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Parliament Awaits 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

CameroonPostline.com — President Biya will soon table a bill pressing for the amendment of the constitution in order to institute the post of Vice President. A Unity Palace source told The Post that unless Biya suddenly decides otherwise, the bill will be tabled in Parliament during the ongoing session. According to the source, that asked not to be named, the draft amendment has already been studied and fine-tuned by an American consultancy firm on constitutional issues.

Although the bill has not yet been tabled, there has been so much public tongue-wagging on the post of Vice President. There are speculations that by seeking to create the post of Vice President, Biya intends to shift his constitutional successor from the President of the Senate to the Vice President of the Republic. Such a move, observers hold, is the harbinger of the bid that President Biya could quit power voluntarily in no distant time.

Since the bill has not yet been tabled, it is not clear whether the Vice President will be elected or appointed. The idea of a running mate akin to that of the American system was mooted, but political pundits indicate that Biya would like to institute the system wherein the Vice President is appointed so that he can single-handedly handpick his successor. There are also speculations that if created, such a post would be occupied by an Anglophone since all the three powers of the State are headed by Francophones.

It is in this light that some Anglophone bigwigs are struggling to outsmart each other in lobbying for the post, so much so that it is believed the post of Vice President will automatically mean the demise of the Prime Minister’s Office. While corroborating this line of thought, varsity don and political scientist, Dr. Christopher Nsoh, told The Post that the post of the Vice President should be created through constitutional amendment that will clearly define its functions.

Another political scientist and jurist, Njoya Moussa, says if the functions of the Vice President will be to assist the President in his duties, it will be irrelevant because there are already so many of his collaborators at the Presidency. In such a situation, the post will only come to entrench bureaucracy and deep-seated inertia in the system. If such a post were to be instituted at all cost, he went on, the Vice President must be elected. Moussa proposed that such a personality could be elected by indirect universal suffrage by Parliament after the election of the President of the Republic.

It is worth noting that it is the Vice Presidency deal that ensured a smooth transition in Nigeria when President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua fell sick and eventually died in 2010. It was the Vice President, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, who took over and ended the late President’s mandate before running for a fresh term in office. If the post of Vice President is finally instituted in Cameroon, it won’t be the first time. The country had a Vice President when it was still a Federal Republic before the abolition of the federal system of government after the 1972 Referendum.

In the wake of increasing public anxiety as to when President Biya will name a new Government, it is now being mooted that there can only be a cabinet reshuffle after the post of Vice President would have been created. However, as we went to press over the weekend, there were no signs of the bill anywhere in Parliament. Instead, Government tabled some five bills bordering on the ratification of some international conventions by the Head of State.

First published in The Post print edition no 01515

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