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Greed Ruined Buea Central Market Project – Contractor 

Says Political Hatred, Cruelty… Are Paralysing Project

Maintains Some Authorities Wanted To Prey On His Capital

Criticises Frequent Interference From Council Officials

Says He’s Done What Cameroonians Couldn’t Do In 50 Years


The CEO of Mothercat-Cameroon, Alechenu Yusuf Adah, who is executing the FCFA 2.5-billion Buea Central Market project, has stated that his company has the financial, mental and social capacity to finish the project. He, however, regrets that sentiment, jealousy, wickedness, greed, cruelty, political hatred between elites and threat to life are stifling the progress of project. In this exclusive interview he granted to The Post, Yusuf Adah also talks about the indifference among commercial banks in Cameroon to fund such undertakings and how he intends to complete the mega project.
Read on:

The Post: Mr. Alechenu Yusuf Adah, how is the Buea Central Market project faring?Picture2

Alechenu Yusuf Adah: Thank you for this fact-finding interview. I would not have said anything on the matter, but I have realised that the confusion is beginning to multiply. I have considered it a duty to dissolve the mysteries surrounding the mega market project. I hope all liars would be buried with their lies. The market project has experienced a series of challenges and has stood still for almost a year. The reasons shall be known later in this interview.

Reports are rife that you escaped from Cameroon because you owe so many sub-contractors and that you lack the financial resources to take the market project to completion…

Those reports and allegations are baseless. Everybody is aware that I was travelling to bury my mother. I informed the Mayor and many of my sub-contractors before leaving. Even when I got to Nigeria, I called the Mayor to tell him of my arrival and have been calling many of my sub-contractors from time to time. Talking about financial resources, it is crystal clear that many Cameroonians including some authorities thought that I had come with a container load of dollars waiting to be cleared at the Tiko or Douala seaports for them to prey on. They expected me to be extravagant. Does the project look like I lack the financial capacity to execute it? I have both financial, mental and social capacity to finish that market, but sentiment, jealousy, wickedness, cruelty and threat to life spoilt the matter.

After being away for such a long time, do you still expect the Buea Council authorities to trust you for the multi-billion project?

I told you I was travelling for burial; I have been away for this period because I needed to put some things in order in my Nigerian businesses. Talking about trust from Buea Council authorities, they have to trust me completely because they know how we started. It is clear that I am an authority in my real estate business. Forget about those debts I owe, it is a normal thing in business. The Council should regard and recognise me as a development ambassador because since I left, nobody has beaten my record. It is not easy to clear a site, talk more of developing many blocks and putting up structures like I have done. They are left with no option than to trust me absolutely.

Lest we forget, it is equally emerging that you fled when you could no longer grease the itchy palms of some Buea Council authorities, who were blackmailing you for the concession.

Itchy palms or no itchy palms, we are bent on executing the project. To some people, the market project is a political stepping stone to prominence, while others are working relentlessly for the failure of the project just to discredit a political opponent. I was therefore caught in a dirty political quagmire. Nobody can blackmail me for anything, what I have done speaks for itself. At one point, I was grossly disrespected and molested by fair weather friends and some officials. But I had to understand with everyone who treated me with levity. A lot of people benefited from me, but I did not benefit from anybody.

In July 2015, you said the first phase of the project was 40 percent done and would be completed in December. You also said you had invested over FCFA 500 million in the project; one year after, little progress seems to have been made and the market is practically buried in grass. What is hindering the progress of the project?

The project is not invisible, you can have an independent evaluation if you wish, that will give you an idea of what we have already spent. Talking about the project buried in grass, it is not surprising, given the current economic situation of both West and Central Africa. The cash crunch in Nigeria is also affecting other African countries. The only thing stiffing the progress of that project is the current economic cash crunch and also the unfriendly foreign exchange regime in Nigeria, otherwise I would have staged a powerful comeback at least to finish the first phase.

After failing to meet the July 2016 deadline, aren’t you concerned that the contract may be cancelled?

When I had issues with my sub-contractors on October 1, 2015, the Council authorities introduced a certain self-acclaimed billionaire, who was to take over the project from me. We all visited the site, an evaluation was done, but that event was my worst nightmare and a deception of the highest order. It was rumoured that the man had already paid the agreed sum, but that was because of the braggadocios nature of the man in question. He even lied to some people that I have asked him to wire the fund to me in Nigeria. That is not just a lie, but a deception of the highest order. All this stories came after we opened a joint account with the Council’s representatives; this was aimed at ensuring transparency to make sure no debt is inherited by the incoming contractor. It was after this episode that another story emanated that his family had cautioned him against buying the project due to political undertones.

On several occasions, you have gone on air begging prospective shareholders to invest their capital in the project to no avail. Didn’t you have enough capital for the multi-billion project?

Yes I did once, not on several occasions. And that is because I’m a professional and an enlightened businessman. No reasonable businessman will do a public private project with 100 percent of his fund. Development is participatory. If we say it is a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) project, then nobody should worry how I get my funding. The most important thing is that the market will be built. All those interferences contributed largely to the stagnation of that project, otherwise the first phase would have been a thing of the past. The umpires overstepped their boundaries and the project has become an eyesore. I signed a BOT and not a government-funded contract. How I get my money to fund my project should be nobody’s business. After all, I designed and conceived the project before meeting the right people in authority.

Why do you think business persons or commercial banks in Cameroon are reticent to invest in such a project, which by every indication is a lucrative venture?

That is what baffles me. When I won the contract, many people criticised the Mayor for not advertising the contract and instead blamed him for giving it to a Nigerian boy. That bush was there for over 50 years after Cameroon’s independence, but nobody bothered. But when I came to Cameroon, I saw the need to develop a modern market, only for Cameroonians to castigate me. It is a shame that all my efforts couldn’t be complimented by both the authorities and wealthy Cameroonians just because I am Nigerian. As for the banks, I don’t think they are viable financially and we can also describe their position as insensitive to lucrative businesses. The banks in Cameroon are only good at loaning money to those travelling to uncertain destinations abroad, while running away from great businesses which are 100 percent certain and capable of uplifting the banks’ financial status.

What measures have you put in place to resurrect the project?

The Buea Council should ensure fair play to do business, waving aside previous incidence. They should ensure good relationship and independent operation of investors. They should defend; protect rather than humiliate their partners before third parties. Their undue interference most of the time is an impediment to business development and gives room for scandals. After all, the market is both for the interest of the Council, the general public and Mothercat-Cameroon Limited in the long run.

Your reputation and credibility seem to have been grossly tainted not only to the Buea Council authorities, but also to inhabitants of Buea and the Southwest Region in general, what are doing to rebuild your lost reputation?

My reputation and integrity are intact. I realise that when a man is in the eye of the storm and when you don’t have money to throw around and pay bills, they say he has lost his integrity and reputation, all those reputation and integrity thing are mere drama. The work I have done on the site is enough integrity and reputation that is not equitable to any currency in the world. I remember when I came to Cameroon, all and sundry were at my service. When I said to one go, he went and when I said to another come, he came. But an embattled man with fewer funds to spend losses authority and it affects his reputation and integrity. So forget about the grammar of reputation and integrity, when I shall appear with pounds and dollars, I assure you my reputation and integrity would be restored.

Why do you think Cameroonians are not interested in taking over the project from you?

It is either they lack vision or lack the financial wherewithal. We could also say their minds can’t carry the magnitude of such a gigantic project or no real estate capacity. There are so many rich people in Cameroon, but not all can do this business. I have done what the Council and wealthy Cameroonians couldn’t do on their own since independence, so they have no right to judge me whether I failed or succeeded.

Your last message to our readers…

To all my creditors, I thank you for your patience. I wish to let you know that I feel your pains; you guys are the heroes of that market project. Your sacrifices can never be forgotten. Always live with the hope that one day, you will be paid and posterity shall count you worthy of your crown for developing your country even on credit. To all the potential market users, I can see your tears in another rainy season in that make-shift hovel call Buea Central Market. Your hopes are not dashed; I apologise for the delay for very soon you all shall smile in your business premises. To all my Directors on board Mothercat, you were my fellow lieutenant in the struggle on the voyage of an uncommon transformation, you are disciples who believed and shared my dreams, your contribution can never be forgotten.

Interviewed By Isidore Abah

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