Commentary: Towards A Stable NW, SW & Far North; Biya’s Bold Appraisal

               President Paul Biya Of Cameroon

Gains  made in  stabilizing  troubled regions in Cameroon especially the North West and South West Regions in the last five years have  been assessed from different perspectives. But today, it is becoming increasingly clear to everyone that the  government  President Paul Biya  put in place  since  January 2019, has  been writing its  name in gold  colours in the sands of time.

 While  many have been looking at recovery  efforts made in the North West, South West and Far North Regions  differently, the most informed  Cameroonian, President Paul  Biya, has  given  a positive outlook  of  the road  covered. This was one of the major  points in  his message to the Nation on December 31, 2023.

 President Paul  Biya was frank in situating that, the mark improvement in the social climate in the  English-speaking regions and the  Far North  Region were  the Boko Haram  terrorist sect had tried to ruin life is the product of a symbiosis between the  army and its  populace.

 The benefits of this now increasingly inviting climate  have transcended  different  aspects of  the socio-cultural and politico-economic fabric  of these   regions with a mark   improvement on the resilience of the general economy. For analysts, that Biya’s frank appraisal of December 31, 2023 has its weight and meaning in different fronts.

 In the North West and  South West  regions, they are now saying the meaning  calls  for  optimal   hope to complete  gains already made in different  sectors  through the  Presidential Plan for the  Reconstruction and  Development of the North West and  South West Regions, PPRD-NW/SW among others.

Road Works Boosting Local Development

 Added to the fresh  push to empower  local  communities through a new  decentralisation deal that was birthed at the  Major National  Dialogue, MND, many now say, it is  becoming evidently clear that, the fruits of the  historic   gathering of the country’s who is who  will  more than double in the coming months.

To show his appreciation of how things have  improved on the ground,  President  Biya mentioned works  ongoing on the Kumba-Ekondo Titi and Babadjou-Bamenda roads. He was emphatic that such, “will be continued at a satisfactory pace”. There is also the long awaited Bamenda  Ring Road that has started  off in the  Donga  Mantung  Division.  These and more ground works such as the rehabilitation of several community roads already sends a message of the North West and South West Regions fast regaining their buoyancy.  Rehabilitation works have also accelerated on the  Wum-Bamenda road.

Biya Singles,  Hails Population’s Active  Collaboration

The common denominator in the benefits being witnessed on ground according to President Biya, is thanks to the   resilience of the population to collaborate with security forces.  The Head of  Sate  remarked that: “Thanks to the people’s active cooperation with our defence and security forces, the situation in the North West, South West and Far North Regions has improved significantly”.

Given that a peaceful  atmosphere attracts and paves the way for development, the President said: “It is now possible to calmly implement the reconstruction and development plans for the said regions,” but as frank as he was, he added that pockets of “atrocities committed by terrorists have not completely disappeared. Unfortunately, civilians are the main victims”.

While condemning such acts of barbarism, the father of the nation encouraged, “fellow citizens in the regions affected by terrorism to continue to cooperate with the defence and security forces, whose courage and professionalism I salute”.

Reconstruction Gaining Steam

True to  President Paul Biya’s  assessment, reconstruction  projects for the  North West, South West and Far North  Regions have remained on course. In the North West and South West Regions  wherein saboteurs have failed, more and more  partners  have  joined the likes  of Japan,  APPECAM, Boissons du Cameroun among  others to  step up  financing for  the PPRD-NW/SW whose  significant fruits are  visible across  communities.

On December  18, 2023, the Prime Minister,  Head  of  Government, Chief  Dr  Joseph Dion Ngute with the approval  of the President of the Republic, Paul Biya launched the support project  for the Islamic  Development  Bank, IsDB’s 21 billion FCFA offer to enhance  recovery in the  North West and  South West Regions.

The IsDB and the likes of the government of Japan that as  given not less than 2 billion FCFA to support the project are leading  examples that  have  supported  government in realising social revival and the rehabilitation  of basic  social  infrastructures across  communities in the  North West and  South West  Regions. 

 The  package  from the  Islamic  Development  Bank has been divided into two: phase  one is 13:113 percent was  mostly  used in 2023 while  phase  II which is over 4:018 billion FCFA will be disbursed for 2024. Another 4:018 billion FCFA has been programmed for 2025 to further consolidate peace efforts. 

 Being a major  offshoot  of the Major National  Dialogue, MND, Chaired by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute under the esteemed instructions of the President of the Republic, Paul Biya;  government has through  the PPRD-NW/SW  constructed or rehabilitated 60 schools, Setting up of Farmer/Grazier dialogue platform, 16 health facilities, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of 54 solar powered water points; 120 Youth Start Ups, rehabilitation of 12 markets, Support to poultry farmers, rehabilitation and construction of four roads/bridges, construction of 20 Greenhouses and  the re-establishment  of close to 1000 lost  documents.

At the current  pace with the renewed  support and commitment from the implementing partner, the United  Nations Development  Program, UNDP, many now have  said and  outstandingly so that  President Paul Biya was talking as he took the country into  New  Year from an informed position.

Close To 4000 Fighters Renounce Terrorism, Join DDR Centres

At the  level  of the  Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration , DDR, option, another fruit of the Major  National Dialogue,  Paul Biya’s positive  reading also thanks to the close to 4000  Cameroonian  youngsters who  had been misled into  picking up arms against the  State, renouncing terrorism. 

 They have since June 2018 when the  centres were set up in Mora in the  Far North, Buea in the  South West and  Bamenda in the North West Region, been trooping in to get  trained an reintegrated into society. This perhaps also justifies the sharp   gains in terms of the social climate across these communities.

 Most of those who use to create terror in these communities are no longer there while the pockets of resistances have highly diminished.  Even at this, Paul Biya has five years since this option, reiterated the need for those carrying guns to drop them.

On  December 31, 2023, President Paul Biya was clear that: “ I reiterate my appeal to armed groups to lay down their arms and join Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Centres”, declaring his pleasure in the process that: “I am pleased to note that an increasing number of these combatants have responded to this call in recent weeks”.

Frankly, he said: “For those who persist in criminal activity, be it terrorism or organized crime, the fate that awaits them is not an enviable one. They must know that our firm determination to ensure the security of our fellow citizens will never falter”.

Hardliners Embracing Biya’s peace appeal

In addition to the many things President Paul  Biya has been credited for in the North West and South West Region, is the  tenacity  he has shown in  enhancing  peace with all on board. Today, many of those who were hardliners in the separatist agenda have changed position and are more and more seeing reason with the new offers from the Head of  State.

A few days ago, it was  Amba  ringleader, Ngong  Emmanuel Ngong popularly  known as Capo  Daniel who came out exposing the failures thievery of the separatist movement.  Capo Daniel was also very clear like President Paul Biya and many nationalists have said that, nobody can split Cameroon. The Likes of Eric Tataw, Mark Barata, Tapang Ivo and their peers have piped down or completely understood that violence is one way to achieving nothing. They are come to reason and now go about their activities abroad as it was the case before the crisis. Before the Major National Dialogue, the rate of violence was alarming. But thereafter it dropped. This, thanks to rebuild confidence between the population and the military. 

It was even more interesting that, despite   calls for ghost towns to frustrate the festive season, the population in the North West and South West Regions came out in their thousands to celebrate throughout the festive period.

 This momentum has build on the actions of the President of the Republic in the last few years that  have resulted in the general improvement of the social climate. More and more persons have returned to their communities while social events such as cultural festivals and inter-quarter competitions have gained grounds across the two regions.

On education, more than half of all the schools grounded before the Major National Dialogue held have resumed. The people have realized the place education occupies in the development and transformation of the human race. Efforts towards promoting effective schooling have multiplied over the years with government, elite and NGOs offering didactic materials to learners to facilitate the stress-free return to school.

Also to the credit of the President’s directives, more persons have returned to their communities and life is becoming livable again in these once separatist-invaded communities.

Today, a look back at how far President Paul Biya has gone in ensuring peace returns to the North West and South West Regions shows a plethora  of attractive actions. The record shows  in addition to the momentum in rebuilding the two regions revival in community life; adjustments at  the National  School  of Administration and Magistracy, ENAM in favour of Anglophones; Special Status for the North West and  South West  Regions; special  orders for increased transfer of resources to local councils; continuous  assistance to Internally  Displaced Persons, IDPs; improvement in the  bilingualism  experience of  Cameroon; creation of the House of  Chiefs;  the  coming of the  Regional  Assemblies; setting up of the Office of Public  Independent Conciliator, PIC, for the North West  and South West among others.

Conclusively, achieving  success in a reconstruction project  many had written off and the general outcome  of his  actions, many have stated that, President  Paul Biya is not only a father to  Cameroonians but a national  hero in managing  challenging situations.

By, Cham Victor

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