Friday, 23 December 2016

Prime Minister Yang Admits Anglophone Problem Exists

As lawyers and teachers of English language expression continue their strike actions over issues affecting the Anglophone legal and educational sectors, Prime Minister Philemon Yang has admitted that the Anglophone problem truly exists, contrary to views by some Cameroonians both Anglophone and Francophone that it does not.

Prime Minister Yang made this assertion in Bamenda over the weekend during two days of consultation and dialogue with Common Law lawyers, teachers, traditional rulers and religious authorities.

During the meeting with lawyers, Prime Minister Yang dismissed a recent statement by Paul Atanga Nji, Minister of Special Duties at the Presidency, who said in interviews with state radio, CRTV and the National Bilingual Daily, Cameroon Tribune, that there was no such thing as an Anglophone problem. Yang reportedly told the lawyers that that “to him all what Paul Atanga Nji said is not the government position”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yang Philemon, after meeting with Teachers Trade Union Leaders and Common Law Lawyers a truce was arrived with a 10-point consensus agenda which implementation takes off latest Wednesday 30 November 2016.
They agreed in a signed document that a new institutional framework to look into the problems raised by Anglophone Teachers trade unions will be put in place by Wednesday 30 November and would be enlarged to include all Anglophone education forum, agencies, Catholics, Presbyterian, Baptist, lay Private, Islamic, Apostolic, Full Gospel and that the Framework will meet and work in Bamenda for convenience of the majority.

Strike Continues Indefinitely

However, the teachers are lawyers after leaving the meeting said the strike still continues until concrete action on the consensual agenda agreed upon have been seen.
Lawyers Say Laurent Esso’s Arrogance Is Killing Dialogue
Meanwhile, the lawyers are said to have told the Prime Minister that the Minister of Justice Laurent Esso, was killing dialogue with his “arrogance”. They reportedly told the Prime Minister that they were ready for dialogue him Minister Laurent Esso removes the wall he has put around himself.

Apart from meeting with trade Unions and Common Law Lawyers who were the main concerns, PM Yang started off by granting audiences to political party leaders and traditional rulers and clerics of the various denominations in the North West Region. This was in a bid to seek for dialogue on the Anglophone problems as tabled by Teachers Trade Unions and Common Law Lawyers.

The two-day meeting, from Friday 25 to Saturday 26 November, was aimed at finding lasting solutions to the many plights presented by both Teachers and Common Law lawyers. Government was blamed for always looking low on the plight of the people and worst still most government Ministers do not open up for any dialogue which are steps towards seeking lasting solution. They, however, lauded PM Yang for coming down to meet them and listen to their plight.

Much against expectation of all the trade unions leaders and Common Law lawyers, PM Yang decided to receive each pressure group individually as against an open confab with all in one room. Much to the chagrin of other participants, the Prime Minister started by receiving a CPDM Central Committee delegation and thereafter the traditional rulers and clerics before receiving the teachers and lawyers who are the main protagonists.

All those who met the Prime Minister on Friday at Ayaba hotel, came out more frustrated than they went in given the rigidity position of government which is not ready to bulge from the present state of system.

Tassang Wilfred, Executive Secretary General of CATTU declared that this was a cause that he is prepared to die for and described the meeting on the first day as a stalemate.

According to the various leaders, the PM tried to coerced them into suspending the strike action but not giving into any of their demands. The lawyers, who have been on strike for seven weeks now told the PM that the solution to all these problems, is for the country to go back to the Federal system of government.

Other syndicates who represent other interest groups like drivers, bike riders, etc reminded the Head of government that they did not begin the strike and have no powers to call it off and that their position as it stands is that they are in support of the lawyers and teachers who are articulating problems that affects all. They pleaded with PM Yang and his government to give a listening ear to the plight and give in to the call for federalism.

But the Prime Minister is reported to have said he has no competence to discuss the issue of federalism because it is a political one.

PEATTU President, Afu Stephen, acknowledged the open mindedness of PM Yang who, he said, gave a listening ear “though he did not give in to some of the immediate demands raised which could lead to suspension of the strike”. This pivotal demand was to have French speaking teachers in all Anglophone schools redeployed to their areas of competence. But the PM said that would be difficult at this particular point in time.

The Trade Union leaders debunked the xenophobia that was being circulated by some regime cronies to give a bad connotation to their plight. They told the PM that Anglophones and Francophones have no problem living together and they are living in peace.

Enter Chairman Fru Ndi

After meeting the Prime Minister the Chairman of the Social Democratic front, John Fru Ndi, expressed his disappointment to journalists.

“I feel very sorry for a person like Atanga Nji for the statement he made. When he tells the world that the gentleman who got so angry and marched down the streets should give himself to the police, let him (Nji) give himself to the police first. He said Anglophones have no problems, yes he said that because every trip Mr. Biya makes out of the country he takes him. If he is out for three weeks he will be there sleeping in luxurious hotels with very good food and all the like. So that is why he can say there are no problems because he does not have a problem. His children go to the best schools, he sleeps in best hotels and so how do you think that he can tell you that there is a problem in Bamenda? How often does he come to Bamenda, for how long has he ever stayed in Bamenda,” Fru Ndi questioned.

There Is An Anglophone Problem- Fon Abumbi
On his part, Fon Abumbi II of Bafut said, “As an educationist who owns a Technical school I regret that if the statistics of ENSET Kumba and Bambili are true as given by teachers then the purpose for which these schools were created has failed. I acknowledge that there is an Anglophone problem which should be addressed and what we do not stand for is secession.”

‘Let Laurent Esso Remove wall Around Himself’

Barrister Bobga Harmony, who led the lawyers to the meeting, said the Common Law Lawyers are open for dialogue but the Minister of Justice, Laurent Esso, has built a wall around himself “yet expects us to have a talk with him”. Bobga called on PM Yang to instruct Esso to remove the wall if at all they are ready for any talk and if not they the Lawyers shall proceed to have redress at international courts where Cameroon is a signatory.

‘Lawyers Not Operating In Illegality’
On the question as to whether they are operating in illegality, Barrister Bobga reiterated that they are not operating in illegality as claimed by government officials.

“They say that we are operating in illegality but I tell you we are not operating in illegality. That is a conflicting situation now that needs to be debated and concluded either through dialogue or through justice. A referendum is a process to get federalism. The strike continues and it is a sit in strike, the soldiers can go home,” Barrister Bobga stated.

The Executive President of the Cameroon Baptist Church, Rev. Ncham Godwill, rather appreciated the Prime Minister for coming down to listen to the concerns which, to him, is a milestone in dialogue towards finding lasting solution. And on a personal opinion he thinks that it were best the plights are looked into for schools to resume.

10-Point Consensus Agreement
After the Saturday meeting which drew a curtain to the talks pending implementation of an eight point agreement, CATTU Executive Secretary, Tassang Wilfred, told journalists that they are satisfied with the outcome of the meeting with PM Yang. He added that they have eleven worries that would be looked into with reports from the new institutional framework to be set up by Wednesday 30 November.

He assured parents and the general public that the strike action which is still on would only be suspended if powers that be fulfill at least one of the eleven points with clear-cut timeframe within which the rest shall be implemented.
Prime Minister Yang Admits Anglophone Problem Exists
That notwithstanding, Tassang Wilfred, stated that the suspension of the strike can be revoked anytime there is a breach of the agreement. The document was signed by Ghogomu Paul Mingo, Director of Cabinet at Prime Minister’s office; Governor Lele Adolphe L’Afrique; Abangma J.A; SYNES UB, Ngange Tatah SYNEC UBa, Tassang Wilfred, CATTU; Ayeah Emmanuel, BATTUC; Afu Stephen, PEATTU; Kimfon Michael, CEWOTU; Tameh Valentine; TAC.
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