Bamenda, Cameroon – Dozens of Bamenda youths promised 5000 FCFA each ($7.9) for participating in President Paul Biya’s forty-one year anniversary in power, are now frustrated after they received misleading information from the Bamenda City Council this Monday. Reports say authorities pleged to compensate them for posing as supporters of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), which has Mr. Biya as national chairman.
A WhatsApp group called “Activities of the Nation In Respect to the 6th of November” was created at 17:39 PM on November 5th, and young city dwellers joined in anticipation of the promised reward. But that promise was not fulfilled.
One participant expressed their disappointment, saying, “My friends told me we would each receive the sum of 5000 FCFA each. I am disappointed that only 3000 FCFA was distributed. Who took away our 2000 FCFA balance? Why manipulate us?” they told MMI at the Bamenda Congress Hall, where events to mark President Biya’s anniversary took place.
Biya, who has been in office since 1982, will be 92 when his current mandate ends in 2025.
The City Mayor of Bamenda, the North West Regional President of the Cameroon National Youth Council, and the Vice Secretary General of the Cameroon National Youth Council who championed the mobilisation have been accused of deceiving the youths and failing “to match words with action.”
“Why can’t the CPDM be truthful for once?” questioned another youth, who had invested 2000 FRS for transportation to and from the Congress hall but ended up receiving 3000 FRS.
Some youths also attest they had to “take back their 2000frs by eating heavily at the Ayaba Hotel, where a reception took place.
In response to the backlash, the organizers urged the youths to form dance groups, possibly as a means of compensation.
Critics have highlighted that the scramble for 5000 FRS, despite the risks posed by the ongoing armed conflict, highlights the dire circumstances that the regime of Paul Biya has imposed on the youth, not only in Bamenda but across the nation.
Unlike previous events, the Congress hall was barely crowded, indicating youths’ dwindling interests in politics.