By Boris Esono Nwenfor
“We must strive in our deliberation to seize every opportunity to ensure the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life of the people of the North West and South West Regions. Without peace, without security, there can be no sustained development,”
Prime Minister Chief Dr Dion Ngute made the above declaration as he chaired the second session of the Committee to follow up the implementation of the Recommendations of the Major National Dialogue this Wednesday, September 22, 2021, at the National School of Local Administration, NASLA.
The inaugural session of the Steering committee was held in Yaounde in 2020 and during this session, the steering committee took stock of the reforms that have been done and made some recommendations on the need to accelerate these reforms. The holding of this second session is thus the first time such a National Meeting is holding out of Yaounde and the first time since the Major National Dialogue held in the nation’s capital.
The 2nd session was attended by a host of dignitaries such as the Director-General of NASLA, Minister Felix Mbayu, SW Regional Assembly president, Head of the Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Commission amongst others.
According to Prime Minister Dion Ngute, there is relative calm at the moment across the two Regions evident in the high school enrolment figures, the number of academic institutions that have reopened, the re-start of economic activity, and the gradual return of internally displaced persons.
“The once vibrant economy of the South West Region is recovering slowly but steadily. It remains fragile. Agricultural production which has always been the pride of this region is yet to return to optimum output. Unemployment of the youth continues to be a preoccupation,” Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute said in his opening remarks.
“To bring a solution to this, the Prime Minister has ushered in dialogue with GAICAM and other private institutions. They have agreed to take on several youths from these two regions.”
“Industrial production is on the rise; life is slowly and gradually returning to normal. A special focus has been paid to alleviate the problems faced by the CDC, PAMOL, two industrial agro giants in the South West Region as well as SONARA. Erstwhile problems such as the constriction of the ring road in the North West as well as the Limbe Deep Seaport have started finding solutions,” Joseph Dion Ngute added.
The words of the Prime Minister were re-echoed by the Mayor of the Buea municipality, Barrister David Mafani Namange who also mentioned that the government has taken measures aimed at solving the ongoing crisis in the Regions. Some of the things as highlighted by the Mayor include the creation of the National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, the creation of the National School of Local Administration, NASLA and the granting of a special status for the North West and South West Regions.
Mayor Mafani Namange further appealed to the “separatist” fighters to silence their guns and give peace a chance. “We cannot solve our present problems without peace,” He said.
Appeal to engage vigorously in communicating, defending and spreading nationally and worldwide the context of the full extent of these changes and our collective appetite for peace and social cohesion.
What the government has done so far
In his presentation, Prime Minister Dion Ngute highlighted some of the things that the government has addressed in their effort to bring the crisis to an end, some of which we adopted during the Major National Dialogue held in 2019.
The Head of State also created the presidential plan for the reconstruction and development to address the immediate needs of the affected persons to restore social cohesion, reconstruct and rehabilitate basic infrastructure and revitalise the local economy. UNDP has been designated as the implemented partner of this initiative.
Also, the passing into law the bill of the special status to the two Regions and empowers local administrators who are elected to initiate development projects within their community, sustainable development, economic opportunity and social justice and the protection of local traditions.
“Every one of us has a key role to play in ensuring that the progress is sustained and that peace and security return to our much-cherished regions… The difficulties and unbearable sufferings within our communities have to end. We all have a stake in maintaining the gains towards security and peaceful coexistence amongst all Cameroonians,” Dr Dion Ngute added.