By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Citizens in Cameroon has been urged to be involved in the peace building exercise and should also learn to be proactive as a means to bringing peace in the country. According to participants, the government cannot do everything on its own. These amongst others were some solutions proposed by participants during a public dialogue which took place September 12, 2019, at Mbouoh Star Palace Hotel in Dschang under the theme “The quest for citizen participation in promoting peace in Cameroon.”
The event was in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, whose mission is to provide independent, in-depth and insightful policy recommendations that advance the Cameroonian economy, and the economies of other sub-Saharan African countries, in partnership with NEDemocracy
During the discussions, three prominent issues were x-rayed by participants such as: the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the South West and North West Regions, the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North, and the refugee crisis in the East Regions.
Some 80 participants from the public, private and civil society organizations, and others were present to propose solutions through which Cameroon can accelerate its progress towards the resolutions of the current conflicts it is presently facing.
On the Anglophone crisis, participants indicated that a national inclusive dialogue will go a long way in resolving the present upheavals in the Regions. This call comes at a time when the Head of State has equally acknowledged the Anglophone crisis. In his unprecedented State of the Nation address, the President said there will be a national dialogue at the end of this month which will involve all stakeholders. “The dialogue to be presided over by the prime minister will bring together all Cameroonians, especially traditional rulers, lawmakers, the clergy and all elected officials,” Biya said.
To one participant, “We have to solve the problem by tackling it from the root. There has to be the respect for the fundamental rights of individuals especially those of the Anglophones. They are not respected at all.” “This issue also boils down to the respect of cultural differences-Cameroon being French and English. These two languages and cultures are very different from one another and no one should be seen as superior and forced down on people.”
Another major solution proposed to solve the Anglophone crisis is for the release of political prisoners, and the release of all those arrested in connection to the crisis. This has been one of the calls from the opposition parties and human rights organizations both internally and externally. Many had equally hoped that prior to the head of State’s address all those in prison would be released-something which was not done by the Head of State.
Participants say the elimination of bad governance and corruption will contribute in solving the numerous problems in Cameroon. It is not new in Cameroon that corruption has become pervasive and has affected all sectors of the government, and even the private sector.
Corruption in Cameroon is caused by various issues such as personal interest, favoritism, ineffective system of accountability and others. According to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index reported by Transparency International, Cameroon is the 152 least corrupt nation out of the 175 countries.
With respect to the Boko Haram crisis in the North, and the refugee crisis in the East of Cameroon, participants suggest that before the intervention of the government, citizens should regroup themselves to protect their territories. For years now, the Cameroon military has been battling embers of the Boko Haram sect in the North with casualties in the numbers.
In May 2014, Cameroon declared war on Boko Haram at the Paris Summit. Since then, Boko Haram has intensified its activities in the Far North Region of the country, making Cameroon the second most targeted country, regarding attacks by the sect. From July 2015 to March 2016, Boko Haram carried out more than 50 suicide attacks in Cameroon, killing more than 230 people while wounding 500 others.