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Appointing Atanga Nji, Nalova Lyonga Ministers Is Provocation Of Anglophones– Fru Ndi 

SDF National Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi, says the appointment of the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea, Dr. Nalova Lyonga as Minister of Secondary Education and Paul Atanga Nji as Minister of Territorial Administration, is an act of provocation of Anglophones.

Ni John Fru Ndi

He made the observation in an exclusive interview with The Post in Yaounde recently. He argued that Atanga Nji and Nalova Lyonga are the very people who stoked the embers of the Anglophone Crisis by way of false, irresponsible utterances and dictatorial behaviour. Excerpts:

The Post: You are one of those who have articulated the Anglophone Problem, SDF MPs were even demonstrating, both at the National Assembly and in the Senate for the Problem to be handled within this institution. Why would you be targeted by secessionists whom you said attempted to burn down your compound?

Ni John Fru Ndi: I have absolutely nothing in my bag against the secessionists. I said that they are asking for secession because they’ve been pushed to the wall. If a child cries one, two, three times you don’t do something about it, then what do you expect?

You remember that I am the first person who told the students in the Northwest that I support them in fighting for their rights. I also went down to the Southwest and met the students in Buea to tell them that I was with them. When the teachers and the lawyers rose in protest, I supported them. So, for people in diaspora, like your colleague, John Mbah Akuru, who picked on me and rained insults on me. Some of these people are those I protected, prevented from being imprisoned, from being killed. Their problem now is Fru Ndi. For them to leave Biya and focus on me, up to the point that they attempt burning my house is what I cannot understand up till today.

Are you saying that there is smoke without fire?

They thought that I’ll say something bad against the Anglophones. But the truth is that, there is an Anglophone Problem and it can be resolved in different ways. The people in the Diaspora are doing their own. We are also doing our own the way we started in the 90s. We think that we can change Cameroon through the ballot box, but for people to stand and say Fru Ndi get out of Parliament, get out of Council, get out of Senate, ”No elections in our Ambaland” is not reasonable. Who is a more Anglophone than I? We’re all Anglophones; we were born in Anglophone Cameroon. I challenged them over a BBC interview some few months back. I said if the Anglophone leadership in the Diaspora wants me for a talk with them anywhere in the world, they should tell me and for sure I will meet them there.

This will be a chance for them to tell me what they are doing and I will let them also know what I am doing. But for a young man to sit in his taxi in America and say” Fru Ndi I’m telling you.” Who are you to give orders to Fru Ndi? For me to take a position on any issue I sit down with the National Executive Committee, we debate, deliberate and take resolutions. And up till now that I am talking to you, I believe that most of the so called Ambazonians are CPDM agents.

Why do you think so?

They have come down to attack Fru Ndi and the SDF Mayors and Councillors. Look at the situation in Belo, the entire Kom land. They are kidnapping Councillors or their siblings for ransom. We have CPDM Councillors in Fundong who all voted in the March 25 Senate elections and none of them has been harassed, let alone kidnapped. In Ndu the Mayor’s house was attacked and many things destroyed. When you complain to the administration, they tell you that the Mayor knows the people, he should denounce them. Is that an approach? Are the Mayors the police and army to go and arrest the boys if they know where they are and who they are?

So I say that, the present situation has turned to guerrilla warfare where the CPDM people are targeting SDF militants and sympathisers. Can you imagine that in the last elections a camera was implanted in a polling station in Mbengwi? This camera was planted with the intention to see those that were going to vote against the CPDM, so that they will get them killed. We know the CPDM and their tricks. We are watching.

For the past two weeks, Minister Atanga Nji, has been going with peace plants, suing for dialogue in the Anglophone Crisis. What is your reaction to this?

Well, he is putting the cart before the horse. He would have told Mr. Biya to summon the discussion, to initiate dialogue, to call people in for dialogue. If he does that and Mr. Biya invites people, we can now be talking.
The Anglophone children that have been pushed to the bush are merely defending themselves. It is Mr. Biya who declared war on the Anglophones. I remember the Pope came here about three times and Mr. Biya took communion from him directly and for him to be taking the very lips to declare war on the Anglophones is what I cannot comprehend.

It’s unfortunate that the same Paul Atanga Nji who said there is no Anglophone Problem is carrying peace plants around for peace. Even when they made him Minister he repeated the same statement. When he says there is no Anglophone Problem and he is carrying peace plant again to say that the Anglophone Problem need dialogue, it is controversial. By the way, who should initiate the dialogue? Is it Fru Ndi, Chiefs or the person who made him Minister?

I remember that one of the immediate causes of the Anglophone Problem started with Atanga Nji coming to force hold a CPDM meeting in Bamenda. The children rebelled and drove him off. The now Secondary Education Minister, Nalova Lyonga, equally fuelled the Crisis in the Southwest where gendarmes brought out students from their hostels and dragged them in mud, rubbed them in the murky waters, which is unfortunate. For Mr. Biya to appoint those two people, Nalova Lyonga and Atanga Nji as ministers amount to sheer provocation of Anglophones.

I congratulate them for their ministerial positions, but the average Anglophone considers these appointments as insult. I want to wish them well in their offices, but, will this resolve the Anglophone Problem? I know that Anglophones were asking Biya why one of theirs has never been made Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation.

While making Atanga Nji Minister of Territorial Administration, they removed the Decentralisation which is where the budget is, to give somebody else. He came out with his peace plant, but I wonder whether it’s the father who gives the peace plant to the son or the other way round.

So he goes out to say no people can win a war against the State because I said no State can ever win a war against the people. Look at what is happening. As I sat here, a gentleman came, told me that the Boko Haram went to the North and killed people who were asleep in a camp, including a village boy of mine who is in the army. How can Mr. Biya be fighting Boko Haram and declares war against the Anglophones.

During the Senate election, he sent his Prime Minister, who took a team to Bamenda for one week. The Prime Minister, supposedly the Head of Government, was accompanied by the Minister of Territorial Administration, the Minister of State Control and others who spent huge sums of the tax payer’s money. As I am talking to you, the money allocated to the SDF for the Senate election campaigns, has not been given up till this moment.

When I sent the Accountant to the Ministry of Territorial Administration to find out what’s happening, he said they had sent the money into our account. When he verified, there was nothing in the account. He asked how much it was, they said FCFA 13 million. The SDF borrowed far more than that for people to campaign in five constituencies. We went out without military protection, meaning the CPDM that went into 10 Regions had FCFA 26 million. While the Prime Minister was running up and down in Bamenda for one full week with soldiers, Atanga Nji was going his own way also with soldiers. Are we saying that they spent just FCFA 26 million?

That is why I got angry with an interview that I came across where the CPDM people said they deployed all the means within their reach to win everything. I asked myself is it just FCFA 26 million of the tax payers’ money they used to dribble the people to do wrong things.

The Minister of Territorial Administration made it clear that Government only dialogue with those who still believe in the Unitary State…?

You see, when you are dialoguing, you cannot choose to dialogue only with the person who has the same ideas with you. You have to go an extra mile. I wonder why they have not asked those who are fighting for secession why they are doing so.

It means they were angry somewhere, somehow. These children, whom they call secessionists, have been pushed to the wall and they tell you that instead of us going in for the Unitary State, they want to secede. Can we give them the chance to express themselves? You want to secede? Yes!!! Why? Are you not saying we should not secede? But what can we do to still be together? Nothing! Please calm down, don’t be angry.

You see when we sit down after a war to finalise issues of the war, they don’t count how many people died in order to equalise the number before they reach a discussion.

First, Atanga Nji is a Minister, and he was supposed to take information from the Chiefs, the Fons and the people he brought the peace plant to, back to Mr. Biya; to say this is what these people whom I gave the peace plant to are saying. But he starts taking positions, no people can win a war against their Government, we cannot hold talks with these citizens. You are a messenger going to the field, then take what the people have told you to Mr. Biya, sir, this is what the people want.

Right now there are many groups with different shades of opinion in the Anglophone Crisis, what should be the point of convergence for a peaceful solution to this Problem?

I think that’s a question you should ask the people, not me because I am not in their groups. If I were in their groups I will say that let us call that person that has done you what you are complaining of. I have never been involved and my opinion will be on my own approach.

I believe in the ballot box, I believe in children going to school, I believe in the Federal System of governance in the country. If for any reason, we feel that it cannot work at all, please let us sit down and talk. We act like friends; after all there are Francophone boys that are married to Anglophone girls and vice versa. Are we saying, like some of our boys who said: “tell Fru Ndi to leave our Ambaland?” Now, what about the children of the Anglophones who are married to Francophone girls, where will you keep those children? Should we slaughter them? The issue is more complicated that we should look for a way to see how we can resolve this because if you are seceding, let us do it the right way.

This is my house here in Yaounde; there are houses of Francophones in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. So, when they start telling me to go away I will tell them that unfortunately, some of them don’t have the investments I have in Bamenda. Even if you secede and you think that I am a persona non-grata, you’ll not destroy my property. I think that Atanga Nji is not helping the situation.

You accuse the army of burning down houses. Do you have evidence?

I may not have any evidence per se. Sacred Heart Mankon, PSS Bafut, PSS Batibo, Saint Paul’s College in Nkwen all got burnt under the protection of the soldiers. Then they tell you to go and ask the students, ask the principal and the people, if a thief visited their compound. The first person they should question is the night watch.

How come these soldiers didn’t see the people that burnt the houses? And also, my compound was burnt during the period of the curfew. Where were all the policemen, gendarmes that are supposed to guard the town? They will tell you that they cannot be everywhere at the same time. But, what about the places in which they were? The unfortunate thing is that when these things happen, some of these so called secessionists will take pride and tell you “Oh! We burnt, we did it, we did it!”

How can you be fighting to liberate and free the people then you’re destroying their properties? You destroy my house and you want me to support you. In 1990, up till now I never accepted and tolerated the destruction of properties. I went out personally and fought to protect people’s properties.

Are you happy with the conduct and the outcome of the Senate elections?

I cannot be happy with an election that was conducted in war zones with all the illegalities and inequalities. The money that was supposed to be given to political parties for campaigns was never given. CPDM Councillors were caged so that other political parties should not reach them.

So if elections are done under these conditions, how could one be happy?

It is now very clear that your party is having seven seats from the Northwest Region. Unlike in the last legislature, you will not be able to have a Parliamentary Group at the Senate. Is that a worry to you?

That is the way the CPDM wants it, a monolithic Senate where they can do and undo. But we had to go into elections to make sure that our presence is there in the Parliament. Though few in the National Assembly and even in the Senate, they were still able to do many things that recorded some successes.

The fact that you allowed somebody else to be the presidential candidate in your party received a lot of approval from the public. What interpretation did you give to this approval?

I supported Hon. Joshua Osih because I felt like sending the younger people back to the field. You are all witnesses to the fact that I toured Cameroon 20 times in 28 years, on the rough roads and really as you can see the body is weak now. I can still manage to go to places but not with the vigour that I had. So, if for this number of years I had young men and women who saw me doing what I was doing and in a convention, they were able to choose one that they think can lead, I can now say I am a happy person.

Since the launch of the SDF 28 years ago, is there anything that happened to you that you regretted being a politician in this country?

I enjoyed all my experiences, I enjoyed all my hardihood, I enjoyed all the attacks that they meted on me and I thank God Almighty for empowering me and giving me the abilities to handle all these things. Otherwise, I don’t think we would have been talking today.

I have been poisoned, they have knocked me down with their car in the centre of Yaounde here, poured water on me and they shot at me in Bafoussam. They poured water on me in Douala and did other things to make sure that I was eliminated, but the Lord God Almighty with the prayers of Cameroonian faithful cast in my life.

So, I keep thanking God and I have nothing to regret. If today were my end, I would be dying with a great smile thanking God that I am very satisfied with all that I’ve done and I appreciate everything he has done to protect my life.

How far would you say you have gone in achieving the objectives of the SDF?

Moses left Egypt for the Promised Land. He never reached there but the Israelites reached there.
Interviewed by Yerima Kini Nsom & * Jeanne Ornella Pouga (*Siantou University Student On Internship)