In the presence of members of government and in what was supposed to be a question and answer session, Senator Nfon Victor Esemingsongo Mukete, eldest member of Cameroon’s senate went out of himself, mounted the rostrum and held the house spellbound with an emotional outburst.
The Paramount Ruler of the Bafaws said the pain is too much for the people of the North West and South West Regions, wondering why the authorities in Yaoundé have decided to be indifferent.
In a move that shocked many, Nfon Mukete insisted that only a return to federation can restore normalcy in the restive Anglophone regions.
“The system has failed, federation is the only way. Ten states federation so each region can manage its affairs. Why are people afraid of federation? I am not talking like this because the country should be divided. No! I fought very hard for the reunification of Former Southern Cameroons and Former La Republique du Cameroun. And I can never destroy it. But the country should be federated. Look at America, South Africa, Switzerland, Nigeria, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Russia and Rwanda,” Senator Nfon Mukete is quoted as saying.
He is said to have hit his walking stick on the assembly floor saying:
“What is all these nonsense? My people are dying; they are suffering and we are playing games here in Yaoundé. We should be careful. I don’t care. Go and tell anybody. Go and tell Paul [Biya]. Quote me anywhere.”
Senate sources say even the sound of a falling pin could be heard as many watched the eldest lawmaker in bewilderment.
Enter Senator Kemende Henry Gamsey, Esq.
After the Friday night drama at the Senate, we got to Barrister Kemende Henry Gamsey who was all happy with Senator Nfon VE Mukete’s outing. He goes on to expound on some of the issues the eldest senator raised.
“When you discover that you are left alone and that no other person can speak with a better conviction, even if you are about to die, you will utter the last words. Nfon Mukete like his peers of the yesteryears – John Ngu Foncha, ST Muna, Jua – is also leaving the scene very unhappy with what is happening.
“He was like saying his last words. It was like a dying declaration. It was like making his last declaration that ‘okay, if I will be ignored also, then I leave the country so you can do whatever you want to do with it. I am not responsible’.
“He was like saying his last words as far as the conduct of the affairs of the union between the Former Southern Cameroons and Former La Republique du Cameroun is concerned.
“He said this is not what we mean when we talk about local governance. ‘It is not what you are doing, putting everything under the control of the governors and SDOs and DOs. This is not what we intended. If you people are continuing in this light, I am not there with you’. He was so disappointed and I am happy that it came from him – the last of the patriarchs.
“Nfon Mukete is a founding father of this reunified Cameroon. He is leaving the scene very dissatisfied because he expected so much from this law on regional councils. He thought with what is happening, this would have been a good opportunity for us to have effective devolution of power, so that people in every region can manage their affairs in the interest of the local population. But what do we have? We have a makeshift type of local governance – one that is very much tied to the administration and the Centre which is Yaounde. Contracts will still be coming from Yaoundé. Only limited powers are being given to the regional councils.
“What they call regional council is a duplication of the local councils. It is still under the regional governors. It is like giving the governor his own council, after giving that of Senior Divisional Officers (SDOs) and Divisional Officers (DOs). Since the SDOs are managing the City Councils and Local Councils with the aide of the DOs, they have decided to create Regional Councils so that governors can have theirs. The Governors and the Minister within their sphere of competence will supervise the Regional Councils.
“Nfon Mukete mounted the rostrum with the intention of asking a question, but he ended up addressing the house. He was expressing his disgust over what has turned out to be regional councils.
“Why can’t we operate like in America? He said the population of some regions in this country is more than that of some existing states.
“He said each region is endowed with a lot of resources; that we cannot be pretending to say that some regions are poor. There is no region that is poor in this country, that hasn’t got resources that can be exploited to run the local councils. He said each region can manage her affairs in a way that can be sustainable.
“Why can’t the regions have the powers to manage their affairs, to have equipment and construct their roads? This tells you that the crisis rocking the former Southern Cameroons is not a respecter of persons.”
Barrister Kemende who is at the Senate on the ticket of the opposition Social Democratic Front, SDF went on to restate the position of his party. He regrets that the government is sticking to decentralization on grounds that the constitution presents Cameroon as “a decentralized unitary state” that shall so remain.
“The SDF believes that this entire decentralization struggle is a piecemeal solution to a problem that we know. They are solutions guided by personal interest and greed. It is a show of power drunkenness. People who have enjoyed power for ages don’t want to let it go. They think that to be in power means controlling everything in the country. The SDF position remains the same. We want federation. We want a substantial devolution of powers, not decentralization.
“Senator Nfon Mukete’s position has rekindled the spirit of challenging the statusquo. It has given some of us the courage to speak out. Nfon Mukete has done it as a father, as one of the founders of this nation. He has actually proven to us that we have not been mistaken when we stood up against what is happening.
“Every region is capable of being a state and be allowed to manage its own educational system, judicial system and much more. The central authority should only have limited powers.”