11 May 2018

Cameroon: 'We Need to Clear Peoples' Minds'

Photo: wikipédia
Bamenda capital of one of the Anglophone regions
interview

Bernard Okalia Bilai, Governor of the South West Region.

What is the state of security in the South West Region barely one week to the celebration of the National Day, 20 May, 2018?

The situation in the Region is such that all the six administrative units (Divisions) are functioning. The Senior Divisional Officers who are the heads of the Divisions are there. The two new Senior Divisional Officers of Ndian and Lebialem have been installed. But some administrative units like Meme, Lebialem and Ndian are facing some disturbances as far as security is concerned. There are gangs of gunmen who are hiding in the bushes and from time to time come on the highway to harass the population. Some of them continue to attack the Forces of Law and Order. Some continue to kill innocent population accusing them to be informants to the administration. This insecurity situation is today penalizing economic activities like the PAMOL Plantations; some Estates of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC). Some workers of those estates have been threatened. Their tools and machines like tractors have been damaged. This really penalizes the economy of those structures especially when we know that those corporations employ thousands of Cameroonians. It is really preoccupying. But as I said, the administration is controlling the situation. The Forces of Law and Order continue to fight. We just need the collaboration of everybody to erase the fear that those people are spreading in those localities. In spite of this, we do hope that all of us would join hands to organize the National Day celebration.

How do you appreciate the various peace missions sent to your Region for dialogue and appeasement of the population in recent times?

The peace missions came and met the population through various groups like traditional rulers, religious leaders, economic operators and the civil society. But the reality is that everybody is complaining about insecurity. People want it to stop and they are ready to do everything for it to stop. We realized that most of the propaganda carried out by the activists of insecurity is to turn people upside-down and today the farmers, traders and business people are not carrying out activities in peace because those bandits come and seize their crops, they threaten them and seize their money and children are not going to school. This is preoccupying and the people have realized that this cannot continue. We want dialogue to continue right to the grassroots so that the various leaders should really control their populations in their various territories, at family levels, village level, the tribes, the camps, the District, party Sub-Sections and Sections. This would enable the minds of those insurgents to come back to reality. At the very least they should join hands to chase away the fear and release the people from those who are hiding in the bushes. That is our wish. Local cultural and political leaders should go to the grassroots. All villages have sons and daughters who are in leadership positions. Let the elite carry the message of peace to their people and extend the dialogue initiated by our Head of State. This is because people have been intoxicated and we need to clear their minds.

What new measures is the administration taking to ensure a smooth 20 May in the South West Region?

The measures are there in place particularly concerning the movement of persons. Since we know that those bandits use mainly the motorbikes we have suspended the movement of the bikes and we continue to insist so that those who are passengers of motorbikes should desist. The vehicles are there for transportation. Let them use the vehicles. In big towns like Kumba and Buea, no motorbikes should move in the night. No motorbike in the rural areas until further notice. Persons moving in vehicles can be easily identified and controlled but those on bikes are difficult to control. We continue the sensitization towards the schools, towards various groups, and towards political leaders. We continue to tell them that the National Day is a very important day for the nation. Let us continue to sustain the organization of the National Day. That is what makes us in Cameroon one and united.

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