The War In The Cameroons
There is no such thing as an authentic narrative in war and conflict situations. All “facts” in war are contested. Anger, hate, and resentment produce their messy narratives. Even the initial colors used in the advert poster for this Interview sparked a mini war, prompting me to change them. Now let me tread on lands that angels would not dare.
By composing this piece, I have started yet another war! A war of disagreement! Sure, I will suffer the consequences in the foreseeable future, one of which may be a ban from entering Yaoundé. However, before the government goes into full rage and rampage, I clearly state that this is the first part in a Series. An interview has been extended to the officials to present their case, rebut everything in this piece, and challenge the narratives of the Interview on July 18. Alas! Power does not like to explain itself, preferring to dominate forcefully. Thus far, there has been no response from the government. We shall see.
Following four years of civil war in anglophone Cameroon, official and rebel troops have failed to engage in genuine negotiation, endangering its residents, including children! According to statistics, the crisis in Cameroon has led to the displacement of over 750,000 citizens. Before you quote me, war figures are casualties of fact! The crisis and aggravations continue to be at the forefront of political debate when discussing the civil war in Cameroon; however, the crisis is engineered from colonial times. Thus, to understand the root cause of the Cameroonian crisis is to go deeper in history, back to the European scramble for Africa, back to the colonization of France and Britain in 1919, then to the unification of the Anglophone and Francophone Cameroons in 1961. All these historical milestones embedded in them a century of hostility, establishing a preset to “the war in Cameroon,” which began in 2017 when Anglophone Cameroon protested peacefully over the marginalization and discrimination of the North-West and South-West regions of the country.
African crises did not just start today, and in this case, the blame game is well deserved. Understanding the prevailing cause of almost all African civil wars should be traced to colonization and western imperialism. Colonization brought together people of different cultures, traditions, and languages without their consent. Previously autonomous nations found themselves in polygamous relationships with their former friends and enemies.
People from different cultures merged to form a single colonial entity, without considering how people of different cultures and traditions could live together in peace and harmony. This situation becomes pertinent in light of today’s discussion about Cameroon. In 1884, Cameroon was shared with Germany. However, following the defeat of Germany after the First World War, the political history of Cameroon changed. German troops were forced out by the British and French soldiers in 1916, creating a new Cameroon. Three years later, they were split and formed a part of the colony of British and French, necessitating Anglophone Cameroon (20%) and Francophone Cameroon (80%). The subsequent 42 years saw the unification of these two colonial entities and formed today’s Cameroon. But Anglophone Cameroon felt marginalized as a result of the formation, and Francophone Cameroon has dominated the political space with Paul Biya becoming the leader of the Republic of Cameroon since 1982. The claim by Anglophone Cameroon is that the treaty regarded them as a separate country named Ambazonia.
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Cameroon’s formation, which happened in the 1960s when a hitherto French-speaking mandated territory was merged with an English-speaking region to become an independent country, was met with dissatisfaction and objection. After the formation, both entities were left to retain their language, culture, education, and judicial system. As a result, Cameroon now has two educational systems, two official languages (English and French), and two judicial systems. But Anglophone Cameroon was not happy with the unification. Their grievances began after reunification when Ahmadou Ahidjo, the country’s authoritarian leader at the time, systematically undermined major democratic institutions and expanded the repressive police state in French Cameroon to Anglophone areas.
In western Cameroon, the English-speaking minority (Ambazonia) felt marginalized, neglected, and repressed by the central government in Yaoundé. They blamed the British for abandoning them and handing them over to the French government, who eventually transferred power to Francophone Cameroon. In this context, Professor Carlson Anyangwe pointed out: “The Southern Cameroons was one of the territories set for decolonization in the context of the UN’s decolonization agenda. Britain’s devious handling of it and the British wheeling and dealing at the UN in 1959 and 1960 caused a great historical injustice to the people of Southern Cameroons.” Anyangwe continued, “That injustice continues to cry out for redress.”
Altogether, the feeling of distaste, marginalization, negligence of the government, transfer of French teachers to English-speaking schools, and Paul Biya’s authoritarian rule as the president of Cameroon for 39 years are factors responsible for the outbreak of the civil war. Since November 6, 1982, Paul Biya, a ruthless politician, has been the president of Cameroon. He is ranked as Africa’s second-longest-serving president, the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader, and the continent’s oldest leader. He has a reputation as one of the most corrupt African leaders and boasts of a net worth of over 200 million dollars. He is known for making irrational decisions and carelessly employing the use of violence at the first opportunity. His approach to settling the dispute is said to have triggered the civil war.
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THE CIVIL WAR
“For civilians caught in the crossfire between government forces and separatists, the conflict is a brutal reality.”
Poor resource allocation and a lack of effective political representation are two of the most common complaints among the Anglophones, and this led to the beginning of the unrest in the country. They accused the government of “Francophonizing” the state through a planned cultural agenda. In late 2016, the Anglophone’s union of lawyers and teachers opposed the appointment of French-speaking teachers, judges, and prosecutors to their courts and schools. These demonstrations, which were influenced by social media, lasted more than one year. The North-West and the South-West, two of Cameroon’s English-speaking (minority) areas, have been embroiled in a terrible civil conflict that has gone mostly unreported. Anglophone rebels have been fighting for a new Republic of Ambazonia since 2017. However, in October 2017, the protesters’ harsh repression, labeling demonstrators “terrorists,” and authorizing the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians escalated the unrest into a full-fledged uprising and civil war. The violence started from the peaceful protests in Anglophone Cameroon, which stemmed from long-standing prejudice and marginalization in the North-West and South-West regions.
Additionally, the fighting became more intense in the spring of 2018. Separatists intensified their attacks on the military, prompting retaliation by Cameroonian forces, which left civilians trapped in the crossfire. The sound of heavy machine-gun fire awoke the southern village of Azi in the early hours of April 2018. It was claimed that government troops had arrived in the village to search for armed separatists. There were random shootings and killings. Soldiers on the ground opened fire on an older woman attempting to flee and burnt several houses. This was the height of Paul Biya’s aggressive approach to stop the Ambazonians from engaging in their secessionist movement.
On February 14, 2020, nothing less than 21 civilians, including 13 children and one pregnant woman, were murdered by government forces and armed ethnic Fulani in Cameroon’s Ngarbuh village. They also set fire to five homes, pillaged several other properties, and assaulted locals. Some of the victims’ bodies were discovered charred inside their homes. According to the Human Rights Watch report, a 32-year-old man witnessed his entire family, including seven children, being murdered. He said in the interview conducted with him that: “I heard gunfire and ran to the side of my house to hide. As they sought to flee, I witnessed the soldiers shooting my family members one by one. They started with our mum. The children were then shot, and their bodies all fell on her. Then they set fire to my house.”
Sadly, it has been denied that these crimes took place, adding to the survivors’ trauma and simply encouraging government troops to conduct additional atrocities. Nevertheless, these heinous murders of citizens, especially children, are crimes that should be thoroughly and independently investigated, and those responsible brought to justice.
The war in Cameroon continues to wreak havoc on southern Cameroon, and it is safe to say that the war does not appear to be enraging political leaders in Yaoundé as it formerly did. However, civilians caught in the crossfire between government forces and separatists continue to die due to the fighting. On January 10, 2021, in the South-West region, the Cameroon army killed at least nine members of the public and wounded four others. The following week saw the killings of more civilians.
Due to its complexity, the war remains one of the most complicated African conflicts. It is a territory with a history of three colonial masters, and there is an intense debate about who should respond to the crisis among the world leaders. Still, the killings and displacements keep increasing that in 2018, the UN cautioned that “there has been an upsurge in violence between the Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon.” Amnesty International recorded the death of over 400 civilians in 2017 and reports that at least 400 civilians were killed in the previous year. According to Col. Didier Badjeck, the spokesman for Cameroon’s army, as of November 2018, over 170 Cameroonian troops had been killed. The UN estimates that out of hundreds of thousands of people, about 30,000 Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria as refugees.
In January 2021, the United Nations reported that over 3,000 people had been killed, more than 200 villages have been burned, more than 750,000 people had been internally displaced, and 1.3 million people require aid. The deadliness and complexity of the crisis have left the world in a plethora of awe of what could be done to settle the prevailing dispute. Various dialogues have been conducted in a bid to put an end to the crisis. For instance, on February 2, 2021, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, went on a five-day visit to Cameroon and met with President Biya to address the Anglophone secessionist issue. This came after the initial calls for peaceful solutions from the European Union and US Senators. However, international attempts to convince aged President Biya to embrace a peaceful settlement have thus far been unsuccessful. Despite these appeals, Biya has continued to advocate using a violent approach to handle the crisis. Interestingly, when he addressed Cameroonians in December 2020, he claimed that the country had “returned to peace.”
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President Biya’s nonchalant attitude has continued to fuel the civil war and the aggression of secessionists to depart from the Republic of Cameroon and form the Ambazonian Republic. Would this movement and agitation for a separate state be possible? What are the various undertones embedded in the current civil war in Cameroon? What is the take of the French and British governments in the crisis that has affected Cameroon in the last four years?
Professor Carlson Anyangwe has been invited to the next Toyin Falola Interviews to answer these questions and to discuss the ongoing war in the Cameroons as part of a more extensive set of initiatives to attain peace. Do Please join us on:
Sunday, July 18, 2021
5:00 PM Nigeria/Cameroon
4:00 PM GMT
11:00 AM Austin CST
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The 2023 Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria
By Hope Nwawolo
Despite the hues and cries that greeted the results of the 2023 elections, what if the court’s pendulum stays or swings otherwise in the expected litigations?
What will it teach our inquisitive young children?
What will it do to the hopes and dreams of the youths?
What will it do to the mind set of those in diaspora, waiting and hoping to return?
How will it affect our heroes still alive and yearning for the good old times?
One basic fact is that no matter where the pendulum swings, something new has started in the political sphere of Nigeria. And because it was unexpected, it has become almost impossible to strangulate it.
In every competition, there is an expectation that the best man will win. That may not always be in politics, particularly, in Nigeria…where the winner may not be the best man or even the better man. And when it is said that politics is a game of numbers, sometimes, the actual numbers may not be visible to determine the end result. It becomes a case of the more you look the less you see; until interpreted by respected learned men with high integrity.
Politics, they say is a dirty game, where money speaks and promises made are broken without an iota of guilt. Where the gullible minds of the masses are deceived, with as little as a box of indomie. Where some vibrant but jobless youths are brainwashed to risk their lives to snatch ballot boxes for the politicians who do not know them beyond giving them stipends through some third parties. Where market women are forced to come out for rallies and campaigns because they cannot afford the fine that will be imposed on them if they failed to participate. They also do not want the harassment of the market leaders.
In politics, fear is palpable in the air, before, during and after elections. The 2023 elections recently carried out, depicted these more than expected in both the politicians and electorate. What started like the usual political pattern took a drastic turn about nine months to the first elections and though it was said to be only a social media affair, it got everyone sitting upright and tightening his seat belt, particularly after the first elections.
Now, there is a generational shift, a new awakening, a new dawn and a new political birth, waiting to happen. To wherever the pendulum turns; where the court stands, it will make a turnaround in Nigeria. It may be turbulent at the beginning, it may be emotionally draining and psychologically traumatizing, but it will point to light at the end of the tunnel.
There is a new hope backed by a high spirit of determination. An unexplainable faith in many people for that newness of existence and purpose. An unprecedented emotional and psychological strength in the youths not to give up on their dreams. An unquenchable desire to keep praying. Soon a newness will break forth to calm all nerves and dry all tears.
A newness that will permeate conflicts and hatred,
A newness that will dissipate unnecessary anger,
A newness that will usher in unquestionable and transparent political systems in future elections,
A newness of freedom to choose a candidate without coercion or molestation
A newness of jubilation after the announcement of election results.
This is the new Nigeria that is awaiting delivery…
Nwawolo, PhD, writes from Lagos.
Overcoming Policy Execution Trap As Nigeria’s Development Challenge
By Tunji Olaopa
If I am asked to give a succinct and apt summary of the entire challenge faced by the Nigerian state in terms of her policy architecture and development management, in spite of contestation in the development literature, I will not hesitate in stating clearly and unambiguously that it is the challenge of policy implementation; the whole dynamics of getting things done. By elimination, the implication is that the challenge cannot be located as that of the dearth of development ideas, insights, models and paradigms. Right from her independence, Nigeria has been inundated with several ideas, both local and global, about development policy and frameworks. And yet, policy outcomes keep getting bogged down in the murky waters of political shenanigans. This means that the new administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu has its challenge mapped out, in red, for it.
There is no shying away from this postcolonial predicament that has limited and kept limiting Nigeria’s capacity to honour the terms of her social contract with Nigerians. Hence, the Tinubu government will soon be inundated with the impatient agitations of Nigerians for a quick and tangible fix that will address their sufferings. And they are justified since they have not been given any real deal for the past sixty-three years of sovereign independence. And the new administration is obligated because that is the reason for seeking office in the first place.
Prof. Olaopa’s new book on public policy and development challenges
How then can we begin to understand this policy execution challenge? It is simple: how can an administration in Nigeria transition from governance vision and policy intention to policy outcomes that elevate and transform the quality of life of its citizens? Failure to understand and give critical and political attention to this question lies at the heart of the governance failures of successive Nigerian administrations. The new Tinubu administration cannot afford such a glaring mistake. And so, a fundamental case must be made out of the question of how policy intentions get circumscribed in the dynamics of policy execution that occasions policy failures in past administrations.
Modern states all across the world are distinguished by the traditional four functions they discharge as part of their administrative responsibilities—security i.e. securing the sovereign territory against lawlessness, policy formulation and implementation, governance regulation and service delivery.The capacity to perform each and all of these functions very well within an integrated framework in the governance context is what delivers the dividends of democratic governance to the citizens, and it enhances the state’s competitive and human development rating in global reckoning. With these functions, we have the metrics to differentiate between high-performing states like China, India, the United States,Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirate, Germany, Rwanda and the Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea), and low- or even under-performing countries like Nigeria that is still cluelessly stuck within a dysfunctional vicious cycle within her arrested development.
From the perspective of governance, there must be something these states are getting right in the connection between leadership, politics, and policy articulation. For instance, there is a trajectory of relationship that links elite bargains to development bargains. In other words, development is a
function of elite nationalism and the extent to which the political class of a state can commit elite suicide and gamble on development on behalf of the people they are leading. In Nigeria, low
manifestation of elite nationalism has made it really difficult for the political class to set aside their personal and egoistic class interests in ways that enable them to clearly and ideologically discern and navigate the deadly developmental landmines strewn all over our governance landscape by the
neoliberal implication of ideological apparatuses and frameworks to which Nigeria is beholden. And here, the factor of development gamble of the Asian Tigers’ elites comes into bold relief. From within the ideological ambit of the developmental state, the leadership of the Asian Tigers were able to define a policy space that consciously and critically weighed the benefits and shortfalls of external influences, especially the type that came from the World Bank, IMF and the other cohorts of the neoliberal policy dynamics. Their developmental circumspection paid off!
Since we cannot argue that Nigeria has been stumped by the lack of vision documents, development plans and blueprints, or even policy expertise, the locus of the new administration’s focus must be directed at the possibility of mustering the political will to undermine the mystified Nigerian Factor, and face the global neoliberal consensus in order to begin the crafting of an enabling policy architecture to drive development. And to achieve this translates to creating the delicate balance between ‘doing the right things’ (a function of decision making quotient) and ‘doing it right’(project and change management effectiveness), and overcoming the various political, cultural, structural and systemic constraints that trapped past well-meaning policies and intentions of Nigerian leaders in the dynamics of implementation.
There is first the conspiracy of elitist interest that ensures there is a poor resource allocation that focuses on elite bargain than development calculations and taking care of the national interest. Other constraints follow: (a) the disconnect between policy design and implementation due to weak implementation planning, risk assessment and incompetent change management strategies; (b) unstable and poorly managed macroeconomic policies; (c) policy and project discontinuity; (d) public service low capability readiness; (e) political interference; and finally (f) deep-seated political and bureaucratic corruption. In essence, development has failed not because Nigeria lacks the blueprint or paradigms to make it happen, but due to the dynamics of the politics that the political elite plays with Nigeria’s development potential.
Let me outline what we can regard as the “politics of policy implementation” that Nigeria has played for many years, a politics the new administration must take into serious consideration if it
does not want to fall into the category of failed administration right before it commences. This politics throws Nigeria’s development and policy non-performance right into the frame of the 2005 World Bank review findings about policy and development projects in Africa. According to the finding, 29% of development projects ever get completed, 45% of on-going projects are rated as satisfactory, while 26% of such projects invariably get cancelled. Such a review can never backstop a solid development project of a developmental state.
The politics of policy implementation in
Nigeria is founded on the following assumptions and practices. One: there is that dangerous presumption, that the new administration must resist, that once policies and development plan are designed, they are automatically implemented by the public service. And such a presumption is against the background of a scant investment in implementation analysis and planning, as well as the failure to facilitate the capability review, determine public
administration system’s capability readiness, and strengthening of the MDAs as the powerhouse of government administrative functionality. The MDAs, that is, are not working according to any
specific theories or praxis of change that can guide the functional integration of blueprints or paradigms. This kind of policy inattention draws attention to the policy contradiction: launching a
national development plan and strategy that are not implementation- ready in terms of adequate capability review of the MDAs integral to ensuring implementation success. Two: this
presumption is compounded by the uncritical reliance of past governments on policy experts and consulting firms who are tasked with designing high-end policies that are then dumped on MDAs whose capability reviews and implementation readiness have been neglected in the first place. The
extroversion of the policy design is then compromised by poor functional integration. The truth is that most of these consulting firms lack the appropriate deep content and solution frameworks that are in tandem with the context of policy dysfunction they are supposed to work with. Three: governance policy or project are hardly subjected to feasibility test determined in terms of scope and expectation that are captured by their framework of time, cost and risk assessments before
they are pushed into implementation. This makes it very difficult to benchmark funding projections for these policies and projects against revenue estimations, as well as facilitating in-built flexibilities that enable the policies and projects to adjust to volatilities and contingencies.
All the issues raised above constitute binding constraint that will undermine any governance possibilities the new administration requires to make a success of democratic governance. Undermining the binding constraints demands returning to the fundamentals. The first and most significant is that the new administration needs to interrogate the framework of how government business is currently being conducted. Governance successes are necessarily a function of how government business engages the complexities of the policy design and execution processes within a results-oriented frame. And that entails undermining the structural gaps between policy objectives, development strategies and policy outcomes. This demands second, setting the public service on a performance curve with the institution of a performance management system. This means that the public service must, for example, unfailingly now deploy KPI-based metrics to replace the cumbersome annual performance evaluation report (APER). And at the backend, it becomes imperative to have a monitoring and evaluation system supported by databases that enable staff and program continuous assessment, human resource development rooted in iterativep performance gap identification, supervisors-staff dialogue and multisource feedback mechanismsf for overall national development policy tracking and reporting.
The governance mantra must be on getting the balance between doing the right things and doing it right. And this cannot be achieved through the wanton multiplication or even duplication of
governance plans, programs and blueprints. What is needed is sequencing the blueprints into a coherent and feasible implementation programme, with the right amount of political will behind it. This gives the success of democratic governance a 95% chance of succeeding. The new administration needs that fighting chance!
. Olaopa, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor of Public Administration .
Rigged Elections And The Moral Burden Of Illegitimacy
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
Adamu: A man who rigs his way to power carries a moral burden!
Orezime: A moral what?
Adamu: You heard me, didn’t you?
Orezime: I’m not sure I heard you right. Moral what you said?
Adamu: A moral burden, I said!
Orezime: Hahahahahahaha! You make me laugh! Are you from the moon?
Gani: Or Mars?
Emeka: In which country? In Nigeria? That principle does not apply in Nigeria! There is no moral burden on anybody in this country! The election which produced Bubu in 2015 was rigged. Where are the two million voters from Kano State who voted in 2015? Was an INEC official not burnt alive after that election? The one which brought Obj to power was also rigged by the forces which wanted him to ease the tension of the Abiola tragedy on the Yoruba people. Yet those men had the temerity to preach against corruption!
Orezime: The international community winked at the whole exercise.
Gani: Yes! That’s why those two could only preach; they couldn’t really act decisively. A moral burden? They spoke from both sides of their mouths on the issue of corruption. The late President Yar Adua confessed that the election which produced him was compromised. An honest man, he didn’t live long enough to right the wrong of the period!
Orezime: That’s why I laughed when Adamu talked about a moral burden arising from rigged elections.
Bankole: In the ideal world, any power that is stolen and acquired through a dubious means imposes a moral burden on the power holder. No matter what the person does, that power remains stained.
Orezime: What does that amount to in our country? Even the brigands who shot their way to power in the notorious days of military misadventure in Nigeria soon became legitimate.
Emeka: You are going too far in our history. See what happened in Lagos State in the governorship elections of March 18. Ethnic jingoists went about preaching hatred against Igbo people and warned them against coming out to exercise their constitutional rights. Security officials looked the other way when ballot boxes were snatched in broad daylight in places where the opposition was leading.
Gani: A serving state governor personally went about snatching ballot boxes and threatened to shoot whoever got in his way. The same governor declared somebody wanted without recourse to the Inspector General of Police! He worked against the party on which platform he won the seat to spite the party hierarchy!
Adamu: And to think that this is the President-elect’s state. He kept mute through the horrendous attacks on Igbo people in Lagos State just the way the incumbent president has looked the other way when herdsmen went on the loose!
Bankole: Rigged elections are so familiar yet notorious in our land. It was the main trigger to the crisis in the Western Region in the First Republic because the people reacted when they saw a rape of their rights and wishes! It soon snowballed into a conflagration that consumed the nation in the late 1960s. Already, the youths are talking about a protest in the ENDSARSNOW# manner. I hope it doesn’t result in disaster. We have lost too many lives already!
Orezime: What I fear is the rise of ethnic profiling in a supposedly democratic society. To be sure, Governor Sanwo-Olu and the party hierarchy did not single out any ethnic group for verbal attacks. They even courted them. Yet they didn’t caution their followers to stop the degeneration into ethnic hatred. It is a dangerous curve what is happening in Lagos. I don’t subscribe to the Lagos is no man’s land nonsense which some misguided fellows are spewing, but threatening anybody not to vote their candidate is a new low! Can a Sanwo-Olu victory be said to be legitimate if a significant percentage of the electorate is disenfranchised?
Emeka: Good question. They did not stop there. They rolled out the culturally dreaded Oro rituals on election night. Come on! Who is fooling who? The Oro festival was designed to drive fear into non-Yoruba in Lagos. In the 21st Century?
Gani: I am sure the reports from election observers will be damning.
Bankole: I don’t care about those biased observers.
Adamu: Where are we headed in this country?
Orezime: We are on the road to Kigali!
Bankole: May we not travel that route!
Orezime: It’s a good prayer. But what are we doing to avoid the descent into anarchy? Nothing. Those monkeys are simply interested in acquiring power.
Gani: The Obedient Movement seems to have lost steam once it was misbranded as an ethnic agenda to grab power at the national level. Peter Obi needs to tread carefully so he doesn’t become another June 12! Some people are egging him on to challenge INEC through protests.
Orezime: If he decides to lead a protest, it would be within his constitutional right to do so, especially as INEC is stalling on the issue of inspecting elections materials despite an order from the courts. Peaceful protests are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Adamu: No one can be sure whether a peaceful protest will remain peaceful after it starts. That’s the experience the ENDSARS people had.
Gani: It’s not enough to stop people from taking to the streets. Protests are fundamental to democracy.
Adamu: We do not want dead heroes! Mark my words.
Bankole: That’s ominous!
Emeka: It means nothing. Nigeria must change. We cannot go on like this forever! Things are just going down. No cash. No fuel. No power supply. No security. No nothing. Peter Obi gave a glimmer of hope. Now that has been dashed to the ground.
Adamu: Rigging will remain a moral burden each time our President-elect travels outside the country, each time he meets foreign observers, especially those ones who have a dossier on him. History will also judge him and assess how he came to power. This applies to all the states as well where some politicians have turned themselves into demigods and have compromised poor INEC officials with mouthwatering sums. This is not how to build a democracy. The votes must be counted and must count. Seventeen people have their lives during the governorship and House of Assembly elections. We are supposed to count ballot papers, not bodies. Sad!
Bankole: The moral burden of rigged elections is on all of us. Without our connivance there would be no rigging. We can only hope that this will end some day!
Emeka: Tough luck!
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