Paul Biya Dies: What Difference Would it Make?


It has been a while since I posted anything on this blog as I have been trying to sort out some personal issues that did not allow me much time to write. However, since the beginning of March, I have received lots of messages with questions regarding current happenings in Cameroon. The most recent has been the hoax announcement of the passing away of Cameroon strongman and dictator Paul Biya. After some reflection, I started to ask myself the question: would it really make a difference if Paul Biya truly died?

Paul Biya

For those who care to remember, this is not the first time that there has been a fake announcement that Paul Biya was dead.

In June of 2004 it was rumoured that Paul Biya had died following an undisclosed illness at some undisclosed location. As no reporting or discussion of anything related to the president is allowed the late Journalist, Pius NJAWE incurred the full wrath of the President and his institutions for daring to ponder about the state of the President’s health. Njawe was to spend 10 months in prison.

In October of 2008, similar rumours began making the rounds and there were widespread celebrations on the streets of Cameroon. To many people’s chagrin and surprise, Paul Biya returned the country on November 01, 2008 exactly 43 days after abandoning the country, just two days short of him being constitutionally replaced. This time the rumor had it that the absentee president had died at the exclusive “Clinique Générale-Beaulieu” in East Geneva. Given that news of an ailment Biya was said to be suffering had leaked out fueling the speculation of his death, some members of his entourage were fired for violating the code of secrecy.

At the beginning of March, 2015, The Commander in Chief of the Cameroon Armed Forces, Paul Biya again left Cameroon for Switzeroland while soldiers where being killed by Boko Haram insurgents. The conclusion many arrived at was that it must have been nothing short of an emergency to make a president abandon his country and travel abroad at a time when there was a crisis involving terrorists. As the African adage says: “A man whose house is on Fire does not chase rats”. Hence, in line with another axiom which states that “a toad does not run in the daylight for nothing: either it is after something or something is after it”, it was easily surmised that nothing short of an emergency could have pushed Biya to leave the country. By a process of elimination and taking into consideration the man’s age, the most logical conclusion arrived at was another death announcement.

The rumours of  Biya’s death gained momentum on Thursday the 26th of March, 2015 on  Facebook and other social media outlets like Twitter and WhatsApp!

While no official announcement has been made to refute the rumours two days after they started, one is apt to wonder what it would mean for Cameroon if Biya truly was dead!

To the ordinary Cameroonian, it would actually mean very little because as far as they are concerned, The Man Already Died!

Since “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” (Wole Soyinka), it is safe to conclude that Biya died a long time ago. Biya has been dead for most of the 33 years that he has been Cameroon’s president. Biya died when he let the country slump into an economic crisis from 1986 and did little to salvage the situation; Biya died in 1990 when in attempting to stop the rise of Multiparty politics in the country, he ordered the killing of many innocent Cameroonians; Biya remained dead from thence as he was focused only on maintaining his hold on power while the country slumped into a morass of poverty, corruption, greed and hopelessness. So in principle, to many Cameroonians; Biya actually went stone cold when he cracked down on public protests, changed the constitution that made him stay in power; Yes for a the tyranny visited on Cameroonians PAUL BIYA IS DEAD!

However, if Biya was to leave the scene, it would be a make or break situation for Cameroon. Given that most of his cabinet members and close allies are now languishing in prison, a smooth transition after his dead remains a matter of speculation. Perhaps like some of his ‘friends’ his son Frank Biya will take over. Given that Frank is not much in the picture, one therefore wonders what type of president he would make. The most likely and constitutional choice would be the President of the National Assembly Cavayé Yéguié Djibril. But as someone who has been the ruling party – CPDM Political Bureau, one wonders if he will offer anything different from what Biya has been offering!

One thing is certain though, as Caiaphas, once said, ‘You do not seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish.’There is no situation which is more appropriate for this statement.

Biya’s dead would be a blessing to Cameroon but let me be quick to add that it would not be in the same sense as Christ’s death was to Christendom but would be exactly in the manner in which Caiaphas meant it!

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