By Tata Mbunwe
President Paul Biya’s disposition at the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit has sparked renewed questions about his ability to govern Cameroon.
Paul Biya who has ruled the West African nation for over forty years has come under serious scrutiny – with many calling for him to retire.
This is after a video clip of him from the just-ended US-Africa Leaders’ Summit showed a frail Biya confused and lost as he is called to speak at a plenary sitting.
Unaware of his environment!
In the video, Biya is introduced and gently led to the stage by the protocol, but he is seemingly confused and lost about what is going on and whether he should sit or stand to speak.
“Who are all these people?” a confused Biya asks the protocol after the plenary coordinator opens the floor for him to speak.
Biya continues his confused rhetoric for about three minutes before he finally begins to address the audience.
In the video, he is heard asking the protocol officers: “Are there important people here?… Am I to speak now?”
Cameroonians speak out
The video clip has gone viral since then, sparking many reactions.
Some Cameroonians who watched it said it was an embarrassment, not only to President Biya as a person — but to the whole country.
Reacting to the video, a Facebook user said, “But he is very old, so such behaviors are inevitable. Am highly disturbed. Such actions/reactions should not come from a leading figure of this magnitude.”
Another Facebook user, Zita Kemta, opined that: “You can tell from his questioning that he is not the one making the decisions anymore. He didn’t know where he was and the reason for his presence, or he forgot everything along the way.”
Kemta furthered: “I think no one forces him to stay in power but it’s the only thing that makes him want to live and all that is fresh in his mind is that of being the President.”
While some people blamed old age and memory loss for Biya’s confusion at the plenary, others think he might not have been properly briefed about the plenary before being called on stage.
“Paul Biya doesn’t know where he is or what he’s doing. He has memory loss. It’s unimaginable that his protocol brought him into this meeting without telling him where he was going,” said Ahmadou Danzabe, a social media user.
President Biya had started the three-day US-Africa Summit on a good note, however. He “appeared” stronger than many had thought when he delivered a keynote speech at a plenary last Monday, December 12, on the economic sustainability of Africa.
In the address, Biya urged African leaders to stop depending on foreign financing and aid and to develop an African capital market to fund African projects.
Cameroon’s presidency has not commented on the issue.
(C) Mimi Mefo Info