The government of Cameroon is paranoid. The Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh in a correspondence addressed to the country’s Minister of Higher Education, Jacques Fame Ndongo alleged that some of the lecturers at the Universities of Buea and Bamenda in the restive Southern Cameroons aka Ambazonia have been using their classrooms to promote ‘secessionist ideas’ among students.
In the letter dated December 13, 2021, Mr. Ngoh Ngoh urges the Minister of Higher Education to investigate the allegation and involve specialized sacred service corps in identifying the supposed ‘apologists of secession’ at the two universities for further action. He instructs the Minister to report his findings directly to the office of the Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic for onward transmission to the Head of State.
This move triggered another mail from the Minister of Higher Education to the Vice-Chancellors of the universities of Buea and Bamenda. In the correspondences dated December 16, 2021, Mr. Fame Ndongo instructs the university heads to forward to his office directories bearing telephone and other electronic contacts of all teaching and administrative staff of their institutions with immediate effect.
The Minister, observers have noted, did not even have the courtesy of addressing the Vice Chancellors in their language of instruction which is English. In pure colonial style, Mr. Fame Ndongo does not disclose to the Vice-Chancellors the purpose of the request, and what use his office intends to put the said contacts to. The rather terse correspondences elucidate more than enough the disdain the government of Cameroon has for the Southern Cameroons community.
A Lecturer at the University of Bamenda who elected to talk to Timescape Magazine on conditions of anonymity for security reasons said, “The agitation by the government is a direct result of complaints raised by University of Bamenda Chapter of the National Union of Teachers of Higher Education (SYNES-Uba) on the 8th of December 2021 threatening an industrial action from December 14th to 16th if their demands were not met”.
According to the SYNES-Uba release, a copy of which was handed to Timescape Magazine, the trade unionists outline after an emergency meeting, they held that “Upon thorough evaluation, the union sadly noted that the Deans and Directors have not complied with the Union’s letter of November 24, 2021, which beaconed on them to get these allowances- internal research, complementary hours, supervision, juries, part-time hours, and mission paid by December 8, 2021”.
The unionists rattled the government when they wrote “Consequently, it was unanimously resolved that lecturers at the University of Bamenda shall observe a three-day industrial action which shall run from Tuesday 14 to Thursday 16 December 2021 subject to possible renewal”.
“From the two correspondences by the Secretary-General at the Presidency and the Minister of Higher Education, you can see for yourself that just because we ask for our due, we have become apologists of secession. This is how we are treated in this country, yet they claim that we are part of them”, the Lecturer went on.
A director at the University of Buea who also spoke on conditions of anonymity expressed regrets that “Rather than address the issues we are raising as teachers; these people have instead decided to begin monitoring our communications. Soon, you will hear that a few have been victimized, arrested, tortured, and disappeared just to intimidate us to forget about our well-deserved allowances”.
The move by the Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic to write directly to the Minister of Higher Education, and not through the Prime Minister who is head of government, demonstrate the extent to which the mainly Francophone administration in Yaounde undermines officeholders who are of Southern Cameroons origin. It is obvious that officials at the Presidency of the Republic deliberately sidelined Prime Minister Dion Ngute because of his Southern Cameroons origins, and he could well be a suspect too.
A former Member of Parliament under the Opposition Social Democratic Front, Hon. Ntam James in reacting to the two correspondences said “I am happy for this one more mistake or blunder. I said yesterday that the Republic of Cameroon will hand over independence to Ambazonia due to foolishness, paranoia, and greed”.
This statement by Hon, Ntam falls in line with a prediction made by the former United States Under Secretary at the Bureau of African Affairs, Department of State that the current policies of the government of Cameroon marked by a scorched earth policy would invariably precipitate the creation of Ambazonia.