Intro: The 2007 municipal and parliamentary elections have hardly been announced yet protagonists in Cameroon’s two main parties are already spoiling for a showdown. The battle promises to be even more ruthless in the North West province hitherto stronghold of the opposition Social Democratic Front, SDF. The outlook in the SDF does not, however, seem to be very bright given the now clean split into a Yaounde SDF with Bernard Muna as chairman and a Bamenda SDF with Fru Ndi as chairman. CPDM barons in the North West province have scheduled an all-out all-sections convention to cash in on the heretofore surreal situation of a limping SDF. And the stakes seem to be very high. Pundits believe that any good report by the CPDM in the province could just bring in some spoils from the Biya regime: spoils like more ministerial positions and, why not, the return of the post of prime minister to the North West. Taking off from where he left off with his crystal ball analysis of the SDF at 16, political science/political communications major, Ntemfac A. Nchwete Ofege completes the autopsy of the SDF and then railroads into the CPDM. In his habitually frank and blunt style, Mr Ntemfac Nchwete Ofege holds strongly that both major parties have failed the North West province so candidates and organisations that start talking development from both ends of the mouth could just make the difference in 2007. Read on, a most revealing interview.
Question: Your last interview drew a lot of rave reviews from our readers. In fact many appreciated the blunt and candid nature and most of the things you said even came to pass just as you said it. Our readers, especially those in the SDF, however, felt that you were very hard on the SDF and you virtually left the CPDM untouched. What is your reaction to this?
Ntemfac A Nchwete Ofege: By its very nature the truth is hard, cold, blunt and uncompromising. The truths in the Bible are hard, cold, blunt and uncompromising. That is why people often talk of gospel or Bible truths, because the truth comes out like that, without fear or favour. I owe an allegiance to the truth not to persons. That said I’ve also had some positive reactions to that publication. I‘ve also had some negative reactions. Those ones have come from the normal Fru Ndi stooges and who are still day-dreaming. I am hopeful that somebody will challenge the facts that I presented and then we can have a debate and bring out more facts and revelations. I know the size of my head and what is inside so I’ll ignore those who insult my head instead of the facts that I presented. I agree with you that many good things have happened since that interview. For example, I did lament the fact that the SDF had ignored the memory of the six children who gave their lives for that party to be born. I was impressed that last week, and albeit belatedly, Mr Fru Ndi led some of his minnows to Liberty Square in Bamenda to announce that the SDF will erect a monument in memoriam of the six children killed on May 26, 1990. It was the habitual claptrap and photo-op from a slick politician but, perhaps, Mr Fru Ndi has, at long last, started listening. I say this because it is not within Mr. Fru Ndi’s and the SDF’s competence to erect monuments on the public thoroughfare. Also, Mr. Fru has, at last, accepted that he takes money from the CPDM. Mr. Fru Ndi told a CRTV Radio programme, Cameroon Calling, that he gets from the CPDM but that money was not a bribe like I said it was. Okay let’s call it gombo then. Call it paying the piper. Call it a salary from the CPDM government but…We now know that the CPDM gives money openly and behind the back to Mr. Fru Ndi. If Mr. Fru Ndi now acknowledges that he takes money from the CPDM why then did he sack Asonganyi who first made the revelation? You know that many heavyweights have been sacked from the SDF because they so much as meet former schoolmates who are in the CPDM. Isaac Sona from Kumba was sacked because he met Fon Doh of Balikumbat, his classmate. Another provincial chairman, I forget his name, in the West was sacked because he met Kontchou! Now Fru Ndi meets the CPDM and takes money! And he sacks Asonganyi who complains! The fun about it is that not all of the money from the CPDM can be accounted for and neither has the sums given to Mbah Ndam, Fru Ndi and Yoyo gone to develop the SDF. A huge amount of this money has gone to develop Mbah Ndam and Fru Ndi especially. You will be surprised at how many overt and covert investments Fru Ndi and Mbah Ndam have made because of their two-timing choreography with the CPDM. Mbah Ndam now has a Pajero as his going-to-the-farm car! Belletics, they call it. Those who still owe any allegiance to Fru Ndi’s SDF should stop being naïve. They should stop paying this, almost occultic worship, to self-serving individuals who do not represent their interests. If government-politics is the art of the possible, politics, all politics, is a matter of interests and whether or not those interests are satisficed if not satisfied. Politics should provide deliverables at some point in time. Mr Motomu, I told you that the SDF was created to solve the Anglophone problem, one way or another. Taking power in Yaounde as a pathway to resolving that issue will never happen. Mr. Fru Ndi thinks Mr. Mitterrand was joking when he said an Englishman will never become president of a French country? Now a visible effect of decades of Anglophone marginalisation and economic genocide is the ambient poverty, under-development and misery visible among the Anglophones, especially among North Westerners. Fru Ndi, as an Anglophone, has maybe solved his personal poverty and misery and the poverty and misery of his immediate family and friends but the majority, especially those in the North West, are still crusading. The time for SDFers, North Westerners especially, to stop this naïve, sterile politics has come. The time for blind leadership, conducting hopeless citizens to the knackers if not the precipice is over. Insatiable Fru Ndi wants power to continue misleading North Westerners by pretending that a solution to their bread and butter problem is for him to be there so that he and Mbah Ndam can continue lining their pockets with CPDM money. This is rubbish! Do you see Fru Ndi and Mbah Ndam today as representative of Anglophone or North West aspiration? Anglophones, who saw the SDF as a pathway to their total freedom and determinism, including economic freedom, now have to get wise.
Question: How do you appraise the CPDM today?
Ntemfac A. Nchwete Ofege: Listen what you call the CPDM does not exist. What exists is the famously enormous and plentiful resource of the patrimonial state of Cameroon. Prometheus most unbounded. And the thing that you call the CPDM is actually a collective of vultures, flies and other predators converging around the carcass of the fallen elephant. Let me tell you that the only genuine CPDM militants are, for obvious reasons, from Mr Biya’s Beti tribe. In other places, especially the North West, we have what, one province chief of public security, my friend, Bobbo Hayatou, calls “Les militants d’echarpes” The North West CPDM always shows up when some minister is visiting with their scruffy face caps and scarves. After grabbing an envelope or a few francs from the dignitary, they disappear again; probably to transform into SDF advisors! The CPDM is in power and parties in that position have a habit of attracting all sorts of characters. And when you have Guizotism (Enrichissez-vous!) as the forensic ideology and Laissez-faire at the governing agenda, the happen can only but happen. That is why the epitaph of the CPDM government can only be a string of corruption trophies. Anyway it looks like Mr. Biya has, at last, gotten up from his bottomless slumber and has decided to fight corruption: silently but devastatingly. It could bear fruits, who knows? Maybe Mr. Biya wants to leave a legacy after all. Can you just name me one monument, one building, one road, one stadium or even one river that you can conveniently name after Mr Biya? Tells you the achievement after almost half a century, no?
Question: So are you saying that both the SDF and the CPDM have failed Cameroonians and most especially North Westerners?
Ntemfac A. Nchwete Ofege: That’s right! Simply because those leading these parties alternate between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Have you read the book “Communal Liberalism” – the one purported to have been written by Mr. Biya? That volume is, at worst, a social democratic or democratic socialism blueprint. At best, it is an elaborate collection of consociational power-sharing and community paradigms, very valid for Cameroon. “Showboy” Mr. Biya was not even a card-carrying member of the CNU. He became a CNU member the day he became president and he came into the CNU from the roof. It was an acute case of political expediency (the April 6th 1984 Coup) that forced Mr Biya to change the CNU to the CPDM. The man simply changed the simply changed the name of the CNU to the CPDM and carried forward the same CNU bad manners. On the other side, Mr Fru Ndi claims to be a social democrat yet he indulges in state-of-the-art dictatorial, conservative, tyrannical and dark habits that would make Bob Mugabe and Stalin blush. So you have a seeming social democrat at the head of a conservative party and a conservative at the head of a social democratic party. How then do you expect things to work? Do you know that Mr. Biya has always operated independently of the CPDM? Mr Biya is not even a militant of his own party!
Question: Is there anything the CPDM can do to win back the ground it lost to the SDF especially in the North West?
Ntemfac A. Nchwete Ofege: I was coming to that, Mr. Motomu. An interesting, almost pleasant, surprise from events in the SDF and reactions from my last interview with your newspaper is the number of calls we’ve had from CPDM luminaries from the North West, concerned North Westerners some of them in the various shades of the SDF. The North West CPDM is looking at events in the SDF and saying to themselves: at long last this is the time to deal a death blow to Fru Ndi and release the North West from his grasp. The North West CPDM and others are saying that this is just the time to turn the province around from the wrong road it has taken since 1990. Politics without development is sterile and a waste of time. Telling people to wait for development to come when the SDF takes power while the leader of the SDF is busy developing himself, his family and his friends is stealing and thievery in broad-daylight. The North West has to wake up from its slumber and understand what is happening. The province has been taken for a ride for too long by some smooth operators. And, Mr. Motomu, you would know that there is a natural rivalry between the two Anglophone provinces in matters of development and progress. By appointing more than 70% of his NEC members from the North West and by appointing a North Westerner as Secretary General of his wing of the SDF, Mr Fru Ndi is practically saying he has reduced the SDF to a North West affair. Even at the expense of the South-West! By appointing a Tamajong over a Kale, Mr Fru Ndi has now revived the ancient North West-South West, Foncha-Endeley squabble and the almost forgotten VIKUMA (Victoria-Kumba-Mamfe) Syndrome. But now that Fru Ndi has limited his agenda to the North West, the time has come for North Westerners not to continue being taken to the cleaners.
Now the North West CPDM blames the SDF for the plight of the province. Small wonder, the North West CPDM is spoiling for a return-match with the SDF. Surely the North West must be eyeing the likes of Inoni, Hilman Egbe, Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Dion Ngute, Mafany Musonge, Njalla Quan, the sheer number of ministers from the South West, the Buea University, the Victoria Dockyard, the projected Limbe Cement factory, the project 5,000 Room Buea University Residential Area, etc with a lot of envy; with a lot of green in the eye like they say. The North West CPDM is seeing the squabbles in the SDF as another window of opportunity to get back the position of prime minister should they perform well in next year’s municipal and parliamentary elections. And the potential candidates are lining up. It could just be very interesting for your newspaper to do a survey of who is who in the North West CPDM today so as to bring out just who could be the next CPDM prime minister from the North West. I am saying just in case. The fight promises to be very interesting, no? I mean you could explore the intrinsic values and roles of agitators in the old guard like Achidi Achu, Francis Isidore Nkwain, Fon Angwafor, Tadzong Abel Ndeh, Christopher Nsahlai, JB Ndeh, Zac Fonjindam, Tamfu, Gwanmesia (Mrs) etc. as well as the young Turks like Fonkam Azu, Peterus Abety. Even dark horses and seeming “neutrals” like Nico Halle, Fon Chafah, etc. could also be explored in that interesting search for a leader from the North West. Or, could it just be that Mr. Biya is grooming his Assistant Secretary General, Philemon Yang, for a grand destin? Small wonder, a joint session of all sections of the CPDM has been announced for this week. The CPDM is flexing its muscles, see? However, as far as I am concerned, until the CPDM understands a few home truths the choice between the SDF and the CPDM is very Hobsonian i.e. between the hammer and the anvil or between the devil and the deep blue sea or between Mr. Biya and his sub-section president, John Fru Ndi. The home truths that I am talking about are (1) the CPDM has a tradition of parachuting and foisting unpopular and illegitimate appointees upon the local population without due consideration to the real political base of such appointees. That is old politics (2) there is acute need of positive achievements and development in the North West province. Development and development and development! The time has come to start talking development of the North West province from both ends of the mouth. Southern – West Cameroon nationalism aside, the items that lead to the creation of the SDF and the items that fuel the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, are still sticking out like a sore thumb, begging for resolution. These issues will never be articulated by the SDF and they have been ignored by the CPDM; ignored by Mr Biya. Those issues run the gamut: the Ring Road which should even be an expressway by now given its urgency and importance, the Dumbu-Bissaula Road and Bridge, the Ako Road, the dearth of industries in the province even agro industries; the government Bamenda University or the University of Bamenda, the possible Mbaw Plain Development Agency, the completion of the Batibo-Widekum-Mamfe Road itself an extension of the Mutengene-Abakaliki Road, the Menchum Falls and its Hydro-electricity project. Mr. Biya even announced before the 1992 presidential elections that he was going to “personally supervise” the tarring of the Ring Road! Health centres, schools, feeder roads, etc. My position is that political parties have failed Cameroon, Anglophone Cameroon and most especially the North West because of the paucity of results on the development front. Foncha John Ngu brought back a tiny fish pond behind his house to show for all those years as vice president of Cameroon. His friend, Muna, brought the giant Abi prison to, without doubt, jail all those who criticised him as Mr. Backstabber. Achidi Achu claims that he tarred some small portions of the Ring Road. Musonge claims the invisible digital telephone system in the South West. We are yet to hear about Inoni. What concretely has the SDF, its mayors and parliamentarians achieved after 16 years beyond a rich chairman? Mr Motomu, you know that we are talking about the former Southern Cameroons and West Cameroon here where periodic (Five Year) development programmes were drawn up and executed rigorously. I tell you that the political parties are no good because they develop individuals rather than the collective people. That is why I am a member of the “Committee for the Participation of Independent candidates in the Electoral Process in Cameroon.” This Committee has already tabled a Memorandum to the head of State advocating the need for independent candidates. You will agree with me and the Committee that there is a vicious tyranny within the party system in Cameroon which tyranny hampers development. The party system rewards friends and cronies and creates gerontocratic politics and a rite of passage to generational democracy leaving in place an old generation that has monopolized the political arena in Cameroon. Biya is above 60: too old! Fru Ndi is above 60: too old! Time for both Fru Ndi and Biya to go and bring down the leadership class to 40-50! These people are even scared stiff about grooming some young man to understudy them and help a successful peaceful transition. Independent candidatures will provide the young generation with the opportunity of bringing a new vision and fresh agenda to the body-politic of our country. Arend Ltjpart did prove that the only form of democracy fluid and workable in a “multi-national” state like Cameroon is consociationalism i.e. a system wherein there is genuine and authentic power-sharing within all the macro and micro nations of the state. Our system tends to tribalism because it rewards only friends, cronies, family members and tribesmen of the strongman often at the expense of other ethnic groups and more especially at the expense of the youths and independents. We need independent candidates to balance the gap and create a genuine civil society of knowledgeable Cameroonians. We need something else to permit the knowledgeable educated and intellectual class to function fluidly without being chased out by booksellers in the SDF or by tribesmen in the CPDM.
Question: How has the SDF been the only obstacle to development in the North West province?
Ntemfac A. Nchwete Ofege: Simple, Mr. Motomu. Every political system has pressure groups, lobbyists and people in position of power and influence. The capacity of all interested parties to garner prebends (projects, finance and positions) from the system depends on the capacity of that pressure group to influence decisions and outcomes. The various elite organisations and associations created by North Westerners for the North West have all failed because they were perceived as being pro-SDF or because CPDM members within them started quarrelling with the SDF members. We’ve had all these sing-song of development associations: from the Yaounde-based North West Elites to NOWEBA to NOCUDA and the almost moribund partnership for development. These institutions have always been polarised by the SDF-CPDM divide. The need for a coalition of the willing to lobby for development projects in the North West is now very acute. What is needed is a leader, a vision and a constitution. Naturally politics should be far out of this type of institution. At times Mr Biya surprises even me by some of his decisions. Take the Grassfield Participatory and Decentralized Rural Development Project (GP-DERUDEP), for example. We all know that, if it is properly managed, GP-DERUDEP offers a golden opportunity to do something regarding the dearth of development in the province. GP-DERUDEP should be for the equitable development of the province. I will say that appointing Fon Chafah to head the tenders’ board of GP- DERUDEP was sublime. Remember that Fon Chafah is also the president of the North West Fon’s Union and what else can fight for the people more than the Fons union? And knowing Fon Chafah’s even-handedness and neutrality there is a guarantee that all the seven divisions of the province will have an effective and equal treatment in development outcomes when GP-DERUDEP becomes fully operational. Fon Chafah is fair, humble, disciplined, open and incorruptible. GP-DERUDEP should not be managed like MIDENO. I believe that between them, neutral folks like Fon Chafah and Ntumfor Nico Halle could lobby hard for development projects and outcomes in the province especially now that the political parties have failed. The old politicians, most of them six-star grafts men and resounding failures, should give the young Team Leader of GP-DERUDEP, Mr. Gregory Muluh, the chance to prove himself.
Question: You are a consultant in politics and communications. If you were to give the CPDM a strategy to beat the SDF in the North West, what would that be?
Ntemfac A. Nchwete Ofege: Elementary, Mr Motomu. Gerrymandering is an art used in politics to outsmart the opposition by creating “special constituencies.” Gerrymandering is not illegal. It is unfair but who says there is fairness in love, war and politics. To win Santa, for example Mr Biya could carve a “special constituency” made up of Santa and Bali. Or Santa-Akum. Or wait until he knows what areas are disgruntled by the SDF list and then carve the disgruntled individuals into a “special constituency.” There are many, many, many areas of the North West that could be gerrymandered into “special constituencies” at the expense of the SDF. Ako, Santa, Misaje, Bafut, Balikumbat, Oku-Noni (the Yang Factor), parts of Bui just to name a few. The trouble is does Mr. Biya need that? The North West CPDM might need victory in the North West at all cost but not Mr. Biya. The years of desperation when Biya needed Dakole, Moustapha, Tchiroma and Kodock to survive are over. The man does not even need to rig elections to beat the SDF in its former strongholds of the South West, the West and the Littoral. The SDF has been on a self-destruct mode for years. I am still appraising the so-called Muna SDF.
Question: In your judgement how will the current crisis in the SDF end?
Ntemfac A. Nchwete Ofege: That question can only be answered after June 22nd when the courts would have decided, which faction of the SDF is authentic and legal and just who is it that should be running the SDF. That question will also be answered once the investigations into the Gregoire Diboulé matter are settled. There is a murder investigation currently going on and this murder has accomplices and sponsors. We all know that names like Fru Ndi, Mbah Ndam, Yoyo Emmanuel, PC. Fonso have been mentioned as either the sponsors or accomplices in the killing of Gregoire Diboulé. Consequently, the other questions that arise from the murder of Gregoire Diboulé are many and simple: What does Fru Ndi know about the murder of Gregoire Diboulé? What does Mbah Ndam, Yoyo Emmanuel PC. Fonso know? Who gave the CODE RED? Will Fru Ndi, Mbah Ndam, and Yoyo accept their responsibility and/or irresponsibility for the murder of Gregoire Diboulé? Can these people live with themselves from today knowing fully well that by responsibility and/or irresponsibility Diboulé is dead? Can these people live with themselves from today while Chi Ngafor, Che Philip and many others are very likely to go to jail for a long time? Can Fru Ndi hitherto sleep soundly at night knowing that by his responsibility and/or irresponsibility his business partner, Philip Che, is in jail? Can Fru Ndi sleep soundly knowing fully well that by his responsibility and/or irresponsibility some 30-youths; vanguards were misused and have today become murderers or accomplices to murder simply because Fru Ndi wants to keep power!
You know it even better than me that the SDF vanguards (party police) were never constituted to be Fru Ndi’s private army. These are a collective of hapless unemployed youths who, for want of a better alternative, dedicated their lives to the SDF. These children fend for themselves; they pay their own rents, they feed themselves, they pay their own medical bills, they pay their own taxi fares to events and activities and they buy their own uniforms. They are not being paid let alone being fed by Fru Ndi and the SDF! SDF aficionados and other SDF stride past them as if they don’t exist. At worst they are treated like beggars and some of them actually beg to survive. These are the same vanguards who, after the party fat cats had devoured everything, were given “empty” rice to eat at 3.am at the last Fru Ndi convention. Some of the poor devils had to eat from their own face caps. In 2002-2003 when the government gave upwards of 300 Million to run the SDF, the SDF Chairman gave himself a huge salary for all the years he had spent without pay (reportedly above 20 million). Some of the vanguards (guards) who had been with him for all those years were given 35.000 FRS only as pay for more than ten years of service! And when they protested, Fru Ndi sacked them charging that he never had any contract with them. Narcissistic Fru Ndi and the current SDF leadership do not feed the vanguards; they do not pay them or clothe them yet the current SDF leadership puts the vanguards in harm’s way; turns them into murderers and now some of them will go to jail. This is gross, wicked, outrageous, despicable and condemnable! Using the vanguards to savage other party members is most irresponsible. To be more direct, the gendarmes are looking for more concrete evidence linking John Fru Ndi, Mbah Ndam and Yoyo to the murder of Gregoire Diboulé. Should not Mr Fru Ndi be acknowledging his responsibility and/or irresponsibility regarding the death of Gregoire Diboulé and the consequences arising from the said death? It is a matter of responsibility and/or irresponsibility. It is a matter of conscience. Is Fru Ndi responsible or irresponsible? Mr. Motomu, political parties are like human beings, there are some wounds that are grievous; because they touch the body the soul and the spirit. I think the SDF has received a mortal wound. The courts can only deliver a healing to the flesh but the fact remains that the Fru Ndi SDF has shot itself in the foot. Let me tell you that the only reason Mr. Biya and the state might heretofore tolerate Fru Ndi and the SDF will be that (1) the man is now irrelevant, inconsequential and pose no threat (2) Mr Biya may still want something of an opposition hanging around and (3) they can always stuff his mouth with money. But I tell you that if Fru Ndi started keeping quiet because CPDM money was going into his mouth shouldn’t it be in his interest and in the interest of peace to just shut up.
Question: The Last Word?
Ntemfac A. Nchwete Ofege: It is a real pleasure sharing my thoughts with you and your readers. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity.