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Let’s Be One, Let’s Remain United – Biya Appeals 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai


President Paul Biya, Commander-in-Chief of the Defence and Security Forces, has, once more, reiterated the need for Cameroonians to be one and united.

He was speaking at the Yaounde Military Headquarters on February 3, while paying tribute to four senior defence and security officers who were victims of a helicopter crash last January 22, 2017.

The helicopter, which crashed at Tchofo, a village 9km from Bogo, Diamare Division in the Far North Region of Cameroon, had Major General Jacob Kodji, Brigadier General  Alphonse Nkameni, Captain Aurélien Brice Chinda Mû Tankam and Captain Basile Souloukna Grassou on board.

In a speech paying glowing tribute to the fallen officers, President Biya referred to January 22, 2017, as a sad and painful day.

“Four brave officers of our armed forces returning from an assignment perished in a helicopter crash. This is a brutal and irreparable loss,” Biya asserted as he called on the nation to observe a minute of silence in their memory.

Stating that the bereavement concerns the country as a whole, the President expressed the solidarity and gratitude of the nation to the affected families and the armed forces.

“The tribute we are paying to the four deceased soldiers today also goes to all those who have fallen while defending the fatherland. We will forever remember their sacrifices.

“The military profession is the only one where the supreme sacrifice is accepted as an eventuality. The Glory and Submission of military service account for its unparalleled nobility. However, our unfathomable sorrow of today should not lead to despair or resignation. Rather, it should strengthen our resolve to soldier on against a ruthless and unscrupulous enemy, and we must remember that this fight will only end with the final defeat of that enemy,” he urged the defence and security forces.

According to President Biya, a single word “Fatherland,” vibrates and echoes in the souls of the four freedom fighters, who were proudly draped in the national colours.

“The blood of these valiant soldiers, who fell in battle, in the line of duty, speaks to us…

“It calls and appeals to us all, from East to West, and from North to South, to rekindle our civic and patriotic spirit; to rally further around these three colours that we chose in all solidarity and sovereignty; to blend into this unitary star, at the centre of our national flag, which is a glowing symbol of faith and unity. Let us be one, let us remain united!” he appealed.

He added that the fallen heroes, champions of peace, just like those who preceded them, will forever remain in the memory of Cameroonians.

“As we bid farewell to these four officers who died for the fatherland, I would like to assure their families that I will remain close to them. I share their pain and they can trust me to ensure the implementation of the legal provisions relating to war orphans.”

Talking about the fallen soldiers, who were posthumously decorated and promoted, Biya said Major General Jacob Kodji, who was the then Commander of the 4th Combined Services Military Region, was leading Operation Emergence 4 against the Boko Haram terrorist group.

“He knew how to respond appropriately to the acts perpetrated by this barbaric organisation. Through the system put in place, he helped secure the border with Nigeria, maintained synergy between the forces waging war against Boko Haram and significantly reduced attacks and hostage-taking.

“This outstanding General Officer had a promising future. His untimely death has created a huge vacuum in the upper echelons of our armed forces. However, his example will inspire future generations of service men and women in our country,” Biya stated with optimism.

He disclosed that Brigadier Alphonse Nkameni, the then Commander of the 4th Gendarmerie Military Region, was specifically responsible for homeland security issues.

“He was entrusted with the delicate task of liaising with the population, especially the vigilante groups. He played a key role in stirring the patriotic fervour demonstrated by the inhabitants of the areas under threat. He deserves well of the nation,” the President acknowledged.

Meanwhile, for Captains Chinda and Souloukna, Pilot and Engineer Officers, respectively, Biya regretted that the two, unfortunately, lost their lives at the dawn of their promising careers.

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