Head of one of the Ambazonian Interim Governments (IG), Dr. Samuel Ikome Sako has once more brought to light the debate over the sustainability of the independence struggle in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon (Former British Southern Cameroons).
The controversies have been stoked by recent moves that led to the formation of an alliance by the Ambazonian Governing Council (AGovC) with their Nigerian counterparts, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The separatist movement already characterized by different factions was shaken when Samuel Sako said the Ambazonian movement has no links with Nigeria’s IPOB, contrary to what had been announced by some factions earlier.
“We want to make it clear to the Nigerian government that we have no alliance whatsoever with the IPOB of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. We have none” said Dr. Sako.
Stating categorically that he was not going to get into a pact with IPOB, Sako said “the so-called alliance that supposedly occurred this April was an evil orchestration by the French Cameroon State, and maybe the French Secret Service to serve as a bogeyman to cower the Nigerian state into an unholy alliance against the legitimate aspirations of the people of Southern Cameroons”.
In a counter-statement, Dr. Ayaba Cho Lucas, the leader of the AGovC and self-styled Commander in Chief of the Ambazonian Defense Forces, who went into the alliance with the IPOB, said Sako and his crew do not have the interest of Ambazonians at heart.
Recalling the arrest and deportation of many ‘Ambazonians’ in the neighboring country, Ayaba Cho Lucas said “Nigeria has shown itself not to be our friend and we will not sit back and be afraid to make friends because it is going to anger some bullies within the continent”.
He further explained that in establishing this alliance, he made wide level consultations with “stakeholders of our liberation struggle explaining to them the economic relevance of this alliance”.
To him, this is the most important alliance at the moment for pro-secessionists.
“I am a refugee, I have lived in a refugee camp for 3 years. We lived in a room 7 of us for three straight years, no right to work…” He noted.
Citing an alliance between Aso Rock and Etoudi, Cho Lucas said Ambazonians “cannot sit and hold an international press to play platitude with the same country that has kidnapped our own leaders and transferred them to a murderous regime”. This is in reference to the case of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and nine others (members of the first and currently another rival Interim Government), who were arrested in Nigeria in January 2018 and repatriated to Cameroon under questionable legal circumstances. They were charged with terrorism and eventually found guilty by a Cameroon military court and are currently serving lengthy sentences.
This is not the first time Cameroon’s separatist leaders are washing their dirty linen in public. As the armed conflict in the North West and South West regions escalates, many are the instances where different factions have called each other out and at certain points, are reported to have even gone to battle against each other on the ground, with many casualties reported. Skirmishes in Kumba and Guzang, for instance, have reportedly led to the killing of dozens of Ambazonian fighters by rival factions.
The fear among many English-speaking Cameroonians at the moment is that the quest for independence is already portraying the dangers of a fractured, more precarious future. Many are citing the case of South Sudan as an example of a country that got independence and slumped into a protracted conflict because the warring factions could not agree to work together for the common good.
“If they are already fighting like this when there is no independence and nothing tangible to hold on to, imagine what the situation will be like if they have real power. We know that the Cameroon government at the moment is not fit for purpose, but we cannot with our eyes open, jump from a frying pan to the fire” says a concerned citizen who spoke to MMI on condition of anonymity.
Reports from Nigeria today, however, confirm that the IPOB has already copied the Sit-at-home strategy that the Cameroon separatists have been using for the last five years. With violence already erupting in Owerri, Imo State of Nigeria, and other parts of the South East of Nigeria, it is feared that the future remains bleak unless Cameroon and Nigeria were to find sustainable solutions to the ongoing agitations.