By Boris Esono Nwenfor
A survey carried out by Civil Initiative for Development with Integrity (CiDi) has shown that the majority of Southern Cameroonians sampled at home and abroad (68.5%) are in favour of separate statehood for Southern Cameroon which just a handful (9.8%) wanting a two-state confederation as a solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis.
Some thirty-nine thousand (39000) Southern Cameroonians responded to the questions. A handful of individuals (15%) want a return to a two-state federation as in 1961 while 5.8 per cent said they want a ten-state federation along lines of present regions.
In a document titled “Southern Cameroon Status Survey Result” by CiDi Executive Director Victor Epie’Ngome sent to Pan African Visions, fifteen (15) questions were asked ranging from who is the author of most of the civilian deaths, abductions and burnings? Who can credibly mediate the needed dialogue to resolve the crisis?, What does the word Ambazonia represent to you?, What do you see as the key remote causes of the present crisis amongst others.
The UN ignoring the option for Southern Cameroon to be on its own in the 1961 plebiscite, French interest in the control of Southern Cameroon, Yaounde government’s insensitivity to the cries of Southern Cameroonians were all identified by the respondents as the key remote causes of the present crisis.
The crisis has led to several people being killed, others abducted, maimed and forced tens of thousands of people to abandon their homes and seek shelter elsewhere. 82 per cent of those sampled on this point said the Cameroon army is responsible for most of the civilian deaths, abductions and burnings. This was followed by pro-government militia (10.1%) and then the Ambazonia fighters with 4.6 per cent and independence gangsters (3.1%).
“We convened a peace conclave last year in March and we had the objective of looking for home-grown solutions to the problem. We also decided to send a fact-finding mission to some countries in Africa which have had unions that have either succeeded or failed such as Senegal and Gambia, Tanzania (mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar), Somalia and Somaliland,” CiDi Executive Director Victor Epie’Ngome told Pan African Visions as to why the survey came about.
…When these missions came back we decided before presenting those results to look at how Southern Cameroonians will like to see this crisis solved. We designed the poll and not a strictly scientific poll. We sent out five thousand questionnaires but people were afraid to talk; both sides suspected us of supporting one side and the other while others were afraid to answer which makes the process slow.”
“We then decided to do an online survey and after having a handful of responses we then decided to make the population know about the results,” Victor Epie’Ngome added.
The veteran journalist further indicated that the responses speak for themselves when asked what could be deduced from the survey. “We may not have asked the entire question but we did ask key questions that can tell us know where the people stand. When we had like 500 responses we took note of the trend; same as at 1000 and 1500. One thing we noticed is that even as the number increased, the trend (percentages) does not change,” Epie’Ngome said.
“This survey is not for me but for the world to know what Cameroonians think about the present crisis and how it could be stopped… The intention we have is that after this the conclave (the group of Community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and even chiefs) will look at the results we have from the different countries and even this for Cameroon and then make recommendations to all the parties to the conflict and even those who want to help in solving it.”
It should be noted that there were 1,900 respondents from the online survey, in addition to 2000 printed questionnaires returned out of 5000.
CiDi is a Cameroonian Civil Society Organization that was created in 2005 and based in Limbe. They operate in the area of the promotion of good governance, human rights and integrity building. CiDi seeks accountability in governance, social accountability and social justice generally. To CiDi, we can only build a nation on truth and equity.