When Unaccountability Is A Norm
By Yerima Kini Nsom
In countries where democracy and the rule of law triumph, and where institutions are strong, Government fears its citizens. The exact opposite is true of dictatorial countries wherein powerful leaders tower above the institutions and the rule of law.
In democratic countries, the authorities are accountable to the people. By so doing, they prove that they are truly elected by the people whose aspirations they have to hearken to.
When autocracy reigns, it breeds unaccountability. In such a situation, only a few citizens muster the courage to raise a voice of protest, asking for accountability. The leaders plunder state resources with impunity, while the people wallow in abject poverty.
Where does our country stand in this dichotomy? Your guess is as good as mine. The current unaccountability ailing funds allocated for the fight the COVID-19 pandemic, is a pointer to which part of the divide we belong. How could some of our leaders be inhuman enough to tamper with money allocated to save lives? Can such people be conscienceless enough to find good sleep after lining their pockets with money that was allocated for the purchase of testing kits, drugs, ventilators for the fight against the pandemic?
If they were still sane upstairs, they ought to have known that it is a moral obligation for them to tell the people how they used the funds allocated for the onslaught against the pandemic. We did not need to wait for the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to be asking for an audit in order to beam the searchlight on how the money has been spent. Again, we are getting negative publicity in the international public space as the Human Rights Watch is turning the heat on the IMF to force the Cameroonian authorities to account for the over FCFA 210 billion they took.
The Minister of Public Health has played Pontus Pilate as the SDF Member of Parliament, MP, continues to sound the trumpet of the alleged embezzlement of COVID-19 funds. Since unaccountability and impunity are being taken to the pedestal of norms, the obscenely mighty have continued in their greedy pursuit of material comfort at the expense of poor citizens that are dying of pandemic. The tale is told as how ministers shared the money among themselves as if it were a war booty.
It is unfortunate that unaccountability, born of the satanic lack of checks and balances, is stoking the fires of tension in our country. It will one day thrust us into full-blown chaos. We may take Cameroonians for granted, as a docile lot. Yet, we ought to be careful because when the chips come down, things will fall apart in such a way that the centre will no longer hold. It can only be demonic greed that would enable people to indebt future generations of Cameroonians by taking huge loans that are mercilessly embezzled. There is so much borrowing going on. Right now, our country’s public debt stands at 45 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP. Yet, there is very little to show for this callous indebtedness. What we see is too much movement without dynamism.
Many dam construction projects have been going on for the past decade, yet a majority Cameroonians continue to grope in the dark. Even in the nation’s capital, many neighborhoods are getting used to what has become a steady epileptic power supply.
Roads projects have remained uncompleted for decades. If this vicious delay is not about embezzlement, then, there should be to some mystical forces holding back our road construction projects. In that case, we need to take powerful exorcist priests to do some cleansing and neutralise the mystical forces that have been stalling the completion of the Yaounde-Nsimalen dual carriageway, the Yaounde-Douala dual carriageway, the Babadjou-Bamenda stretch and the Ring Road, among others.
The sober and the agonising shrieks of our shrinking economy ought to have attracted our sympathy. Our economy is stressed by unaccountability and the siphoning of public funds. If we had an independent Parliament, our honourable gentlemen and women would have compelled those concerned to give an account of the money that is used on a monthly basis in the so called war in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. The war economy is ticking as the State continues to lose huge sums of money to the private pockets of unscrupulous individuals. Such individuals are getting richer while the State is sinking deeper into poverty. In the circumstances, the war is a money-making spin for some people. There are deep frustrations in the country among the youthful population as they face fall-outs of the stressed economy. They are choking with the lust for vengeance. Small wonder, that they are emitting feats of hate speech against those in authority.
During the national colloquium organised by the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, against hate speech, Cameroon’s frontline peace crusader, Ntumfor Nico Halle, said hate speech will never end, if some people continue to embezzle funds while the Cameroonian masses wallow in poverty and deprivation. Many observers hold that the truth of our predicament is the hyper-centralisation and the over bureaucratisation of power in Yaounde. Thus, it is likely that the crisis currently rocking the two Anglophone Regions may not have occurred had the authorities ensured the fair distribution of national resources. So, the problems of this country are not centered on the so-called living together. For, living together has never really been any contending issue here. The long and short of it is, eating together. It can only be an act of hypocrisy when you claim to be living together with someone while eating alone.
It is clear that the social injustices omnipresent in our society are the catalyst for our socio-political and economic malaise. How can you explain the fact that a certain State corporation is cutting its employees’ salaries as social dues and not paying them to the National Social Insurance Fund? How can one explain the fact that women who work in that corporation lose their salaries whenever they go on maternity leave? When such provocation would have swollen to a river of frustration, the centre will no longer hold and the irate protesters will be called terrorists. Can the water of a thousand rivers wash us clean of the crimes we commit against peace-loving citizens of this country?