Cameroon is reverberating to the rhythm of political campaigns ahead of the October 7 Presidential poll.
The political barometer is at its crescendo. The hitherto land of promise, land of glory is resonating to the new political folklore which the high and the mighty are churning.
Take it or leave it, the October 7 Presidential election is the new order that every Cameroonian, worth the salt, is expected to obey in the spirit and letter of the word.
Even the raging Anglophone Crisis that reared its ugly head in 2016 and still continues with maiming, haphazard arrests, extra-judicial killings, massacres, summary executions, carnages, arsons among other vices, has crumbled under the Presidential election effervescence.
The plight of Cameroonians who have scampered into the forests in search of safe sanctuaries and are now congregating in the wild with dangerous games is inconsequential to our politicians.
Those who are gnashing their teeth in misery as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are of little importance to our decision makers. Those languishing in Nigeria as refugees have been sacrificed on the altar of hunger, poverty and malnutrition for political-self aggrandisement.
What is paramount to our decision makers is for their respective lords to take up a permanent abode at the country’s Unity Palace at all cost, even at gunpoint?.
Whether it is the opposition or the ruling party, the story is the same. The fates of Cameroonian citizens, who are supposed to be part of the electorate, are now used as campaign messages to whip up sentiments, gain sympathy and woo potential voters.
The nine candidates gunning for Cameroon’s Presidency have unleashed their prophets of mendacity, surrogates and spine doctors to all the nooks and crannies of the national territory. Theirs is a mission to preach doctrines of bringing down paradise from heaven to Cameroon.
Even Senators and Members of Parliament, MPs who were duly voted to be the people’s voices in the Senate and Parliament have resurfaced. They had abandoned their electorates after being projected into the ‘hand clapping’ chambers.
They have been resurrected, dusted and sent back to their people to go and canvas for more votes. It is the same practice across the political spectrum.
Most of them, especially those of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon will now appear before their people like glorified corpses that have just been exhumed from tombs in arid deserts.
Some have already started buying bags of rice, cartons of vegetable oil, soaps, bags of salt, beef cubes among other basic commodities. These ‘daily bread’ that may last just within the campaign season is to lobby for votes from a population they have ditched into suffering in exchange for political power and affluence.
While others will use their financial and material might to corrupt the consciences of the electorate, some of them have been concocting lies to tell the people in exchange for their votes. Some absurd lies like building a sea port in Bamenda, constructing an airport in Mukuru, relocating Mount Cameroon from Buea to Yagoua, free education, the completion of ‘giant’ projects among others perennial lies that have been told for almost four decades. These will still resurface before October 7.
As if that is not enough, certain candidates will now be peddled around as those who have unilaterally made Cameroon peaceful, develop, financially and economically stable and an Eldorado in the world.
Most political mimic men will even say it is such candidates who have been sending Cameroonians to school, providing oxygen for them. To them only such candidates can be President and no else out of a population of approximately 24 million citizens. Wonders!
However, such campaign promises from political fanatics and hand clappers are not surprising to many Cameroonians. For close to four decades, Cameroon has been ruled by a cabal, using political slogans and rhetoric to build a gerontocracy.
Unfulfilled electoral promises have become the harbinger of Cameroon’s democracy.
When the reign of the pioneer President of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo ended, the incumbent President, Paul Biya, who is still seeking re-election, ascended the supreme magistracy with unprecedented hype and frenzy.
He quickly hypnotised the rather sceptical Cameroonians. Biya christened his Government as the ‘New Deal Government’. He hinged it on the principle of Rigour and Moralisation. This, to Cameroonians was a new dawn in the nation’s democracy.
Biya’s cohorts and political song birds quickly memorised the Rigour and Moralisation chorus; they chanted it on mountain top, boasting that it was completely different from Ahidjo’s junta. That was their reading of Ahidjo’s era.
Rigour and Moralisation died even before it saw the light of day. The vibrant economy left behind by his predecessor soon slumped into a financial comma. State officials plundered the country’s rich natural and financial resources.
Biya’s appointees at strategic state institutions metamorphosed into State predators. Corruption, embezzlement, nepotism, tribalism and mediocrity were elevated to an art, and have remained so throughout the incumbent’s stewardship. No doubt the country has been winning back-to-back corruption trophies from international bodies over the years.
Those who were with Biya at the beginning are still there now, changing portfolios. In fact, his has been a merry-go- round Government for 36 years. Biya’s obsession to stick his guns even if they are no longer smoking explains why some of his surrogates consider themselves more Cameroonian than others. Where is the rigour and moralisation that the President promised his citizens?
As the rigour and moralisation swan song was failing to yield the expected fruits, the political Maradona of Cameroon pounded other sugar-coated programmes like Health for all, Greater Ambition, Growth and Employment Strategy Paper, Great Realisation, Emergence by 2035. Today, he heads to the poll on the slogan “The Force of Experience”.
In the late 1990s, Biya propounded the Health for all programme. He asserted then that by 2000, all Cameroonians were going to have access to healthcare services at an affordable rate. But till date, healthcare services in Cameroon are shambolic.
Hospitals have become theatres of deaths, the patient-doctor ratio is 1000:1 and some Divisions in the country are practically cut-off from healthcare services. This is health for all.
Other programmes initiated by the same Government like Great Ambition, Growth and Employment Strategy Paper, Great Realisation have produced similar results. The Government keeps borrowing for the same projects under different programmes and the projects are still to see the light of day. May be they will eventually surface by 2035.
These are the same projects that the CPDM surrogates will be begging Cameroonians to vote for. Their candidate needs mandate in order for him to complete the projects after 36 long years of political sloganeering and rhetoric.
As if Cameroonians have not seen enough from the ruling party, a battered opposition shredded by unbridled ambition has also joined the fray. Eight opposition flag bearers will be challenging the Biya gerontocracy in this year’s Presidential race.
Most of them have been picking holes with Biya’s administration that has survived many elections for 36 years and still appears to have the confidence of Cameroonians if our electoral process is anything to go by.
However, the present opposition candidates seem to be worse than the Biya Government. Their inability to form a coalition shows how power drunk the candidates are. Every one of them is claiming to have a magic wand and the right panacea to roll back the current socio-political stalemate that has engulfed the country.
Whatever the situation, the Presidential election will take place and the electorate seems to be caught between the devil of the Biya regime, and the deep blue sea of a power mongering opposition. Bu it is my fervent wish that Cameroonians, who will be performing their civic responsibility on October 7, should watch out for prophets of mendacity and surrogates of bad political omen.