By David Atangana
Today November 6, 2022, marks exactly forty years since Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon was made the holder of the highest office of state. Late President Ahmadu Ahidjo resigned and handed power to Biya who is now one of the longest-serving presidents in Africa and the world.
Effectively taking power on November 6,1982 Paul Biya who was 49 years at the time promised sweeping reforms encapsulated in his book ‘Communal Liberalism’ that was to help advance the country’s development.
Forty years down the line, Cameroonians across the board share mixed feelings about what the man who is now almost 90years has achieved at the helm of state for four decades.
While his admirers give him a positive review, critics however say the country is worst off than what he inherited from his predecessor.
To Mbella Moki Charles, CPDM Senator for the South West region, it has been 40 years of servant leadership to the Cameroonian people.
“This occasion marks the 40th anniversary, of servant leadership that comes with education and commitment to the fatherland putting the people first,” Senator Mbella Moki Charles told My Media Prime Tv
According to the Senator, the South West Region is in existence thanks to the president whom he qualifies as ‘God-sent’.
“From a man, I consider as a God-given leader to our country warrants me to do an assessment of performance indicators under his leadership, taking the South West region into consideration and on doing so we can afford to say the configuration of the South West region as an administrative entity has been largely thanks to the man we are celebrating today”, he said adding, “Let me remind you that he created the Lebialem Division and Kupe Manenguba Divisions thereby bringing administration closer to the people”
Mr. Biya’s admirers also credit him for bringing education closer to the people during his 40 years in power.
“As an educationist, what I can say is that there is no quarter in this country without a primary school, no village without a secondary or high school, and almost no region without a state university. This is the only good thing I can say of Biya’s 40 years rule”, a teacher who opted not to be named told MMI.
However, some Cameroonians say president Biya inherited a country that was advancing in many domains and pressed the reset button plunging the country into untold hardship. This category of citizens say regret is what they have received from the four decades of Biya regime.
“For someone who announced Rigour, Integrity, and Moralisation at the beginning of his mandate in 1982, for someone who baptized his administration, the ‘NEW DEAL’; for someone who charmed a cross-section of Cameroonians upon his rise to the Supreme Magistracy, after 40 years, Cameroonians are highly disappointed, to say the least”, Dr. Reymond Budi, a University lecturer told MMI
To the University lecturer, the country is limping from all angles
“Roads are worst at Biya’s 40; corruption and embezzlement is rife; unemployment among youths is exasperating; the generational and gender gaps are wide and gulping and worst of all, the country is bedeviled by conflicts in several areas” he went on adding that, “Though some appreciable efforts have been made in the promotion of education at all levels, Cameroonians have more reasons to regret today than the reasons to celebrate”
Sharing similar views, Shey Sembe, a human rights activist said the regime’s policy has always been to keep the people desperate and needy in connivance with the global mafia
“You do not blame an old, corrupt, and incompetent dictator, who cannot remember when to take his medications, for the lack of development of a nation and its people,” Shey Sembe told MMI in a conversation.
“He is being kept in power by the international mafia. The two parties agreed on how to keep Biya in power for life, keep the people desperate and needy while the mafia makes billions from dubious deals” he went on
President Paul Biya might have had good intentions for the country but his long stay in power according to some critics has brought everything he achieved to zero.
“What is there to say? Nothing! We are talking just a few days to that his anniversary and most regions are in a blackout. That is what is left of his rule” a Bamenda citizen who opted to be called Emmanuel told MMI
He continued saying, “The world was blindfolded that we are a nation of peace but look at where we are. There is war in the North West and South West regions, Far North; people are dying and that is the result of his visionless leadership”
“Prices of basic commodities are on a sharp increase on daily basis. Citizens are suffering and some are comfortable celebrating? This is total insanity” Emmanuel fumed.
The reactions from many Cameroonians indicate that people who support the regime are more likely to be persons who work for the government. Meanwhile, most people in the private sector and the majority of young people had nothing positive to say about the 40 years of Biya’s reign. It became clear from speaking to a cross-section of Cameroonians that the country that Biya inherited has seen more decline than progress in many areas.
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