By Tikum Mbah Azonga
This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 19th of June 2003. This article was an impromptu reaction to the issue of governance in Cameroon. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.
The idea of conceiving and putting in place a National Governance Programme is in itself praiseworthy because if well organized and implemented, it could bring about far reaching changes in the way things are done in Cameroon.
The programme is intended to create an environment propitious for nation building, which implies an intensification of the fight against poverty and corruption, to name a few. Through good governance, capacity building of the civil society can be greatly enhanced, depending of course on the good will of those charged with implementation and those who fall in the category of public service users. Through good governance, fruitful and long-lasting partnerships can also be forged. On that point, the government of Cameroon has taken a step worth highlighting. It is that of setting up a mechanism by which economic measures are reinforced through the periodical meeting of the ad hoc inter-ministerial committee which has been wisely extended to include partners from the private sector. This second body is presided over by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, just as he presides over the National Governance Programme.
Interestingly, the programme`s priority areas are clearly defined. These include an improvement in the justice system, computerization of the electoral process, streamlining of administrative procedures, and moralization of the public service, as well as the institutionalization of public accountability. So far, some progress has been made in terms of sanitizing the business environment and making it attractive to investors. Measures have also been taken to reinforce capacity building of the civil society, computerization of the legal jurisdictions of the OHADA law with accompanying translations and publications in English, support for the Cameroon Female Jurors` Group, as well as the installation of some community radios in all of the country’s ten regions.
Obviously, the ideas are good. However, for them to work, a lot of work has to be done by both those implementing the measures and those using the services provided. Government must be seen seriously tackling corruption which has gripped the civil service to a very high degree. Civil service users must also be prepared to join the anti-corruption group and refuse to give bribes. They should all remember the saying: “If you are asked for bribe, don’t give; if you are given bribe, don’t` take.” Similarly, public contractors for example, must not be allowed to get away with poorly done jobs and policemen must desist from extorting money from public transport drivers. The Cameroonian worker must learn to be punctual for work and keep working until closing time. Use of public property such as telephones, furniture and vehicles must be stringently controlled.
Can we do it? The answer is, of course, “Yes”, for there are no two ways if we really aspire to lifting our country to heights that will make us all proud. Although the objective may look daunting , we must remember that the longest journey begins with the first step.