Why Cameroonians Must Reject President Paul Biya

Feature Article President Paul Biya
President Paul Biya

After 36 years in power, the records are there to prove that President PAUL BIYA and the CPDM party have failed the people of Cameroon woefully. Yes, everyone, even the old “mamas” in the villages and towns of Cameroon have experienced the effects of bad governance which has brought about the corruption and embezzlement of public funds, for which Cameroon is now internationally known and derided. But that is no news because some misguided people are quite ready to vote for a corrupt government and a regime made up of people suffering from kleptomania, a disease which in Cameroon, makes the sufferers unable to distinguish between public funds and their own bank accounts. In the past 36 years, President PAUL BIYA and his regime have also been notoriously known for instituting tribalism and ethnic discrimination in the management of the Cameroonian Civil Service and public companies

In 1982 when BIYA came to power, Cameroun was heralded as one of the most peaceful countries and fastest growing economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Cameroon at that time was described by a French based magazine called “ENTREPRISE” as “a bilingual federation, a promising potential.” Cameroon had not known the disturbances experienced by its neighbours, as such, most people saw it as a haven of peace and a choice exile from their war torn countries. Refugees from Nigeria, Chad and Central Africa have settled in Cameroon for decades. The military coup d’états in neighbouring Nigeria, Chad and Central Africa are not known in Cameroon.

Cameroon economy moved from strictly agrarian to oil when petrol exploitation started in the Rio del Rey estuary. Proceeds from oil remained a guarded secret till today, and BIYA alone knows what happens to oil revenue. Cameroon’s lethargic development does not suggest that many oil and gas wells were being exploited in Cameroon. Oil revenue is stolen and the bit allocated for development is embezzled.

Today, Cameroon is no longer a federation nor is its bilingualism promising. The much heralded bilingualism is facing the prospects of annihilation under the planned program of harmonization. Harmonization means making something which has different components to be uniform. As the political uniformity has already been achieved, harmonization today is geared at achieving cultural and educational uniformity. In spite its endowment with resources and human capital, Cameroon under the CPDM government led by President Biya, has not only been unable to position itself among the prosperous nations of the world, on the contrary, Cameroon ranks among the economically underdeveloped and backward countries in the world. On this score alone, the CPDM government of President Biya should make way for someone else to propose solutions. However, there is more, that poses a great danger to the existence of the people of Cameroon and the ownership of their land.

The frightening and most outrageous thing is that during these 36 years of the CPDM government under Paul Biya, there has been the most contemptible attempts to dispossess Cameroonians of their land in favour of large foreign corporations and foreign individuals. Large swaps of land have been grabbed and AUCTIONED to foreign multinationals such as Bollores, HERAKLES Farms etc., not to mention Cameroonian Ministers and top civil servants and administrators who have used their offices to deprive the native population of their GOD given lands

I spent three years going through the forests of Mundemba, Toko and Nguti to understand the complexities of the land deal between Louis Paul MOTAZE, when he was Minister of Planning and Regional development, and HERAKLES FARMS aka Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SG-SOC). Minister Louis Paul MOTAZE singlehandedly granted HERAKLES FARMS aka Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon in 2009, a land concession of 73,086 hectares of PRISTINE rainforest in Southwest Cameroon for 99 years, for the alleged establishment of an oil palm project and for the sum of 200 million CFA.

Equally shocking was the fact that a hectare of forests with economic value timber was handed to SG-SOC (HERAKLES FARMS) at annual surface rents of FCFA 250 only starting from the tenth year of production. Hectares of cocoa fetching millions were also handed to company for an annual surface rent of FCFA 500, also starting after the tenth year of production of full bunches of oil palm nuts. The agreement between HERAKLES FARMS and Minister Louis Paul MOTAZE stipulated that everything in the forest, including water, gold, diamond and other minerals as well as sand, wildlife, non-forest timber products became the property of company and displaced villagers from there were to be imprisoned if found collecting anything from their former forests.

The first point to note was that the 73,086 hectares is a virgin equatorial forest which contains Billions of CFA worth of expensive tropical woods which could be cut down for timber. As a matter of fact, no sooner had HERAKLES got the land, than they started harvesting timber, even though they did not have a permit from the Ministry of Forestry.

The Contract exonerated the company from all import and export duties for the life of SG-SOC. It also provided that Cameroon government would pay the Company for losses, if it failed to make profits from its investments, making Cameroon liable for acts that were not under her control.

It was hard work for me and my team which were sponsored by overseas human and indigenous rights organizations. We toured the whole area to talk to the natives about their plight and human rights. To obtain copies of the documents signed by Louis Paul MOTAZE, was an almost impossible task, but by the grace of GOD, we got them. We wrote to everybody whom we thought was interested to defend the rights of the natives of the area in question. We also bombarded the Prime Minister’s Office and the Presidency with petitions signed by the natives. We sought to establish, through documents, that there were lots of irregularities in the process of granting the land concession to HERAKLES FARMS.

Those who studied the petitions at the presidency most have told the President of the irregularities, but more important, pressure started mounting on him from overseas and friendly governments. To save face, President Paul Biya reduced the grant from 73,086 hectares to 19,500 hectares, causing the Chief Executive Officer of HERAKLES FARMS, Bruce Wrobel, resident in New York, USA to commit suicide when his grand scheme to swindle the Cameroon of hundreds of millions of US dollars came crashing on his head. One can only guess that he must have collected millions of dollars from equally greedy investors and was now unable to make his grand scheme work because it was punctured.

In spite of what had happened, instead of sacking Louis Paul Motaze, President Biya promoted MOTAZE as super Secretary General at Prime Minister's office to manage many ministries. After BIYA felt that the dust from this affair had settled, he REAPPOINTED Louis Paul MOTAZE to his former ministry of Planning and Regional development. Louis Paul MOTAZE has since been appointed to head the Ministry of Finance.

The story about land grab in Cameroon is told, with sadness, because this dispossession of native land rights did not only take place in the South West Region of Cameroon. Kribi and the surrounding villages in the South Region of Cameroon was the next target and nobody has to tell Cameroonians that Louis Paul Motaze was again at the Centre of dispossessing the native population of Kribi, of their land rights in KRIBI and surrounding villages. Kribi, a beautiful seaside resort town with sandy beaches attracted more corrupt civil servants and ministers when plans were announced to build a seaport there. It is well known that even Chinese land speculators, joined the game.

After all, it is they who were going to build the seaport. Government functionaries came up with plans to dispossess the natives and local population from their lands in favour of government Ministers, top civil servants and, of course, the Chinese.

Bagyeli pygmies were the worst hit as they were bundled away from their natural habitat and crammed up in resettlement camps resembling Indian reservations in America or black townships in South Africa during the Apartheid regime. It is not strange to find that today they have been reduced to alcoholics because being forest hunters and gatherers they are not able to adapt to their new townships, far removed from the forests that provided them with their livelihood. The CPDM has made them the wretched of the earth. Speculators have prospered while locals sink further into misery. Bollores and the Chinese have done their worst here thanks to President Paul Biya and the CPDM government. No one has been held accountable for the unfortunate misdeeds in Kribi.

The HERAKLES FARMS fiasco was not the only large scale auction of West Cameroon territory under the CPDM government of President BIYA. The Obudu Ranch, on the high plateaux adjacent to Akwaya once part of the territory of Cameroon, has been permanently dealt out to Nigerian investors and the Cross River State of Nigeria by BIYA’s CPDM government. An airport is built there to fly out the minerals from the diamond hills in Obudu. The real people behind this diamond trade ring would never be known like those setting shop in Kashimbila, where thousands of Cameroonians in the Menchum Division have been made homeless. This is due to the construction of a multipurpose Dam authorised by the Nigerian Federal Government which has been built on the Katsina-Ala River near the border between Cameroon and Nigeria which has affected border villages on the Cameroon side such as Akum-Upack, Ezong and Kpep in Furu-Awa subdivision in the Menchum Division of the North-West Region. This is because part of the artificial lake caused by the dam covers the area that the inhabitants of the above named villages were situated. Thus rendering them homeless and landless, having also lost their farms which were on the banks of River Kimbi, a confluence of the River Katsina-Ala. The effects of this Dam are far reaching as Gayama in the Fungom Sub-Division, as well as Ambo and Badu in the Menchum Valley Sub-Division, which are equally under water and its former inhabitants homeless. The people of these villages are scattered all over and living in complete misery.

The situation of the victims of the Kashimbila Multipurpose Dam is dire, just as that of the victims of other ill-conceived projects in Africa. Cameroun has been silent about this Nigerian project that has punished its citizens. No advance warning was issued to the population that a dam was going to be constructed that would threaten their lives and livelihood. People have died, crops destroyed, people are reduced to homelessness and disease is on the rise. Cameroon government is yet to make a statement whether there would be resettlement and/or COMPENSATION.

In the course of my inquiries, I met one Michael Rolbin, one of the Officers in charge of the Kashimbila Multipurpose Dam and asked him what his company will do about the suffering population, victims of the Kashimbila Dam. In an off-handed manner he informed me that the Cameroon part of the land or territory covered by the waters held by the Dam had been sold to their company by the Cameroon government and so they were not responsible for the plight of the victims. This same assertion is announced to the homeless and landless victims who, to this day and to my knowledge, have received no compensation from the owners of the Dam or the Cameroon government.

If the CPDM government and President Paul Biya are re-elected to power, the truth about the sale of Cameroon lands to foreign companies will never see the light of day and what is worse, the selling of native lands to foreigners will continue.

The true story of what is happening in the East Region of Cameroon is still emerging. Apart from the rich variety of timber that abounds in the forests of the East Region of Cameroon, worth billions, there is much more than timber in those forests. Even during the colonial period, it was known that in the thick equatorial forests of the East Region there are large reserves of gold and diamonds. Today, the scandal is slowly emerging about large tracts of the forests of the Eastern Region being granted to Chinese, Koreans and Tchadians who are accountable to no one for whatever quantity of Gold or Diamonds they mine. The natives are kicked out of the homeland and threatened by the new foreign owners of their lands. Cameroonians should not wonder where the former Minister of Mines, Atangana Kouna got the more than three milliard found in his possession on different occasions came from.

Yes corruption, embezzlement of public funds and tribalism and ethnic discrimination has been the Hallmark of 36 years of the Biya led CPDM government. However, one of the things I view with great trepidation is the dispossession of the natives of Cameroon of their God-given land rights. The scriptures, tell us that the only thing GOD gave man after creation was Land. He put Adam in the Garden of Eden and asked him to cultivate the land. When we read the Bible further, we again see GOD promising to Abraham whom he had chosen to be the ancestor of his chosen race, the grant of a large piece of land on which they would settle. God later on showed him the land.

This promise was finally fulfilled when the enslaved children of Israel, who suffered in Egypt were given their freedom under GOD’s direction and led to the promised land under GOD chosen leaders; Moses and Joshua. It was the inheritance that God had promised them more than seven hundred years before. Every people, every race on the Earth were given land by their creator, who is GOD. Land and everything that is below it, and on it, is an inheritance given by GOD. No one has the right to dispossess any peoples of their GOD GIVEN INHERITANCE. We will do well if we read and give heed to the book of Habakkuk chapter 2 verses 5-17. However let us read some extracts:

Verse 5: Wealth is deceitful. Greedy men are proud and restless—like death itself they are never satisfied. That is why they conquer nation after nation for themselves. The conquered people will taunt the conquerors and show their scorn for them. They will say, “You take what isn’t yours, but you are doomed!”

Verse 8: You have plundered the people of many Nations, but now those who have survived will plunder you, because of the murders you have committed and because of you violence against the people.

Fellow Cameroonians, this is what GOD says about people who plunder others and take away their GOD given inheritance. They are doomed!

On October 7th 2018, all of us must go out and make GOD’s word come true. Do not vote for Paul Biya and the CPDM, vote for any other candidate of your choice and GOD will do the rest. Amen!