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‘How Not To Be Governed By Illiterate, Corpse Carrying Mayors’ 

“…When you say “present”, what have they benefited from Lazare, other than going to carry corpses in the mortuary and escorting bereaved families? Is that the benefit the Muyuka people deserved from a man who cannot read and write in the 21st century to come and govern them? Please give me a break!
“Find out from Lazare if he did not also spend money during the election…”

Michael Nkeng Akamin is Mayor of the Muyuka Council. Of recent, he has had controversy spun around him like cobwebs. He proclaims his personal riches and vehemently denies having robbed the Council of FCFA 100million.

Rather his mission is Messianic, cleaning up the mess left behind by his predecessors, as well as putting the CPDM Section President where he belongs…escorting bereaved families.
More? He boasts of having lobbied and brought back one kilometre of tarred road to Muyuka; from Yaounde.
You miss reading this scintillating interview at your peril.
Only in The Post

Mr. Mayor, how is the Muyuka municipality faring?

The Muyuka municipality is doing very well; we have our goals which we are pursuing very accurately, even though there are some difficulties on field. But I think that the projects which were earmarked are almost completed. The opening, grading and tarring of streets, the solar streets, the health centre in Malende, the nursing school and market in Yoke and the slaughter house in Ekona are all at completion point. We also have the water project in Munyenge which I have actually received, but the project has some problems, which technicians are presently working on. All in all, I think we have a target which we all agreed to meet. There are some difficulties because the political environment sometimes is not very conducive, but the people come first before politics.

We understand you held the office of the Fako Divisional Delegate Of Highways before you left for the USA in 1998. What informed your decision to abandon such an office for the unknown in America?

You know America is a land of opportunities where everybody wants to make it there. So when I had the opportunity to travel there with my family, I could not hesitate. I want to assure you that I have never and will not regret having taken that decision to travel abroad based on my achievements back here in Cameroon after 15 years of successful stay there. I am a businessman, I do business for a living and I think that I have no regret and would never have any regret because most of my classmates whom I left here today even do work for me. So I think I was blessed with a hardworking wife and kids, who are all in the US, but I have come back home to the land of my ancestors.

But we understand you became a night watchman as soon as you arrived America. Isn’t that un-dignifying for the status of a Cameroonian Chief of Service?

No, I was the Delegate of Public Works and I never did security work in the US. When I got to the US, I went back to school, precisely in a telecommunication school. After our six months training course, I started working for a telecommunication company, Lisen. I left Lisen and went to Lucent Technology, the biggest telecommunication company in the world. When I was laid off, I started my own business. I have never, never done anything as far as security is concerned.

We also heard you got yourself entrenched in the American Home Healthcare System and that is where you apparently made your millions…

Of course; but I made the money genuinely. There are two things on this planet earth that can make you rich or successful in business, health and food. You don’t price health or food; that is how we got into the healthcare business, which is a lucrative business. So long as you do the right thing; you will be paid on time. The system in America is different from that of Cameroon. If you are paid every two weeks, know that it is the standard and if you do the right thing, you will be paid. I think we did the right thing and we were paid. So taking cognizance of where I’m coming from, I could not forget my roots. I was blessed to meet some Economists and I decided to come back home and make some investments.

What about the apparent scandal involving you and a Kenyan friend of yours, for which, at one time you were being investigated by American security operatives?

I have never had a Kenyan friend, talk more of being investigated by the American security officials. I don’t know what you are talking about.

In any case, within a short span of time you returned to Cameroon with such enormous riches, as reflected by your fabulous Chariot Hotel and scores of heavy duty road construction equipment, you must have taken full advantage of the American dream?

No, it is not a matter of taking advantage. An American dream is a dream for anybody who is in America. You do not take advantage of a system that is well planned and laid out. You don’t cheat, you do the right thing and you are rewarded and I think we did the right thing in the US and we were rewarded. Last two years, they wanted to keep us out of business, which was political; we went to Court, won the case and we are still waxing strong in business.

But who wanted to keep you out of business?

I told you it was politics…..

Was it Cameroonian, African or American politics?

No, when I’m in America, I don’t talk about Cameroonians. There is politics in every country.

So it must have been the Americans?

No, I told you it was politics…

You have been known to openly boast in the media about how rich you are. Did you grab the office of the Muyuka Council to dispose of some of these your riches in one way or the other?

No I won the election in Muyuka.

But elections to the post of Muyuka Mayor had to be cancelled and re-programmed so that you could “win”, which you indeed “won”?

That’s not true. What happened is that on the day of the election, I and my closet rival, Lazare Laminou, who is the interim CPDM Section President of Muyuka all had 19 votes, while the former Mayor, Chief Mokoto Njie had three votes. So the Chairman of the Organising Committee went outside and made some calls. I don’t know who he called, but he returned and told us that the person between the two of us who had equal votes, was older and has been militating in the party for a long time will be declared Mayor. Lazare was in the SDF before crossing over to the CPDM. Nobody knew whether Lazare was older than me or I was older than him. None of these facts were verified, instead they went ahead and declared Lazare winner.
However, the 2004 Code on Governance of Council states that in the case of a tie, the administration would come in and re-conduct the election and whoever wins, wins. That is what the administration came and did and I won.

Many CPDM militants in Muyuka reportedly backed Lazare for the Mayorship, given that he has always been present with them, unlike an American returnee like yourself?

When you say “present”, what have they benefited from Lazare, other than going to carry corpses in the mortuary and escorting bereaved families? Is that the benefit the Muyuka people deserved from a man who cannot read and write in the 21st century to come and govern them? Please give me a break.

But you practically arrested every Councillor and quarantined them in your fabulous hotel prior to the election re-run, during which, you allegedly induced them with mouth-watering cash which finally led to your “victory”?

“Find out from Lazare if he did not also spend money during the election…”

So you are accepting that you practically bought over the electorate?

No, I’m not accepting that I spent money, but find out from Lazare if he didn’t spend money during the election. Let me tell you, even in the United States if you don’t have money, don’t go in for an election.

So you can conveniently buy votes because you have money?

This is not a matter of buying votes. It is the matter and rule of the political game, even though I don’t understand what you mean by buying votes.

Don’t you think Mr. Mayor that you should be voted because of your political manifesto, presented to the electorate rather than corrupting them with huge sums of money simply because you are rich?
Of course, that’s what the population of Muyuka did. I was voted not because of my money, but because of the developmental ideas I presented.

Did you actually need to dabble into a political office, given that, you are, from your own utterances, by far richer than the Council which you now head?

Well, I got into politics because of the necessity to come and govern a people who have been left in the wilderness for a long time. Muyuka Sub Division was created in 1964. Where are they today? All kinds of politicians have come and gone, especially the outgoing team, what have they done for Muyuka? I know they did their best no doubt, but if you don’t know you don’t know. Many of them didn’t know that the centre of power is in Yaounde, not Muyuka. Go to Yaounde, lobby for the projects and bring them back to Muyuka. That’s what I have been doing. I went to Yaounde, lobbied and brought back 1km of tarred road to Muyuka.

But we insist that you ought to have learned from the Tiko experience, whereby, a rich American returnee like yourself grabbed the Mayoral office only to soil himself in financial faeces within five years.

Find out about the Mayor which you are talking about now and myself. We are like day and night. I don’t think I’ve come to Muyuka to look for money and what I have done for Muyuka for one and a half year, go to the population and ask them and you will know that I’m trying to leave a legacy in the municipality.

What have you done for Muyuka?

I just gave you one example. Do you think it is easy to go and lobby for 1km of tarred road? There are so many things that would be coming to Muyuka, thanks to our lobbying like the construction of the grandstand, the Malende and Bafia markets, the schools in Malende and Yoke etc.

Let us come back to the present. What is all this noise about you having misappropriated Council funds that are, first of all, considered meager to a person of your status?

These are all allegations from the interim Section President, Lazare who is also a member of the Infrastructural Committee and has never attended even a session of that committee, because if he has ever done so, he would have gone to the field and seen what we have realised. The amount is not even FCFA 100 million as purported; the amount is FCFA 46 million, which was meant for road maintenance. We have been doing that since I took over office. Remember that the head has been there for six years and the population never saw one caterpillar and the money was always used. So what did they do with the money? I don’t have any problem, let CONAC come and investigate from 2005 to now and see who will be found guilty. When they were complaining about the roads, I was surprised, because when we got to the field, the population was dancing the day they saw the caterpillar and the grader. Go and see an uncompleted hall which the former team said they were constructing for FCFA 160million. Does Muyuka need that type of a hall when Tiko is realising the same hall for FCFA 40milion? People used their backdoor companies to come and rip-off Muyuka.
In fact, those spreading such rumours practically broke into the Council building and stole vouchers and during the Council session, they said they had vouchers. Where did they get the vouchers from, given that they are not working in the Council?

But Mr. Mayor, how could they have broken into the Council Chambers, given that, when you took over office you boasted that security cameras have been installed in the Council to checkmate theft?

They benefited from the blackout to orchestrate this act. We have reported the matter to the forces of law and order and investigations are ongoing.

But every other Councillor seems to be in the opposition. In other words, you seem to have been marooned by your very own collaborators?

No! I have more than 30 Councillors, who are on my side now. There is no election that I will contest now in Muyuka and not win.

But you earlier said that you had only 22 Councillors, where are the other eight coming from?

They are coming from my rival camp because they have realised that I’m meeting up with the development aspirations of the people of Muyuka. The objective of being elected is to govern and if they have discovered that I’m doing the right thing, why shouldn’t they cross the carpet to join the winning team?

Before we forget, what has become of the water, electricity, market, mortuary, roads, scholarship and other development projects, which you promised the people of your municipality during your installation?

I promised them that I was going to use the people’s money to provide all these things, not my personal money. The mortuary is there, we are going to send somebody to Great Britain to go and buy the refrigerator. I made the first payment for this mortuary. The solar streetlights are there. If you come to Muyuka at night, even if there are no lights from ENEO, the solar streetlights will be on. The health centre is there, the tarred road and we are still opening up new roads. We have just constructed 20 taps and waiting for CAMWATER to connect water so that the people can fetch water beside their houses. We have ordered for medical equipment from the diaspora via lobbying and schools. In fact, the development train is in motion and we will not stop until we get to our final destination.

You also pride yourself as a contractor, but your projects always seem to develop problems a few months after they are executed like the GCE Board building that developed cracks before it was even inaugurated and the Bakweri Town- Small Soppo stretch of road. Most Engineers say you don’t respect present day architectural norms.

Don’t be naïve Mr. Journalist. You said according to the Engineers. Where were the Engineers when we were constructing? In the case of the GCE Board, that was not an Engineer, but the control Supervisor. His issue was that he had signed a contract for 32 years, of which we were signing a contract for 12 months. What would he be doing to be paid more? He was just trying to delay the project in order to be paid more. We don’t have problems with our projects. Go to the GCE Board; they have just received the projects and there are no cracks. What people saw as cracks were settlements. Go to the Muea road we are doing all the repairs before we handover the road to the Government. My cry is that the Mayor should keep an eye on the road because the road users have not been educated. They don’t use the road the way it is supposed to be used. My greatest cry is that those who destroy the road should be sanctioned.

What legacies do you want to leave behind in Muyuka when you quit the stage as Mayor?

I want the people of Muyuka to know that there are priority projects that the Council must realise. I have not bought a car. I’m driving in my car since I assumed office.

But the Council has a car…

No. That old ‘4Runner’ that the former Mayor left behind is about seven years old. Do you want me to be driving in that type of a car? I don’t think so. But I prefer to execute projects that will change the people’s lives.That is why I am appealing to the Muyuka population to get on board so that collectively, we can develop Muyuka and make it the place we want it to be. The time for politics is over. Now we are talking development.

Interviewed By Isidore Abah

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