Cameroon: Taking Dialogue Further

Photo: UNHCR
Cameroonian refugees arriving in Cross River State (file photo).
opinion

The maiden working visit by Prime Minister Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute to the North West Region from 9-12 May 2019 following his appointment on 4 January 2019 has ended with a major disclosure. Namely that a more structured dialogue could be imminent in Cameroon to tackle the unrest that has been rocking the North West and South West Regions for the past three years.

Although several measures have already been taken, on the instructions of the Head of State, to provide solutions, the persistent nature of the tension and the wanton loss of human lives and property call for something new. It was certainly in such a spirit that the Prime Minister had to go down to the field, talk to the people, listen to them again and see how best to move forward the national agenda in relation to the ongoing crisis.

Consequently, the Head of Government announced the readiness of the Head of State to open another form of dialogue different from various consultations that have so far taken place with targeted groups in the two restive regions. Thus, the PM stated that; "President Paul Biya is prepared for dialogue and it needs people who are representative enough. He is prepared to listen and do things that advance life for all. Apart from separation, the President is ready for discussions on all other topics of national interest." By saying that there is need for enough representation and giving clues concerning the subjects for discussion, Chief Dion Ngute expressed the resolve of the Head of State to further explore avenues for peace and stability to return to the affected regions.

The "national cause" of emergence which has so far drawn attention in the country has definitely been at the cross-roads after the strike action by teachers' trade unions and Common Law Lawyers in 2016 degenerated and has since posed a serious threat to the economic, social and political life of the two regions. For Cameroon to attain the level of an emerging economy by 2035, there is need for all sons and daughters of the soil to come on board.

Yet, the upheavals in the North West and South West Regions pose a handicap to development and progress in the country. Adopting an approach that requires a structured dialogue may not only be another dimension to resolving the crisis, but also an opportunity for those who master the genuine concerns of the North West and South West in particular, and the country as a whole, to be able to articulate those problems in view of seeking lasting solutions. Of course, it is no news that a toothache has the potential of not only af fecting the entire mouth, but equally keeping the whole body sick.

The announcement by the Prime Minister in Bamenda might have echoed in the ears of some like an old story, but the fact remains that friends of Cameroon have spoken and Cameroonians have spoken; all in dire need for a return to normalcy in both regions and throughout the national territory. It is possible therefore that by the time Prime Minister Dion Ngute ends a similar visit in the South West Region in the days ahead, the political scene in Cameroon could witness more effervescence with discussions that could shape the future of the country for the better.

Those who have the mantle to steer the sheep of State in Cameroon might already have an idea or could be on the drawing board conceiving details of a dialogue platform capable of writing another chapter in the history of Cameroon. Even if mere journalistic conjecture cannot be explicit on the tenets of such promises given the high national stakes involved, the unfolding of similar consultations in the past and the conclusions arrived at have always been to safeguard the entity, Cameroon. That has been perceptible in the consultations being carried out by the Prime Minister. The weeks ahead could see a different narrative in the country concerning the situation in the North West and South West regions.

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