“I am a chief apostle of a two state federation. I still believe in a federation, I will always believe in a federation,” the human rights lawyer said Wednesday, May 15, 2019 as Prime Minister Dion Ngute entered day two of his five-day peace mission to the South West.
The former President of the Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA), who was among those who held talks with government in 2016 and January 2017 to rescue Common Law practice in a bi-jural Cameroon, said as an unrepentant federalist, he has never been a fan of separation, though he respects the choices of those who see separation as the ultimate.
Hear him: “I am not a fan of separation. I respect those who are clamouring for separation, but I am not a separatist. I will always maintain my two state federation stand.”
The Founder/President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) says though two-state federalism has always been his goal, he will not hesitate shifting position in the interest of peace and the suffering masses.
His words: “But in a negotiation or dialogue, you have to go there with an open mind and try to see what you can concede and what the other parties can concede also. If all of us stand in our various extremes, then we will never have peace. And there is need for peace.
“The interest in this country now, the interests of the people of Southern Cameroons is the suffering masses. They are the people who are suffering. It is not those who are clamouring for federation or separation. No! The average mother who’s lost all her source of livelihood, those who are in jail, those who have lost family members are those hardest hit.
“We need peace. So, it is not about this showmanship which is being done on social media. It is the people who are affected and like somebody who is on the ground, who visits some of these people, who gets complaints from these people always, you understand their pain and their cry. And I think that each and every one who is complaining wants to have an end to this crisis.”
Agbor Balla, the diehard federalist, was arrested on January 17, 2017 along with Consortium scribe Dr. Fontem Neba moments after the CACSC they led was banned by Cameroon’s Territorial Administration Minister at the time, Rene Emmanuel Sadi.
He was held in detention until September 1, 2017 when he was freed along with some detainees arrested in connection to what has become known as the Anglophone crisis. During his stay in jail, he was charged under the 2014 law on the suppression of acts of terrorism and appeared before the military tribunal facing the maximum sentence.
Today, Prime Minister Dion Ngute says his master, President Paul Biya, is now ready to organise an all-inclusive dialogue as the three-year-old crisis digs in.
What started as unionist demands and popular outcry over marginalisation of Anglophones in a French-dominant country has since 2016 morphed into an armed conflict. While many seek a return to the 1961 federal constitution, others now stand for varied forms of federalism.
Conservatives have stayed glued to a decentralised unitary state even as a third group now wants independence for present day Cameroon’s North West and South West regions. This new state they have taken up arms to “liberate” has been christened Ambazonia.
Cameroon’s Prime Minister Dion Ngute on behalf of his master, Paul Biya says all other things will be discussed except separation. To those who want separation or nothing else, Agbor Balla calls on them to make concessions and give peace a chance.
“I urge those who have taken up arms to reconsider their position because if we need to dialogue, it will be give and take. We cannot be fixed on our particular positions and want things to change. All of us should be ready to ensure that at least we give in something so that peace can reign in the country.”