What the People of Cameroon Knew, that You Didn’t
By Ernest L. Molua*
About 77.99% of Cameroonians have a profound sense of justice. Voting in Pretoria, Libreville, Paris, Washington DC or Beijing; and trooping to voting centres from Widikum to Idenau, Mundemba to Yokaduma; and from Nkolandoum to Kouseri, Cameroonians have sent a loud and clear message that paves the path of their political and economic destiny. On October 9, 2011 they statistically and significantly voted for a President whom they wish will lead them into the promise land of human actualization. Presidential elections 2011 is somewhat a prophetic destiny on President Paul Biya’s reelection, which hinges on three foundations, ten pillars and the Biya welfarism which the people of Cameroon objectively assessed and gave to him their overt support.
The Biya Foundations
The first foundation is the appreciation by Cameroon’s electorate that Mr Biya’s leadership style is the way and approach required to take Cameroon into the future of economic progress and consolidate freedoms of political expression and communication that Cameroonians have enjoyed in the last twenty-something years. Not only does the country prides itself as an island of peace, but Mr Biya is one of the few leaders envied even by his contemporaries in the supposedly developed world where due to his humaneness, his detractors perennially throw mud at him either in screaming banner headlines or outright insults, yet such detractors sleep in the comfort of their homesteads not afraid that the secret service will hound them into nothingness.
The second foundation is the appreciation and showing of gratitude by the people of Cameroon that his programme of action is the only sure way and a trustworthy approach to put Cameroon on the path to economic development. A programme conceived on the ladder-rungs of consolidating peace, improving the function of institutions, encouraging entrepreneurship and unending attempts to modernize administration for greater efficiency, Mr Biya’s plans and actions of economic development are resilient on any counterfactual assessment, whether it is a Cameroon with or without him, or a Cameroon before and in him. Contemplating a Cameroon without him is the risk to have mortgaged Cameroon’s progress in the bosoms of opposing politicians who cannot managed even a roadside drugstore talk less of the managerial ineptitude of their political groups.
Attempting again to assess the counterfactual of a Cameroon before and with Mr Biya is a manifestation of ingratitude on the managerial prowess in his stabilizing, re-structuring and growing of the Cameroon economy – where even peasants can now purchase ‘painlessly’ Swiss air-tickets of their sons-and-daughters to sojourn abroad – even within the context of economic storms and financial deluge that engulfed more than a hundred nation states in six continents in the last twenty-five years. With Mr Biya, Cameroon overcame such tumultuous financial times and with the renewed profitability of its economy ambitious plans and programmes have been conceived for significant achievements.
Last, but not the least, is the third foundation which is the sustainability of his vision being acknowledged as the light that illuminates the path to economic emergence; and building a strong Cameroon; mindful that there is no room for the weak in today’s world.
These foundations sustain the inherent trustworthiness of the larger masses of Cameroonians acknowledging that leadership, action and vision are embedded within and chained to ten solid pillars unveiled in the context of a magnanimous statesman in Mr Biya whom they have astutely watched and acknowledged his efforts, not only as of one of their founding fathers in whose Cameroon now and hereafter, still remains the envy and attraction to many.
The Biya Pillars
On this background, the pillars for Mr Biya’s reelection embodied in his leadership, actions and vision include:
1. His supervision and leadership of government (ministries and departments in government) and administration of the country. His fight against corruption through severe punishment of major offenders, the delegation and decentralization of public responsibilities;
2. His track record of infrastructural development, e.g. education and health infrastructures across the country, increased access to water and energy; omnipresence of modern telecommunications and pervasive openness of the economy for wealth creation;
3. His promotion of political development through Liberalization of Parties, Freedom of Association and Communication, e.g. hundreds of political parties, newspapers, thousands of non-governmental civil society organisations, etc… for Cameroonians to freely express themselves and contribute to the debate on nation building. However, despite this rare-African and middle-eastern luxury of freedoms, on the contrary, the vicious leaders of Cameroon’s opposition parties who have been challenged on leadership positions have ensured such challengers are thrown out of the party, or afflicted with long-term illnesses or died, and party-chairmen and women and presidential candidates perennially elected in executive meetings in the comfort of their living rooms.
4. His promotion of social development e.g. women and gender equality in education, wages, health; youth development programmes, sports and culture;
5. His expressed desire to do more in terms of institution building e.g. the Senate, Constitutional Council and regional decentralization to complete Cameroon’s carefully managed democratization process, etc…;
6. His economic plans to put Cameroon on the path of an emerging nation within 10 years, and as a fully emerged economy within 15 years thereafter; as espoused in the Growth and Employment Strategy to create more jobs, expand public infrastructure and improve the living standards of Cameroonians;
7. His efforts to improve on security to safeguard the lives and property of Cameroonians, with the setup of the Rapid Intervention Brigade (BIR) and equipping of the regular police force, improvement of the working conditions of the military;
8. His international recognition as a statesman who respects the rule of law, good neighborliness and appeasing diplomacy, as demonstrated in the case of Bakassi with Nigeria, and Cameroon’s response to far away conflicts in then Apartheid South Africa and today’s Ivory Coast, Libya and Dafur in Western Sudan;
9. His prophecy that ‘he was born a Cameroonian, he will live a Cameroonian and he shall die a Cameroonian’, that defines his effort in building a proud Cameroon reliant on its resources, looking-inwards and nurturing a patriotic labour force that puts Cameroon first in politics, economics, sports and culture.
10. His outmaneuvering of the inexperience opposing politicians and contenders, notwithstanding their preposterous promises to the people of Cameroon. Most of Cameroon’s politicians have surprisingly shied away from grassroots elected public offices, some without having served even as basic administrators such as Municipal Mayors, a token few who have served as members of parliament and the larger majority have never managed a human-resource of more than 5 persons; and their following have remained largely sectarian and tribal-talking-drums.
The Biya Welfarism
These pillars and foundations are the real bedrocks of the Biya code. So, be it his political capital as in espousing Africa’s contemporary New Deal government with public programmes for job creation and an omnipresent and veritable welfare state Mr Biya has demonstrated significant goodwill and largesse for the willing Cameroonian wishing to actualize his/her potentials. Recall that Cameroon has almost free-education with token education fees of not more than US$ 100 from kindergarten to Doctorate levels. In fact, Cameroon is one of the few countries in the world where students pay somewhat less than US$ 600 (US$ 100 x 6 years to obtain a medical degree and gallantly serve in hospitals in North America or Europe or pursue graduate degrees in Universities such regions and be top in their class).
In the basket of Biya welfarism is subsidized healthcare across the country in public hospitals and health centres in every subdivision, community medicare and the prevalent dosage of social capital in the kinship largesse which Mr Biya’s people flaunt unknown nowhere else across the globe. Or possibly, the rigour of marshalling Cameroon’s destiny and freeing it from armed conflict with its neighbours or from the provocations within, and his sustained continuing efforts to moralize the Cameroon soul - the archetypical foundation of a viable state – in his doctrine of rigour and moralization.
The statesman’s reelection therefore fuels with new momentum and heightened vigour his vision of a developed Cameroon, knowing too well that building a strong Cameroon is possible since this resource rich triangular landmass can count on 77.99% of well-meaning Cameroonians wishing to operate in an efficient-peaceful-strong-dynamic and united Cameroon. That which, therefore, the people of Cameroon who overwhelmingly voted for Mr Biya knew, what others did not, is his vision as the way, the truth and the light to Cameroon’s path of economic progress, and that Mr Biya’s leadership and actions are codes for the strongest pillars and safest platform through which their progeny will come through and inherit a prosperous Cameroon.
* Ernest L. Molua is Lecturer and Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness in the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Buea; He is Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Development Research (www.cidrcam.org); and Publisher of The Entrepreneur NewsOnline. © The Entrepreneur Newspaper 2011. All Rights Reserved