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Political Parties Don’t Make Individuals – ELECAM Chair 

Interviewed by Willibroad B. Nformi

Dr. Azu’u Fonkam, ELECAM Chair, has declared that political parties do not make individuals, arguing that a thief remains a thief despite his political leanings. Dr. Fonkam, who was formerly a staunch CPDM militant and is currently on a sensitisation mission in the Northwest Region, has appealed to Cameroonians to henceforth judge him from his activities as ELECAM Chair. Fonkam made this declaration in Kumbo, Friday, May 8 as he met with elections stakeholders. In the following interview with The Post, he talks about lessons learnt from observing elections in South Africa and assures Cameroonians of his impartiality and lots more. Excerpts:

Mr. Chairman, may we know why you are here?

I am here first of all because ELECAM is new; people don’t know what it is. So, I had to come to meet the people and the chief executive in the Division, the SDO; then meet political leaders, who are the primary stakeholders. They are our premiere partners and the people with whom we need to work. And I want to thank the SDO for bringing all of them together, the SDF and the CPDM. We were all together and spoke about the future of Cameroon because ELECAM is the future of Cameroon.

The President of the Republic decided to confide this important task to the son of the Northwest and I thought I should come and say look, that burden is not mine alone. I cannot carry it alone. I need to carry it with all of you. I am not carrying it with a political party; I am carrying it with all the people of the Region and with all the people of Cameroon and the world is watching us. It starts here in the Northwest. Others will see the example from the Northwest because it is primarily our assignment. That is why I am here.

A lot of criticisms were raised when you were appointed because it was believed you were a frontline militant of the CPDM party. We want to find out what assurances you have for Cameroonians that you are going to be impartial?

I said it and I have said it repeatedly. I don’t blame those who are skeptical, who have misgivings. I don’t blame them.  It is only normal. And I don’t want to lie about my past. I have been CPDM, I was CPDM, but I am no longer CPDM. When I was CPDM, I held positions, which matched my convictions. Holding strong convictions does not mean one cannot be objective.

And I say that when I was appointed to the National Assembly and those who were at the National Assembly like Hon. Ngoran can bear with me. I said; where in the Assembly did I do anything which showed you that I treated the CPDM MPs differently from other MPs? They said no and you can ask the rest of them.  I saw MPs, I didn’t see party lines. When I was in the Central Committee of the CPDM and was a militant of the CPDM, I never said anything which made me look stupid.

I never said and did things which were against the game because I wanted to be a loyal militant of the CPDM. I think the head of the CPDM never wanted any of his militants to say things that were not true. I did what my conscience dictated to me. Political parties do not make individuals and do not give them values. Values come from the individuals. If you take a thief and put him/her in a political party, they will take the values of a thief into that political party. I am Chairman of ELECAM. I have my values I grew up with.

I just turned 55. It is not at 55 that I will change and start doing what I didn’t know how to do. Those, who know me, will know that I can be objective. Those, who don’t know me, will like to see what I will do. So wait and judge me on what I will do whether my words will match my actions; whether my talking will also mean working, because some people talk and do not work.

You just came back from South Africa, where you witnessed the presidential elections. What particular lessons have you learned from that exercise?

I learned important lessons. The first one being that no human situation is stationery. When the Independent Electoral Commission was put up I had the luck of working with a pioneer member, Mr. Ronald Gold, who was a commissioner of Elections Canada. He told me the South African people didn’t think they were going to do the job, but they did the job. And they have improved. That was the first lesson.

The second lesson is that we can do politics convivially. We do not need attrition. We are one people. There is no reason why we cannot have people in the same home belonging to two parties, who go out and do their politics. After all, what is politics all about? It is about development. It is about ideology. That is what politics is all about. So, if we can all do that, if we know what we want, it is possible for us to be able to move together as one people.

You are coming to Kumbo at a time Bui has lost one of her illustrious sons, Shey Isaac Lukong, a Central Committee Member of the CPDM. What will be your consoling words to the people of Bui?

I only learned about the death of Shey Isaac Lukong, who is popularly known as ‘Government’, when I got here. It is a tragic loss for Bui and for the Northwest because I think he was a fine son, party affiliations aside. I think Shey was a great son of the Northwest, a great son of Cameroon. This is someone who was self-made.

You know that he didn’t have much formal education. It is not formal education that really makes a man. Shey was a big man. He was an icon without having gone to all the big schools. He could not speak as we say vocally, yet he was a great man. My deepest sympathies to Bui and to the Northwest Region. We have lost a great son of Cameroon. I didn’t see him in terms of party, I saw him in terms of Bui and in terms of the Nation.

Any last word to the Bui community and to Cameroonians as a whole?

My last word first of all is that I don’t know why the President decided to give the position of ELECAM Chairman to the Northwest. He gave it to us.

I don’t consider that he gave it to my person. As an individual, I am nobody, but as part of a community, I am something. I want to invite the people of the Northwest for togetherness, for a common vision, for our Region and for the nation. It is when we are together and working together that we can achieve great things. And I want to remind people also that boycotting and staying away never solves any problems. Boycotting is good in economics.

It is an effective economic tool; it is never been an effective political tool. I think that is the simple message. And you have been here and have seen the atmosphere between the CPDM and the SDF. We are one people. That is what it should be. There is no reason, why the example shouldn’t come from Bui. The CPDM and the SDF should all be together, campaign together.

The people are interested in ideas that can make their societies advance and move forward. They are not interested in bickering that never helps anybody. That is my word and my appeal and my prayer; I would even say to the people of Bui and from Bui. And so, this is a message coming from my soul to the Northwest and to the rest of Cameroon. The world is watching us.

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