The government of Cameroon has taken a high-handed approach towards English-Speaking Cameroonians. The only response to the ongoing crisis has been the arbitrary arrests and detention of all those challenging the abuse of Anglophones. Things have however been different the time the corrupt regime decided to go after one of the Members of Parliament. The MP from the Jakiri constituency in the Northwest Region was chased around the region while the internet had been shut down and he was eventually reported to have escaped to Nigeria where he spent a few months planning his return. His reappearance at the House of Assembly took everyone by surprise. This was unexpected given that all the others who had fled the country had not dared return for fear of being arrested. Wirba did not only abruptly appeared in parliament; he seized the rostrum and addressed the house in the exact forceful manner he last did before going under months back. A visibly confused House Speaker, Cavaye
Joseph Wirba did not only throw caution to the wind and abruptly make an appearance in parliament; he took the moment to address the house in the exact forceful manner he had done before and was declared a persona non grata. A visibly shaken and confused Speaker of the House of Assembly, Cavaye Yegue Djibril, failed to stop Hon Wirba from putting across his message. With the same eloquence he has come to be known for, with the same logical arguments for the government to pay serious attention to the plight of West Cameroonians, a determined Wirba made his arguments for justice for Anglophones.
Below are some excerpts:
“Where else should we say these things? If we belong to the National Assembly then Mr Speaker, you must hear me out. Mr Speaker, you will hear me out. With all due respect Mr Speaker, I have been chased through the bushes for the past three months. I cannot come here and you are discussing…
“Our children are out of school, our lawyers in jail and all that is happening in West Cameroon means nothing to you. Where is your standing order to suspend for us to discuss issues that have to do with the people of West Cameroon? You tell me because you don’t seem to have an agenda for us…
“Mr Speaker, I am now telling you that the person who ordered for my arrest… tell him I am here; he can come and take me out of this National Assembly and the people of West Cameroon will know that they don’t belong here…
“The representatives of the people have the power to say it as it is at any time. I mean, we come here and you shut us down… what should we do? I should have waited for them to bring my head to you. That’s what you would have wanted. I simply say NO!
Mr Speaker, can you now on this floor, give us where this National Assembly can discuss the issues that have to do with the people of West Cameroon? Because it is more important than anything you have discussed in this Assembly from independence. Can you tell us? Because if we cannot talk about these things here, where are we supposed to talk about them for God’s sake? “You keep humiliating us like this, every time, it is the same thing. Get to the church leaders, we are humiliated, get to the lawyers, we are humiliated. We come here to represent our people and you tell me that I cannot talk about my people then, you will need to shut my mouth with death.
Can I have the time when we will talk about the problems of our people? If you have no space here for that it means that the country completely excludes us from its programme and I do not want that to be. You are supposed to make sure that we come here and represent the people, talk about their problems so that you understand the problems.
“I am happy that I am coming here when the Minister of Territorial Administration is here and I am wondering because Mr Minister I said here on the 2nd of December that the reign of terror over in West Cameroon is bringing down the country and nobody seems to listen and then I come here and we are told that we cannot talk on behalf of those people? It is the right of the MP to represent his people, Mr Speaker.
“I am not bringing any disorder. If you let us talk about our problems, nobody will be wasting this time because I have a full file here to discuss the problems of my people, so can you give me space to talk about it? If I don’t have it, then you are saying and with the order on my head that I should be arrested for representing my people. You are saying that the last remnants of anything we call democracy has died in this country. If an MP cannot talk, who else? And if an MP for the country is not safe, who else is safe in this country…?”
The question now being asked by all remains: is there something Wirba knows that others do not know? What is the position of his party the Social Democratic Front (SDF) which seems to have abandoned him when he needed them most? Why did the government not go ahead and arrest Wirba?
One scenario is possible. Hon Wirba might be someone who clearly understands how the government of Cameroon operates and knowing that their hands are tied with regards to the prosecution of the other Anglophone leaders, chose the right moment to reappear.
If this is the case, he surely has exposed the government’s weakness and given a new lease on life to the Anglophone crisis. The renewed energy across the country and diaspora is a testament to the fact that Hon. Wirba could not have chosen a better time to return.