By Tikum Mbah Azonga
There have recently been repeated calls on FACEBOOK for Paul Biya to go. Someone even wondered whether his armed forces could treat him the way Ivorian Laurent Gbagbo`s armed Forces treated him. Below is my reaction, strengthened by my experience in the many African countries I have been to.
My answer to that question is: No, Biya is unlikely to be treated by the Cameroonian military the way the Ivorian military treated Gbagbo. The Ivorian president was not in control of his military; Biya is in control of his; Gbagbo did not have a good synergy with his military, whereas Biya enjoys one with his. Besides, the armed forces of Cameroon are well treated and respected, compared with those in a good number of African countries. And in any case, Cote d`Ivoire`s first president never really gave his armed forces the importance Ahmadou Ahidjo gave his own here in Cameroon. Perhaps it was because Ahidjo`s action was guided by the guerilla war of the time. But Houphouet was definitely not interested in building up a strong army. Comparatively, in the Cameroonian armed Forces, hierarchy is respected and cohabitation of the disparate and heterogeneous elements has been more or less harmonized. Biya has a mastery of his country in terms of knowing what is going on at all times in his country. Gbagbo was very much a stranger in his won country and even considered Ouattara who had once served in government as a foreigner. Again, comparatively, Cameroon has enough to eat within the country. The problem may be with getting it into every needy mouth. But within the country, there are supplies. Cameroonians have also always had their beer whenever they needed it, even in the thick of the economic crisis. Such conditions are not common in many African countries.
The talk that “Biya must go” does not stem from any solid foundation. It is only an expression of emotions and wishful thinking. It`s mere rhetoric. It`s talk.. Proponents of that thesis must ask themselves the tough questions and find answers for them: How will he go? When will he go? Who will make him go? Why should he go? Only because he has been there for too long? What does the constitution say? 0r does the constitution not matter? The best mind set to have here is that of the football coach whose team is losing. He needs to maintain a level and objective head and plan a strategy for reversal. It is not shouting slogans, chest thumping and saber rattling that scores goals. Another point to be made is that it is not even because someone expresses angrily his wishes for Biya to go that it will not happen. Anger will not solve the problem. Again, the analogy of the embattled and embittered and beleaguered coach would fit in here. What has happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, etc, is not necessarily a pointer to what may happen in Cameroon. That is my view.