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The Anglophone Problem Can Be Resolved Without Picking Up Arms – Fru Ndi 

The National Chairman of the SDF, Ni John Fru Ndi, has stated that there are ways of resolving the Anglophone problem in Cameroon without picking up arms. He made the statement in an exclusive interview granted The Post in Yaounde on the heels of May 20 celebrations. Highlighting the collateral damage caused by wars across the world, and the crisis in the Nigerian Eastern House of Assembly where British Southern Cameroonians walked away, Fru Ndi said Anglophone Cameroonians still have a right to take a political decision in the face of the problems plaguing them without going to war. He also addressed issues such as his decision to celebrate May 20 in Yaounde, SDF’s contribution is in fighting against Boko Haram, his apprehensions about May 20, calls for early Presidential election and his declaration that it could bring about a civil war, renting of militants to political manifestations among others. Excerpts:
Fru Ndi

The Post: Mr. Chairman, observers and Cameroonians are surprised that you are here because some few years ago you backed out of celebrating May 20 in Yaounde, over what you termed the shabby manner in which State protocol treated you. Is there any guarantee that you will not have the same treatment?

Ni John Fru Ndi: If I came this time it’s because, one; the invitation was sent on time, two; it’s because Cameroon is at the crossroads with Boko Haram and all these things need that we should come together for one common purpose and goal. That is, to see how we can keep Cameroon as one. That is the overriding issue that motivated me to be here.

So, how is your mere presence at the May 20 Boulevard going to advance the fight against Boko Haram?

My absence will show that we are fighting our own independent wars. So, my presence will show that we are together. Secondly, you noticed that the SDF was the first party and may be the only party that visited the six wounded soldiers at the Yaounde Military Hospital. We went there with provisions, including some of the best cows from my ranch to give to these men who have been fighting for us at the war front.

Do you have any apprehension with the National Day?

Well, you can have apprehensions, but you think on what is paramount, what is of paramount importance today is the safety of the Cameroon people and that is why when Mr. Biya and his party started writing things calling on Mr. Biya to be the Presidential candidate, to be their National candidate, early elections; I wrote a letter to him, that he should not allow himself to be fooled by the bootlickers of his party to think that, in the midst of war he could summon elections. I know we might be going in by 2018 without the war going through, but I think that Cameroonians shall have united and fought the insurgency in the way that it would be possible for the areas that are affected most, to also cast their votes and to choose their leaders.

Those who are calling on President Biya to organise early Presidential election and be candidate are mostly CPDM militants. Don’t you think it sounded like you were interfering in the internal affairs of CPDM party?

I did not interfere in the affairs of the political party. I drew Mr. Biya’s attention to his constitutional right to take a position on an issue that affected all Cameroonians. If I drew his attention to this and Mr. Biya listened, I want to congratulate him. If he did not listen, that is where the thing could have gone bad. I made sure that I did not publish the letter, because, it was supposed to be a confidential letter. I want to believe it is because of the letter I wrote, or, in his mind, he saw that the call was, sort of misleading. Sometimes, when things go the way they are going, you will not say it is because I wrote, no, I want to say that we also contributed.

Before you wrote to the President, your first reaction to the calls was that if he calls for early election, there will be war. Where was the war going to come from?

There is already war in the country, what are the soldiers doing in the Far North?

It is not the same thing, that is terrorism but you are talking about something like a civil war?

What’s the difference between civil war and terrorism? How does it start? To burn our country, to burn our house, it starts from a simple strike of a match. It’s not that everybody sits down and says lets burn this house.

You say you do not have any apprehensions about this National Day, May 20, but you are an Anglophone and you know that Anglophones have been agitating for the simple reason that May 20 marks the elimination of Federalism which they cherished most…?

I know that the Anglophones are marginalised. That is why the SDF still believes in the Federal system of Government. I have told Anglophones who told me that they walked out of the Lagos House of Assembly and that the Southern Cameroons was their political decision. They walked out of the Eastern House of Assembly to form the West Cameroon House of Assembly and that was their political decision. So, the same Cameroonians can divorce themselves from that option and take a political decision because there are people who think that we should go to war, we should separate, and we should fight and leave. I disagree with them, because, wars destroy the whole world as people are killed.
Even without a war in Cameroon, you know that hundreds of Cameroonians have died in deserts, in the high seas trying to run away because of bad governance, lack of jobs and all the like. So, can we look for a way to bring this to a peaceful end, than use the barrel of a gun? America went to Iraq and said it was a two-week affair, how long has it taken them? Look at the war in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and all these areas where people are fighting and killing themselves. Even in America with no war, how many blacks are being instantaneously shot and killed just because of xenophobic differences? So, I think that we can look for a better way of getting out of it than going to war and, more so, there are Francophones who are not very satisfied with the system.

Your full participation in the National Day is coming a long way from a series of boycotts by your party. Does it mean that it is some kind of compromise or that you have simply come to reason?

There is no compromise and nothing like coming to reason. It is that, when something is bad, we condemn it. For instance, I was at the airport to receive the Minister of Territorial Administration and Armed Forces visiting Wum. I met with the first Vice President of the CPDM. He asked: “Why have you people gone to Wum to burn and you are still burning and destroying things?” I said; “Well, Sir, if you people kill, we burn and if you people kill again we will burn again.” So, it is not a matter of compromising. We are saying we condemn what is wrong. Our participation now borders on gathering all forces against terrorism.

Newspapers are saying that the SDF is also renting militants like CPDM and other political parties are doing?

Well, Sir, I am glad that you are an investigative journalist, go to the field and find out how many militant we rented. You know that we have organised our structures in the Centre and our militants are there. Up till now that am talking to you, the quarrel and the fight is on T-shirts. For the Centre alone, we sent T-shirts and the T-shirts were not enough. The youth who came here have been on my neck. I think they are going out now to print other T-shirts for the Centre Region for 4,000 extra people. Are you saying that I have money to hire 4,000 people? No! They are committed militants and I’m proud of them.

What message do you have for those Anglophones who are agitating, with the claim that the National Day on May 20 reminds them of their assimilation by La Republique du Cameroun?

Let them take a political decision that I prescribed earlier in this interview. I wish Cameroonians a happy anniversary. When you say you are wishing them a happy anniversary, it does not mean that everything is honey going, but that we look forward with hope of resolving our problems peacefully and amicably. Let both parties keep pushing for dialogue instead of taking up arms.

Interviewed By Yerima Kini Nsom

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