Educating Will Power. By Arturo Ramo

In educational environments it is often said that the Pedagogy of effort is fundamental for learning with effectiveness and being successful in one’s academic life and life in general.

Various research studies concerning education conclude that the “wanting to study” is more important than intelligence when it comes to academic performance. Payot asserts that genius is, above all, a long process of patience: scientific and literary works that honor human talent the most are not at all due to the superiority of intelligence, like it is generally believed, but instead to the superiority of a will power that is admirably owner of itself.

Campaigns against drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, tobacco and violence are promoted from different sectors of society. In all of these campaigns, the youth is taught to say “NO” to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc., but for this to happen it is necessary for these young people to have a strong will power.

This is why it is crucial to educate one’s will power, which in other words means to educate one’s self.

However, what is will power? It could be said that it is the soul’s potential that moves someone to do or not to do something. Will power moves one to do or to achieve the ideals of the youth as well as the objectives that we propose to ourselves in order to improve society and become a well educated individual. Will power also moves us to not fall for or look for drugs, tobacco, and many other vices that jeopardize human beings. We must especially reject the tendency of only doing that which we fancy and like as well as what our body asks us for. Our will power is shaped by not giving into these little things: i.e. doing at every moment what must be done even if it is difficult to do so. “Do what you must, and be in what you do”, as our grandparents used to tell us.

There are two factors that favor and facilitate will power: motivation and illusion. Motivation consists of having reasons or causes or even motives to do something. These reasons or motives will drag us with force to reach our ideals and goals. Illusion is the hope that is caressed by our imagination, which provides us with joy and good spirit in order to make it till the end of our set purposes.

Personal struggles that move forward through small but constant efforts are at the base of educating will power. Will power is not accomplished by carrying out a heroic act at a given moment, but by achieving small wins with consistency one day after another without giving up.

That is how holistic and integral individuals are educated; those who overcome fatigue, frustration, unwillingness, and the thousands of difficulties that life brings about. A strong will power is essential for success in life and it is one of the best decorations of one’s own personality.

Arturo Ramo
Independent Forum of Opinion

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Cameroon’s Media Council is a Cure Worse than the Disease. By Herbert Boh.

Cameroon’s National Communications Council is in the news, again – and for exactly all the bad reasons!

If you have not heard yet, please be informed that the interim president of the Council, Mr. Peter Essoka, and his colleagues have once more successfully charged, judged, and found a sizable group guilty. Half a dozen journalists, the Council has ruled, are guilty of allegedly failing to respect professional ethics and/or reportedly “insulting” an official of the Cameroonian Presidency.

Flash back! This was the same charge levied against Celestin Monga and Pius Njawe in the early 1990s. So, if you were in doubt, here you have it: Mr. Essoka & Co. are taking all of us back to the future!

The latest most gruesome crimes committed by the pen are so heinous that the Council even ruled to ban journalists from “exercising their profession”. Journalist Jacques Blaise Mvie is banned and his newspaper cannot publish. By that decision, the Council has extended the punishment to everyone who works for Mr. Mvie’s newspaper. They have all been put out of work. By order of Peter Mr. Essoka & Co. the journalists concerned and those who work for Mr. Mvie’s La Nouvelle newspaper are banned from earning a living. If you have the misfortune to work with or for Mr. Mvie, you are automatically guilty by association with your employer.

Talk of killing a mosquito with a nuclear bomb!

The abuse of power inherent in these decisions smells to high Heaven. The jurisprudence they would represent, if allowed to stand, authorize the Council to even chase investments away from the media sector. In the future, this decision aiding, the Council will have authority not only to sanction someone like journalist Severin Tchounkeu of Equinoxe or Charles Ndongo of CRTV for doing whatever Mr. Mvie did. They will henceforth have authority to put anyone who works with Mr. Tchounkeu at Equinoxe or Mr. Ndongo at CRTV out of work by also shutting down the media outlet for which the “criminal” journalist works.

We have to count our blessings! It has to be heartening to note that even the most abusive administrative or judicial authorities that serve the Biya regime have ever handed down such gross injustice to journalists or media outlets!

Not surprisingly, news reports cite Mr. Essoka as stating “toute honte bue” that the Council is independent and that it does not do the bidding of the Cameroon government. Really?

Well, if you believe Mr. Essoka, then maybe we can conclude that the director of Kondengui Prison would be right to claim that s/he is not doing any bidding of the regime by holding prisoners like ex-Premier Inoni and the likes of Marafa and Mendo Ze on behalf of the regime You would have to believe that the Ministry of Territorial Administration organizes elections so that the ruling party can lose. Or, you would have to believe that the Supreme Court does not do the bidding of the regime when it looks the other way when electoral fraud is perpetrated or when the president stages a constitutional coup to extend his stay in power.

Mr. Essoka & Co. are pleading “zero collusion” with the regime even as they abuse the extensive powers Yaounde has laid at their feet. Consider the extent of power: the Council can take and hold any journalist prisoner. The Council has powers – listen up, Supreme Court! – these fellows of the Council have powers to play prosecutor, defense counsel, judge and jury all together; all at the same time; and all without being in any conflict of interest. These fellows can charge and punish journalists for “crimes” that they don’t need to prove in a court of law or for “crimes” that could have been committed by radio or television producers – not the journalists themselves – or by the media network, shooting and/or airing what the Council describes as “shocking pictures” for instance. Yes, these fellows have powers to “execute” (kill and bury) any media company whatever the investments, as they are now bent on doing in the case of Mr. Mvie’s La Nouvelle newspaper.

On a previous occasion when my twin, Ntemfac Ofege, and I have commented – sorry – lambasted some past and no less abusive sanctions by the Council, we notably argued that this institution is a worse enemy for a free press, independent journalism and freedom of expression in Cameroon than the old-time, Soviet-type administrative censorship and any rulings by some of Cameroon’s “two for five franc” courts at the service of powerful few.

Mr. Essoka certainly knows but would not like to admit. So, here is a news flash!

The Biya regime clearly does not like the newborn baby to the media sector in Cameroon called independent media. Not unlike King Herold, the regime wants the baby dead. It recalls that it tried censorship and courts of law to abort its birth. The regime all but gave up. Until Mr. Essoka & Co. came along. Now, the regime must be chanting Daniel come to judgement!

Cameroon’s Communications Council is like the woman who claims by day to nourish, nurture and protect the child (media), yet is really the mother who is itching to abort the baby or is in the employ of an unwise King Solomon bent on dividing the newborn child. Even better than the regime ever hoped for, the Council is working to make this a perfect crime: ensure that the King has no blood on his hands.

There is no need to search hard to find what constitutes “mortal media sin” in the eyes of the Council. They share a number of attributes. All the journalists, radio and television programs that have been ordered off the air share the sin of being critical – how dare they? – of the Biya regime. They are critical of the regime whose image (when it comes to press freedom) that the Council was set up to launder. All the programs sanctioned by the Council just happen to air on one of Cameroon’s infant independent media outlets. Yaounde does not want the blood of these networks on its hands, and what relief it must be for Yaounde to see that Mr. Essoka & Co. are stepping up to the plate! The Council in as many words is designed to play the media hangman of the republic. Quite simply! Which must explain why Mr. Essoka sounds so lost in the Council’s work. The VOA quotes Mr. Essoka as saying the Council has “the right to sanction freedom when it goes into excesses”. Did he say sanction? “Haaabaaah!”

The tragedy quite simply is that the Council seems to sincerely believe that the sanctions it hands down constitute “just punishment” for “mortal sins of the pen”. Members of the Council – all of them, very learned and respected ladies and gentlemen, who raised plenty of hope when first appointed – do not seem to comprehend why the procedures of their institution fall way short of even the minimum standards of fairness, neutrality and due diligence.

The Council seems infatuated with one goal: that of emphasizing, rightly, that journalists have a duty to present news dispassionately, with fairness, accuracy, and balance. What the Council members, sadly, would like us to pay no attention to is the fact that this institution is a cure worse than any disease that afflicts the Cameroonian media. A political institution – which is what this regime-created, regime-manipulated, regime-teleguided Council is – will never – (let me say that again) – this Council will NEVER ever be an acceptable replacement for the self-regulatory body that journalists have a right to set up and run without interference from presidential appointees.

ENDS

Essoka Lamentation

No Better than Paul Biya

The sorry thing about clamours for change in Cameroun is that those braying for change are no better than Biya. They do not proffer an alternative that is credible or better. All we have here are a bunch of fools (fellows who systematically repudiate knowledge), hardened criminals, con artists, mad men, fugitives from the law, and other heehaws braying very loudly: Clowns parading for our general entertainment. All these dastards want is for Biya to remove his foot from their necks so that they place their own elephantine feet on the neck of others, for Biya and his clique to stop stealing so that they get their own grubby paws into the state treasury. It is much unfortunate. See what the SDF, that we all believed in and slaved for has become.
My firm conviction is that a day will come (very soon) when one
wearing the mantle of genuine change would emerge. Only then will the Camerounese people wake up from their stupour and stand up for change.
Prophet Ntemfac Nchwete Ofege


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Fru Ndi’s New Mentor. By Prof. Tazoacha Asonganyi

Following his famous shaking of the hand of Paul Biya in Bamenda, Fru Ndi went out boasting that those who had left his party were rushing back into the party, probably because he had become the wiser after meeting with Paul Biya! His multiplication of the handshakes in Unity Palace, and probably soon in Ebolowa, seems therefore to be meant to multiply the returning effect! In a way, Paul Biya has suddenly become the mentor of Fru Ndi!

Since the main bone of contention between the SDF and the CPDM, or between Fru Ndi and Paul Biya has been the fraudulent manner in which elections are organized in Cameroon, Fru Ndi started off by giving the impression that since he handed his demands on ELECAM directly to Paul Biya in Bamenda, things would change since he probably has not been getting the resolutions and messages they have been sending to him through intermediaries. During his 31 December 2010 message to the nation, Paul Biya talked about the need for citizens to enter their names in electoral registers, the citizen’s right to vote, his trust in ELECAM, and the necessary support of the administration and political parties to ELECAM. He concluded by saying that he has “reason to believe that ELECAM will be able to put finishing touches to its mechanisms on the ground in the coming months;” and that “we will have the opportunity to revisit all these issues.” Then everybody jumped onto the commentary box, telling us that he meant that he would revisit ELECAM; such truncated commentaries were all meant to goad Fru Ndi! And he has continued to trudge on like the proverbial man that follows a ram around, hoping that the scrotum would fall off at any moment!

Fru Ndi seems to have engaged in his contacts with Paul Biya like a political virgin. If not, then he is fully aware of the political engagements other political leaders have had with Paul Biya, which ended only in their exhaustion and dumping; and the political engagements he took with the entire nation,  which he has failed to respect. He probably has forgotten about the “council of state” which he was supposed to move from house arrest to Chair in 1992, but which ended in nothing but internal conflicts in his party, and the eventual expulsion of the Secretary General, Siga Asanga. He most probably remembers well the Tripartite, the constitutional engagements that came out of it, and Paul Biya’s single-handed, and self-serving changes he has effected on the constitution. He also most probably still remembers his regular visits to the Prime Minister’s office to put his views on NEO and ELECAM, and what use the views served. He probably is carrying all these along with him in his mind as he follows his mentor around the country, probably hoping that he would be treated differently this time around.

Many people make sacrifice in the religious realm, with the hope of heavenly reward. For a long time now, many Cameroonians expected Fru Ndi, from his position of strength within the opposition, to make some sacrifice by ceding the position of presidential candidate to some other person,  in the expectation of the victory of the opposition, and his ultimate victory following a transition period during which “a level playing field” would be created. He refused to budge. Now he has accepted to make an even higher sacrifice: giving the impression that he has reneged on his lifelong struggle for change; that he has capitulated for personal interest, not for the general good.

Looking at the present state of the SDF, the compromise seems to be in resigned acknowledgement of defeat. Like the UPC pre-independence struggle against colonialism that ended in defeat and the institution of neo-colonialism in Cameroon, so too has the SDF struggle against neocolonialism ended in defeat!

While the silent majority racks their brains to think of what to do next, one can only speculate on what the defeated SDF is likely to do next.  Although nobody asked Fru Ndi not to go to parliament, he has always mourned over the fact that “the people he sent to parliament” go around with diplomatic passports and armed guards provided by the state, while he has none of these. Now that the constitution of the SDF prohibits the National Chairman of the party from being a government minister, he is likely not to be too warm to make other diplomatic passport carriers guarded by state security while he remains in his helpless state. He will most probably beg his new mentor to create the “leader of the opposition” outfit, which is no threat to his Chairmanship position, and affords him a diplomatic passport, armed guards, and financial gains too. Or maybe beg him to hurry up with elections to the Senate, where he might find a foothold, even if it is ELECAM to oversee them!

And the 2011 presidential election: to go or not to go? Judging by Fu Ndi’s propensity for proclaiming himself No.2 of the Republic because of his no. 2 position in presidential elections, he is likely to block the way to his succession as no.2 by any of the many candidates that are declaring their intentions to run. Or he may try some populist posturing to indicate that he has not yet completely sold out. He may decide to boycott the poll on the excuse that no good can be done by ELECAM in its present state, since Paul Biya is showing no signs of wanting to change it. Remember he had been telling everybody before he found his new mentor that “there will be no elections in Cameroon under the present dispensations of ELECAM.” Following the boycott, and the generalized low turnout that is expected, the politics of the nation would still be too timid to provide Paul Biya the grand exit following or during his last presidential term. This may set the stage for another round of the SDF/CPDM talks we witnessed following the 1997 boycott, and the final entry of the SDF in a “coalition” government, or a government of unanimity, provided Fru Ndi already has his own niche carved out for him, like being in the Senate, or the “official” leader of the opposition!

In politics, every action has its rationale. Some may be convincing, others may not. Fru Ndi could have chosen to remain in his previous position, and allowed Paul Biya to continue to stew in the juice of his political mess until the end of his reign. He did not: he chose to embrace him. From his posturing about his party coming alive following the embrace, it is possible that he knew he had descended so low that such an embrace could only provide him some energy for a rebound. But I think that Fru Ndi needs much more than the energy provided by the embrace to cause a rebound that has any significant effect on the disposition of the political chess board as it is presently laid out. Except, perhaps, he sees the future more clearly than I do.

 

Tazoacha Asonganyi

Yaounde

Cameroon Media in the Loop. By Fon Achobang

In flames?World Press Freedom day celebrations are dedicated to reflections on what the role of the media should be in society. On the eve of the 2010 manifestations, the Cameroon media was bereaved as one of its members, Bibi Ngota, was allegedly tortured and abandoned to die in pretrial detention at the Kondengui Central Prison. Cameroon media was also shocked beyond rationale when the Minister of Communication, government regulator of the sector, Issa Tchiroma Bakary went out of his way to make a public statement that Bibi Ngota was HIV positive and died from opportunistic infections. Against this background, Cameroon media is in mourning and reflection on the challenges that face the sector.

Citizens cannot make sound decisions on issues put before them without the free flow of information and public opinion. This information and opinion helps them to make informed decisions during elections and on which projects to support. 2011 is a critical year in Cameroon and the media cannot allow itself to fail. They must create the atmosphere for debate and free flow of information to educate and sensitize voters.

Cameroonian voters should be given a limitless supply of information sources; newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, mailed communications and pamphlets. Hundreds of newspapers are reported as registered in Cameroon, and according to government that is an alibi for press freedom. How does the Cameroonian press provide coverage of all important local, regional, national and international developments?

The Prime Minister of Cameroon, Yang Philemon just completed an economic and image charming trip in the United States of America. The Cameroonian people are left to consume only the coverage of Cameroon Radio Television and Cameroon Tribune, both government public media. A vast majority of the bourgeoning press was left out of the trip. Of course, government media concerns are limited and will fail to report the all important trip from all perspectives. By the end of the trip few Cameroonians will be informed of the necessity of such a trip and the its fallouts.

As a committed sector to impartial and unbiased reporting of facts, the mass media, as an ideal should enable voters to make intelligent decisions. As such the media should analyze the meaning of developments, and in clearly identified columns and broadcasts, express editorial opinions supporting or opposing the decisions of public officials. In the current dispensation, the Cameroon private media has been seen as weakening government action in acting for the public good. This is because the private media has been the one reporting the various allegations on Biya’s Ill-gotten Wealth and the suits against the Head of State in the diaspora.

As to the choice between the media and the government, let us remember what Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence in America said. In 1787 he declared:

The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

Over 200 years ago, that is what one of the founders of the American modern nation thought of the media. As a source of informed opinion, it should occupy the priority position. The Cameroon media should offer debates on public issues and interviews with persons who support or oppose specific actions. The Cameroon government has indicated, perhaps it has become its hallmark, that it is opposed to any opinion opposing its actions. In the 1980s when the economic crises started biting the country, lots of journalists of the English expression tried to debate issues in the country. They were whisked off the news programme, Cameroon Report and taken straight to the Kondengui Central Prison. The name of the programme had since been changed to Cameroon Calling but each time the spirit of Cameroon report reared its ugly head, the anchor was taken off. As such the Cameroon media lost some of its best practitioners in the English language.

Today, the Cameroon media is confronted with all sorts of problems caused by amateurs and people who barely have the tools for reporting. The 1990 communication regulations try to define what a journalist was. According to this profile, a journalist was somebody who went through a school of journalism; somebody with a postsecondary education and should have spent at least a year practicing in a media house; and thirdly if the practitioner does not have a postsecondary certificate, he should have spent at least four years in a media house. These criteria notwithstanding, there is no watchdog to screen those currently on the field.

Some government institutions and authorities have, therefore, taken advantage of this lack of regulation to impose their personal stamp on what they imagine to be against them in the media. It is in this light that the very powerful Minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency, Laurent Esso used his position to bypass all judicial procedures to get Bibi Ngota detained. Recently, I was dragged to the Kumba High Court to answer charges proffered against me by the powerful Judge of the court. He felt defamed when I publicized one of the swindling sagas he is involved in. if I had been found within his jurisdiction, he would have detained me. My belonging to a different jurisdiction did not prevent him from crossing his judicial boundary to accost me with a summons, which I of course used as evidence of his abuse of power to petition the President of the Republic, Chair of the Higher Judicial Council.

Reporters are expected to know their rights and responsibilities and operate within the ambit of such rights. If I didn’t know my legal rights, and knew how to analyze the data collected from the Meme High Court, that legal jurisdiction would have messed me up like Bibi Ngota. Today, it is the judge running away from his shadow and resorting to arson to erase damaging evidence against him.

The treatment of information by those who gather such information leaves much to be desired. An uncle of the Cameroon media, Sam Nuvala Fonkem observed that there were lots of assumptions in the columns of our newspapers and broadcasts. His advice was never to assume, but to elucidate and clarify a news story as if the reader knows nothing at all about it. Here publishers and news editors fail to do justice to reports as they transform themselves into butchers, cutting chunks of valuable information indiscriminately. This might be an overstatement because the cutting of valuable information is premeditated.

Some publishers have personalities to protect. Every time such personalities are highlighted negatively, the story is either killed or edited in such a way that the news is killed. Sometime in 2009, a seminar on corruption held in Buea. The participant from the American embassy declared that he was ashamed to call the Honourable Rose Abunaw such because she was a disgrace. This was because she was behind the many visa scams for which Dr Fonkam Azu Simon was accused on the private media.  Even though there was enough evidence to pin down Rose Abunaw as the culprit, this newspaper publisher decided that the story be censored.  What about the publishers/editors who will call the culprits reported in an article to come and buy off the story?

Selling of stories to culprits might even be more profitable than selling papers on the streets. No Cameroonian paper sells 3,000 copies per edition. Cameroonians prefer to save their money for beer and other mundane concerns than buy a paper which does not articulate their anxieties and propose solutions. Government too has censored the papers by making them unaffordable to the common man. At FCFA 400 for 16 pages, most folks find it a waste of scarce resources buying a paper. Publishers, therefore, resort to unpalatable strategies to make money; smear campaigns, selling stories and blackmail.

Some news organs have simply transformed themselves into griots or praise singersfor some powerful elite. You cannot blame them as most are unable to put food on their tables nor keep their issues in school. You need to see how some news gatherers fight over food at conferences to which their news organs were never invited. such events provide them the unique opportunity to have a balance meal. They will heap food on their plates till you cannot see their faces from across the table. With many months of unpaid wages, it is enough to turn them in any direction with as little as FCFA 5,000.

Government can reverse this negative trend by throwing its weight behind the media and supporting them in every material way possible. This though runs the risk of transforming some publishers into band boys of the government dimabola chorus. In this election season, more seminars should be organized to drill reporters on reporting and the media laws. Government should be lobbied to support media house financially. This may help check some of the abuses noticed with private media corporations. The public services should also avail media houses of information. 

 
Fon Christopher Achobang
Department of Linguistics
Faculty of Arts
University of Buea
P.O. Box 63 Buea

(Senior Translator),
English-French- English
Expertise; International Business Translation; Literary Translation, Medical Translation; Editing; Proofreading.

(Senior Reporter)
P.O. Box 1095 Limbe
The Cameroons

Tel, 237 99365954

Changing the System or the Incarnator

Changing the System or the Incarnator

By Ntemfac Ofege

In reply to Ateba Eyene and the Taliban of Communications aka Comical Ali.

Comical Ali

Several things: Point one. The fact about the matter is that Bibi Ngota hails from Mr. Biya’s Bulu-South province, Laurent Esso is from Deido- Douala…hence, per Ateba Eyene, the Bulus would want the Duala-Deido to account. This is preposterous! It shades the trees from the forest. I find Abeba Eyene subtle tendency to methodically tribalize, if not localize+regionalize: and hence trivialize, political issues parochial, suspect in very bad taste.

Now a certain cynicism would even demand most folks (like me) abstain from taking sides in this matter…after all, a CPDM Minster-Secretary General by decree has (mis)used the much decried instruments of torture and repression inherent in every quasi failed state cum dictatorship to murder a member of the ‘Pays organisateur’ in Ateba Eyenespeak. Dog eat dog. After all, Mr Biya’s tribesmen (even journalists from the South Region especially those at Cameroon Tribune and CRTV) and their political accomplices from the Centre and the East have always formed a bulwark whenever Camerounians have shouted from the rooftop that the system is wrong. Members of Bibi Ngota’s home region are not only supporters but the systematically vote for; they defend their frère de président and the monstrous system he incarnates. These often parochial cum ego-centric folks have often confused the ardent desire to modernize and democratize Cameroon with the case of changing Mr. Biya for foibles more real than imagined.

The problem, dear excellent colleague, is about terminating a dictatorial, clientelist, gulag created by one man for the benefit of one patron and his clients. This is a system wherein so-called top civil servants invented by clientelist presidential decrees no longer perceive themselves as ordinary. They are now omnipotent yet the lack omniscience or basic wisdom. These persons now confuse respect for constituted authority with fear of constituted authority. In this system government is not defined as the provision of services but the display of power and authority. M’as tu vu? This is unfortunate.

Were I to use your own imagery, Mr. Ateba Eyene, I would have said that we are in a restaurant and the time has come to pay the bill. You are also now paying for what you consumed and knowing what other Cameroonians have known before. After savaging and murdering Cameroonians of other strains and ideals, the ‘revolution’ is now turning its own homicidal rage on its own supporters of yore with equally murderous vengeance.

But no! No, my dear excellent young colleague, Ateba Eyene! The furore within other Camerounians about the Germain Cyrille Ngota Ngota murder is not motivated by ethno- regional (hence tribal and trivial) considerations. In fact, Bibi Ngota’s origin is irrelevant. The fact about the matter is that like many others in the far–off and recent past, the murderous system in Cameroun has claimed yet another victim – one too many perhaps. That other journalists, members of the Beti Supremacists who hold sway in the government-controlled media (crtv and Cameroun tribune), have even voted with their feet and are keeping mum in the wake of the inane and cold blooded murder of one of theirs is not a deterrent. It will not deter us simply because tyranny anywhere is tyranny everywhere.

Point two. Like Mathias Owona Nguini, I also openly denounce Ateba Eyene’s sophistry and hypocrisy. This young man, who has tribal affinity to Mr. Biya’s home province and allegiance to Mr. Biya himself – an unmistakable supporter – systematically vomits the hackneyed ‘Biya has nothing to do with it’ ad infinitum ad nauseam. Per Atebe Eyene, everybody and everything else is wrong while Mr Biya is right. Rubbish ! Mr Biya is the problem…he created the contemptible system and he incarnates the system, he sustains the system and he defends the system. What was Mr. Biya’s take on the fact that his Secretary General was directly involved in the murder of a Camerounian? The president’s stand was that Bibi Ngota was not arrested for a press crime or delit the presse. In other words this young man was a common criminal, arrested, tried, sentenced and murdered for an ordinary crime like theft, forgery etc. Lord have mercy! Defending the system, right? Obstructing justice, right? Whereas on March 2, 2010, the local press reported that Mr. Biya had suspended Mr Esso’s signature on official documents. 

Who will receive the copy of the so-called Commission of Inquiry instituted by Mr. Biya to look into the murder of Ngota Ngota? Who will read its findings for his boss? Laurent Esso, the very one indicted by popular verdict for murder most vile. Mr Biya must think we are all fools! And, in every political system, Commissions of Inquiry were invented to sweep scandals under the carpet. Ask the Americans and the British.

Mr Ateba Eyene’s tendency to denounce all around Mr Biya while proclaiming that the president is a saint is illogical and suspect. This is the prototypal vintage Area Eyene – His Master’s Voice and a notorious two-timer.  At best, this is base native and tribal all over again. Mr. Biya is either the greatest thing that ever happened to Cameroun is he is the most unfortunate thing to have happened to Cameroun. Take your pick Mr. Ateba Eyene.

The Ngota Ngota Murder in Kinescope

Let’s survey the facts and the issues again.   

  • Mr Biya’s Secretary General, as Board Chairman of the National Hydrocarbons Corporation, SNH is involved in a dyadic network of Jacob Zuma style kickbacks and graft following the purchase of a luxury ‘Hotel-ship’ for SNH. Whatsoever SNH wanted a ‘hotel-ship’ for is irrelevant but since the taxpayers are paying for the stuff who cares.  Mr Biya himself attempted to siphon SNH money to a dubious Camair account (far away from the eyes of the World Bank+IMF) to wards the purchase of an airplane – the Albatross. That this other nebulous deal was mismanaged and Cameroun lost anything between circa 31 and 71 million dollars is neither here nor there. Atangana Mebara etc are sitting smug in jail over this other heist.
  • Word about this unorthodox transaction, plus a list of beneficiaries of the cuts and takes, was leaked to a collective of Yaounde publishers with Germain Cyrille Ngota Ngota among them. Serge Sabouang (La Nation) and Robert Mintsa (Le Devoir) also had the documents. Whosoever leaked this document is also immaterial. As Mr Biya’s reign ir-recoverably grinds towards the inevitable end, and as rumours of another cabinet shake-up looms, the crocodiles are eating the dogs. That too is understandable in all dictatorships.
  • Like any good journalist Ngota Ngota tabled a questionnaire to the omnipotent Secretary General in the presidency Laurent Esso, who is also Board Chairman of SNH. Crime de lese majeste! How dare a mere journalist question the Sec Gen in the presidency about anything let alone rackets and kickbacks! The Secretary General owes his allegiance and accountability to one man, you see. The one who appointed him, period! What Ngota Ngota forgot was that while the Sec. Gen may have no direct control over the police and the gendarmes, this man is a super magistrate (magistrate hors hierarchie) who has titular control over the DGRE…direction general de la recherché exterieur – the country’s counter terrorism+espionage outfit. In an obtuse case of abuse and misuse of power and authority, Laurent Esso caused the Directorate-General of External Intelligence (DGRE), to arrest Ngota Ngota, Harrys Robert Mintya of Le Devoir and Serge Sabouang of La Nation.
  • It has now filtered that Ngota Ngota did not even have the 100.000FCFA demanded by the source to acquire the indicted document!
  • During their February 5-12 detention at the DGRE, the journalists “were submitted to a number of barbarous acts of torture.’ And indicated by Cameroon’s Syndicate of Journalists. They were tied up and beaten nightly with metal bars, deprived of sleep and food and held naked in icy cells.
  • Ngota, a sickling (asthma+hypertension+hernia) was thus savaged tortured…not because of the authenticity of the document, but to state his source! By law, a journalist can only release his source in chambers before a judge. If this was a common law crime, like Mr. Biya says, why was this poor boy not arrested by the police or the gendarmes? Why the DGRE? Was Ngota a dangerous terrorist or a spy?
  • Having discovered his error of mis-using the DGRE to arrest and torture Ngota the first time, Laurent Esso now causes the Judicial police at Elig-Essono to re-arrest Ngota and prepare a case file against him based on statements and documents tortured out of Ngota.
  • Ngota Ngota’s wife, Mrs Colette Angèle Ngota told a local Radio station, TBC on the programme ‘’ Dans la ligne de mire’’ that she was one and a half months pregnant when the DGRE came for her husband. She says that she was punched in the stomach occasioning a miscarriage some days later. She says the she was bleeding profusely when the judicial police came to arrest her husband who was also on treatment.
  • Under duress, magistrates of the Mfoundi Court now expedite the trial of Ngota Ngota and the boy was despatched to the Yaoundé Kondengui gulag and thrown into a hellion unit called Kosovo.
  • Per Ngota’s wife, her husband was subjected to several tests before being thrown into jail by a certain Dr. Ndi. The HV test was among them. Ngota’s wife, who says she actually saw the medical record, says Ngota was positively diagnosed for hypertension and hernia but he was not HIV positive.
  • Issa Tchroma, Cameroon’s Minister of Communications; a man whose pronouncements border on the fringes of lunacy, a man who has a Taliban’s views to free speech, governance and government communications, a man who in his more mercurial moments is spokesman for the regime, says the DGRE intervened because by attacking the Secretary General in the presidency, the journalists wanted to bring down the government and the  state! Tchiroma says it was not Laurent Esso who was being questioned but a major institution of the state called the President’s General Secretariat – PGS!
  • In violation of every decency know to all cultures, especially the African culture of respect for the dead, no matter the circumstances, Tchiroma now goes public to say Ngota died of AIDS. Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. Mixing grapes and oranges. Let’s just reason with this revolting persona. What if Bibi Ngota was actually HIV positive .Was he arrested for being HIV positive? Was he tortured occasioning death for being HIV positive? Is Tchiroma now saying that government policy is to torture HIV infected persons to death? This is what the government of Cameroon now has as spokesman! Comical Ali!
  • After a brief release by the DGRE following which Ngota checked into the Yaounde Biyemassi Hospital for treatment Laurent Esso caused Ngota to be pulled off a sick bed on February 25. He was dragged to court and accused of forgery and using forged documents. Mr Esso’s accomplices and compradors in the magistracy unleashed expedite and thus jungle justice on the boy. He was despatched to Kondengui – speedily! I defy anyone to prove that Ngota actually forged these documents. Remember that the boy did not even have the 100.000FCFA needed to acquire the documents when they were leaked!
  • In Kondengui, Ngota was heaved into the section for common criminals amid the filth and the stench.
  • Ngota’s ailing (hypertensive) poor mother, Ngoulou née Edima Geogette, did bribe an official of the Kondengui prison (30.000FCFA) to get the boy move to better quarters. The official received the money but refused to move the boy.
  • Mrs Ngoulou Edima Geogette pleaded with the prison registrar for her son to be hospitalised. For fear of incurring the wrath of the man above, the registrar refused.
  • Mrs Edima managed to get 150.000FCFA for the boy to be hospitalised an operated upon. That failed and Ngota died April 22, 2010. This boy’s body would not even be given decent treatment after death. Issa Tchiroma, the Taliban, Minister of Communications told some lies, Tchiroma caused journalists to attend a fake autopsy, etc etc.
  • The press has just leaked a segment of a letter written by Bibi Ngota to Laurent Esso stating clearly that he never forged nor did he use the document… « (…) En toute franchise, je n’ai ni fabriqué, ni exploité le document, Je mets quiconque au défit de me prouver le contraire (…)»Mr Ngota wrote before his death. 
  • Consequent upon the death of Ngota Ngota, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the Cameroonian Syndicate of Journalists, the French Foreign Ministry, etc etc, roundly denounced the Biya regime….and note, Ateba Eyene, not Laurent Esso. If Mr Esso was such a liability why has he not been fired! Birds of a feather…
  • On April 25, 2010, the Committee to protect journalists sent this missive to Mr Biya. Your Excellency, we hold the government of Cameroon responsible for the well-being of the three newspaper editors currently held in state detention facilities, namely Mintya, Sabouang and Lewis Medjo of the defunct weekly La Détente Libre. Imprisoned since September 2008 at New Bell prison in the commercial city of Douala, Medjo’s health has deteriorated while in custody. He lost hearing in his right ear as a result of a severe ear infection while serving a three-year sentence over his coverage of a presidential decree, his brother Michée Medjo Gatheu told CPJ.

But this is my grouse with Ateba Eyene. The Camerounian problem is not a quarrel with individuals. It is a quarrel over political systems, their structures and functions. Any undemocratic, clientelist, dictatorial system with entrenched patron-client structures, networks and one based on the personalization of power, one man rule, etc., would show all the tractions, transgressions and contradictions that led to the death of Ngota Ngota.  

See the system (1) A Biya decree invented the-full-of-it Laurent Esso, an ordinary man and a dubious magistrate. Because of that decree Mr Esso now sees himself as omnipotent. He Who Not Only Cannot Be Questioned By The Press But He Who Must Be Obeyed. (2) To add insult to injury, Mr Biya made Esso Board Chairman of SNH…when all the country’s money or most of it emanates (3) the Sec Gen controls the DGRE (4) public contracts within this system are never transparent; the SNH is runned like a Ngumbah house one in with zero transparency (5) the courts and magistrates are avenues for clientelist networks and the magistrates can be influenced by the executive. The magistrates not only recognise know their own and one of there is Sec Gen in the presidency and this position is the president’s ears. This Sec Gen holds the key to upward mobility in the profession (6) these journalists were kidnapped and tortured and these practise remain a given in Cameroon especially for those suspected of attacking politicians (7) Cameroun’s magistrates still use evidence obtained via torture as evidence (8) Cameroon’s prisons are hell on earth. (9) the system operates on fear from above hence the prison authorities are zombies (10) the system does not have a Freedom of Information Act or an Official Secrets (11) Every idiot created by decree is accountable to none save the president. (12) Only the system would do itself the kind of disservice of appointing an Issa Tchiroma into government as spokesman. (13) etc. etc.

All of that as Mr Biya presides. Ateba Eyene’s suggestion for journalists to jump-start a massive inquiry into the management of their petroleum and its spill-overs is a non-starter. Without revisiting the inane pronouncement of a Biyarite, the late Jean Assoumou Avebe, that petroleum matters are too sophisticated for the common man to understand, democratic systems with even a modicum of transparency operate under the FREEDOM of Information Acts and Charters. Such systems volunteer information to the press and by inference the public. In such systems, journalists are not killed because the send interview protocols to the president’s secretariat. What makes Ateba Eyene think that as a matter of causality – the same causes producing the same effects – and given the stakes, another journalist would not be killed for proceeding with this kind of investigation?

One thing is clear. Camerounians of every creed, tribe and colour wish for their country to become a modern, democratic, transparent country, with checks and balances, free and unfettered press, etc. Mr Biya and his regime have neither the will, nor the savvy or even the ability to change their ways, their system and reach for these ideals. In fact, Mr Biya and his regime are in the way of a modern Cameroun. At best, Mr Biya owes Camerounians one favour – clean the Augean stable he created before he leaves – a Herculean and exalting and interesting task.

Consequently, Mr Ateba Eyene, dear young and excellent colleague, you cannot eat your cake and have it. We cannot have any more deaths. So, between changing the system and/or the incarnator, the choice is not Hobsonian. The choice is clear.

 

Of Gramophones and the Talibanization of Government Communication. By Ntemfac Ofege.

Basic. The prime duty of government is to provide services. Whenever government fails to provide services, the citizenry resorts to all manner of ways including criticisms on radio and in newspapers, uprisings and coup d’états to abrogated predatory and failed governments.

Basic. The gramophone. Described as a willful artifact capable of producing sound of often dubious quality. A trademark of the gramophone: His Master’s voice. Whenever the pin of the gramophone got stuck, the instrument produced plenty of sound and fury, signifying nothing. The production of plenty of sound and fury is called noise. Cameroon’s current Minister of Communications, the esteemed Issa Tchiroma Bakary sounds like the final gramophone.

Basic. Talibanization should be defined as this extreme state wherein those who rule make believe that their point of view is the absolute. Talibans prescribe death to refuseniks who do not subscribe to their skewed rhetoric. Under the pretext that such deviants are perturbing public order. Off with their heads. Death to radio stations, for example.

Cameroun came very close to being a Taliban state when Ahmadou Ahidjo lorded it in these parts. Issa Babary Tchiroma, Cameroon’s new Minister of Communications is a pure product of the Ahmadou Ahidjo School of dictatorship, high-handedness and vile tyranny. Since he became Communications minister some months ago, Issa Bakary Tchiroma’s pronouncements lead many to dread the return of Ahmadou Ahidjo and the talibanization of communications in Cameroon. Proof, of that? The man has just shut down Sky One radio.

One of the conditionalities for creating a private radio and tv station in Cameroon is that ALL programmes of the radio and tv must be approved by the Ministry of Communications. Did the Ministry approve or did it fail to approve the Sky one programme, Le Tribunal? Who failed to provide vital services and who is today blaming the victims?

Accusing Sky one of not respecting professional norms and of defaming some Cameroonians is disingenuous – giving a dog a bad name. This is lynching. This is abuse of power. The Minister is not qualified to adjudicate on journalism. His Chief of Judicial Affairs is not qualified to adjudge on defamation. Only the courts can rule on defamation.

In pure democratic tradition, the Union of Journalists, UJC should have been consulted before the extreme closure of Sky one.  What if for the sake of solidarity all radio stations in Cameroon create programmes similar to Le Tribune du Peuple?

I have explored the format of the Sky one programme. This is another case of the people versus government. Had the Sky one journalists gone into investigating and interpreting the facts as brought to them by the public, the programme would have had more teeth. What is so wrong with having a Judge Judy format on radio?

Last June, a catholic cum French outfit published a document stating that Mr. Paul Biya may have swiped some 46 billion FCFA from the commonwealth.  Ever the Machiavellian, Mr. Biya moved fast to shuffle his cabinet, distract attention from the publication and make people like Issa Bakary Tchiroma minister.

Now Issa Tchiroma can be described as a political prostitute. He was UNDP yesterday, He was ANDP, then he was SDF (Sans Domicile Fixe) and today he is the spokesman of the CPDM government! This minister hails from a culture not only associated with talibanism but also associated with griotism. That is why the man makes the perfect town-crier for Mr. Biya. It is Mr. Tchiroma’s legitimate right to go on all fours behind Mr. Biya, but it is also the right of Cameroonians to refuse that route. Only a Taliban would think differently.

Even time he has operated his routine electoral coup and has been sworn in as president, Mr. Biya has sworn to uphold the constitution. Article 66 of that constitution says, some public officials must declare their assets. Cameroon’s existing law on stealing public money prescribes LIFE JAIL for anyone who so much as swipe, misappropriate, or sidetrack only 500.000FCFA. Name one public official, from the District officer to the president, who has not distraire 500.000FCFA? Dixit Lapiro, they all belong to Kondengui, you see.

Had Mr. Biya declared his assets, we might not have reached the current wahala wherein political touts are parading up and down the country bleating Motions of Support like lost sheep. What has the president to say for himself? Did he take out 3.2 billion from the now dead SCB bank to build himself a country house with an attendant golf course? Did he dole out taxpayers money in the millions to his favourite Rose Croix sect? Did he, etc, etc? Sue CCFD, if you can!

One of Mr. Tchiroma’s dirges has been for Cameroonians to forget all these stolen funds and focus on creating wealth (la creation des richesses) so that itchy fingers can continue stealing.  This is ludicrous!

Government’s newest gramophone says that the solution to the kyrie of problems faced by the private media in Cameroon is to provide more government subsidies. This is truly asinine. Government subsidies are never timely nor enough. Moreover such bribes violate the SIGMA DELTA CHI Code of Journalism ethics as prescribed by UNESCO. And this money goes into the deep pockets of the owners while workers suffer. The private press in Cameroon has just reached a collective bargaining agreement with government.  To help the private press, government should respect its own engagements in the Convention Collective.

Government should also respect the treaty it signed with UNESCO as remove all taxes on media raw materials. And, government should begin respecting its own Law by handing out their due share of the AUDIO-VISUAL tax to private radio and television stations. The AUDIO-VISUAL tax was never intended for CRTV alone. Existing and future private radio and television stations ought to sue government.  And, ministers (Biyiti and Tchiroma) should desist from scaring away investors in the media with their misuse of a dubious concept called public order.

Mr. Issa Tchiroma hails from the North of Cameroon. He passes around for an eminence grise of the northern barons. Mr. Tchiroma’s action creates acute wariness of the return of the Northern merchants. Cameroonians can live with a gramophone in the Ministry of Communications, but surely not a Taliban.  Or is it a neo-Taliban?