Contributed by Nkafu Gabriel

The Cameroon Major National Dialogue that took place from Monday September 30th to Friday October 04th 2019 is now going down in the annals of history and it would definitely be remembered for the different commissions that were put in place to decide the fate of the nation at that event. Today, we profile those commissions by looking at the personalities who were involved in them and what was expected of these different commissions.

The commissions were eight in number:

  • Bilingualism, Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion
  • Educational System
  • Judicial System
  • Assistance to returning refugees and displaced persons
  • Reconstruction and development of areas affected by crisis
  • Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of ex-combatants
  • Role of the diaspora in the crisis and contribution to the country’s development
  • Decentralization and local development

Commission 1: Bilingualism, Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion

The Commission was chaired by the SDF first Vice President, MP and 2018 Presidential Candidate, Joshua Osih. It had as Vice Chairs: Former Minister of External Relations Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, former minister of Arts and Culture and  Culture and member of the Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Commission, Ama Tutu Muna as well as S.M Rene Effa and Prof. Daniel Abwa.

Rapporteurs: Chi Asafor Cornelius, Doka Yamigno Serge, Bekila Gisele, Dr. Mulua Ernest (Registrar of the University of Buea) and Dr. Bawe Mohamadou.

Resource Persons: Peter Mafany Musonge (President of the National Commission for Bilingualism and Multiculturalism), Wakata Bolvine (Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of relations with The National Assembly) and Bello Bouba Maigari (Minister of Tourism and Leisure, UNDP National President).

This Commission was particularly important in this dialogue because one of the core issues revolving around the Anglophone Problem has always been Language and Cultural identity. So the commission had a daunting task of coming up with resolutions that would ensure that Cameroon is seen bilingual not only on paper but in action as well and no language swallows up the other. There was also an important issue of living together that has been preached severally by National leaders and many other Cameroonians.

Commission 2: Educational System

This commission was chaired by someone many would describe as a square peg in a square hole, a renowned Educationalist, Prof. Dorothy Limunga Njeuma (Former Vice Minister of National Education and Pioneer Vice Chancellor of the First Angloxazon University in Central Africa, University of Buea). Rapporteurs: Lois Ikome, Pr. Nguele Abada Marcelin, Tameh Valentine and Nkou Theresa.

 The commission also assembled some of the key actors in the sphere of Cameroonian education as resource persons: Pr. Jacque Fame Ndongo (Minister of Higher Education and Chancellor of Academic Orders), Dr. Nalova Lyonga (Minister of Sec. Education), Pr. Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa (Minister of Basic Education), Dr. Mrs. Asheri Kilo (SG at the Ministry of Basic Education), Issa Tchiroma Bakari (Minister of Employment and vocational training), Monouna Fotsou (Minister of Youths affairs and civic education).

It is an established fact that the Angloxazon system of education is one of the fundamental reasons why there is an annglophone crisis in the first place. Over the years Anglophones have decried the gradual absorption of the prestigious and most cherished angloxazon education system by the French system. They have also decried the fact that Francophones who do master the English language are sent to their schools as teachers and their children are not giving equal opportunities when it comes to gaining admission into State institutions. With this in mind, the members of this commission had the daunting task of coming up with propositions that will handle these issues.

Commission 3: Judicial System

This commission was headed by Benjamin Itoe and had as Vice Chairs: Fogui Jean Pierre, Hon. Joseph Mbah Ndam, Achu George, Prof. Kofale Nkale Ndive and Tchakounte Patie Charles.

Rapporteurs: Emile Essombe, Gwanmesia George, Mme Doh Collins Regine, Fonkwe Fongang, Ewang Sone Andrew and James Mounangue Kobila. The Minister of Justice Laurent Esso joined the commission alongside Nguihe Kante, Dooh Jerome Penbaga and Clement Atangana (President of the Constitutional Council) as resource persons.

This was another key commission considering that the Anglophone crisis sparked off with a strike called by common law lawyers in 2016. Just like teachers, they were protesting against the gradual absorption of the common law practiced by Anglophones by the civil law practiced by francophones. They were also protesting the fact that French speaking Magistrates who do not master the English language were being sent to courts in the North West and South West regions. More importantly, they wanted the Common Law system to be upheld in all its specificities. The commission’s primary goal was to address these pressing issues.

Commission 4: Assistance to Returning Refugees and Displaced Persons

The Commission was chaired by someone who has been fighting tirelessly to see that peace return to the crisis hit regions, His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi. The commission had some of the most renowned personalities who have been at the forefront of political debates in Cameroon: Prof. Elvis Ngolle Ngolle (Former Minister and Director of CPDM Academy), Dr. Simon Munzu (Former Assistant SG at the UNO) and 2018 Presidential Candidate Cabral Libi.

Rapporteurs: Prof. Kenne Blaise, Mme Yap Abdou, Charles Atangana Manda and Maina Anatole. Resource Persons: Paul Atanga Nji (Minister of Territorial Administration), Pauline Irene Nguene (Minister of Social Affairs), Gregoire Owona (Minister of Labour and Social Security) and Manouda Malachie (Minister of Public Health).

The Anglophone crisis that started in 2016 has forced thousands of English speaking Cameroonians to flee to other parts of the country and beyond for safety. Most of them have now become IDPs in Littoral and West regions and others have become refugees in Cross River state –Nigeria. The commission was charged with the responsibility of proposing solutions that will bring back these IDPs and refugees.

Commission 5: Reconstruction and development of areas affected by crisis

Chair: Dr. Fumunyoh Chris.

Vice Chairs: Ngambo Fonjo Pierre, Hon. Forbi Chinda Simon (SDF MP), Tawamba Celestin, Eric Njong, Jean Jacques Ekindi (Political Party leader), Prof. Uphie Melo Chinje (Rector of the University of Ngoundere) and Dr. Seini Boukar.

 Rapporteurs: Paul Tasong (Min. Delegate at the Ministry of Economy, Planning and regional development), Motoya Cletus, Orock Ntui and Mvele Guy. The commission had the following resource persons: Alamine Ousmane Mey (Min. of Economy, Planning and Regional Dev’t), Mbairobe Gabriel (Minister of Agriculture and Regional Dev’t)Talba Malla Ibrahim(Minister Delegate at the Presidency incharge of public works), Celestine Ketcha Courtes (Min. of Housing and Urban Dev’t), Nganou Djoumessi and Hamadou Moustapha.

The commission’s goal was to come up with measures that will help in reconstructing homes, schools, hospitals and markets razed and destroyed during the crisis.

Commission 6: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of ex-combatants

Chair: Prof. Saibou  Moussa.

Vice Chairs: Fai Yengo Francis (National Coordinator of the DDR Commission), Victor Arrey Mengot (Minister of special duties at the Presidency), Mgr. George Nkuo (Bishop of Kumba), Ngalla Gerald, Eyeya Zanga, Prof. Ajume Wingo, Fung Ivo and Samy Kumbo.

Rapporteurs: Fru Jonathan, Gapsa Sixtus, Tcheuwa Jean Claude and Oumar Bichair. Minister Del. At the Presidency in charge of Defense Joseph Betty Assomo was resource person for this commission.

Their task was to come up with strategies to disarm combatants and reintegrate them to the DDR centers in Buea and Bamenda.

Commission 7: Role of the diaspora in the crisis and contribution to the country’s development

Chair: Prof. Atangana Amougou Jean Louis

Vice Chairs: Bar. Nkafu Julius, Eric Nchinje, Calixte Beyala, Dr. Dongmo and Lucie Mboto. Rapporteurs: Fozein Kwanke, Mbafor Afesi, Machinkou Nadine and Ntoumba Leonel. External Relations Minister Lejeune Mbella Mbella and Mohamadou Moustapha acted as resource persons.

The Diaspora has been very instrumental in the Anglophone crisis as most frontline separatist leaders are out of the country. Many before the dialogue believed that they could help in ending the violence in the two regions.

Commission 8: Decentralization and local development

This is the commission that most Cameroonians had their attention on. There was no commission on the Form of State like many would have wanted but they were hopeful that such issues could be discussed in this commission. It was chaired by former Minister Philip Ngole Ngwese. It had as vice Chairs: Lekene Donfack, Prof. Cheka Cosmas, Abouem A Tchoyi, Flambeau Ngayap and Sen. Mbella Moki Charles (CPDM Senator).

Rapporteurs: Ebongue Makolle, Essomba Pierre, Ahmadou Tijani, Prof. Cheuwe Jean Claude and Mbombo Abel.

Resource persons: Elanga Obam George (Min. of Decentralization and local Dev’t), Philippe Mbarga Mboa and Achille Bassilikin III (Min. of SMES).

It ended up being the most populated commission with over 400 members to deliberate on core issues of decentralization and autonomy.

In our next article on the Major National Dialogue, focus is on the key deliberations that took place at these eight commissions.