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SCNC Has No Place In Southwest, Chiefs Say 

By Bouddih Adams — The executive committee of the Southwest Chiefs Conference, SWECC, has declared that the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, has no place in the Region.

The Chiefs made the pronouncement on September 1, during an executive meeting at their Secretariat in Buea during which they met with an SCNC deserter, Emmanuel Nebafuh, under an outfit named Cameroon Council for Reunification, CAMCORE, that campaigns for a “one and indivisible Cameroon.” 

The President of SWECC, HRH Njifua Fontem, in his opening address, stated: “After 50 years of Reunification, we cannot go back. Those of the SCNC need to change their minds. The SCNC has no place in the Southwest Region!” he declared. The SWECC President launched an appeal: “We are inviting all Cameroonians to come on board and build one and indivisible Cameroon.”

Nebafuh, who was accompanied by a British Parliamentary researcher, Jeff Townsend, in his intervention, stated: “We [of CAMCORE] believe the SCNC is the wrong thing. We are against it. All letters that the SCNC has been sending to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Government have not been replied.” He said he had been at the forefront of the SCNC struggle, but when he did research and found out that all letters filed by the SCNC have never been replied by the British Government he dropped the fight.

Chief Isoh Itoh, in reaction to the call to shun the SCNC, asserted: “SWECC was the first to stand against the SCNC and still stands against it.” He would add that: “Decentralisation, which is going on now, will address some of the issues raised by the SCNC. The SCNC has been talking about going back to the federal system. We do not want that because we want unity in a one and indivisible Cameroon.”

Reinstitution Of House Of Chiefs

Also campaigning for the reinstitution of the House of Chiefs, which was abolished in 1972, together with other structures of the then Federal Republic of Cameroon, Nebafuh posited: “Traditional authorities can add substance to national debate.” Nebafuh enthused: “We believe that the celebration of Reunification is an opportunity for traditional authorities to regain their lost honour. In many parts of the country, traditional authorities are a disgrace to their people because they are poor.”

Nfor Tabetando, a former President of SWECC, went down memory lane: “We enjoyed the House of Chiefs from 1954. There is the constitutional reminiscence and developmental reminiscence since 1972,” said the traditional ruler who is also a lawyer.  “Former President Ahidjo might not have abolished it in bad faith, because he pinned it on financial burden of having a bicameral system,” Tabetando observed, adding that a national association of traditional rulers of Cameroon was created a couple of years ago.

Chief Atem Ebako, for his part, maintained that: “Traditional leadership is always incorporated in governance but on an ad hoc basis. We want it to be instituted socially, politically and economic spheres.” Isoh Itoh averred that: “Traditional Rulers are playing an active role in decision-making and management of the country.” Fontem opined: “The English-speaking countries in Africa have organised traditional institutions – not so for the French-speaking countries.”

Reunification Celebration

The SWECC President, Fontem said he was satisfied with the contributions towards the celebration of Reunification. “It is a great event taking place here in Buea and the Southwest Region and we of the Region must contribute to it,” Fontem said. He, however, said the entire Region needs to have radio and television coverage so that those who cannot come can hear or watch the celebration in their villages. He also appealed for an improvement on the road network, while soliciting a facelift for Buea that will host the celebration.

“While celebrating, we should not lose sight of the giant project that we have – the SWECC Secretariat,” Fontem enjoined. Reminiscing the past, Fontem observed: “Chiefs nowadays are poor. In the days of our parents, there was the poll tax that Chiefs used to collect and Government will pay to them their commissions. But the poll tax was abolished and the chiefs lost the benefits.”

As solution to the Chiefs dilemma, Fontem proposed: “With decentralisation, the Government should factor a budget line in the Council budget for the upkeep of our palaces.” To Nebafuh and Townsend, the SWECC President said: “Thank you for the effort and expenditure exerted to come and visit us in Cameroon.” Former diplomat, Chief Michael Tabong Kima, told the visitors: “If we had learnt of this visit early enough, we would have prepared for you to savour our culture. Our culture is not only on paper, it is displayed.”

First Published in The Post print edition No 01372

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