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I Hope Biya Will Redeem His Pledge For The NW Region – Ben Muna 

President Biya will be going to Bamenda soon for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Armed Forces. What do you think influenced the choice of Bamenda?

Ben Muna: The question which I have raised before is whether Paul Biya was well advised to select the Northwest Region as the place to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cameroon Army. It may be that in good faith, but I think that those advising him did not foresee that there will be other questions raised. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Cameroon Armed Forces in Bamenda is an irony because Bamenda 50 years ago had no Cameroonian army. On the contrary, there are many reasons why President Biya should go the Northwest Region.

It must not be the 50th anniversary of the army. The Northwest Region is an integral part of our nation. The region has many outstanding issues which stem out of some promises when he visited Bamenda and was made Fon of Fons. One of his promises was that the Ring Road will be his affair. I think that it would be good for Biya to be in Bamenda and then tell the people that I have not done the Ring Road because of this or that.

When you talk of the Cameroon Army not being in the Northwest 50 years ago, are you raising the same issues the SCNC is raising; the issue of Anglophones looking at the history and saying that somehow, somewhere the history is not properly being told?

History is history. You don’t have to look at it through the eyes of SCNC or anybody… The Cameroon Republic, which had independence on 1st January 1960, was different from the Republic of Cameroon that emerged when President Biya changed the name in 1984 from United Republic back to Cameroon Republic. People did not realise what happened in 1961.

The 1st October 1961 occasion was not an extension of the history of French Cameroon. What happened on the 1st of October 1961 was that an entirely different and new nation was born. The borders were different; the flag was different; there were now two official languages; etc. Some people still think that in 1961, Southern Cameroons was added as an addendum to French Cameroon. I say no. It is a historical fact that there was no Cameroon army in the Northwest 50 years ago. All of us should defend the history of Cameroon and the SCNC is welcome to defend it as well.

As a politician, what do you think the people of the Northwest would benefit from this visit?

As a matter of fact, the visit of the Head of State to any part of the territory should not be looked upon as an event which will benefit that area particularly at that time. In normal politics, the President should visit as many parts of the country as he can.

Now, the benefit goes to his person. When he goes there, he will now understand the problems of that part of the territory. He will meet the people and hear some of their requests and so forth. So, we should not look at Presidential visits as bringing any particular benefits. Rather, we should look at it as a policy of a president to visit as many parts of the territory as possible in order to feel for himself what is happening there. The benefits may come in the long run when he is now drawing a new development plan…

As an elite of the Northwest Region, what are your expectations from this visit particularly?

From this visit, I really hope that the President will redeem his pledge for the Northwest Region. And that the Ring Road should be fully tarred. I think it will permit Bamenda to take its once great place amongst the regional capitals of Cameroon. We need a state university in the Northwest. I hope that the Head of State will not just make a promise, he would actually announce that the file is ready and they will start work soon and that he will come and lay the foundation stone for the Northwest University.

I think that there are a lot of things that can be done in the Northwest. I hope that the Head of State can consider that all these power cuts is because we don’t have enough electricity and that the Menchum Falls will be seen as a structure in which electricity should be generated for the whole country and even the surplus sold to Nigeria. Bamenda also needs a reference hospital worthy of that name.

Bamenda as a city had been undergoing decay for sometime. But because of the President’s visit, the government is giving it a facelift. What do you think about that?

I think that any development, improvement, facelift of Bamenda or any other city in Cameroon is welcome. But I do not think that it should await a presidential visit. What about those other parts of Cameroon which will never have that visit and yet have bad roads, no water, no electricity, etc? What about those parts?

I welcome the facelift of Bamenda. But supposing he doesn’t visit Bamenda for the next 20 years. The roads would deteriorate, electricity will cut, grass will grow everywhere, and we will have to wait for another presidential visit…

In view of the President’s visit, do you have any particular message to the people of the Northwest?

I think that we should welcome our President in the Northwest Region. He is our President; we will always have one President no matter where he comes from. The people of the Northwest should welcome the President of the Republic of Cameroon. My disappointment during the 20th May celebration which was termed the celebration of 50th anniversary of independence was that it was turned to a CPDM affair.

So, are you warning that the CPDM should not hijack the visit?

Yes. I hope that the visit of the President to the Northwest Region should not be a CPDM affair. Regardless of the fact that the motives of the 50th anniversary of the army is not well thought out; now that he is going to Bamenda, he is going as the President of Cameroon. I think that it can be done in a way that it is both a civilian and military thing… His visit to Bamenda has been long overdue as some of his visits to other parts of the country. He is supposed to have visited Bamenda already for at least nine times.

Will you be in Bamenda for the President’s visit?

Well it depends. If I am invited, I will come.

Will you ask militants of the AFP to be present?

Oh yes! If they line up and greet him as President of Cameroon, not as Chairman of the CPDM, there will be no problem.

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