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When Is Biya Visiting Buea? 

By Bouddih Adams

CameroonPostline.com — President Paul Biya and his wife and their children returned to the Cameroons a couple of days ago, after about 27 days out in the world. So far, no one knows when he will be visiting, as Buea awaits him for his promised Reunification celebrations. It is two years since President Biya made the announcement that the Golden Jubilee of Reunification of the Cameroons will be celebrated in Buea.

Today, two years after, we don’t know if it will be the celebration of 50 years or 52 years of Reunification, or, if it will not happen this year, whether it will still be the celebration of the Golden Jubilee. But, since that his announcement, Mr. President has travelled out of the country quite a number of times, sometimes at short notice. But it has taken two years, and we are still counting, for him to visit just a region of his own country.

President Biya travels abroad many times in a year. Sometimes, all the time he is out, put together, is more than the time spent in the country. I remember when the then President of Nigeria, Musa Yar’Adua, travelled out two times in a year (probably for health reasons), Nigerians contemptuously branded him as “the travelling President.”

The President has the right to go out for health reasons. Yes. But in his 30 years in power, it has become once too often, until at one moment, when he returned home after spending more than a month out, someone wrote describing his return as: “President Biya Visits Cameroon.” This last time, President Biya was returning to the country after such a long stay, coincidentally when Nelson Mandela, was returning home from hospital, after a long while.

Significantly, with all the love South Africans, Africans and the world have for the Madiba Nelson Mandela, with all the prayers that he lives on, despite the fact that he was critically ill, they kept him in South Africa, for intensive medical attention. It goes without saying that South Africans, be they former or current President, Minister, Director, or Nobel Prize Winner, do not need to fly out for medical attention. Even the Madiba, was attended to in South Africa.

This is surely because while he was President, Mandela constructed state-of-the art hospitals, procured cutting-edge instruments and the best ultra-sound machines in the world for his country and countrymen. He did not build even one health facility in Baden Baden or would not need to fly to Switzerland or wherever for health reasons.

It might seem I am digressing, but all of this is because, it seems easier for authorities to travel abroad than to travel to one part of this geopolitical contraption called the Cameroons. While it would take Americans a couple of days to travel to the moon, it takes months, for a Cameroonian to travel to one part of his country – and in this case, it is taking the President more than two years to decide to visit a part of his country.

The 50th anniversary of the Armed Forces, just like that of the independence of former La République du Cameroun was feted with ease. Why all this procrastination on the celebration of reunification, and by extension, the celebration of the independence of the then Southern Cameroons?

Was the decision to organise the celebrations of reunification on second thought?
Could it not have been planned long before?  We have said it before; when Ghanaians were to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their independence in 2007, they started planning five years before. Same for the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Nigeria and other countries; they started planning many years before.

In the Cameroons, it seems someone just got up only one fine morning and decided that reunification be celebrated. That is why socio-political experts have described Cameroon as being governed on an adhoc basis. This means that Cameroon is being governed on the basis of “tumbu tumbu boss calabash”

Now, the projects aimed at celebrating reunification and Biya’s coming are deteriorating. If at all he is going to come, most of the projects would require total reconstruction. Also, Mr. Biya seemed to have programmed the visit to Douala for the launching of the second bridge over the Wouri in Douala, to come either before or after the Reunification Celebration in Buea.

That way, he would have used one stone, nay, one outing to shoot two birds. The grandstand constructed near the Bonaberi Bridge for the visit and laying of the foundation stone for the second bridge waited for the President until weather beat it and it started crumbling. It is being reconstructed now, almost all over, indicating that he might be coming any time soon.

Many people had thought that Biya would come as part of campaigns for his CPDM party for the September 30 twin elections. But it is known that he never goes out to campaign, even in Presidential elections where he is directly involved. As the rehabilitation work on the grandstand in Douala is indicative that the President would come around any time soon, we only hope that the projects in Buea and environs which have dilapidated will also be rehabilitated. 

The projects have dilapidated because of the haste in which they were carried out, just like the roads constructed in Bamenda when he was visiting in November 2010. By January 2011, barely a couple of months after, all the roads had dilapidated. Go to Bamenda now and you will be sorry for the roads that the Bamenda inhabitants celebrated at that moment.

Maybe, we should rather pray that the Head of State should not come so soon so that all the projects that have deteriorated with time should be redone all over, again and again. And the burden, as usual, will fall on the shoulders of taxpayers – the Cameroonian people. We bemoan the delay because if he comes and goes, the ridge which was removed along the so-called Biya Boulevard, for him to enjoy his ride in his motorcade, would be reconstructed so that Buea denizens stop losing their loved ones.

Meanwhile, he should tell us when he is coming so that we can take exigency measures by putting old tires where the ridge was, to avoid careless speeding and callous overtaking by motorists killing and maiming our loved ones.
Are We Together?

First published in The Post print edition no 01462