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CATTU, Paying The Price Of Audacity 

By Peterkins Manyong

One of the greatest complements given to Napoleon Bonaparte is that he could have risen to prominence no matter in which country he was born.

The same could be said of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama. The point being made here is that ingenuity and stardom are irrepressible. But it must be noted here, as Albert Einstein said, that ingenuity is nine-tenth perspiration and only one-tenth inspiration. This means that it is impossible to attain the standard of a genius without extreme hard work.

Going by Einstein’s definition, it would not be out of character to describe Simon Nkwenti, Executive Secretary General of the Cameroon Teachers’ Trade Union, CATTU, as a genius.
Last week, Nkwenti performed one of his intellectual feats when he led a CATTU delegation to the much-talked about Bakassi Peninsular for the launch of the 2010/2011 academic year.

Before departure, Nkwenti granted an interview to "The Teacher’s Voice" a publication by CATTU with Wilfred Tassang as Editor-In-Chief. In it, he stated his mission to Bakassi, which was: to encourage the teachers and remind them that they are on a special mission from God in that area. The delegation took along didactic material and other items to the teachers and school children of Bakassi to boost their morals.

Nkwenti’s mission turned out to be, in the strictly moral sense, a sublime achievement. He found the teachers there living not so much in misery as they were in terror as a consequence of recent attacks by pirates and so have abandoned well constructed staff quarters and are living under the protection of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, officers.

Nkwenti, however, didn’t fail to appreciate the efforts; the Biya Regime has made to develop Bakassi in terms of infrastructure. The impression, with which he returned from Bakassi, however, is that the Biya Regime can only develop an enclave area if that area is invaded by a foreign force.

He, therefore, wished Nigerians could attack for instance, enclave parts of the Northwest like Furu-awa and Sabongari so that the regime could develop these areas. As a result of the CATTU delegation’s visit, soldiers in Bakassi now hold teachers in higher esteem than before. Nkwenti also noted that Basic Education teachers surpass their Secondary Education counterparts in terms of allowances by as much as FCFA 35.000.

The Bakassi visit, however, is just a digression. Our focus here is the persecution Nkwenti and CATTU have been subjected to, not by the Regime in place, but by some of their fellow teachers. Nkwenti, who almost highhandedly effected the granting of a Higher Teachers Advanced Technical Colleges in Bambili, has since his return from Bakassi been again the victim of scathing criticism.

Added to those who chastised him for abandoning the chalk for the trade unionism soap box are adversaries more dangerous who scarify him for effecting the appointment of CATTU members as principals of colleges. Many of these adversaries have since become fanatics of call-in radio programmes. Those who dread his eloquence lampoon him with disguised voices on the airwaves of radio stations. The most recent strategy is the planting of calumnious publications in gutter newspapers, since no credible publisher can blot the pages of his publication with such garbage.

But all this has slipped off Nkwenti’s back like dew drops on a lion’s mane. Replying those who say he earns a salary without working, Nkwenti told this analyst that the law on trade unionism is clear: once a person heads such an outfit, he is automatically detached from the ministry to which he belonged. Despite the fact that this law protects him, Nkwenti said he is still attached to the Mezam Delegation of Secondary Education.

To those who lambast him for lobbying for the appointment of CATTU members, he is categorical: those who wish to rise should join CATTU. Nkwenti never tires of recounting an event that once took place in Senegal some years back. Teachers had pleaded for a teachers’ statute in vain and finally decided that the solution was to dabble into politics.

The teachers’ trade union there encouraged its members to mobilise and vote only those of their core into the popular political parties in their areas. The result was a crushing CPDM-like majority in the election that followed. Thanks to this overwhelming majority, the Cavaye of the house was a teacher. A bill on the statute of teachers which was soon tabled thus sailed through with the same ease that Biya’s bills do at the Ngoa-Ekelle Glasshouse. The voting and promulgation of a teachers’ statute was a foregone conclusion.

To conclude, it is worth noting that the campaign of calumny against Nkwenti and CATTU makes mincemeat of the complaint of marginalisation by Northwesterners. Anglophones in general celebrate the downfall of their own heroes. Nkwenti has succeeded to keep this Regime on tenterhooks since CATTU was formed. The Regime quakes when Nkwenti warns against the bastardisation of Anglophone education. When he threatened, at one time, to hold an Anglophone education conference, the regime screamed in fear.

Anglophone candidates who were to be discriminated in the writing of the entrance exam into the gendarmerie college were allowed to take part. A backstabbing people are an unhappy lot because happy people are never wicked. Northwesterners in particular and Anglophones in general should stop behaving like Jews that tear their own dresses when they are angry.

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