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I Wasn’t Certain On The Platform For My Presidential Bid – Tambe Tiku 

Interviewed By Elvis Tah & Carine Takusi*

Christopher Tambe Tiku, Southwest Regional Secretary for the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, NCHRF, is one of the six people who were recently appointed Board members of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM.

Tambe Tiku, also a Law lecturer at the University of Buea, UB, who declared his intention to gun for the Presidency, has said he wasn’t certain on which platform he was going to run. In this interview with The Post, a day after his appointment, he says the appointment was an opportunity he could not let go. Excerpts:

The Post: You have been appointed one of the Board members of ELECAM; were you hinted that you were going to be appointed?

Tambe Tiku: I had been informed by a source that I was co-opted to be a member of that Board and it took me some time to come to terms with that, given that, I had other political ambitions. It was after some negotiations that I finally accepted. And, again, it was not conclusive until the Presidential Decree was announced.

How did you receive the news of your appointment?

Well, I was very elated because I think it is also a wonderful opportunity to participate in the political process of the country, especially when it comes to selecting the people or leaders to manage the affairs of this country. I felt that this is a wonderful opportunity, especially as I am involved in the promotion and protection of human rights, including electoral issues like the right to vote and the right to take part in public issues that affect our country.

But you are supposed to be a Presidential aspirant in the upcoming Presidential Election.

It was my personal decision to run for the Presidential Election, even though at the time I made the declaration, I was not yet certain on which platform. If it were a proposal from a group of people, then, I would have been disturbed that I was going to let down my people. But this whole idea came from me, though people have been thinking that it was right time for me to take part in this process. I had many things to take into consideration.

One of the reasons I declared to run for Presidential Election was because of the vices inherent in the electoral process like electoral malpractices and human right violations. I saw all of these and thought that my running for elections will be an opportunity for me to correct some of them without necessarily being power-hungry.

If I had another means, I think it is far cost effective because I will have to participate directly in the process and, maybe implement some of the changes which I could only implement after winning the elections. Even though one is optimistic that one can win the election, you know the stakes are high, especially where the resources are not there for you to challenge the ruling party that has got all the resources to put in this type of an election.

Before your appointment, you were the Southwest Regional Secretary of the NCHRF and you also lecture at UB. Are you going to forfeit these jobs? 

The post of ELECAM Board member is not a permanent position. We are given a mandate of four years which is renewable and ELECAM members do not earn salaries or wages. So, I think that where I am employed, I am entitled to those wages. Also, elections are not organised every year. This means that I will have some ample time in the year where we don’t have elections and even in the year where we have elections.

It is not everyday you go to the field but human rights is something you protect everyday in the field. So, I will not stay and see people’s rights being violated because I am a member of ELECAM. I think the electoral issues and human rights issues are inextricably linked; you cannot talk of one without looking at the other. The right to vote is a subset of human rights and the two can move without any conflict.

What happens to your presidential ambition now?

That was an intention that I had made two years ago; it was not a committed declaration. It was in a bid to exercise my political rights because, on a daily basis, I talk human rights and there is no reason why I should not also take part in the political process of my country.

But if this other opportunity has come, which is also an opportunity for me to serve the country; an opportunity for me to take part in the political process, I think it is also something worth embracing because it gives me direct access to issues relating to the political lives of people in this country.

Many Cameroonians have expressed misgivings about the composition of ELECAM; some refer to it as an all CPDM affair. What is your reading of ELECAM?

The truth is that there were certain provisions of that law which seemingly were violated. The law clearly states that you must be neutral; not only after appointment before you declare your neutrality. So, much water seems to have flown under the bridge and the members who were appointed had declared their intensions to remain neutral and guaranteed that elections will be conducted in transparency.

I think it is but necessary that they are given the opportunity and more to that, the other six members who have been appointed are people whom the public have trust in them because they have, in one way or the other, displayed some integrity, maturity and transparency in conducting their own affairs.  

You are known to be someone who is very vocal especially on political issues. Now that you have been appointed member of ELECAM, are you still going to speak out or your hands are tied now?

Well, I was brought into ELECAM on the bases of those characteristics which you correctly highlighted, and I think it will be very stupid to do things that will bring my integrity to disrepute. At the same time, we are dealing with issues that affect the life of a country.

One also has to be very careful with the type of allegations raised, especially when they are not backed by facts or evidences. The fact that you are outspoken does not give you the guarantee to run your mouth even when you don’t have evidence. There is a code of ethics which members are supposed to abide by, and everything is done within the frame work of the law.

What contributions are you going to make in ELECAM?

ELECAM has a mandate which we are going to work on. We understand the role of members of the Electoral Board and the whole mechanism that has been put in place for the management of elections in this country. The day-to-day management of affairs of ELECAM lies in the hands of the General Manager and not the Board Members, even though they are to play a supervisory role over the activities of the General Manager.

But again, it may be very difficult if the text is not clear on that issue and unfortunately, many people turn to look at the Board Members as if they are the ones responsible for the day-to-day running of ELECAM. It is true they sit and take final decisions, for example, relating to the budget and other aspects, but when it comes to the management of that structure, it is in the hands of Director General and not the Board Members.

Do you have the impression that with this innovation and appointments in ELECAM, there is going to be free, fair and transparent elections in Cameroon?

I am very positive that the fact that I have been brought into this type of structure, I think that there is Government’s commitment to ensure that elections are organised hitch-free.

If in the course of the election you observe some foul play, what will be your reaction?

There is no doubt about that. If I see anything which is not within the conduct of elections, and not falling within the rules and regulations, I think the people have the right to be informed of what is going wrong because we are there to represent the people and not ourselves. And, while we have the opportunity to draw the attention of other members, I think any rigging should be brought to the attention of the population.

Concretely, what are you going to do?

I am not going there to divide ELECAM, but to work and synergise with the other members and to build on what had already been put in place by other members and to benefit a lot from their experience. Most of them have been there for two years and have gathered numerous experiences. I am going just as a member; I am not going there to change the whole structure, but to listen keenly and see areas where I can contribute for the improvement of what had already been put in place.

*(National Polytechnic Bambui Journalism Student On Internship)