Issues At Stake:
By Yerima Kini Nsom
If you gauge the goings-on in our country today, you will realise that the scale of values has been reversed. Vice and virtue have changed sides to the extent that the latter has become the former and vice versa. And the truth of our predicament, as a nation, stands: the sad reality in which personal interest easily overwhelms the general interest is becoming a norm. It pains that, beneath the glittering externalities, lies a ubiquitous moral decay in our country.
In their verbal heroics, those who have either been elected or appointed to serve the people, preach national interest but end up serving self and only self. Everything about this coterie of self-serving schemers is anchored in the egocentric stance of “me, myself and I”. We are holed up in a country ailed by the nuances of self-serving politics. The pursuit of material comfort and power aggrandisement has become pathology to the majority of those who move and shake our country. Thus, almost every decision, project and action in this country is infested by the startling substantiality of self-interest.
Many good projects that would have ameliorated the living conditions of the masses in this country have been killed and given a decent burial. Such project proposals had to die because the officials who were supposed to approve them did not see their personal gains in such initiatives. To such officials, taking a decision just for the general good is not in the cards. A system that is driven by self-interest makes corruption easy and profitable to those who loot the national treasure with reckless abandon. Those who expect the already five-year-old Anglophone Crisis to end in the near future must be very naïve. For one thing, the crisis has become a lucrative enterprise for many military officials, foot soldiers, administrators, politicians, separatist leaders, separatist fighters and many foreign countries that sell arms. Since personal gains tower above the need to end the war for the country to embrace peace, such people spend sleepless nights mapping out strategies to ensure that the crisis does not end.
This kind of appalling greed is thrusting Cameroon into a governance bedlam of vey epic proportions. How on earth will some Ministers have the guts to embezzle funds allocated for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic when the disease is wreaking havoc in our country? The cult of greed and mediocrity runs in every vein of the system. Personal interest is killing our nation in a hurry. It is also a dream killer and a vision murderer of the most dangerous type. It is also the locomotive behind the hard fact that there is so much movement without dynamism in the country. Personal interest is also the raison d’etre of stalled projects like the Lom Pangar, Mevele electricity dams, the construction of the ring road, the Yaounde-Douala carriage way, the Yaounde-Nsimalen double lane stretch and the Babadjou-Bamenda road among others. Are you surprised that several billions of FCFA allocated for the construction of the Olembe stadium in Yaounde slipped into private pockets?
Such a grave embezzlement scandal that has been fouling the atmosphere in Cameroon for many months has not as much as warranted any comment from the authorities. The Minister of Communication cum Government Spokesperson, Rene-Emmanuel Sadi, once more hearkened to the scruples of the establishment’s reactionary communication policy when he commented about the alleged embezzlement of COVID-19 funds. The Minister took exception to the fact that the social media and the court of public opinion have already condemned the Ministers who are being accused of embezzling COVID-19 funds. Rene Sadi attracted many comments when he mentioned the principle of presumption of innocence as far as the Ministers are concerned. As the Spokesperson of a Government that applies the exact opposite of the presumption of innocence which is the presumption of guilt, Mr Sadi badly lacks the moral authority to sermonise on such a legal virtue. As the Minister of Communication, Sadi, more than anyone else, should know that 80 percent of inmates in prisons in our country are suffering pre-trial detention.
Many of them have been awaiting trial for many years. In many cases, the accused persons are quickly taken to jail while the prosecution battles for many years to fabricate incriminating evidence against them. A case in point is that of the erstwhile General Manager of the state broadcaster, CRTV, Amadou Vamoulke, who has been languishing in pre-trial detention at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde for many years. The journalist was accused of embezzling public funds, but the Special Criminal Court has adjourned the matter 67 times at the request of the prosecution that is said to still be searching for more implicating evidence against the accused person. From the look of things, someone’s personal interest, not the scruples of the law, is keeping Mr Vamoulke in prison. Many people who have been arrested on trumped up charges have died in prison without having had the opportunity to be heard in court even once. For instance, the Buea-based Journalist, Samuel Wazizi, who was accused of dealing with the separatist fighters, died in military custody. He was bloodied to the world beyond, stripping him of the opportunity to defend himself in court.
So how can the spokesman of a Government that runs the whole gamut of the travesty of justice and the miscarriage of the law preach about the presumption of innocence? Observers hold that Government is the greatest violator of that legal principle that originates from the Common Law system. Thus, that sophistic mimicry was really uncalled for at this point in time. Once more, it was tailored to serve the personal interest of those who rule by violation. And it is such violation that is driving our beautiful country down the abyss of the comity of failed states. The state now is in a lamentable short supply of checks and balances to perform its duties effectively at all levels of national life. We need to nurture a new spirit of patriotism in our country in such a way that personal interest should be given a decent burial for national interest to prevail in all public policies, decisions and acts.