While tongues wag on the supposed militarisation of the South West Region, field realities show that the target remains guaranteeing safety.
As the supposed militarisation or not of the South West Region continues to animate household talk and media reports within and without the country, realities on the field show everything but the contrary.
Proponents of the militarisation say there is heavy presence of security forces in the region, like the other English-speaking areas, which to them frightens people and leaves disturbing consequences on their daily lives.
But no! Holds a school of thought! To officials, the number and presence of security forces is not commensurate with the stakes at hand where the security of persons and property; public and private, remains the unshakable objective of government thus far.
According to General Melingui Nouma Donatien, Commander of the 21st Motorised Infantry Brigade and General Officer Commanding, South West Region, the Region doesn't even have sufficient military officials to match up with the security challenges. He buttressed his point with the fact that, "Ever since the crisis started in November 2016, no new military unit has been created.
There has been no increase in the number of security forces more than what we are supposed to have." Complaining of militarisation of the area, he said, is untrue and utterly misleading.
While debunking as unfounded claims of the militarisation of the region, other top security and administrative officials said the first and second category security agents (Police and Gendarmes) continually do their routine work of securing people and property while the third force (army) are based in their barracks, go out only when and where security challenges warrant and retreat once normalcy returns.
The DO of Eyumojock Subdivision, Moloka Alain Ekwe, in whose jurisdiction two recent barbaric actions on security forces were carried out, told reporters last week that poor staffing of the border posts; among other constraints anyway, contributed to the carnage. "We were not in a state of war so we could not be sending a whole battalion there. A
nother unfortunate thing was that the areas are far and so reinforcement could only get there late," he said. Talking of heavy militarisation when glaring shortages are noticed is thus somehow not clear in the minds of many.
A good number of people Cameroon Tribune team met in Buea, Idenau, Limbe, Tiko, Kumba, Bafia-Muyuka, Mamfe, Ekok and Fontem saluted the presence of security officials in their midst.
According to Fonge Eucharia, business lady in Tiko Seaport, "Security people are our brothers, they secure our goods and we live with them harmoniously." A view shared entirely by another businessman in the locality, Eric Atembong. "The presence of security people has been of great help to us here. We go about our daily activities without any fear of harassment or theft thanks to their presence.
They secure our goods and we sell without any problem." Like the two, other people we met in other localities opined that security people with whom they live are very friendly and that mutual respect is almost always the watchword. While some said those afraid or detesting security officers are criminals afraid of being unmasked, others held that stealing and fighting have greatly reduced because they know security is tight.
Even if there are a few cases of excesses in behaviour of some wayward security officials, the military high command in the region holds that constant efforts are being made to be as friendly as possible with the population with whom the military absolutely needs to collaborate to kick off a common enemy threatening nationhood and cherished togetherness.