Yaoundé (National Times)-When officials of the ‘Unholy Trinity’ (Elections Cameroon, Ministry of Territorial Administration and the Constitutional Council) asserted that over 93,000 voters cast their ballots in the restive North West and South West Region of Cameroon in the October 7 Presidential election, many people, especially those of these two Regions considered such utterances as an abomination and a sacrilegious statement that shouldn’t be utter in public.
According to them, not only were the election boycotted, but those who actually voted in the North West and South West Regions were not up to 40,000 because of the odds that we stacked against election in the two Regions.
However, in this exclusive interview with Professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Political Scientist, scholar and former Minister of Forestry and Wild Life, we sought to know where those figures we gotten from, why the elections could not be cancelled despite the low turnout, strategies put in place by his party to win the election in general, what prospects for peace in the Anglophone Regions and many more burning issues, read on.
The National Times News: Prof, thanks for accepting to talk to us. How did you feel when your candidate was announced winner of the October 7 Presidential election?
Prof Ngolle Ngolle: First, we are happy that our champion and National President won, but the victory goes beyond the person. It is a victory for all Cameroonians. Secondly, it is a victory for democracy in Cameroon and the rule of law because elections are organised within the law and no country exists out of the law. Moreover, the other candidates should not feel bad because President Paul Biya is the President for all. I want to say even the opposition parties have also contributed to this democracy by taking part in the election and nobody should feel bad, after elections the Republic continuous. The victory of President Paul Biya is also a great responsibility to him. Globally I am happy.
What special measures did the CPDM put in place this year to ensure the victory of its candidate?
An election is a competitive contest involving three things which the CPDM masters; the organizational aspects which involves the party structures. This year the CPDM organised its campaign at five levels, namely; National headed by the Secretary General, Regional headed by top personalities – Political Bureau members, Divisional headed by Divisional Campaign Managers, Sub-divisional headed by Sub-section Presidents, Councils headed by Council Heads as well as Quarters headed by the various Branch Heads. For the first time, Ministers were not automatically used as heads of campaign teams, but the Sub-section Presidents headed the campaigns. Even in my own village, I did not head the campaign team but the Section President. It also involves the campaign slogans we used, our manifesto and words. Sometimes even mystical means are permitted.
Another thing we implored was Experience; experience is force just like our candidate. You must have a name which is recognised everywhere and that the CPDM has. The power of incumbency also – it is like you are seating on a chair and you already know everything about it and are more certain and another person who is not sure of himself is trying to unseat you.
The third aspect is knowing and exploiting the weaknesses of your opponents. Most opposition parties are not present everywhere or well represented at all the polling stations on voting day. We were present in all the 360 Council areas of Cameroon and Diaspora. Moreover, a party is a machine and not a person. Most opposition parties are based on their candidates and not party structures and they thought they had to go everywhere in order to convince the electorate. Our candidate did not need to be everywhere but he has organised the party in such a way that other persons carry the message to the public.
According to ELECAM officials 93,229 persons voted in the North West and South West and at the Constitutional Council, you defended these figures, how did we come about these figures knowing that Sunday was a ghost town day in these areas coupled with the daily violence and deserted towns and villages?
Most of these parties thought it was like a scotch earth policy and there would be no elections, but elections actually took place in these areas. The CPDM knew all these and planned. Campaigns were not done in the classical style but door-to-door and sometimes nocturnal. On voting day, our people like in my area, Kupe-Muanenguba who were refugees in Loum and other neighbouring areas were ferried into town to vote under escort and after voting they were ferried back. In fact, I voted in Tombel (brandishing his voters’ card) and this is my voter’s card, I go everywhere with it to proof that elections took place. After voting I even spent some hours with my mother in the village. We knew the percentage was low but voting took place.
Looking at this low turnout, would the population of these areas not feel they have not adequately taken part in the process of designating their President?
Democracy is measured by the ballot box and even if it is one vote that is a vote. We know there were low turnouts; about five percent in the North West and 15 percent in the South West, but it is written nowhere in political science that elections should be cancelled because some people did not vote. The good thing is that when you don’t vote nobody would disturb you, but you lose the opportunity to make the change you want.
Talking specifically about the violence in the Anglophone Regions, are we going to see the much talked about dialogue now that your candidate has won?
An election is not meant to solve socio-political problems. But dialogue is one of the things that would happen in the mandate of President Paul Biya. President Paul Biya has a 10 point manifesto and peace, unity of our country and promotion of women and youths are the priorities. In his peace and unity programme the Anglophone Problem would feature. The form of dialogue would be national; Cameroonians both Anglophones and Francophones would take part. But as concerns the details, I can’t say.
Talking about your post in the party, you are the Coordinator of the CPDM Academy, what is it all about ….?
This is the CPDM Academy where you are (pointing to the four walls of his office). It was put in place by the National President and it is the pedagogy instrument of the party which enables the militants to be educated about party issues and republican values. The Secretary General of the party also organises seminars, conferences and workshops and we take part in it. He would also request that certain studies be carried out by the Academy. But the Academy is limited to the party and not the public.
Interviewed By Gerard Tapuka in Yaoundé