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Our Houses of National Comedians

4 August 2017 No Comment

By Ayuk Tobias Oru

Having presided over a series of though-provoking matters that morning, the judged asked for the next case to be presented. It happened to be a divorce issue, so he asked the husband, the appellant: “Will you tell the court the main problem between you and your wife which has prompted you to seek this separation? – I will, my lord, he started, adjusting his suit as a true gentleman. It was about the football match which we lost to Egypt last week… “He stopped automatically. The entire court had burst into a feat of uncontrollable laughter. The presiding judge and even the court usher could not help themselves out of this feat.
The character in question seemed not to have been aware of where he stood, and that the court of law is an institution meant for serious legal interpretation and execution, not for trivialities as he had presented. Truly, divorce is a serious matter, but it must be well founded before it appears in court. And so it is that one would readily take the appellant for a clown, whereas he actually meant business. This is similarly the same situation which persists within the Cameroonian society. Indeed, hardly does any citizen appreciate the true value of his personality, his rights and duties, his post of responsibility, his social status, and above all his stance before the Almighty and before the law of the land. Of course, this is what we expect of a people who waive aside meritocracy in favour of mediocrity.
Committed viewers of the African Independence Television AIT, a Nigerian channel, are most often entertained when bills are discussed at the Nigerian House of Representatives as well as at the Senate. Here, we observe democracy in action, with members in total liberty to air their views on pressing national issues. There, the members do openly criticize the excesses or improprieties of the executive arm of the government. There, we appreciate the paramount importance of the judiciary, since it is its place to interpret and effect the law whenever there is a sort of misunderstanding between the executive and the legislative arms of the government.
It is this admiration for the political dispensation in other countries, more particularly Anglophone nations across the globe that makes some Cameroonians question whether our nation is doomed to autocracy and tyranny. Many are Cameroonians today who question whether this nation is living a different historical epoch from other nations. Is this government truly representative of its people? Why are the nation’s Senators and Parliamentarians so subservient before the authorities of the executive arm of government? Who do they represent: the people or the political party? How comes it that individual private bills are virtually inadmissible in both houses? Have they been voted into these honourable houses to become yes-men and to play the second fiddle before the state executive body? These are questions and many others which demand far-reaching answers from our honourable comedians in both houses, not answers which beggar the issues involved.
The sullen existence of these houses in Cameroon is more or less the worst of things that have befallen our society. To other nations, they constitute a strong boon and solace to their citizens. This is quite far from what obtains in our country; rather they can aptly be described as the greatest political disappointment, since they have remained honourable houses of comedians and clowns. Ever since our reunification, there has been a powerful decline in our spirit of patriotism and nationalism. We have become more and more materialistic, hedonistic and egoistic. Inevitably, our leadership has turned out to be undemocratic, undiplomatic and grossly authoritative.
It is for these reasons that Cameroon is today politically reduced to a numb, lose and dissolved state. Everything looks bleak and nothing moves on proper rails. This situation could have been remedied, if this government had been representative of its citizens. It would not have taken the government more than six decades to know that Anglophones had all along been marginalized. The South West Chiefs’ Conference did not have to react by sending a memorandum to the Head of State on this account, if the Anglophones had been part and parcel of these houses. The Lawyers of the Common Law Practice would not have been ridiculed and manhandled, had there been the appropriate representatives of their corps at the Houses, call them of the Senate and of the Assembly. The Anglophone Educational Associations would not have gone on this unending strike action, if their interests had been fully reported to the authorities of this government so that action should be taken.
However, here we are right now in this social stalemate and political ineptitude because nobody in our government is prepared to welcome frank analysis of the queerness of our administrative mechanism or its ideological orientation. Justice Ayah Paul Abine once tried to demonstrate the principle of democracy by airing his views with respect to the backwardness of the people of Akwaya whom he represented at the House of Assembly, consequently he fell out of favour with the CPDM party lords who openly rebuked him and promised to throw him out of the House for non respect of hierarchy and party rules. He opted to resign and form another political party with the abbreviation P.A.P. Indeed, everything went along like a melodrama; with other Members of Assembly keeping mute silence. Today he is in the dungeon for one unknown reason or the other. But it is quite clear that he has all along been quite vocal as one who stands for the truth, and one ready to die for it.
This time around, all eyes are focused on a Member of Parliament from the opposition party, SDF, who has openly exposed the Anglophone Problem before everyone during a plenary session. The name Hon. Joseph Wirba is nowadays identical with any vivid criticism of the present regime. His exchange of words with the President of the House of Assembly, before the entire membership, on two occasions, has been very historical. His claims about the government trying to lay hands on him thereafter cannot be ascribed as unfounded. And for the President of the House to ask him why he had been living in hiding for the long period can only be regarded as sheer irony. Who should actually defend the rights of Cameroon parliamentarians, if not their president? Why do we talk of immunity, whereas it is hardly respected by the government? This seems to be where the shoe pinches. If our representatives cannot speak for us because of fear, why are they then there? Why do they clown with people’s hopes? What laws do they therefore enact? Why the comedy in these houses?

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