2025 Presidentials

Dr Fomunyoh makes fresh case for Anglophone president

Says having a native of either NW or SW as Head of State long overdue, Urges CPDM to invest Anglophone as presidential candidate to consolidate national unity, Reveals longstanding desire among Francophones to have an Anglophone as Head of State, Insists burden of ending crisis in English-speaking regions not on Anglophone elite.

Erudite global good governance icon, Senior Associate and Regional Director for West and Central Africa at the Washington-headquartered National Democratic Institute, NDI, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, has made fresh arguments for an Anglophone to become Cameroon's next Head of State. Dr Fomunyoh's arguments are in the content of a recent interview he granted Douala-based television station, My Media Prime. In the exchange, the globally-respected Cameroonian, made an overview of the historical mutations that have marked leadership at the highest echelons of power in the country, insisting that it is more than ripe to give an Anglophone the nation's top job. Showing a mastery of how the power structure of the State has evolved, since the early days of reunification, to the Ahidjo-presidency and Biya's era, Dr Fomunyoh dissected the inaccuracies that have been a drawback to Cameroon's evolution. In all these decades, he identifies the Anglophone question and now the Anglophone crisis, as perennial issues of great concern; which he regrets those in leader-ship positions have refused to face squarely.

Why an Anglophone Head of State?

According to Dr Fomunyoh, "it is more than ripe for an Anglophone to be the President of Cameroon" . He backed his submission on grounds that: "An Anglophone can fix this country. Not just because it is an Anglophone; not just because our cultural upbringing has embedded in us certain values of fairness, of justice, of equity and equilibrium vis-à-vis everyone but also because it is someone who has the credentials and has proven his/her worth" . He added that an Anglophone as Head of State, will also "be able to address the grievances of Cameroonians across the board and be able to give citizens a sense of belonging. It is that lack of sense of belonging that is stir- ring up the conflict in the North West and South West Regions".

Francophone desire for Anglophone president

Having an indigene of either the North West or South West Regions as Head of State, Dr Fomunyoh said, will be another major way of sending a message across to citizens that all Cameroonians are equal. He quipped that "it is a way of showing that every Cameroonian is a hundred percent a citizen of Cameroon... there is no second-class citizen. If that is the case, then let's show it. If the taste of the pudding is in the eating, as it is commonly said, then let's see it happen in Cameroon" . The good governance advocate revisited what he said has been a longstanding desire among Francophones to have an Anglophone as Cameroon's 3rd Head of State. "We should also remember that deep down, there is a fundamental reservoir of Francophone goodwill for an Anglophone President in Cameroon, " Dr Fomunyoh stated. He recalled the assassination of Anglophone politician, Zacharia Abendong, then Secretary General of John Ngu Foncha's Kamerun National Democratic Party, KNDP, as having been linked to such developments. "I don't know if your generation is familiar with Zacharia Abendong? Zacharia Abendong, in the early 60s, was the Secretary General of Foncha's KNDP. He was assassinated because he was mistaken for John Ngu Foncha. It was an assassination that was aimed at John Ngu Foncha, " the NDI official situated. Dr Fomunyoh added that Zacharia Abendong, was assassinated partly "because a number of Francophones from the West and the Littoral Regions, when Cameroon was going through the reunification process, had believed that there will be a presidential election and Foncha would compete against Ahidjo and they would want to make Foncha the President of Cameroon".

Going by Dr Fomunyoh, President Ahmadou Ahidjo was already facing disagreements, "in the Republic of Cameroun, which had its independence before and where Ahidjo was Head of State. Because this didn't happen, there was lingering frustration with Foncha along those lines" . Citing the case of the late Ni John Fru Ndi at the 1992 presidential election, he said, "for a man who did not speak a word in French, look at the results that he obtained in the West and Littoral Regions and other parts of the country!". On this score, Dr Fomunyoh underscored that: "So Mathematically, you could say with the best of circum- stances and with the enabling environment, it should be an easy win for an Anglophone whose credentials are well recognized".

"CPDM should invest Anglophone presidential candidate"

On other possibilities of getting an Anglophone elect- ed to the office of President of the Republic, Dr Fomunyoh said even the ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement, CPDM, party can end the jinx. He said the "CPDM could even have a primary within the party to have some of the Anglophones who are in the party to put their hats in the ring and run for the nomination" . Such, he enthused, "is even where you begin to see the recognition" , before asking: "Why has the CPDM not thought about enabling some Anglophones, who are in that party and who have also worked hard for the party... ?". "Why are they not being recognised within the CPDM party? That is where you begin to show leadership and then the rest can mobilise themselves, " Dr Fomunyoh expatiated. He was vehement that: "When you genuinely want to see talent, you can see it wherever it is... if you don't see it within the ruling party, it is not within the entire coun- try that you are going to see it".

Burden of ending crisis in NW, SW not on Anglophone elite

On what Anglophone elite can do to end the chaos in the North West and South West Regions, Dr Fomunyoh said: "In fairness to the elite from the North West and South West Regions, they are themselves victims of the crisis. The grievances are known and if they are assessed, there will be no need to say the burden of end- ing the crisis rests with Anglophone elite" . The elite, he said, can help in addressing the situation but need the right support and platform to descend to the field. "They can help but you have to give them something to work with. They can go back to their constituencies and say ' ...the reason I am asking you to come out from wherever you are, is because there is genuine peace on the table' ..., " Dr Fomunyoh opined. When a veritable platform is put in place, he said, Anglophone elite can then tell the people that: "The grievances that you have raised are being addressed in this way or that way. You have to give them something to work with. If you don't give them something to work with, just carrying the title of an elite will not suffice". He regretted that even traditional rulers can't stay in their palaces "because they are being persecuted". Anglophones, he reiterated, "are a decent people. We are a people with dignity. We are a smart people; we don't deserve this. We want to compete in the world... ".

Revisiting Anglophone frustration

In the course of his outing, Dr Fomunyoh touched on issues in decades- past, and which are related to Anglophone frustration. The situation, he said, has left even some Francophones worried. "You know John Ngu Foncha was an Anglophone elite. The way he was treated is contained in the petition he wrote when he left his political party. The late Hon S.T Muna was an Anglophone elite, the way he felt when he left the Constitutional Review Commission and wrote about it, said something about how he felt in this Republic, " the award-winning good governance advocate declared. In the case of S.T Muna, he argued that: "If the constitution had not been changed to make the Speaker of the National Assembly the third personality and not the second, he would have succeeded President Ahmadou Ahidjo, when he decided to quit power on November 4, 1982". He said even Francophones "see that Anglophones know the micro aggression that is being inflicted on the current Prime Minister, Head of Government and the way he is being undermined by some of his ministers. Even fore-minded Francophones are extremely upset... how do you expect Anglophones to feel?". Anglophone grievances within Cameroon as a coun- try, he said, are not hidden. He cited officials and top regime officials who have repeatedly spoken out about the issue. He remarked that: "There are people who have come out. The former Governor, David Abouem A Tchoyi, also former minister and former Secretary General at the Presidency; the only Francophone who was Governor of the North West and South West Regions. He has spoken out very clearly and openly about the Anglophone Question" . When Ahmadou Ahidjo served as President of the Republic, Dr Fomunyoh said, he set up a commission on the Anglophone issue, where President Paul Biya, Abouem A Tchoyi and Prof Dorothy Njeuma were mem- bers of the team. These individuals, he said, have been vocal about the issue, including the former North West Governor, Abaka Ahamat, who has written extensively about the problem. In the private sector, Dr Fomunyoh cited Protais Ayangma and other well-meaning Francophones, who have talked about the Anglophone problem.

Maxcel Fokwen