Dictator Biya of Cameroon has only one remedy to every problem – silence. This silence operates in two ways, the first is that he is silent over anything that matters in the country, such as the current civil war which he declared. The second is that Biya silences anyone who tries to oppose his remarkable ineptitude in the area of governance and statecraft.
From the start of the current crisis in the Anglophone Regions, Biya has not in any way directly addressed the issues. It has been dealt with only by his surrogates, who paradoxically have no power to implement any outcome to resolve the problem. Biya has addressed ‘The Nation’ many times throughout the crisis but has said nothing concrete relating to the actual situation. In fact, the one time that Biya has directly dealt with the Anglophone crisis, was at the airport when he declared war on those fighting for freedom. When Patricia Scotland QC visited Cameroon, it would have been thought that Biya will engage with the situation. During a lavish dinner which he threw in honour of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Biya rather reiterated his threats of dealing with anyone who dared challenge his bad governance.
In the area of silencing opposition, Biya has used lengthy prison sentences, having civilians tried in military courts and sending many to jail without trial. In a shocking twist of events, Biya’s tactics extended to Nigeria in January 2018, when colluding with some Nigerian authorities, activists were abducted from Nera Hotel and taken to Cameroon in violation of their convention rights as political refugees.
If Biya expected that the abduction of Sisiku and others will frighten other activists across the world, he was grossly mistaken. Like a hydra, as he cuts one head, two others spring up in its place. As such, despite trying to intimidate activists by holding Sisiku and Co incommunicado and branding them terrorists, many more voices have sprung up in the diaspora, speaking ever so loudly against the carnage that has been unleashed on Anglophones. In a desperate move, the charlatan he appointed as his Minister of Territorial Administration has been making baseless threats about activists in the USA.
First of all, Biya and his sycophant, Atanga Nji Paul, ought to know by now, that Nera Hotel was a one-off unfortunate blip in the radar of the Anglophone quest for freedom. It only happened because those involved had trusted that meeting with Cameroon authorities in good faith could lead to a resolution of the crisis. As it has been proven that Biya and his regime always operate in bad faith, there is no activist who will again agree to meet with a representative of Biya’s government without the necessary guarantees of their freedom.
Secondly, the Nigerian incident was only possible because Nigeria is currently ruled by a man whose only knowledge of governance is in the 80s. Hence, I will not be surprised if Muhammadou Buhari was unaware of what happened in his own country, or was oblivious that accepting Biya’s request to abduct and take refugees out of Nigeria was a gross violation of international law. Either way, the myopia that pervaded the Nigerian saga is one which no sane government will want to replicate.
Donald Trump and his regime may appear to be clueless about a number of things and harsh when it comes to immigration, but they are certainly not stupid enough to realise that conspiring with Biya to deprive the freedom of any activist within their shores, will be political suicide.
Instead of wasting precious time and oxygen on the rants of Atanga Nji, all Cameroonian activists, anywhere in the diaspora should realise that they have one thing that Biya’s regime does not have – the ability to speak out when it matters. This is the time for every activist to speak out the loudest. Whether French-speaking or English-Speaking, there is enough to say these days, and no room for mediocrity or fear. With war raging in the Anglophone regions and many families living in forests, there is no shortage of things to scream about. With a useless election organised in the Francophone regions, while young people stand at the sidelines and watch helplessly as Biya attempts to hold the country hostage for another 7 years, no activist can afford to be silent.
If there is one thing we can promise Biya, it is the fact that activism is something to goes beyond borders and his tactic of silencing those who challenge him, is unfortunately stale. His regime is running out of time and ideas, and before long, their intimidation tactics will be as useless as any words spoken by Atanga Nji Paul.