Cameroon’s sit-tight leader, Paul Biya turned 88 this Saturday, 13 February 2021. He has been president since 1982, after spending seven years as Prime Minister.
But for every good intent and purpose, Biya should not celebrate this birthday – at least not when the country is a shadow of itself. Blood is flowing everywhere.
“Peace is a prerequisite for progress. As you are aware, it has been threatened for a few years now in our country by armed gangs that are spreading terror on the western border of the Far-North, and in some areas in the North-West and South-West. Our eastern border is also facing insecurity,” Biya said on February 10 in a televised address.
For a man born with a silver spoon, he has no reason to celebrate. Is he celebrating the fact that he inherited peace and is bequeathing war to his people? Or is he celebrating the rising levels of unemployment, corruption, bad governance, and underdevelopment?
We at Mimi Mefo Info think that Biya has no reason to celebrate. He entered the public service in his 20s. He has refused to retire and give the youth a chance. He has continued to recruit his age mates with whom the country is ruined, not run.
With no jobs, no roads, no electricity, no potable water, no decent hospitals, and a failing educational system, the future is bleak for the youth.
At 88, Biya is frail. He is gradually going the way of late Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. He is clearly not in charge of the affairs of the land. He has now proven to be a ceremonial president. He only appears on TV when he is receiving this or that guest at the presidency. His teeth and hair are falling off. He apparently wobbles and his speech is gradually fading away.
After campaigning to have Cameroon host the African Nations Championship, CHAN, Biya could neither be at the opening nor at the closing ceremonies. His age would not permit him to sit in one spot for over 90 minutes. That person claims to be preparing the country for its emergence in 2035.
A video of Biya stalling on the stairs in Paris and being assisted by security operatives remain fresh.
At 88, Biya should have the wisdom to know his limits. For someone who has locked up almost all of his former collaborators, he must certainly not be at peace.
See Prof. Gervais Mendo Ze, a Biya songbird suffering from his hospital bed in prison. See Marafa Hamidou Yaya going blind in prison. See ex-Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni living like an outcast as he serves his 20-year term. Lucky Essimi Menye Lazare escaped after serving as Finance Minister. The list is long. But Biya has been unfair to his friends and is also unfair to himself.
One of the most valuable traits we can have is knowing our limits and coming to terms with the march of the clock, that comes to us all.
After failing to give peace to his compatriots, Biya must not be at peace with himself, not even on his birthday. But could his 88th birthday be a time for him to leave power and spend the rest of the life God will give him with his family?
When this current mandate ends in 2025, what manner of man will Biya be at 92?
If the people of the North West and South West regions cannot even find sleep, Biya should not sleep. If the people of the Far North Region still live in fear, then Biya should not be at peace. If the people of the East are living in insecurity, then Biya should blame himself on this day.
Leave the youth to have a future. You and your cronies have lived your lives and are now living the lives of the youth.
Do the honorable thing, Mr. President. Do not celebrate because the average Cameroonian is not sure to get to 88. Celebrating will be a mockery to the many who have died before their due and to the many who will even be dying today because of your actions and inactions.
A word to a wise, Mr. President.