Cameroon – Paul Atanga Nji: [Interview] “Anglophones are not marginalized in Cameroon”

Written by Deckson N.

The minister in charge of missions to the Presidency of the Republic, Permanent Secretary of the National Security Council, head of the permanent delegation of the CPDM in the Mezam, explains himself.

The demonstrations in Bamenda have reshaped the “English-speaking problem” to the point that some protesters are calling for a return to federalism. Are Anglophones marginalized in Cameroon?

I will say at the outset and clearly that Anglophones are not marginalized in Cameroon. I would rather say evidence that the Head of State, HE Paul BIYA, has always granted preferential treatment to Anglophones. I am surprised at this debate, which makes no sense. Lawyers began their demands by the translation of the OHADA texts, Common Law etc. Today, these same lawyers talk about the alleged marginalization of anglophones, and even go so far as to speak of the return to federalism in 1961. It is unacceptable and intolerable that no sensible person can take these lawyers seriously.

The teachers also launched a strike call, does that mean there is discomfort?

There is no discomfort, but there is rather manipulation. It seems to me that there are two teacher associations in Bamenda. CATU and TAG. The government has created a framework for dialogue to receive the grievances of these teachers. The Minister of Higher Education invited them for a constructive dialogue. Paradoxically, they did not honor this appointment. It is therefore clear that they are not concerned about teachers’ problems. And when you call a strike it is necessary to be able to contain the demonstrators. I think both lawyers and teachers are being manipulated because they no longer talk about the problems of education, training or coaching. Rather, they talk about the alleged marginalization of Anglophones in Cameroon. Some even mention the return to federalism: this is unacceptable. The elites of the Northwest and Southwest will not allow anybody to question national integrity. Cameroon is one and indivisible. HE Paul BIYA has worked hard for the consolidation of the National Unity. No one will question it.

What about the judicial system that is being talked about?

I know that the lawyers who reside in the North-West and South-West referred to the problem of translating OHADA texts some time ago. But is this enough to paralyze some courts? This attitude is not justified. A lawyer first has a relationship with his client. You can not take your client’s money and be absent in the courts. It’s a scam.

Is there a way out of the crisis?

Yes. The government has set up a committee to examine the grievances of both groups. Lawyers and teachers must be patient and the government will look at their problems. We should not try to impose an agenda on the government. The State can not accept such discrepancies.

The SCNC is more radical. Its leaders are calling for a return to the federal system of 1961. What do you think?

For me, it is nonsense. First, the SCNC has no legal existence in Cameroon. Those who claim to be clandestine are impostors in search of notoriety. They did not have any mandate to speak on behalf of the Anglophones. The lawyers who still observe the strike evoke problems linked to national unity. They must know that Cameroon is a state of law: no behavioral gap will be tolerated. Force will remain in the law. Teachers must return to meet the ministers in charge of their sectors. They will find a solution to their problems.

The SCNC says that anglophones have never been appointed to certain important positions …

The important posts mean what for you? Contrary to what you think, Anglophones occupy the most important positions in Cameroon. The Director General of the Treasury and the Director General of Customs are all from the Northwest. The Prime Minister head of government, the Permanent Secretary of the National Security Council, the Director of Presidential Security, the President of Elecam, the President of the National Commission on Human Rights, the President of the National Council of Communication Are all anglophones. There are eight state universities, three rectors are Anglophones (Maroua, Buea, Bamenda). There are four ENSETs (national higher technical schools). Two of these schools are in Bamenda and Kumba. The reference hospital in Bamenda, which will be operational before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, will be the largest in Central Africa, to name a few.

In this context, how can we talk about the marginalization of Anglophones?

These facts prove that Mr. Paul BIYA has always accorded preferential treatment to Anglophones. That is why I am telling you that some lawyers and teachers have been manipulated. There are some who have received money from abroad and we have traces. They will report back when the time comes.

The evidence you give shows that the Northwest is rather the beloved child of the Renouveau…

There is even more. I have only summarized the special attentions granted by HE Mr Paul BIYA to our region. As a reminder, it should be noted that the first official visit of the Head of State to the interior of the country after 6 November 1982 was in Bamenda on 9 February 1983. HE Paul BIYA returned to Bamenda in October 1984 for the The first agro-pastoral show of the era of Renouveau. On 24 March 1985, the Head of State returned to Bamenda for the birth of the CPDM. On 10 December 2010, the Head of State, Chief of the Armed Forces, returned to Bamenda for the fiftieth anniversary of the national army. So you see that the head of state has decided to celebrate all the major political events in Bamenda and why not talk about the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the reunification in Buea. You agree with me that those who speak of the alleged marginalization of anglophones are impostors in search of notoriety. They will be disavowed and denounced. Since this morning, all the elites of the Northwest and South West are mobilized to block the way for all those who have a contempt for the republican values and will try to question the national unity so dearly acquired. And when it is said that francophone teachers should no longer be assigned to Bamenda or Buea, does that make sense? Lawyers say courts must be created for English-speaking judges, what does it mean? You have to be serious. Do foreign languages have to be divisive? This is a very dangerous game, because we are talking more and more about the promotion of bilingualism in Cameroon. Every Cameroonian should be proud to speak English and French. That is national integration. In any case, the disorder will not pass, force will remain to the law. President Paul BIYA has made Cameroon a democratic country where freedom of opinion is respected. But we must not abuse it by evoking unsustainable theses. We must be proud of our cultural diversity. Calm has returned to Bamenda and we must all have a republican and consistent behavior as HE, Mr. Paul BIYA places national interest above all partisan considerations.

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Deckson N.

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