Prof. Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, member of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) says some people who are benefiting from the crisis in the country’s North West and South West regions, either by dint of their positions or by dint of their connections, do not want the situation to normalize.
The professor of international relations spoke to Mimi Mefo Takambou ahead of 1st October, a day celebrated by some as Independence Day of the federal republic of Ambazonia or Southern Cameroons. He starts by assessing government efforts at ending the crisis in the North West and South West regions which is in its fifth year. Excerpts:-
My assessment of the government effort is that the government means well and has been doing a lot to try to put an end to the crisis and in particular to try to put an end to the armed conflict. I think it means well and is doing a lot. Those who are financing this conflict are not showing good faith.
So, what is happening is that the government’s good intentions, the government’s actions which are intended to bring about the end of the crisis, the results are not fully seen because on the ground, you still have the crisis that is on and the conflict with killings and so on. There is need to acknowledge in a sort of honest manner that there are some people who are not showing good faith, who are not being honest in this whole thing.
And because of their lack of honesty, the government’s good intentions and actions are not yielding 100 percent fruits in terms of on the ground, it creates a lot of economic dislocations, a lot of social dislocations, a lot of losses of life, a lot of internal displacement and of course refugees in Nigeria.
So, there is need for good faith on the part of all the actors because all the actors are not showing good faith. Some are actually financing the conflict in the night but in the daytime, they say they want an end to the conflict. Others are benefiting from the conflict as it is because somehow apparently money flies around from wherever and they seem to be benefiting from this money.
You mean actors from both sides, right?
Yes. I have just given you the categories that they are some people who are benefiting either by dint of their positions or by dint of their connections. I do not doubt the good intentions and the well-meaning policies of the government. But again, as long as you are dealing in an environment where the stakeholders or the actors don’t show good faith or pretend or doublespeak, no well-meaning action, no intentions will give you 100 percent results.
The government has done a lot, like you said. Created commissions, organized the national dialogue to put an end to the conflict, dispatched teams to the ground. But at the end of the day, the population is still not feeling protected. What is the problem?
The direct answer is that the problem is one. You have actors of bad faith. They tell lies and some of them have hidden agendas because they are benefiting somehow, directly or indirectly or hidden.
Is the military solution the way out because it has been going on for about four years now?
This conflict, by its very nature, by its very definition, or by its very beginnings even, has to do with the fact that you are dealing with the sovereign state of Cameroon. And in this case, where a sovereign state is facing a problem like this, there are two ways of finding a solution.
One is, every sovereign state will use its security and defense arm to check, especially in situations of secession. Second, a sovereign state will always use the political arm. And I think that what we are seeing in Cameroon is that they are using both the military arm which is normal for every sovereign state and the political arm.
And of course, I am not a military man, I am one of those who believe that the political arm has worked, can work and I believe will work. Of course, for me, I am one of those who believe that dialogue should never stop. We should continue the dialogue.
The government is the major policy instrument of the state. You cannot have a solution without the government. And for the government to succeed in its solution, it needs good faith, the collaboration of the population, and the honesty of all its citizens and all the stakeholders.
The call for inclusive dialogue is general. Everybody wants the conflict to end. What according to you should be the solution? If you were in the place of the president of the republic, what can you do to end this conflict immediately?
I think that what I will do is that, I think that we have a country that God has given us and our founding fathers bequeathed to us. There is nothing wrong with our friends coming around and insisting that we should forget about the past or let go of the past and let everybody, no matter how bad they were in the past, let them have the chance to come on board and make their own contributions.
There is no contribution that is little. I know for one and Mimi I can tell you this, as you know, I worked at the presidency as minister of special duties for about ten years. The little I can say I know about the president is that he is an open person.
And the president is a liberal-minded person by character in terms of political orientation and political philosophy. At least, that is the little I can say for what I know. He wants an end to this and I think it will be a good note. But our friends of good faith should not abandon us. They should not shy away, they should not be timid, they should know that they have a president who is a willing partner, they have a president who has the right spirit, the right vision, and we have a president who is open because he really wants that this problem is solved. I will be happy to see that this problem is solved. Believe you me.