Contributed by Nkafu Gabriel
As promised by the Head of State on the 10th of September in a rare address to the nation, the Cameroon Major National Dialogue is finally here. The dialogue is currently taking place at the Yaoundé Conference center where delegates divided into commissions are deliberating and hoping to come up with measures that will address amongst other things, the burning issue in the country – the Anglophone crisis.
On Monday September 30, the event was declared open by the Dialogue Chairman Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute. It was also an opportunity for ex-combatants to publicly ask for forgiveness from the state and declare their intentions to help the state end the crisis. They however did not only ask for forgiveness but also decried Anglophone marginalization in all its ramifications. According to them, for the country to remain one and indivisible, marginalization against Anglophones must stop.
For three days now, discussions have been on in the different 8 commissions which are Bilingualism, Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion, Educational system, Judicial System, Decentralization and Local Development, Reconstruction and Development of Crisis- Affected Regions, Return of Refugees and internally displaced persons, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of Ex-combatants and Role of Diaspora in the Crisis and its Contribution to the country’s development.
There have been discussions heated in these different commissions and some delegates even staged a walk out at some point. Some of them are Barrister Akere Muna of the NOW MOVEMENT and Hon. Jean Jacque Ekindi of the Progressive movement Political Party.
Barrister Akere Muna insisted that the form of the state must be discussed and political prisoners must be released. He said the whole Dialogue is just a show and there are no participations from those they call participants. He prefers to get on to other important issues than stay at the Conference center as a spectator.
Hon. Jean Jacque Ekindi said he walked out of the commission to avoid clashes with anyone and prayed that the dialogue brings peace to Cameroon. He however made a U-turn today and came back to the dialogue table. According to him, he has been convinced by the Prime Minister that peace will be the prime objective of the discussions.
Amongst many who have expressed dissatisfactions at the ongoing discussions are representatives of the Diaspora. They say they were not given the opportunity to take part in the creation of the different commissions or to at least choose the leaders of the commissions.
There are also many who regret not being able to participate in the deliberations because they were not given invitations. Senior Barrister Ashu Emmanuel speaking to Kum Leonard said “They told me to come and I came with a proposal from my political party. Unfortunately when I approached the Conference Centre gate, I was rather welcomed by law enforcement officers, who say, I cannot go in because I don’t have a badge or invitation.”
The discussions are expected to end on Friday October 4, after which conclusions and decisions taken will be made known to Cameroonians. To most of these Cameroonians, especially those in the North West and South West regions, the main focus should be on the form of the state. Most delegates from this part of the country are convinced that only Federalism can end the crisis. According to Barrister Felix Agbor Balla who is a strong advocate for Federalism, the whole dialogue process will be a waste of tax payer’s money if the form of the state is not properly discussed.