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Ngolle Ngolle Happy With Ngole Ngwese 

Interviewed By Yerima Kini Nsom 

CameroonPostline.com — Prof. Elvis Ngolle Ngolle has revealed that he has received a certificate of resumption of duty from the University of Yaounde II authorities, to return as lecturer. In the following interview, he explains where he has been and what he has been doing since he was dropped from Government, stating that he is happy with his tribesman, Ngole Ngwese’s appointment to replace him. Read on:

Prof. Ngolle Ngolle, you have, to say the least, been eloquently silent, ever since you were eased out of Government. What have you been doing since December 9?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say something after about two months silence. First of all, since the December 9 Government, I have been taking a well deserved family rest as any human being would do. I have been taking care of family affairs.

My wife and I took a family holiday to the United States to see how the children are doing. And I have been spending time reading through my academic work, so that I can fully resume my academic duties. I have just received my certificate of resumption of duty signed by the University of Yaounde II authorities. So, this is, in a nutshell, what I have been doing since

You are one of those who propagated President Biya’s political thought as though it were gospel. Some observers say you virtually took Biya to the pedestal of a political Christ. Are you angry that he dropped you from his Government?

First of all, let us make it clear that it is uncharacteristic of me to be angry, politically speaking. We might disagree but it is not possible that I would be angry because, philosophically and intellectually, I am not only a student of political science but I am also an associate professor of political science. In the same line, I have been very involved in the politics of Cameroon since 1989-1990.

As you very well know, intellectually, ideologically, philosophically, I am very attached to the political vision, ideology, philosophies and the policies of President Biya. I was attracted to that vision when I was a PHD student in the United States in the early 1980’s, and since then, I have not been disappointed, neither have I lost confidence in the value of the political ideology vision of the President.

So, I am one of the exponents of that political vision and I continue to be attached and committed to it. During this period of silence you just mentioned, I have been reflecting on how I will recommit myself to making sure that, in my capacity as a former Minister and member of the Central Committee of the CPDM, I should do even more than I did before.

After all, the public forgets that between 1990 and 1996, I was not a Minister, yet, I was very involved as you know, in the political changes that occurred with the advent of the 1990 laws, the constitutional debate of 1991 to 1996, I was a member of the tripartite, I was even one of the members of one of the commissions of the tripartite – the commission that had to do with the media.

So, I was heavily involved in the political evolution of our country within the spirit and framework of President Biya’s vision even before1990-1996. I think that it is only normal and befitting that I continue to rededicate myself and to recommit rededicate myself just like I did before 1997. So, there is no place for anger.

It is said that by propagating Biya’s ideas, you overdid it, that your pronouncements were mere encomiums and mere panegyrics for him…

Well, it is very likely that observers, or those who disagree, would make the case that by professing or propagating, by defending the policies, we overdid it. But that is an opinion; that’s a point of view and I think in a free society, they are free to do so.

In a society which is free, philosophically and intellectually speaking, every political party counts on its most convicted militants who will carry its case, inform the public; I just happen to be one of those frontline ideologues and intellectuals of not only the regime but also of the party in power that has played a frontline role, and that is not because I was a Minister.

I have been playing the vital role from 1990-1996 and then nobody accused me of overkill. I think it is but normal that every regime and political party count on some of its most convicted members to make its case and educate the public, and that is what we were doing, against any other person’s point of view.
 
When some of you speak, one has the impression that Mr. Biya thinks for everybody; that he is a super human being who is omniscient…

If that is how we came across, then I think we were wrong. The President is, by nature, someone who is modest and pretty open. He is a magnanimous person. He is not the kind of person who will think that he is an alpha and omega. Everyone knows him for being that kind of simplistic and humanistic person. Perhaps we came across that in our public defence.

If we did that, we were wrong, because the President of the Republic, by his very nature, is someone who is so open, so magnanimous. He allows every human being to be the best of themselves, speak out and think the best of themselves. If you read his book, Communal Liberalism, that says it all.

If you read the book that was written by Francois Mattei, The Biya Code, you would see that the President is not someone who projects himself as “Mr. Know It All” or “Mr. Think It All For Everyone”.  The President has laid out a vision for everyone on the kind of Cameroon that he wants… open, free and prosperous. Cameroon is a society where every individual, tribe, ethnic group should be free to be the best of itself and to bring its own contribution to this edifice that we call Cameroon. He has never projected himself as thinking for everyone.

So, that has allowed some of us to feel free, make the case, argue and defend. It is not that we know it all, that we are the best. It’s just that we feel free and sometimes when we argue and exchange ideas with other intellectuals in society, it makes you feel good. What else do you want in a democracy but the fact that it is a permanent discussion?

How did you feel about your kinsman from Kupe-Muanenguba replacing you in Government?

It was good for me and we were happy, just like I replaced another son of Kupe-Muanenguba, Mr. John Ebong Ngolle. In a way, I know that Ebong Ngolle was happy that one of his brothers replaced him. Well, I think that Mr. Ngole Ngwese would be happy that he has replaced me.

So, I should be happy that Kupe-Muanenguba continues to be in the President’s heart and that is what every human being, every citizen in a democratic space should feel. At the end of the day, you should feel a sense of accomplishment, humility and self-worth. You should be humble enough to say: “Now, I go forward and continue to do other things in the construction of this national edifice called Cameroon.”

It is rumoured that there is a rift between you and the new Minister Ngole Ngwese…

If it is an allegation, I don’t think that it would come within two months of an appointment. Obviously, if there is such a thing, then, it must have existed before two months. You can’t, within two months of an appointment, create a rift.

So you are saying that the rift has been there?

If at all the rift exists, then it has been there. The question you should be asking is why has the rift been there?

Why has the rift been there, then?

This is what I know. Throughout the years I was a Minister, I carried out political activities in Kupe-Muanenguba Division. Well, all throughout the three sub-divisions and I never had any moment where I and Mr. Ngwese quarreled or fought. All I know is that he was doing what he was doing and I was doing what I was doing as a Minister.

Was there any kind of silent animosity?

Well, if there was silent animosity, I would not have known because I never had any reason to begrudge him and I assumed it was the same for him. But observers saw it differently and in a free society, they have the right to see it differently. No one would tell me in Kupe-Muanenguba that there was an open quarrel.

If you are happy that Ngole Ngwese replaced you, why did you not attend his homecoming in Bangem?

Thank you for that question. People want to make an issue of it. First of all, as I have said, I have spent time taking a family holiday and so, during the time of reception, I was in the United States with the family, especially as the reception had been postponed. For me, that is a funny issue but if indeed, some people want to make it an issue, then, it was an issue.

Those who make it an issue forget one fact – that I was received in Tombel, Nguti, Bangem and Yaounde –  four places. And during those four receptions, Mr. Ngwese was not there. Throughout my stay in Government, Mr. Ngwese never visited me. I organised many meetings here in Yaounde and back at home, but he never attended any. Those who are making it an issue never made it an issue at that time.

So, you were kind of paying him back in his own coin?

No, it just so happens that in life, we are not masters of nature. Nature has its own way of influencing life and we don’t make an issue of that which is a natural thing. I have never made an issue out of this but I would imagine that there is no place for others to make an issue out of it. If they do, I would imagine that there is something else they are looking for which I do not know.

While in Government, did you knowingly or unknowingly step on some toes?

It is possible; we are only human beings. It is possible that, when you serve in Government, you take positions in defence of Government policies, particularly in the sector in which you find yourself.

Obviously, in a free society, not everyone would agree with you but I try as much as possible to bring my character to be on my work. My character, by nature, is philosophical, ideological and quite at ease with divergent view points. I am quite at ease with people disagreeing but I believe that in that exchange, not only do people learn from each other but also the true terms come out.

So, it is very likely that because you had a different view, a different approach or you found a solution different from what they would have thought, they would not have been happy. That being the case, I say I am sorry. I was not doing it intentionally. I tried making my character and philosophy of life accommodating and inclusive, open, magnanimous so that we try to make everybody feel at ease as mush as possible.

Just when you left office, there were press reports that your successor was trying to clear the mess. What mess did you leave behind?

I couldn’t be judge of myself and of my work. Every decision-making member of Government or manager plays his or her part at his or her own level during his time and it is left to the master to be the judge. As far as I know, I did my work with all conviction and all dedication and commitment and I can only say it is left for my master to be the judge.

But those press reports that you are referring to, if that is the case, then I think that the responsibility lies on he who has decided to clean up the mess that I have left. As far as I know, if it was such a mess, I don’t think I would have merited the confidence of the Head of States for all these long years. So, I guess, if it is a mess that I have left, let him take responsibility of cleaning up the mess.

You were known to be very media-friendly, is that still the case today?

I continue to be media-friendly because, first of all, from an intellectual, philosophical and ideological standpoint, the world cannot do without the media that is credible, active, proactive and strong. It is not for nothing that in the developed world, the media is considered the “fourth estate”. In political science, we call it the feedback mechanism. There is no way any society can do without a credible media.

Any society that tries to suppress the media denies itself a chance to develop and to modernise and to prosper because the media plays the role of some sort of ombudsman, or the watchdog of society. In most places, unfortunately, we have some persons who are staining the good name of the media. I am glad that since 1990, the media has bloomed and Cameroon has taken its rightful place. We have to be thankful to somebody. We see now that there is a generalised consensus on some issues.

You and I know that in the early 1990’s up to the beginning of the 2000s, there were people who thought that Cameroon would explode and there will never be consensus, but see today, one of the biggest advances that we have had in our democracy is that the party in power and the opposition see more eye to eye now than they did in the early 1990s. This is because the media has helped to play the role of educating, of preaching. We know and understand each other more now.

Imagine if there were no media, what if the media had not evolved, we would not be seeing what we are seeing now. We should give the media its place and no one should try to denigrate or underestimate it. Instead, we should make it grow more and more because, that is the way to grow in the world. After all, some one has said: The 21st century in the world is the century of communication.

Is there a day you could describe as the worst day when you were still in Government? If so, which is that day?

It’s good you asked me that question. It is the day that, while we were with the President of the Republic on a visit to Europe, all of a sudden, here we were at the hotel with the President and we received calls that there was a rumour, of course, the rumour that all of us knew with regards to his life. As a human being, also as a member of his Government and as a member of his delegation… it was a difficult moment for me morally, ethically. This was a very difficult moment

Your best day……

My best days were just like that of any member of Government. After we have accomplished an electoral campaign and we have seen a victory for our candidate President Biya and our candidates at the local, parliamentary and the council levels and the last election was no exception to the rule. My best day was always that in which we have, once again, contributed to the election of our champion and that our party continues to do the job for which it was created to do.

There have been some evolutions within the political scene. Which is the one that caught your attention most and why?

I have to tell you that if there is one that has caught my attention most, it is the turn-around, or better still, the rapprochement between the party in power and the opposition. I think that we have no other lessons to learn. Cameroon is a great lesson in politics for the rest of Africa.

There is no need to tear each other into pieces because, I happened to have been in Bamenda, I was in Ebolowa and when Mr. Fru Ndi came to the palace the first time, I think it is great for other countries to copy that people can disagree ideologically, politically, but they are not enemies to each other. They are fellow citizens and at the end of the day, they are both contributing to the development of the national edifice. This is what I say and I tell you, I am one of those who admires this and who continues to admire these protagonists.

We can move from divergence to convergence. I am happy that everything is moving well between the Government and the opposition party. We have to give a legacy to the next generation. The others did theirs … The founding fathers like Pa Foncha and Pa Muna. I believe that philosophically, intellectually and ideologically, the Pa Fonchas and Pa Munas did their best in their time.

They laid the foundation for the next generation to continue. We cannot demonise them; we cannot make them look like they were wrong. Had they not done that, where would you and I be? They did their best during the time when they laid the foundation, we should build from that. The next generation will build from us.

First published in The Post print edition  no. 1332

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