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What can Cameroonians learn from Biya?

President Paul Biya has launched his election on the strength of his experience in resolving Cameroon’s security, economic, humanitarian and social problems. Biya and CPDM cadres have told Cameroonians that Paul Biya is the ideal candidate for Cameroon because experience matters and we should learn from the past. And they are correct, experience is very important; at this critical juncture for the country “those who won’t learn from the past will be forced to repeat it”. Cameroonians should learn from experience: that CPDM makes promises and never fulfills them, and there is  no more time for promises.

In his keynote speech at the  71st session of UN General Assembly in 2016, President Biya drew applause when he told the international community that they had promised in the past and failed, and there is no more room for promises. ‘Mr President, as you are aware, we have, in the past, adopted agendas, declarations, and action programmes which raised great hopes in the world among the youth, women and men in the cities and in the countryside. [we promised] a new world of peace and shared prosperity’ Biya told his audience.

But ‘the agreed actions have only been partially implemented. We deplored this whenever we had to, right here: we failed to honour all our commitments, especially financial. We did not fulfil all the hopes and aspirations of our peoples… As you are aware, Mr President, it is no longer a matter of promises. It is time for commitment. It is time for action’ he emphasized.

After lambasting international donor’s lackluster approach in solving global problems, Biya called on the international community to organize, and ensure that they deliver not promises, but development that serves all, without leaving any behind.

To achieve this commitment, he said solving development problems needs vigorous and consistent political will: “our political will should be constant and not wax and wane according to circumstances”.

He added that stakeholders need to have high moral and solidarity values—morality and solidarity always plays a role in Biya’s schemata. ‘Moral: the principle of the duty of solidarity among peoples should be reaffirmed and observed’ Biya said.

According to Biya with unwavering political will, solidarity, transparent and judicial allocation of resources, the international community ‘will be helping the sustainable development goals accelerate the advent of a world of peace for all everywhere, a world of prosperity for all’. This speech is the best rebuttal I have seen by a president against himself.

Cameroon is at a juncture where the party in power has made dozens of promises—to build roads, fight corruption, make Cameroonians happier–without delivering on the these promises. What Biya’s speech at the UN tells us is that through solidarity, it is time we tell those who promised us in the past without delivering, that enough is enough, we don’t have time for your promises, we want results. These are the words from Biya, a man with powerful experience— ‘it is no longer a matter of promises. It is time for commitment. It is time for action.’

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