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Does Biya Consider Election Results In Cabinet Reshuffle? 

By Joe Dinga Pefok — Since the official proclamation of results of the September 30, 2013 twin elections, speculations are rife nationwide as to who will be sacked or appointed in the next cabinet reshuffle.

The speculations and debates are mainly based on the results that the CPDM obtained in different Regions, Divisions or Constituencies. But does President Biya really consider election results in appointing members of Government? This article looks at the case of the two Anglophone Regions, the Northwest and Southwest, for the last 10 years.

2004 Presidential Elections

At the 2004 Presidential Elections, the then Prime Minister, Peter Mafany Musonge, was the National Campaign Manager of the incumbent candidate, Paul Biya of CPDM. Based on official results, Biya recorded a brilliant performance at the elections. Political observers thought that Biya will manifest appreciation to his Campaign Manager for a job well done, by maintaining him in office as Prime Minister.

But instead, the Head of State dropped Musonge in the change of government which he effected on December 8, 2004. Surprisingly, he appointed another Mola, in the person of Chief Ephraim Inoni, to replace his brother as Prime Minister and Head of Government.  From all indications, the results of the elections had nothing to do with either the sacking of Musonge or the appointment of Inoni.

2007 Twin Elections

There is also the case of the July 22, 2007 twin elections. In the Northwest Region, the CPDM, for the first time since SDF started participating in Legislative and Municipal Elections, recorded resounding successes in two of the seven Divisions, precisely in Menchum and Ngoketunjia. Menchum was, in fact, the first Division in the Northwest to turn completely CPDM, as the ruling party swept the two parliamentary seats and all the councils. In Ngoketungia Division, the CPDM swept the two parliamentary seats, and won two of the three councils.

With the above performances in the two Divisions, expectations were very high that had never had any of their sons appointed by President Biya into  Government, that the time had finally come for the Head of State to ‘scratch’ their backs in return for the good elections results they achieved. But, in the September 7, 2007 cabinet reshuffle that followed the twin elections, Biya instead appointed Paul Atanga Nji from Mezam Division, where the SDF swept all the three parliamentary seats and all but one council.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, if not a scandal about the appointment, was that Atanga Nji whom Biya appointed as Minister of Special Duties at the Presidency, was the CPDM substantive candidate for Mezam Centre (Bamenda/Bali) at the Legislative Elections and lost. However, what came out here was that Biya did not take into consideration the results of the twin elections in making the appointment. 

Still in the Northwest, Biya, in that September 7 cabinet reshuffle, also appointed Gentry Calistus Fuh from Donga and Mantung Division as Secretary of State in the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Technological Development. But it should be noted that Donga and Mantung then had another Secretary of State in the person of Emmanuel Ngafeeson, who was Secretary of State in charge of Prisons Administration in the Ministry of Justice. This meant that Donga and Mantung had two Secretaries of State.

However, despite the fact that Menchum and Ngoketunjia Divisions swung to CPDM at the twin elections, Biya still left the two Divisions in the cold. Meanwhile, in the Southwest Region, Lebialem Division which at the 2007 twin elections as in other elections, gave its lone parliamentary seat and all its three councils to the CPDM, was once again sidelined by President Biya in the appointments in the cabinet reshuffle of September 7, 2007.

Also, there is Meme Division which had been left in the cold by Biya since Benjamin Itoe was dropped from Government in the early 90s. At the September 7, 2007 cabinet reshuffle, Meme was still left out in the cold by President Biya, despite the fact that the CPDM won the two parliamentary seats and all but one council at the July 22 twin elections.

June 30, 2009 Appointments 

Even in the next change of government which President Biya carried out on June 30, 2009 with Philemon Yungi Yang replacing Ephraim Inoni as Prime Minister, Lebialem, Meme, Menchum and Ngoketunjia Divisions were still left out in the cold by President Biya, though Ngoketunjia was soon to get a solace with the appointment of one of its sons, as Director of Cabinet at the Prime Minister’s Office.

In that June 30 change of government, Lebialem and Meme watched as Manyu, which already had a Minister in the person of Victor Arrey Nkongho Mengot (Minister of Special Duties at the Presidency), was again given the post of Assistant Secretary General at the Presidency with the appointment of Prof Peter Agbor Tabi.

2011 Presidential Elections 

Meantime, at the October 9, 2011 Presidential Elections, the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, was Biya’s National Campaign Manager. Based on the official results, Biya won the elections by a large margin. But looking at the detail results, the SDF candidate, Ni John Fru Ndi, beat the CPDM candidate, Paul Biya, in Yang’s Northwest Region, by over 10 points. Fru Ndi scored 54.75 percent, while Biya got 42.60 percent. Even down in Yang’s Bui Division, Fru Ndi still beat Biya.

After the proclamation of the results, many people thought that Yang would be fired. But in a cabinet reshuffle in December 9, 2011, Biya as usual surprised many by maintaining Yang as Prime Minister. Also, though Fru Ndi defeated Biya in Bali Nyonga, Mezam Division, in the Presidential Elections President Biya withdrew one of the posts of Secretaries of State in Donga and Mantung Division, and gave it to Jerome Penbaga Doh, who he appointed as Secretary of State for Prisons Administration in the Ministry of Justice.

On the other hand, at the October 9, 2011 Presidential Elections in the Southwest Region, Paul Abine Ayah of PAP, made significant inroads in his native Manyu Division as well as in Kupe Muanenguba, where he scored 28.68 percent and 29 percent respectively. But in the December 9, 2011 cabinet reshuffle, Biya maintained the posts that these two Divisions had. Even when Biya dropped Prof Elvis Ngolle Ngolle from Government where he last held the post of Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, he appointed another son of Kupe Muanenguba Division in the person of Philip Ngole Ngwese, to head the same Minister. 

The Lucky And The Unfortunate Divisions

The above cases glaringly indicate that, unlike in the early 90s, Biya no longer seem to take into consideration elections results when appointing members of Government. It is only Biya alone who knows why he appoints those that he appoints. But it would appear that some Divisions are fortunate with Biya in his appointments.  Kupe Muanenguba Division, for example, has since the 90s always have a son (a Ngole) in Government.

Mezam Division has also been lucky with Biya, having among other things had the post of Prime Minister, which Achidi Achu aka the Old Fox occupied in the 90s. From that 90s till date, six other sons and a daughter of Mezam have been appointed into Government. But come to think of it that the highest appointment that Lebialem Division like Menchum Division appears to have had in the last two decades, is the post of a Secretary General in a ministry.        

It is also very likely that the appointments that President Biya will make in the imminent cabinet reshuffle will not be based on the results of the September 30, 2013 twin elections. If Biya decides to fire Yang from the post of Prime Minster, it will be that he has decided on a change, and not because of the elections. As usual, in Biya’s appointments of members of Government, there are very likely to be some big surprises.

First published in The Post print edition no 01478