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Spygalss:The Great Loony Bin 

By Azore Opio

You may see no point in my telling you the next piece of this story, but I will tell you all the same. You will excuse me for that, of course, for I am strangely haunted by this topsy-turvy feeling that we really live in a topsy-turvy country; that we live in a country where men and women do definitely believe that material circumstances, however black and twisted, are more important than spiritual realities, however powerful and pure.

Alah! We must, I fear, face the full insanity of what it does mean – that there are people in this country who have in themselves a power of terrible personality cult, a thirst for some loyalty that draws men and women to them as a magnet attracts iron filings. There are also some people who seem to be fed on hallucinogens to pay loyalty. For example, the death of the grandmother of a minister easily erupts into hallucinogenic raptures that ground not only the ministry where the grandma’s grandson works, but "sympathizers" from other ministries too, shut their doors to travel up-country for the funeral ceremony, to pay loyalty and curry favour.

No wonder then, that, two dozen adult human beings boarding a bus to Bamenda just to attend the wedding of the daughter of the chairman of their corporation is no longer a puzzle. Three of the bunch parted with their lives in a bloody accident, while agonizing pains from broken heads and bones still wrack a great number.

We are beginning to wonder whether Adam and Eve are not entirely responsible for Cameroon’s topsy-turvyness. This country is being run like a minimum security prison where you are free to do whatever you want as long as you stay within the borders. Here, everything is done in the excess. There are people who seem like just the kind who go to sleep praying, and wake up every morning just praying for someone to get smart with them so they can make their lives hell.

Kondengui too, is being run like a minimum security prison. If you leave it, there simply must be some sort of nefarious reason you do so; going out for a prostitute, a drink or eating pork, any of those under the escort of a rented warder. I witnessed this scenario once when I visited the Kondengui district. A buddy and I were "blowing" mimbo, waiting for sizzling pork to be chopped up. He pointed to a smartly clad fellow who looked all like an executive officer.

"He is a prisoner." "Then what is he doing here?" I asked. My buddy shrugged; "can’t you see he is "shacking", eating pork? The man beside him is a warder, his escort. The other one at the corner is also a prisoner with his escort."

Is it a wonder then that thirteen convicted prisoners flew out of the Kondengui cage to freedom without anyone raising an alarm? Someone, however, remarked that they were "released" to create room in a prison congested with high profile thieves for more "thieves". And that is when they arrested Haman Adama for alleged embezzlement. I quickly revised my esteem and estimation of the woman who had looked to me like a sober mother with a baby face.

As the thief is confounded when he/she is caught, so are Haman Adama and Abena. Like most people wont to err, they stayed naive of things, happily nested in a world of "it can’t or it won’t happen to me" until, sure enough, it did happen to them. For the greedy woman and others in her category, shame; for nine days they say belong to the thief, but the owner has one day: sure that day came. And may be, if you delve into Adama’s health records, you might discover that she never has had diabetes!

It is obscene that a government official who became the thief of an asset should pretend to go on hunger strike; to prove what? Like Wassa Loko, publisher of Summit Magazine, remarked on Press Club, Saturday 16, Abena will receive medical treatment and as soon as she is well enough, she will have to face the inevitable music. At any rate, if she believes she is clean, why not clear the air and set the records straight? Adams Bouddih, himself a member of the Press Club, remarked with his tongue in his cheek that since Abena seemed to have overeaten, it was only healthy to fast in order to decongest her bowels and detoxicate her system.

This fire brigade propaganda is not fooling anyone. Government should act like Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that not only arrests embezzlement suspects, but tries to recover the loot. Such is the case of former CEO Oceanic Bank, Cecilia Ibru. EFCC has since confiscated about 103 units of property, worth trillions of naira in five countries. Her assets in Nigeria, Dubai, South Africa, US and UK will also remain frozen until the trial is concluded. That is the way to do it.

Oh, by the way, can you imagine what would have happened if the Haiti earthquake had hit Cameroon; how the Etoudi vultures would have pounced on the victims to peck at their wounds! Of course, you remember the Bakingili eruption in 1999, when the Cameroon government begged for "dry" fish from abroad even though no one was hurt; a country with a long coastline and numerous waterways filled with fish.

And people donated even though what was donated never reached the victims! This is crazy. And Lake Nyos? Was it not Paul and Simon who said "man scratch yo back, you scratch yi own, no? Great, Cameroon has her own potential disasters in waiting- Mt. Fako, gaseous lakes, the regime itself is a potent disaster waiting to implode and the victims will surely need international help. What we do today will be a measure of what others will do to us when our own disaster(s) happen.

The head of state should not be oblivious of other nations’ disasters and misfortunes. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has offered free land and "repatriation" to people affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Why can’t our own head of state do something more substantial than send a mere sonorous condolence message?
If this is not a topsy-turvy nation, then we cannot imagine what else it could be.

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