13 September 2007

Cameroon: Despite Cabinet Reshuffle Northerners Still Gun for Inoni's Job


Northern elite and pressure groups have reportedly dismissed last Friday's cabinet shake-up as a farce in which President Biya largely ignored the grievances of the people of the three Northern provinces as stated in a recent memorandum.

One of the signatories of the memo that urged President Biya to appoint a northerner to the coveted post of Prime Minister told The Post yesterday under anonymity that they simply scorned the recent cabinet shake-up as nonsense. He swore that the signatories of the Grand North memorandum will not go to sleep until president Biya appoints one of them Prime Minister.

Despite the fact that Chief Ephraim Inoni was maintained as Prime Minister, observers hold that the Grand North lobby remains a threat to his job. This observation seem to hold sway given the unwritten geopolitical arrangement in Cameroon that indicates that if the post of Prime Minister is given to a Francophone, that of speaker of the National Assembly is automatically given to an Anglophone.

In this perspective, the new dimension of threats the writers of the Grand North memo are posing after the recent cabinet shake-up is reportedly raising anxious moments with Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril who was re-elected National Assembly Speaker last week to the utter disenchantment of his political enemies in the Grand North.

A well placed government source told The Post that the September cabinet reshuffle is only a prelude to stormy shake-up that is expected to take place sometime in March 2008 after a new bureau of the National Assembly would have been elected. He claims that this time around, the President will hearken to the Grand North memo by appointing a northerner to the post of Prime Minister while an Anglophone would be made speaker of the National Assembly.

The present Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, who is a no nonsense northerner has been tipped as the suitable candidate for he post of Prime Minister. The name of Hon. Rose Abunaw Makia has continued to feature whenever talks of handing over the post of the speaker of the National Assembly to an Anglophone swells.

The MP, who hails from Manyu in the Southwest Province, is in parliament for the third term. She was first elected MP for Manyu under the banner of the National Union for Democracy and Progress, NUDP, in 1992. She later resigned and crossed the carpet to the CPDM party and was elected into parliament in 2002.

Following last Friday's cabinet shake-up in which the newly elected MP for Donga Mantung Hon. Fuh Calistus Gentry was appointed Secretary of State for Industries, Mines and Technological Developments, his alternate, Joseph Ntoi is expected to walk into his shoes in parliament. Given that Hon. Ntoi has been in parliament twice, there is also talk that he could be groomed to take the post of Speaker if president Biya bows to the pressure of the northerners.

Despite this scenario, our sources say President Biya is quite unpredictable and could either decide to change or maintain the statusquo at his whims and caprices even if circumstances indicate that he should act otherwise.

Why Some Ministers Were Sacked

Given President Biya's unpredictable nature, it is difficult to say with precision why he sacked some of the Ministers. However, some political observers have advanced several reasons as follows:

Jean Marie Atangana Mebara

A leading proponent for the power change in Cameroon under the umbrella of the G11, Mebara was mentioned in high quarters for working underground to replace Biya as Head of State. The grapevine has it that he fell out with Biya last year while serving as Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic and as a result of the rift, it is alleged that his signature was suspended by the Head of State.

Made Minister of External Relations since September last year, no significant advances in Cameroon's diplomacy were recorded. His infamous communiqué rebuking the observations made by some Western Diplomatic missions with regards to the irregularities that marred the last July 22nd polls was the last stroke that guaranteed his sacking.

Biya who desperately needs a clean image in the eyes of the international community was embarrassed with Mebara's reactions towards these nations that play a very vital role in the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank that are major funding agencies for Cameroon.

Ebenezer Njoh Mouelle

As former Minister of Communication, Prof. Ebenezer Mouelle was considered one of the chroniclers of the sardonic communiqué against the Western Diplomatic Missions. It is suspected that he used his powers to cause the state owned media, CRTV, to broadcast the communiqué several times, reason why a professional has been brought in to replace him. He had to go for acting in complicity with Mebara.

The philosopher who became Minister of communication on September 22, 2006, will, however, be remembered for issuing the first ever four licences to private audio-visual houses in the country.

Ferdinad Leopold Oyono

As an Octogenarian, and coupled with declining health situation, his sacking from government was expected. The poor health had for a greater part of last year, kept him out of office for long. His ailing health was behind the indefinite postponement of the National Festival of Arts and Culture that was programmed for December 2006 in Maroua where structure set up for the festival are currently in ruins.

Trouble surrounding the management of copy rights companies during his tenure as Culture Minister was also a bad omen. He was accused especially by artists for being unable to put up a national policy for the promotion of culture. However, there were allegations that he requested Biya to keep him out of the September 7 government due to declining health.

Polycarpe Abah Abah

Even though Cameroon attained the Completion Point of the HIPC-I under his reign, his sacking is said to have been prompted by recommendations from the Bretton Wood Institutions. The rumour mill of detractors in Yaounde say members of the Britton Woods delegation, whom Abah Abah invited to his home for a meal, were scandalised by the enormous wealth he has amassed.

The harsh taxation policies under his tenure, has equally led to adverse contribution to the closure some gigantic companies in the country. For example, companies like FOKOU and British American Tobacco, BAT, have relocated in Gabon and Nigeria respectively because of high taxes. Negative repercussions on the economy arising from the taxation policy including his inability to check the galloping inflation cannot be waved aside.

The litany of court cases across the country against some newspapers who published that he had an unjustifiable bulging bank account was ill advised. Western diplomatic missions that are pushing the head of state to fight against embezzlement and corruption considered such a move as an attempt to muzzle the press from playing it watchdog role, reportedly recommended his sacking.

Urbain Olanguena Awono

The regular strike actions of late by medical personnel especially the nurses as well as institutionalised bribery and corruption in public hospitals exposed his inability to handle with tact issues dealing with governance.

Reports of embezzlement and mismanagement of funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria from the Global Fund played against his continuous stay in government. The Director of the Fund who visited Cameroon this year was shocked with the poor and discriminatory manner in which campaigns against the diseases were conducted. It was observed that almost everything was concentrated in the Centre Province.

Dakole Daissala

With no single seat in parliament, the President of MDR had in a press conference after the July 22 elections, declared that he was still available and ready to serve Cameroonians as Minister. With MDR absent from parliament, Biya deemed Dakolé as being politically baseless and decided to kick him out of the presidential majority league.

The crash of the Boeing 737 of the Kenyan Airways Company at the outskirts of Douala and Dakolé lukewarm attitude contributed a great deal to his sacking. He demonstrated gross inertia especially as the Kenyan Transport Minister arrived at Mbanga Pongo, scene of the plane crash, when Cameroon's Transport Minister was no where to be found.

That was a mark of incompetence and unconsciousness to work, which Biya could not tolerate in a slippery Ministry as that of Transport. His failure to track down officials trading in fake driving licences equally contributed to Dakolé's sacking.

Augustin Frederic Kodock

Kodock's battling with age and staying in government was considered incompatible by Biya. Despite the decreed re-runs in the Nyong and Kelle constituency for legislative elections, Kodock's political base had narrowed and considered insignificant to be part of the presidential majority. Allegations of massive embezzlement of HIPC-I funds when he was Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture also played against him.

Louis Marie Abogo Nkono

Former Minister of State Property and Land Tenure, was shown the door because he failed to ensure a massive and rapid delivery of land titles to Cameroonians. The government was banking to derive revenue in the form of taxes from such land titles but unfortunately, Louis Marie Abogo Nkono could not deliver.

Apart from a cosmetic visit to mining sites in the East Province, Charles Sale, former Minister of Industries, Mines and Technological Development had nothing to write home about.

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