The Despicable Aspects of Biya's Regime
By Cecile Ndoh Enie
"There is no place like home”. A critical look at Cameroon today, I fear if this statement still holds.Cameroon is Africa in miniature, blessed with abundance of natural resources, gifted with the most favourable climatic conditions, yet majority of the people live in abject poverty and deplorable conditions.
After late Amadou Ahijo long term reign many longed for a change, hardly did they know the purported propaganda of ‘Rigour and Moralization’ was a mere sham. Just as they say, ‘ from fry pan to fire’.Citing our petroleum sector, where our neigbours Nigeria the African giant enjoyed an economic boom and Equatorial Guinea under the leadership of Obiang Nguema for about forty years, the exploitation of their petroleum sector can be perceived considering the new face-lift of this country.Whereas, the citizens of Cameroon are yet to pinpoint where the dividends of our petroleum sector goes, for there is absolutely little or nothing to show as benefits.
The beginning of Biya’s reign started with Economic Crisis and Multi-party politics igniting uproar within the nation. Today ,bribery and corruption, inflation, exploitation and subordination are the order of the day.The most outrageous is the economic situation of Cameroon. Unemployment level is rocketing, some of the employed are yet to be paid or receive just a token vis-à-vis their qualification or working hours in the name of earnings.To make matters worse, the private sector which is supposed to assist the public sector in creating employment is being levied what many describe as uncompromising tax rates ,this way drowning most feasible business projects.The most awful is the small- and medium -sized businesses, which in other systems are limited in tax payments, but on the contrary in Cameroon, they are instead subjected to pay multiple taxes without an actual fixed value. While the so called ‘Big Guns’ under the guise of CPDM top Disciples are exempted from paying taxes or should I say exempted from taxes; so they enjoy what can be termed – Tax Free Economy.
On a more serous note, this unprogressive taxing system has hampered many business and investment initiative. The situation is not only unfavourable for the indigenes but equally to potential foreign investors. Many Cameroonians living abroad have tried to invest back home, to help create unemployment opportunities . But the procedure to establish and then the taxes involve beginning from excessive custom charges have turned many off, especially those who want to be straight. As a result, most of our citizens especially the youths have decided to stay on while many are planning to travel out in search for greener pasture, since they are not comfortable with the situation back home.
Every damn thing is just ridiculous, the civil service, healthcare, education, agriculture, poor road infrastructure, utilities and the list continues.Unfortunately some people opt to eat and drink today forgetting tomorrow, so during political campaigns those sitting on the economic vault throw away money as if they are feeding pigeons in the parks.
Today we are all complaining of the increased prices of basic commodities . I remember back home with the tricky CPDM victory celebrations in Buea and in a taxi a lady dressed in CPDM attire was very happy. With the present situation now in Cameroon the words of the cab driver comes back to me today. ‘Be happy now, but tomorrow we shall all go to the same market, because when prices are increased there is no specific market reserved for CPDM Militants.’
To the Cameroon government the word maintenance or renovation is far-fetched. Thus, official buildings are erected the structure usual below the cost value. And within a few years these administrative buildings with big titles looks dilapidated.
Money circulates regularly within the elitist ruling class and I guess they really cannot fathom what the common man goes through since their children study abroad and they spend their holidays abroad and enjoy the comforts they cannot enjoy in their own country.
I ponder what stops them from developing their own country and make life comfortable for all. The rural sector slaves to farm and provide food with little or no incentive. The tax collectors ignore the bad roads to collect taxes from these people; meanwhile the living conditions in these rural areas are pathetic – no proper sanitary, educational facilities, poor water supply and no power supply. Yet each day there is fuel increase, I always imagine how those in the rural area cope, since they need constant supply of kerosene to light their lanterns.
Cameroonians are known to be hospitable, patient, tolerant, but I guess enough is enough, when people are pushed to the wall at a certain point they are bound to react. Some people say those causing unrest are fools but I ask what caused them to be such. If those who graduate cannot get jobs what is going to spur youths to be educated. Considering that to be educated stipulates to live a better life.
Again a wise saying states ‘ ‘ a hungry man is an angry man’. Since Paul Biya got to power in 1982 and 1985 to present day, with the CPDM anniversary celebrated yearly, what have been the achievements, what maturity has the party exhibited and if I may ask what has Biya’s regime to Show?
A Cameroonian in the investment market in the US remarked, ‘If the Government of Cameroon could invest properly those at the top would even have more funds to siphone"