The Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) Executive Committee’s decision to strip Cameroon of its hosting rights of the African Cup of Nations (2019), shocked many supporters of President Paul Biya, but essentially reaffirmed the fear among many critics of the regime that the Biya’s government is too incompetent to organize any activity that can benefit Cameroonians on the scale of AFCON. Ever since the decision was made, President Paul Biya has remained mute, failing to tell Cameroonians exactly what went wrong. But we know what went wrong.
With millions of Cameroonians still arguing about the winners and losers CAF’s decision to strip Cameroon of the competition it is important to understand the most striking cause of our inability to host AFCON 2019.
The most striking feature is brutally clear. Cameroon faces two imminent existential threats: a shockingly incompetent government and a divided nation (And there many who think the two are not only related, but fundamentally related, one been the cause and the other the effect. I don’t agree with that but here I will focus how incompetence caused us the AFCON). Government incompetence is defined in this context as creating unwanted side effects and blowback and/or failing to accomplish the intended effect in a way that could have been easily avoided or accomplished with the knowledge that they had at the time.
There has been plenty of criticisms of CAF’s President Ahmad Ahmad, of the Ambazonian fighters and Kamto’s supporters, but scarcely a word about the crucial issue: the incompetent (and corrupt) government that couldn’t prepare this country to host the AFCON 2019. The problem of government incompetence is the most critical and urgent question that confront us as a country. The fact that no government official, especially President Paul Biya has addressed the problem — carries some important, if unpleasant, lessons about the future of this country.
To be sure, not everyone was ignoring this matter. It was front and centre for those who are constantly vigilant in their bitter class war to preserve/overthrow their immense power and privilege. In a video that has since gone viral, Wilfred Ekange raised important questions about the country’s ability to provide roads, hotels, and even stadiums for the competition on time. But pro-government supporters, such as Tchiroma and Bidoung Mkpatt double down on the promise that Cameroon was ready to host the AFCON, assurance Cameroonians that there were no problems — including lateness in building stadiums, poorly built hotels, and virtually absent roads.
CAF’s decision to strip Cameroon’s of its AFCON hosting rights to many has been an indictment of the poor management of the country’s affairs by the current government. But it is also a reflection of the competition of the government’s inability to avoid problems that can damage the country’s image internally, of inability to address public and business complaints on time, of inability to use information to promote the country’s interest.
We now know after a CAF Executive Committee meeting in Ghana, that several construction works were over 52% behind schedule. We also know now most constructors told the government they couldn’t meet their deadlines, but the government ignored these complaints and instead gave ultimatums. And it was shameful that the country was unable to send a delegation to CAF Championship the same season it was preparing to host the AFCON.
There are plenty of other evidence which any reflective Cameroonian will agree that draws down to incompetence in the government. But shouldn’t the president at least address the country, explaining to us why the government think that incompetence rather than organizing and running a competent government is the best way to stay in power? Shouldn’t President Biya at least make the question of government incompetent as central in his new term of office as the question of defeating Ambazonians and Boko Haram terrorists—which are very important goals too? Shouldn’t Mr Biya hire as many staff to check his luxurious lifestyle as he has hired to fight Anglophones? In brief, why has it taken President too long to address this existential problem facing the country?