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Dual Nationality Law Will Enhance Development – CPDM MP 

The CPDM Member of the National Assembly for the Momo West Constituency, Hon. Francis Enwe, has stated that the enactment of a law that would legalise dual nationality will enable Cameroonians who have other nationalities to contribute for the development of the country. He made the statement in an exclusive interview granted The Post in Yaounde, shortly after he returned from the US where he discussed with the Cameroonian Diaspora. 

Read on:

The Post: Hon Francis Enwe, you are just coming back from the United State of America, what took you there?

Hon. Enwe Francis:  I’m happy you got some echoes and you had to question me on this. It is not something I need to hide because it was an official mission. I was assigned by my boss, Hon. Cavaye Yegui Djibril, to attend a leadership course on frontiers in development policy at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC. I think our programme ran for some time after which I had some extracurricular activities in the United States before my return.

What are the people of your constituency in particular and Cameroon as a whole going to gain from this conference?

I will say the knowledge I acquired is knowledge that will be exploited in Cameroon to further the development of our country, considering that this course actually had representatives from 57 countries from around the globe, of which I was honoured to be the only participant from Cameroon. It also was an assignment for me to make sure I work hard, read hard. It was very interactive. I can say it was a global programme where we had to touch aspects on diversified development, and inclusive growth was quite a topic on its own.  We did a lot of research on resource abundance and development, inclusive growth and sustainable development. We also researched on behavioural and sociological foundations of economics.

Just tell us what you brought home to Cameroon, a poverty-stricken country, with bad governance, corruption and all the nation-killing practices. 

We dwelled a lot on major issues, case studies of countries that have succeeded in some of these aspects, that is why I was trying to touch them in detail. Each topic had a particular case study of how they were suffering and how they went through the mess or what policies they put in place to recover and, today, they have become outstanding. What I am bringing back home is the knowledge. We were given special assignments on what to do when we come back and there are some follow-up programmes to see how some of the assignments are implemented in the various ministries. It’s not dealing with a particular ministry, it embodies everything in governance and I do believe that Cameroon will benefit a lot.

The Cameroonian Diaspora is very strong and very critical of government; as an MP, did you meet some of them and what did you discuss?

I think on this particular issue, back home we read a lot of negative things from Cameroonians. I was fortunate to be assigned to attend this conference so I had to call a few friends in the US to tell them that I will be coming so that we might have that opportunity to meet. The message went like a wild fire; everybody was calling the friend from the other state about. The very first day landed in Washington, I was picked up by the Njikwa community and taken to Maryland. We had a reception that evening and we started discussing a lot of things about the development of Njikwa Subdivision and then issues about Cameroon. Questions came up to which I had to give some explanations on what is happening currently in the country because I discovered that, from their questions, many are not aware of what the President is doing; or the success stories we have in the country in terms of development. After Maryland, I went to Minnesota where I met another community. I thought I was visiting a friend but met a community of Cameroonians. Chicago was the same thing. In Ohio, I got a grand reception with over 50 Cameroonians.

Don’t you think Cameroonians in the Diaspora who are pointing at bad governance, corruption and embezzlement are just saying what is wrong with this country?

I was still trying to give you the evolution of my activities. At the last meeting was given a special honour to do a presentation on the Diaspora’s contribution to nation building. When I did my presentation on what we in Cameroon consider the Diaspora, it was their turn to tell us how they think about us. That is when questions started coming up on bad governance, corruption, bad roads, poor electricity and all other negative things. I had to take time to answer them in detail. My problem was that some of them started attacking because, in my presentation, I gave room for a debate. I told them that we blame some of them in the Diaspora who do not think about their country, what they think is only the negative things and I did that by portraying some pictures that I snapped in Washington near the convention centre with potholes on the road. I said to them, you guys sit and talk about only the roads in Cameroon and other issues concerning your own villages. When we are talking about Cameroon we include the whole country like the roads to your village. Everyday, roads are being constructed in the country which implies that someday the roads to your village will get through. I told them that some of them had failed Cameroon as well. They are there for 10 to 15 years without coming back home to contribute in nation building. Some of them were civil servants in the country; they left but are still receiving their salaries in Cameroon. Those are the people who write four pages of negative things attacking the Head of State, the country and all the ministers. So I started by telling them that they are fraudsters, and that they should go back home to stop these salaries. From this statement, I found out that most of them sitting in that hall were involved. But there are the same people talking negatively about the country.  I told them that the Head of State has given some confidence to their brothers to run certain ministries in the country and that we sometimes find ourselves in a mess and who do you blame? 

The blame goes to the Head of State because he is supposed to sanction them, but sometime he allows them to enjoy a lot of impunity, don’t you think so? 

The Head of State has no friends when fraud is concerned. We have examples of what is happening with some members of the Government who are now in jail. The Head of state gave them confidence and when they misbehaved, he took action. If he allowed them to go scot-free, we will condemn that. But we have seen the examples he is setting. He is trying to make us understand that this is not the right way. When he gives you confidence, you must do the right thing. Some talk about money from petroleum and so on of which I asked them to come back to Cameroon before talking because I was once a member of the Diaspora but decided to come home and sacrifice for my country. Just sacrificing indicates that I am contributing to nation-building, especially in my constituency and in the country at large. So, I told them that they should come back home and go in for elections in their various areas as Councilors because they can be fortunate to be elected as Mayors of their various communities or, why not invest in Cameroon.

But there is no enabling environment for the creation of businesses in the country as observed by the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report? 

I told them that things in the past years have changed and I urged them to come back now because there are institutions now where you can come and do things directly and not meeting people who will derail you and extort money from you. Secondly, the Government has put in place the one-stop shop for the creation of business where can go and register your business within a few days and you can start operating. With the one-stop shop, it is easier and you have exoneration for about two years without paying taxes which give you ample time to settle before you start paying the taxes. I think those are motivating factors which I presented to them. Some also presented issues around the port in Douala where containers come and they cannot be removed and some even leave the country without collecting their containers which has affected their financial situation. I also told them of the putting in place of a one-stop shop at the port which will protect them from these conmen.  I also told them that they had the right to see the Minister in charge. 

World Bank officials have told me that corruption at the Douala port is too complicated for human understanding. Doesn’t it tie up with what Cameroon Diaspora is complaining about?

Corruption depends on how you handle it and how you put your money. There are guys waiting to grab your money at any time. If you meet the right people, things will go on well. Meet an official in his office and talk to him. Do not meet a man on the streets carrying a file and you start dealing with him and you give him FCFA 5 million. When you are duped, you say it is the Government. Rather go to the customs officials, ask the list of what you need to clear out your container. Ensure that you follow the procedures yourself to clear out your container and you will not encounter problems. 

Are trying to exonerate the Ggovernment and President Biya from the blame of what is happening in this country?

When we say the Head of State should not have any blame, is he not a human being like myself? He is the leader and I want to tell you that President Biya does not have sleep a day without praying for Cameroon to remain peaceful as it is or without praying for Cameroon to develop faster.

How do you know? 

Those are aspects that you can see his love for his country. If we want to blame him for certain issues, let us first start by blaming ourselves. Just like you want to ask what your country has done for you? Ask, rather, what you have done for your country because the country is everybody and not only the President.

From your interaction with the Cameroon Diaspora, what did you achieve?

I came home very satisfied, if you can remember I showed you letters reacting to the presentation I gave in US. After talking to them, some persons came to me as individuals to show their gratitude, saying they were now clear with the way things are done in the country and promised contacting me when they are in the country. For me, I am willing to help them if they contact me, because, I will direct them to the right places and persons. This is in a bid to curb the negativity of the country in the Diaspora because they are needed in the country. The issue of dual nationality was also a major aspect raised by the Diaspora and I told them that the Head of State will pull it out of his pocket when the day comes. He is our father. He already started in the last Presidential election when Cameroonians in the Diaspora had to vote.

Do you have any appeal to make?

I will appeal to the Head of State to have special consideration for the Diaspora. That will give them opportunities to do a lot for the country. Well, they asked for dual nationality which I also support that the bill should come to the Parliament because I know the impact it will create in the development of the country. If you see how much money comes into the country during Christmas period, then you will also see what comes during the September period. This just goes to prove how Cameroonians in the Diaspora are contributing. So, I am in support that the bill should come up because it will enable the Cameroonian Diaspora to enhance development in the country   

 Interviewed By Yerima Kini Nsom