Yaounde (National Times) – As questions continue to surface over who should be held responsible for Cameroon’s failure to host the African nations’ cup 2019, fingers are pointing to Cameroon’s First Lady Chantal Biya.
Traditionally in Africa, the society see women married to powerful men as gatekeepers to their husbands. While most of these women remain behind the scenes in both the administration of family and community affairs, most Africans know that one basic way to access the man in power is through their wives.
However, some women in the post-colonial African state are abusing this traditional position as gatekeepers, using their position to enrich themselves and their families, while manipulating and extorting the society. Patience Jonathan of Nigeria is a good example.
Cameroon’s first lady Chantal Biya is among the group of women who are using the position that was once meant to promote social interest and justice for her personal gains according to a recent edition of the Pan-African news agency, Jeune Afrique.
According to the paper, Chantal Biya is using her position as first lady and access to the President, Paul Biya, to control access to government, appointments to top government positions, and management of the state resources. The paper adds that the first lady has been (mis)using this position to aggrandise her power and wealth, at the detriment of millions of Cameroons.
François Soudan, Director of the Writing of Jeune Afrique, told French RFI on Saturday that, “Chantal Biya has become a real politician who has established herself in the ruthless world of the presidency. She learned the codes of politics, she knew how to make a place for herself, she became a veritable pole of power whose influence is undeniably increasing.
“There are two important positions in the presidency of the Republic. There is the Director of the Civil Cabinet and there is the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic. She controls these two posts. The current DCC, Samuel Mvongo Ayolo, is close to the first lady. The other position, Secretary General of the Presidency, almost vice-president in Cameroon, is occupied by Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh” he added.
According to François Soudan, Chantal Biya has used her access to the President to shield his minuets from prosecution over mismanagement of state resources. “The CAN 2019 was a definite failure, but Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh and Sports Minister Bidoung Kpwatt, who is also close to the first lady, did very well at the last cabinet reshuffle. They have not been sanctioned. Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh has even been elevated to the rank of Minister of State.”
Africans of course will one day have the conversation over whether women should be held accountable for using their relationship with the husbands and positions as gatekeepers for personal again, as the continent continues to search for the gender identity and responsibilities that will help its billions youths address the social, economic and political challenges facing the continent.