Thursday, 14 January 2016

Biya’s idiosyncrasies and vicissitudes: serendipity?

In one of Thomas Hardy’s trenchant novels Far from the Madding Crowd, precisely Chapter 25, titled A New Acquaintance Described he paints the profile of a certain character thus:
“Idiosyncrasy and vicissitude had combined to stamp Sergeant Troy as an exceptional being. He was a man to whom memories were an encumbrance and anticipations a superfluity. Simply looking, considering and caring for what was before his eyes he was vulnerable only in the present. His outlook upon time was like a transient flash of the eye now and then; that projection of consciousness unto days gone and by and to come, which made the past a synonym to the pathetic and the future a word for circumspection, was indeed foreign to Troy. With him the past was yesterday, and his future tomorrow, never the day after…”
Mr Biya, 79-year-old President of Cameroon for the past 31 years seems to exhibit many of these characteristics of this Hardy-created character. Like this character, Biya causes a lot of chagrin to his opponents and competitors on an almost daily basis, as Hardy continues in his novel same chapter, “He was a regrater of other men … he would be eager to pay but anxious to borrow; he would visit the husband to look at the wife, …”. The political parallels in Biya’s 31-year eventful reign are many. Some political pundits have even said Biya is ruling Cameroon through instincts. He has more than time and again taken friends, foes and allies by surprise in the political calendar and game in Cameroon. 
Shortly after Mr Biya announced an attempted Coup in August 1983, Bello Bouba Maigari was dropped as PM and Ayang Luc appointed in his lieu. He also split the hitherto Northern Province into three Provinces: Extreme North, North and Adamawa.  Apparently shaken by this coup attempt that was botched thanks to the “state security” Biya demonstrated his first feat of idiosyncratic pattern of behaviour: he unilaterally abrogated the 1972 Constitution on the United Republic of Cameroon and reverted to the name République du Cameroun, which that French-speaking part of Cameroon had prior to their independence on January 1, 1960. To give it a semblance of legitimacy he rammed it down the throat of the parliamentarians who passed it as Law No. 001/84 of 6th February 1984.
It is said when you cry foul when there is no foul, it will befall you. And true to this the Magidas, who still had a stranglehold of the Republican Guard, attempted a bloody coup d’état. Of course Cameroonians were still strong worshippers of Biya and the putchistes were mercilessly crushed by the loyal forces. Ahidjo and his cohort were accused. Ahidjo retorted that if they were his men they would have succeeded. May 1984 saw hundreds of them executed and buried in mass graves in Mbalmayo. Issa Tchiroma, Dakole Daisala and the others were incarcerated and General Asso Benoit Emane reportedly urinated in their mouths!
In March 1985 when the CNU Congress, programmed by Ahidjo took place in Bamenda he pulled another fast one by changing the name of the party from CNU to CPDM. New wine in old wineskins indeed! This change took place without any flinching knowledge of the rest of the party members.

Fast forward to 1990

 After the venerable Albert Womah Mukong, Yondo Black, Ekane Anicet and the others were arrested and temporarily kept under lock and key for attempting to form a political party, and the SDF was launched with the blood of six innocent Cameroonians, Benjamin Itoe of the “Dimabola” fame, orchestrated and led marches “against democracy”. In the June session of parliament Biya himself addressed the parliamentarians and announced they should “be ready for change and competition”, completely contradicting Benjamin Itoe and his sycophantic crew. 
In one of his end-of-year monotonous addresses he called on Cameroonians to fold their sleeves and be ready to brave the crises. However, the peak of it all was in 1992 when in July he cut down workers’ salaries. He boasted through his minister of finance that Cameroon shall never go to the IMF, but before the end of the year Cameroon became a victim of the Breton Woods Club, cap in hand. Then the violent salary cut by more than half that followed the devaluation of the FCFA and workers went for two months (September and October 1993) without salaries.
Sometime in the year 2000 Mr Biya threw out a test balloon to have a feel of how people will react to his death. He hid himself in a Swiss hotel room and sent out the news that he had died. There was widespread jubilation, even his CPDM pals were seen sleeping in gutters after drinking themselves into insanity rejoicing that Biya had died. Elvis Ngolle Ngolle was grilled by the BBC and he had tough times and thoroughly disgraced himself with his contradictory statements. A few days after Biya emerged at the Nsimalen airport and arrogantly told the press, “Those who want me to die should wait for another 25 years. It was thirteen years ago which implies he still has 12 years. Given that he is already 79 it means in 12 years he will be 91 years old and still the president of Cameroon. He would have been president of Cameroon for 43 years! Who says he is not the Fidel Castro of Cameroon?

The Most recent indicators

After the February 2008 food riots, coupled with the events in the Northern States of Africa (the Arab Spring) Mr Biya got up and announced the recruitment of 25000 young certified Cameroonians, without any adequate financial preparations as it would show later. Of course the exercise turned in quite some billions into the state treasuries through fiscal stamps. As usual those who were selected were selected in their own way but some of them up to this day have not yet received a mite from government!
Some time ago Mr Biya got up and claimed he had re-instituted the Five-year development Plan which Ahidjo instituted in Cameroon and Biya abolished. To date one does not know of what it has become. In another move the introduction of a three-year budget came in without any sensitisation and no training and no warning.  Idiosyncrasy!
One of the most recent ones is the implementation of the Senate close to 17 years after the 1996 Constitution was made, taking everyone – both opponents and allies by storm. They had been preparing for legislative and municipal elections. Even then he appointed Niat Njiefenji among his thirty appointees into the senate and again appointed him President of the Senate much to the chagrin of those who considered themselves the favourites! Then not long after he had prolonged the mandate of the parliamentarians and municipal councillors for the umpteenth time, he convenes the electorate for municipal and legislative elections, again taking even his CPDM acolytes off-guard.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favor:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Cameroon? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Cameroon in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28902 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez