Anglophone and doesn’t want to use the word fear; respects the Anglophone for his honesty, for his intelligence, for his image.

Unfortunately, there are a few Anglophones who think that without them, there is no Northwest, there is no Southwest. I say again, it is not the majority; it is a few who are manipulated, who want the division to continue so that they make financial gains and capital. I just said a few moments ago, see how many Anglophones are fought, and see how many of us are fought.

Am sure you have been fought, I have also been fought and am sure you know how many General Managers, Ministers, Prime Ministers, Secretary Generals, Ministers of State, Anglophones who have been destroyed only by Anglophones. We are specialised in tons of petitions and smear campaigns.

But I have said why can the Anglophones not prove that it is different? Look at how we are so engraved in decadence and we even take part in frontline election rigging. My heart bleeds because in this nation, the Anglophones ought to have their place but they opt to play second fiddle to be seen singing hallelujah songs.

Historians have stated that the Anglophone problem was fuelled by the obliteration of the Southern Cameroonian nationhood, how much blame would you put at the doorsteps of the various successive Francophone governments?

I think that they have only taken advantage of our already divided nature. I will go back to the same thing. If you are a force to reckon with, you will not fall prey to such a situation. So, let us look at each other eyeball to eyeball and ask ourselves why we hate each other. Why we don’t love each other?

Because we are starting with love, the love of your self, the love of God, the love of one another. I tell you, you can name a hundred cases that you know where your brothers, my brothers have been brought down or people close to you have been brought down only by Anglophones. Isn’t it shameful? So, don’t place it at the doorsteps of any other person. I’m not saying that the Anglophones are not marginalised but this marginalisation is coming from your already weakened position.

It looks like you are advocating a meeting for Anglophones and attempt to solve the division in another “All Anglophone Conference.” How far can the 50th anniversary of the reunification in Buea handle this problem?

 When you talk of the All Anglophone Conference, I am not advocating for that, definitely not. I am advocating for love. We don’t need to meet at conferences for love to prevail from one brother to one brother or from one sister to one sister. We should go back to the Bible, love God with all your heart, strength, mind and might and love your neighbour as yourself.

Where there is love, there is justice and where there is justice, there is peace and where there is peace, there is mutual development, mutual growth, mutual evolution and mutual advancement. Take away love, Anglophones will continue to be weakened, they will continue to play second fiddle, and remain underdogs.

What role do you think President Biya can play in Buea to provide a solution to this problem?

I personally admired the way Olusegun Obasanjo and Biya handled the Bakassi palaver. The crisis that was a potential explosive bloodbath for not only Nigeria and Cameroon, but it was going to spread into a full-blown war that was going to take millions of lives. You remember during the 50th anniversary of the military in the Northwest Region, I did propose that both statesmen be given an award.

An award was prepared but again, it was torpedoed, not by the Francophones but by the Anglophones and then some other group took advantage and gave a gift to the Head of State because it would have come from the Northwest and would have had a big meaning.

Olusegun Obasanjo and his colleague Biya, whether you like it or not, they did much, shelved their pride, self-interest, ego because it is during wars, conflicts that heads of state enrich themselves through the sale and purchase of ammunition. But they said we would not want money, wealth from the blood of our citizens, both of them. And they turned their backs.

How can that experience help to resolve the Anglophone problem viewed by many observers as a potentially explosive problem in Cameroon that will one day ignite war?

Yes, this is same dialogue we see, wisdom which he and his colleague used; he can still use this dialogue. I see him using this dialogue. I pray he should use this dialogue so that the Anglophone problem should be taken care of. The Anglophones have said that they are never considered in ministerial appointments, true.

They have said that they are always assistants, true. I am not saying it is a lie; this is what they have said. But why is it that they are always considered second fiddle? Because they are not forces to reckon with, because when you don’t have peace in your house, you don’t expect to have peace out of your house. 

And so, the first thing is put peace in your house. Take out the big log from your eye and then you can see the small specks that are in somebody’s eye. And I say the Anglophones have a problem and this problem needs to be taken care of and it can only be so if what I have said happens.

What are other things that you think Biya is going to handle during this anniversary?

I suspect that he is going to come up with a series of some major projects. You know so well that the build-up to this great event has been a huge project that has been realised in that region. I think that the Governor of the Southwest Region has been on his toes, working indefatigably, from all the media reports.

I think that much have been done in the region but because farm-to-market roads have not been taken care of, there is still a problem, power is still a problem and schools and hospitals are still problems they will bring up. And there are still roads that need to be refurbished. I think he is going to address some of these issues.

Will you still blame this underdevelopment on the division of Anglophones?

I will partly, partly because we do not need to be united to have development. You could be divided and have development because development is coming from a nation, the taxpayer’s money goes to development. It has to be justly and equitably distributed to all the regions. Maybe, they could also be divided because of poverty, unemployment and increase of moral decadence.

Don’t you think that this government has really been unfair to the Anglophones especially the Southwest Region where only two divisions are linked by a tarred road; Meme and Fako? Ndian Division from where oil comes does not have a tarred road…

I take exception to this assertion. If I had my way, money generated from anywhere in the Republic should be used to develop anywhere equitably. So, it is not because oil finds itself in a particular region that we should take advantage.

But the fact is, they have used money from this oil to develop other regions, neglecting where the oil is coming from?

That is where the injustice is coming in. I am not aware of the statistics of that situation. But if that were the situation, then of course there is a problem.

It is very clear because Ndian hasn’t got a tarred road…

But why must Ndian not get a road with PAMOL that is producing the palm oil? PAMOL is making a lot; it employs many Cameroonians and is taking part in development. The road should be tarred. So, if money is taken to develop some other places without due regard to where the money is coming from, then there is something definitely and seriously wrong.

Do you have any last appeal?

I see Cameroon as a big nation. Cameroon has all the natural resources to make the country a model in Africa and it is a peaceful island in a turbulent Africa, the Switzerland of Africa and the bread-basket of Africa. I think that Cameroon has all it takes. We just need to change our mentality and join the Head of State to the fight against moral decadence, corruption and all the other ills that have stagnated us.

First published in The Post print edition no 01506

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