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Open Letter to Fons, CPDM Bigwigs, & NW Elites – Stand Up for Forjindam — In an address to the nation, not too long ago, H.E President Paul Biya stated, categorically, that Mr. Zacheus Forjindam, the erstwhile General Manager of Chantier Naval, was the best Manager of a Cameroonian Corporation at the time. This was a sincere and honest appraisal of the contributions of an industrious Cameroonian to the development of our nation.

It is an established fact that the said Mr. Forjindam made Chantier Naval what it is, almost single-handedly. What could he have done in under a year after having been declared by the Number One personality in Cameroon as the best Manager? Why has the Head of State remained quiet in the face of the adversity that stares down at Forjindam? I suspect blackmail and, if circumstances permit, the truth will be found. But while we wait we must not fold our hands.

Northwest Fons: You all are beneficiaries of Forjindam’s largess. Your palaces are adorned with the affluences of Forjindam. It is thanks mostly to him that you have the foundations of a Secretariat where you meet regularly to discuss matters of your common destiny.

One can say without fear of contradiction that you believe in the innocence of this son of yours. Recall that a large delegation of the Fons of the Northwest was in court to hear the judgment in his case when it first came up. You were dumbfounded and scandalised when the said judgment came out against him.  Even food which his family had prepared for you, got sour in your royal mouths and, in utter bewilderment, you folded your tiger skins, took your dancing troupes and returned to your palaces.

Without stopping to think, many of you repeated the journey when it was rumoured that he was to be released after his appeal of the judgment. What you did not realise was that the regime in power does not like the emergence of heroes who will dwarf them.

The case of Lapiro de Mbanga provides shouting evidence of this. We can recall that the people of Mbanga had mobilised themselves to transport Lapiro from Deido in a motorcade of Bensikins to Mbanga on the day his prison term came to an end. Seeing the possibility of an emergent hero in Lapiro, he was nocturnally delivered to his family the day before his due release. Until today, Lapiro is still demanding to return to Deido to finish his last day in prison because his opportunity to return to Mbanga as a hero was thwarted by the regime.

Perhaps, if you had quietly waited in Bamenda, Paul Biya might have delivered Forjindam to you in one of your palaces. If you have had your ear to the ground you must have heard that there was nearly uproar in a recent Southwest Chiefs Conference in Kumba when the Assistant Secretary General at the Presidency tried to get the Chiefs to pass a vote of confidence on Biya for arresting Chief Inoni Ephraim. Would you have reacted differently? Where do we go from here?

As Fons, I urge you to go to your big brother the Fon of Fons and beg him to release your son to you, even Nicodemusly.  I believe that Mr Biya is convinced, as you are, of Forjindam’s lack of guilt and will listen to you in the overall interest of this nation.

CPDM Elite: Whether by arrangement or by circumstance, the cream of the ruling party in the Northwest Region hails from Santa, the same Subdivision from which Mr. Forjindam originates. Pa Achidi Achu, John B. Nde, Atanga Nji Paul, et al, all of you have made enormous contributions to the peace, stability and unity of this nation; at least so you claim.

Pa Achidi, in particular, can recall that Paul Biya used him to weather the storm which rocked the most sailing boat of Cameroon in the 90’s and worked towards the creation of the Cameroon GCE Board. You cannot discount the contributions of Forjindam to this role and I know that you are still a close collaborator of President Paul Biya. Don’t now sit by and play fiddle while “Rome” is burning.

I am aware of the internal feud that bestrides Santa politicians. It is said that Santa politicians thrive in mafia when Cameroonian politics west of the Mungo is concerned. But is it enough to turn your backs on one of yours? I took a personal risk to immortalise the Mefebe Sub-section of the CPDM even when most of you were bent on conjuring tongue-twisting names like Santa South-South-East CPDM Sub-Section to describe that party area. I appeal to you to set your pride, personal ambitions and differences aside and redeem the personality of one of yours.

CPDM Parliamentarians: You represent the people of the Northwest Region. If in fact Forjindam is guilty of any financial impropriety, you know that he funded your campaigns for election to Parliament. You are today the voice of the people of the Northwest Region, thanks in a significant way to him. Can you afford to sit by and watch your political mentor undergo such humiliation at the hands of charlatans and people whose sole aim in this union is to subjugate, dehumanise, exploit and marginalise the Anglophone partners?

SDF lawyers are today defending Marafa who they claimed stole their victory and gave it to Mr. Biya. And I believe you are following the reaction of the Northern Regions to the arrest and trial of Marafa. Do you have no lessons to learn from these developments? Or are you waiting for Forjindam to be killed so that you can write our usual motions of support?

Did Forjindam not give you teeth as Parliamentarians with which to bite? Have the teeth fallen off? If not, use them now to bite your way to Deido prison and release him. If you don’t, you will leave us with no choice but to look for men and women with sharper and stronger teeth in the next political consultations. Bite now or forever grow no new teeth.

CPDM Section Presidents: It is our tradition to write motions of support to President Biya and shower him with messages of congratulations following brilliant victories at elections, even when those elections passed some years ago.

You are certainly not unaware of the stir that is being created among the party cadre in the Northern Region following the incarceration of their own beloved son. Aren’t those party Presidents operating within the same party like we are? Isn’t Forjindam our own favorite son? Or do we think that the ability to say that we are sick, when we truly are, is reserved for a particular class of people of this nation?

Are we Anglophones made of different stuff which moves us only in the direction of praise singing and denies us the ability to tell Mr. Biya that we want Forjindam released? The political devil who gives that impression is a liar, I dare say. Section Presidents, please, sing a choir in unison for the release of Forjindam.

Elite of the Northwest Region: And where are we? We have earned the respect of the Forjindam family and outsmarted each other to take a favoured position close to him, to be seen next to him, as if we help him call the shots. At political party meetings, traditional ceremonies, festivals, religious gatherings, among others, it has been our pride to be eating or drinking on the same table with Forjindam.

Does his present predicament mean nothing to us? Who are we afraid of? Nothing can happen to us, not even a hair can be lost from our heads, if we speak out and cry foul, unless we are not the elite we purport to be and who have rendered such meritorious service to this nation through Mr. Biya. We deserve to know if Forjindam is not a victim of the voodoo machinations of some unholy oligarchy. Even our glory cannot be diminished if we make our belief and association with him a cornerstone of our demand for his liberty to be restored.

The Southwest Region: And, finally, I must ask if the Southwest Region can afford not to feel the pinch of this ignominy. Remember that only recently, the Southwest Region was cut off from the rest of the country. Was it not Forjindam who created the possibility for us to remain linked with the rest of the nation?

A shipyard is in operation in Limbe today. Most of the Victoria population and indigenous peoples of Victoria are living in modernity. Is it not thanks to the ingenuity of Mr. Forjindam when he was General Manager of Chantier Naval?

The road into Limbe from Mile 4 is currently undergoing degradation.  The cutoff of Limbe from the rest of the nation is imminent. No one is raising a finger yet. Who can doubt that the good old Forjindam, given the opportunity, would already have been contemplating a flyover?

Please, good people of the Southwest Region, add your voice to the cry for the release of Forjindam.

Conclusion: I take this opportunity to conclude this stand-up call for Forjindam in the following words of Franz Fanon – a celebrated Algerian Revolutionist:

The future will have no pity for those who, possessing the exceptional quality of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes of cold complicity.

Azong-Wara Andrew

Pioneer Registrar of the GCE Board

Member of the Order of International Fellowship

First published in The Post print edition no. 01364

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