Yaounde (National Times)-Since the advent of the Anglophone conflict, the government of Cameroon has been firm on painting a beautiful image of the situation even when the bloodshed is at its peak as was the case in October and November 2018.
From the onset of the conflict, top government officials especially the Permanent Secretary of the National Security Commission, Paul Atanga Nji vehemently refused to accept the existence of such a problem.
From a vehement refusal, the situation worsened especially when the arms struggle was launched towards the end of 2017. Despite the worsening situation, government Ministers argued that the “situation is under control” even when most schools have been shut down. This rhetoric was particularly upheld by then Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary.
The same story was upheld by both regional governors of North West and South West, Lele l’Afrique and Bernard Okalia Bilai respectively.Both have been arguing that “Calm is gradually returning” even when they are unable to travel to parts of their regions without armoured vehicles and heavy military escorts.
During the first semester meeting of regional Governors in February 2019, Territorial Administration Minister, Paul Atanga Nji told reporters that “the situation in the North West and South West regions is under control.” In a previous meeting just before the October 7, 2018 presidential election, Atanga Nji alleged that the “situation was under control” and promised elections in all the 360 councils of Cameroon including those in the troubled North West and South West regions.
At the end of the day, official statistics, even though highly contested by opposition parties showed that only 15% of voters bothered to brave the odds and cast their ballots in the South West region and only 5% were interested in the process in the North West region.
Since Rene Emmanuel Sadi was appointed Communication Minister on January 4, 2019 he has been sandwiched into the same rhetoric. However, in a recent outing Sadi, reversed the rhetoric and rather than confirming the stability of the situation like others, he said the stability is on course. “The situation in the North-West and the South-West regions is ‘gradually getting’ under control,” Sadi said.
Despite all these pronouncements, the situation is getting worst on the ground. NGOs have reported that more than half a million persons have been displaced with 1.3 million needing urgent humanitarian help. And according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Anglophone war is the most neglected conflict in the world.
Government’s rhetoric may have succeeded to eclipse the war from the international community but unable to change the dynamism on the ground. With the power of communication confirmed in the war, government is trying to create a communication blanket on the Francophone regions from getting the reality from what has become known within Anglophones as ground zero.
It is also a promise to the influential international community that it is just a matter of time for advocates of Ambazonia and Anglophone nationalism to give up their claims and submit to dictates of the Biya regime.