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As Credit Union Strikes 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

CameroonPostline.com — Government has issued a stern warning to detractors and other malicious people who are scheming to kill the Cameroon Cooperative Credit Union League, CAMCCUL.

According to the warning, some persons are trying kill CAMCCUL through acts of blackmail, backstabbing and deliberate loan delinquency. This was the main message representative of the Minister of Finance, Patrice Lumumba Mboh, and  the representative of Northwest Governor, Ivo Makoge, sounded during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Njinikom Cooperative Credit Union on Friday, November 29 at Njinikom in Boyo Division.

CAMCCUL officials organised the occasion to commemorate the birth of credit unionism that began in Njinikom in 1963. A Dutch Priest, Rev. Fr. Jansen, who was at the Njinikom Catholic Church at the time, gave birth to the Credit Union idea in order to help inhabitants of Njinikom, who were too poor, to send their children to school.

While tracing the growth of credit unionism since 1963, Lumumba Mboh described the Credit Union as a “bank of the people by the people and for the people.” He said credit unions are the banks of the poor that play a big role in poverty alleviation. It was in this perspective that he warned against people who are scheming for the death of CAMCCUL for the simple reason that they owe loans.

He lauded CAMCCUL for rescuing the Njinikom Credit Union from collapsing under the heat of embezzlement and loan delinquencies. He said Government will spare no efforts in backing CAMCCUL’s recovery onslaught and bringing loan delinquents to book. Mboh stated that the mustard seed that was planted in Njinikom has spread all over the country and beyond.

He recalled that the first loan granted at the Njinikom Credit Union in 1964 was FCFA 700, (Seven hundred francs) remarking that Credit Union loans now stand at over FCFA 90 billion.
For his part, the Representative of the Northwest Governor lauded the CAMCCUL network for contributing so much to the socio-economic development of Cameroon. He warned loan delinquents to pay their debts or face the music. He reiterated Government’s commitment in backing CAMCCUL in their aggressive loan recovery campaign.

The Mustard Seed

In a keynote address, CAMCCUL President, Musa Shey Nfor, said “the Njinikom Cooperative Credit Union of CAMCCUL network is the cradle of credit unionism in Cameroon and the CEMAC Sub-Region.” He paid tribute to Rev. Fr. Anthony Jansen, who, in 1963, sowed the mustard seed that has flourished to the nine Regions of Cameroon and beyond, because it spread through fertile minds.

Shey Musa said they were celebrating the day when people first realised in Cameroon that “saving regularly, borrowing wisely and repaying promptly”, is another way of thanking God.
He recalled that in 1963, one needed only FCFA 5 (five francs) to become a member of the Credit Union as against FCFA 5.000 today.

Hear him, “At that time, it was about knowing your neighbours when you borrow. Today, 50 years later, most borrowers know their lawyers and even better than Rev. Fr. Jansen’s neighbours. Despite this vice, he said, the determination of the Credit Union remains undying because it was founded on God’s will.” He added that “credit unionism is a spirit which will continue to survive beyond the organised attacks on the flesh such as “the borrow no pay campaign, organised blackmail of Credit Union officials, insecurity and mismanagement of Credit Union funds by some officials.”

The CAMCCUL President called on the Njinikom Credit Union, in particular, and others in the CAMCCUL network to stay focused on their mission of alleviating poverty and creating wealth for their members. Going down memory lane, Shey Nfor said: “From the 16 members who contributed FCFA 2,100 at the effective foundation of the Njinikom Credit Union, to today’s membership of over 3,612 members of Njinikom Credit Union with about 160 million shares and savings, we can rightly say, Njinikom has grown over the years.”

He, however, said the Njinikom Credit Union has to continue to grow because small is a stage and not a destination. He called on Njinikom elite to patronise the Credit Union, while thanking Government for providing the enabling environment for credit unions to thrive. “We must therefore remain law-abiding, adapting to constant change as change is the only constant thing in life and if you do not change to align with change, you will be changed by change to align with change,” he cautioned.

He told Credit Union officials that since borrowers have learnt to borrow without repaying, they must learn to recover without relenting or recoiling. He thanked some Njinikom elite, including, Eric Njong, Senator Francis Nkwain, Hon. Evaristus Njong, for the spirit of unionism, and Orange Cameroun, for helping to sponsor the occasion. While picking the fine details of the genesis of credit unionism, the Board Chair of the Njinikom Cooperative Credit Union, Jacob Wulba Tim, paid glowing tribute to the late Rev. Father Jansen.

“A mustard seed planted by a man of God in 1963 was nurtured by poor and illiterate peasants to maturity. It has given birth to more than 200 credit unions found all over the national territory today and, above all, the great micro-finance business in the Central African Sub-Region-CAMCCUL,” he maintained. In a welcome address, the Mayor of Njinikom, Terence Chah Bam, said the Golden Jubilee Celebration was a historical event.

The event, he went on, is a brilliant testimony to how the idea of credit unionism was planted on fertile soils, enabling it to change the destiny of many people. He recalled that it was the Credit Union that enabled his parents to pay his school fees. The Mayor wondered what he would have been without the Credit Union. He thanked CAMCCUL for rescuing the Njinikom Credit Union from collapse after it was hard hit by embezzlement and deliberate loan delinquency.

Over Half A Century Old Pioneer Member

Euphoria gripped the solemn occasion that took place at the premises of the St. Anthony Catholic Church when a pioneer member of the Njinikom Credit Union, Mama Juliana Ikfui, 110 years old, was presented to the public. She is the owner of account number 0002. Another pioneer member, Cecilia Mbel, also appeared at the occasion. Zita Nain was the third pioneer member presented. CAMCCUL offered prizes to the first nine members who opened accounts at the Njinikom Credit Union in 1964.

Another sensation during the occasion was a small counter on which the first accounts were opened. The credit union monument and the portrait of Rev. Jansen, constructed by CAMCCUL, stand conspicuous opposite the main entrance to the Njinikom Catholic Church. During the occasion, the General Manager of CAMCCUL, Jonas Tientchou, offered a special recovery motorbike to the Njinikom Credit Union. CAMCCUL also donated equipment and offered gifts to the Njinikom Catholic Hospital and the Orphanage, respectively.

The Njinikom Credit Union was equally offered a revolving fund of a few million FCFA.
The occasion, that was attended by CAMCCUL Credit Unions from all over the country, began with a Holy Mass officiated by the Superior of the Mill Hill Missionaries in Cameroon, Rev. Fr. Andrew Mukulu and the Njinikom Parish Priest, Rev. Father Cletus Tita.

CAMCCUL continued feasting on November 30 at the Bamenda Congress Hall as they celebrated the 2013 edition of the International Credit Union Day. Like in Njinikom, traditional dances, musicians, including Ateh Bazore and Makossa giant, Joe Mboule, animated the occasion.

First published in The Post edition no 01485

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