Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Dr. Fuh Calistus Media Outing Ignited Massive Participation at Regional Elections-The Colbert Factor



The Colbert Factor

How despite Special Status Shortcomings, Dr. Fuh Calistus Maintains it's Double-portion for Anglophones

This reflection is inspired by the fact that although when the Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon recently pointed out on the pages of The Guardian Post newspaper, the visible shortcoming of the Special Status granted to two English speaking regions to be residents'  lack of  knowledge about its workability, and instead of government garnering resources to just take the advice and go ahead to do the necessary explanations, it rather summoned him for questioning at the Foreign Affairs Ministry,  one of Cameroon's foremost thinkers and Cpdm frontline militants, H. E, Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry, has taken the bull by the horns and gone ahead to not only explain in practical terms what Anglophones should expect from the special status but also dared to state that the document, like any other human endeavor, remains perfectible. 

It is the more informed by the fact that although the said special status was simply ramped down on the people as indigenes were never consulted on its content beyond its being referenced by one of the committees as a resolution of the 2019 Major National Dialogue, MND, it seems to have all the ingredients of Special Constitutional Statuses around the world and as recognized in international human rights law in matters of safeguarding both the primary and remedial rights of minorities. 
It is also inspired by the fact that, whether we like it or not, and even as the world watches to see what contributions its coming into existence would make in bringing back peace to the restive Anglophone regions  immersed in a four years long deadly conflict over greater autonomy, Yaounde authorities are settled on their conviction that the special status is all what is required for Anglophones to live freely in the larger Cameroon body polity, and Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry, being one of the regime's most convinced and convincing apostles, seems to believe so too. 

In a last December 5, 2020, interview in one of Cameroon's multiple award-winning and community-driven radio programs, Press and Associates, over Ndefcam radio 94.9fm, Bamenda, and streamed live across the world, H.E, Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry, Secretary of state in Cameroon's Ministry of Mines, Industries and Technological Development, had stunned many a listening audience by stating that the special status recently granted the North West and South West regions was not only the best thing that ever happened but more importantly, that it was a double portion. 

Explaining in triumphant detail the double-portionness of the special status, this illustrious son of the North and longest serving Delegation leader to Donga Mantung, said Anglophones have since 2016 been clamoring for greater autonomy and thinking that only one structure could be created to jointly manage the North West and South West regions but President Paul Biya, in his infinite wisdom, granted not one but two special statuses, one for the North West and one separately for the South West. As concerns the House of Chiefs, he furthered that unlike in the days of West Cameroon, when there was only one House of Chiefs in Buea, and it meant the people from the North West had to travel to Buea, Biya has made it possible through the special status, for North West fons to have their own House of Chiefs in Bamenda, while those from the South West get theirs in Buea. He opined how it was a blessing and double portion that sons and daughters of the North West would no longer have to be ruled from Buea, and how some of the inherent conflicts and misunderstandings that could have been insuring from a forceful reunion between the North West and South West if only one special status was created for the two regions, has been nipped in the bud. According to Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry, the Regional council elections of December 6,2020, was a unique opportunity for the two English speaking regions to begin recreating the future and as well continue to believe in the beauty of their dreams. 

Contrary to widespread discourss that the special status granted the two English speaking regions of Cameroon was a loud-sounding nothing, Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry demonstrated in triumphant detail, and in local colour, that beginning January 2021, inhabitants of the two English speaking regions would have the power to contribute as never before in the defining of not only the educational and common law policies of their regions but also in setting standards and value systems. He promoted the special status as the singular constitutional instrument that reintroducs local government as obtained in the 60s to the people of the former British Southern Cameroons. What with the Regional Executive Board's ability to define and determine the development path of the Region to the extent that what would limit how the regions self-determines their development could only be their imagination. 

Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry sounded the fact that the same chances government of Cameroon had in negotiating development funding from foreign and multilateral donors is the same opportunity opened to the regions by virtue of their special status. This would mean that the regional executives could canvass for funds from Cameroon's development partners for the restoration of say, WADA, the Menchum Falls, the Ring Road, and more importantly, the Dry Port. 

Specifically on the Dry Port project, and while inviting other well meaningful sons and daughters of the two English speaking regions to make bold in proposing far reaching suggestions to the regional council leaders, Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry signaled how ready he and his ministry were, in handing over to the Region, already completed studies on the Dry Port project for the North West. The Dry Port, he said, was going to be a practical way of reversing the aged old idea and brainwashing the white man introduced to Africa, where all goods produced from the hinterlands were routed towards the seaside towns and cities, ready to be shipped to feed the white man. According to H. E,Dr. Fuh Calistus, the Dry Seaport would reverse the center of gravity away from the seaport zones to the hinterlands and to the big neighboring Nigeria market. 
Concerning the sticky issue of the Independent Public Conciliator, minister Fuh Calistus Gentry was rather stunny. He said the very fact that an independent public Conciliator was introduced into the special status with a non renewable six years mandate, was proof positive that Yaounde authorities never wanted to be seen as interfering in any way with the running of the internal affairs of the two English speaking regions. As to what becomes of the Governor, SDOs and D.Os, the government minister was the more emphatic. He made it clear that in every system, be it federal, special status or confederation, issues like defense, national security and foreign policy always lie with central government. Which means that the government representatives in the special status regions of the North West and South West, would be concerned primarily and principally, with the maintenance of law and order, as well as seeing into the strict implementation of state regulations and other central government business. The social, economic, cultural and environmental development of the Special Status regions lies squarely on the shoulders of Regional Government. That's why, the Cpdm official hinted on the fact that Regional Executive Council board members would virtually function like Regional Ministers in their own right, subject to state protocollar arrangements. 
The most revealing part of H. E, Dr. Fuh Calistus' interview was when he almost aligned with the Rawlsian version of political liberalism when he averred that the special status was Yaounde authorities' symbolic recognition that the people of the two English speaking regions of Cameroon were different and should be governed differently from the rest of the eight other regions. More importantly, and in his usual boldness, was optimistic that just like ay human endeavor, the special status in its present state is still perfectible, but that the best thing to do right now, was to first allow it playout. 

Over and above, Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry's logic is that by granting a special status to the two English speaking regions, government of Cameroon had granted the people of the former British Southern Cameroons' the right to internal self-determination as opposed to external self determination being clamored for by others. His logic finds expression in the United Nations charter and relevant international documents. Since internal self-determination, according to the UN, is the right of a people to develop itself socially, economically and culturally within the encompassing state, and to determine their political status within that state, Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry believes that this is exactly what the newly granted special status has done to the people of the two English speaking regions of Cameroon. 

Given that federation, outright decentralization or even a confederation would have just given equal status to all of the 10 regions of Cameroon without giving any special consideration to the two English speaking regions, Dr. Fuh Calistus is of the opinion that the granting of a special status sets the two English speaking regions apart, as it makes them politically different, not just equal to the eight others. This finds expression in the very definitions of internal self-determination, ranging from simply allowing communities to be able to elect their representatives and those representatives having a chance to serve in central government, as obtains with Quebec in Canada, through giving a people a right to self government, as obtains in Catalonia in Spain, to having an outright special constitutional status, as is today the case with the two English speaking regions of Cameroon. 
Following on Dr. Fuh Calistus' thinking and logic, it goes without saying, that the special status granted the two English speaking regions of Cameroon is in more ways than one, more profound and rooted in the constitution than what obtains with the Quebec arrangement in Canada. 

Be that as it maybe, it remains to be seen how this arrangement is going to be the marker of an end to the ragging conflict and a quick return to peace in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon. Better still, it behooves on government of Cameroon to deliver on the special status, both as a primary and remedial right to the indigenous people of the former British Southern Cameroons, not the other way round. 

The Muteff Boy's Take.
    

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