On Friday January 5 2019, a presidential decree appointing Dion Ngute as Cameroon’s Prime Minister was read on state radio.
The news came as a shocker, bearing in mind that Yang Philemon had been in the position for close to a decade and had ‘survived’ several cabinet reshuffles.
With the appointment coming just 24 hours after his residence was razed to ashes by unidentified gun men in Ekondo Titi sub division in the Ndian division of the South West region, Dion Ngute’s immediate challenge as as PM was clear.
Talking to The Guardian Post newspaper, Barrister Henry Kemende of the SDF party noted that Dion Ngute’s appointment “was to pump in new blood into the Anglophone crisis that has taken so many lives, destroyed so much property and is almost crumbling the entire Cameroon economy amidst a pretense that all is well”.
Since the start of the Anglophone crisis, many had criticised former PM Yang Philemon of being too rigid in dealing with the teachers and lawyers’ demands leading to the escalation of the crisis. With his appointment, Dion Ngute was expected by many to not only bring in a new perspective, but to also employ his expertise in resolving the crisis altogether.
In May the PM carried out a four day peace tour in the North West region, a tour many till date considered as one of his greatest achievements so far. Though it did not end the crisis, what is appreciated more is the PM’s approach, as he went as far as meeting opposition politicians and calling fighters in the bush to drop their arms and join reintegration centers.
Dion Ngute’s greatest move however came in September with the national dialogue for which he has been applauded by even the head of state, president Paul Biya.
“I wish to thank all those who kindly participated in the dialogue, and congratulate its organizers, in particular the Prime Minister, Head of Government” Biya said.
Apart from the interactions and even public outing of some former ex fighters, the major national dialogue came to cement the working relationship between the PM and the media, a relationship his predecessor lacked.
At the national dialogue opening ceremony, the PM encouraged all present to use the opportunity to make history. The Dialogue he said “offers us the opportunity to find, in the model of the commitment of our country’s founding fathers, the strength to transcend our differences and to make our cultural diversity a source of wealth for our people”.
Since taking over power, media coverage of PM Dion Ngute and his ministry’s services seems to have increased, as he even made it a point to receive media groups during the consultations ahead of the dialogue. He has since been baptised an icon of humility by many.
Moments after some ex fighters turned up at the national dialogue grounds, news had it that some had been identified in other activities and situations making their confessions doubtable. This became one of the biggest stains to the dialogue in addition to the fact that Ambazonian leaders had refused to partake from the start. For many, the PM was simply attempting to give the impression that all was well while in reality more were being killed on a daily basis.
Apart from being non inclusive, many have till date rejected the special status Dion Ngute’s dialogue has brought to Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, asking for more. While some say the PM has done all in his power and would give more if he could, others hold that he is just another tool in a government machination that fails to solve the problem genuinely.
In his end-of-year address to the nation, President Boys said “For those who persist in going down the wrong road and continue to use violence, we will have no other choice than to combat them in order to protect all our fellow citizens”, a promise to crush Ambazonian fighters if they refuse to give up.
The declaration some say, also defeats the purpose of the PM’s approach, one which in May 2019 he had described as one of a father reaching out to his children for fear of their lives.
With his tenure still on, many are curious to find out how the PM will tackle some of the challenges still ahead of him as well as the implementation of the resolutions his major national dialogue brought.