Biya’s Grand National Dialogue’s “Special Status” for Anglophones Resolution: What’s in a Name?
Biya’s Grand National Dialogue, which he ironically did not attend, resolved to accord Southern Cameroon (the current Northwest and Southwest regions) a “special status.” The question is what that expression means exactly. Is it federalism by another name?
Fortunately, we have a few territories in the world that have “special status.” The most prominent ones are the troubled Hong Kong, a special territory of China, and Quebec, the Francophone province of Canada.
Quebec is the closest parallel to the Anglophone state of Southern Cameroon. Thus, if La République du Cameroun were serious about granting Anglophone Cameroon “special status” under a United Republic of Cameroon, it would or should look like Quebec. Here is what it would look like:
- Complete autonomy: Southern Cameroon would have its own state headed by an elected Premier, who can be in office for no more than two terms. The elected Premier will have a cabinet responsible for education, forests, water resources, tourism, health, public works, energy, etc, as was the case in West Cameroon (1961-1972).
- There will be a state assembly or two regional state assemblies (one for the Southwest and one for the North west). The citizens of Southern Cameroon will have the right of multiple nationality. They can be Southern Cameroonians, French, British or American at the same time.
- There will be no CPDM House of Chiefs.
- In keeping with its monolingual culture, the official language in Quebec is French. Southern Cameroon will decide its official languages (Pidgin, English, and French).
- Southern Cameroon will have its own immigration policy.
- Counties headed by elected executives or sheriffs will replace the current divisions, and local government areas headed by elected constables will replace the current sub-divisions.
- All mayors and city counsellors will be elected directly by the people. There will be no government delegates.
- The Southern Cameroon constabulary/police will be separate from the police of la Republique du Cameroun. There will be NO Gendarmerie in Southern Cameroon. There will be no calé calé or arrests of citizens without warrants issued by courts.
- All universities will be depoliticized. They will be managed by an independent board of trustees that will hire the presidents and administrators of all institutions of higher learning. No university official will be appointed by decree. All will be hired on qualification, merit and academic productivity.
- Southern Cameroon will own and manage all natural resources within its territory.
- Lands expropriated from the people by the government of La Republique will be returned to them. The lands of the CDC, Santa Coffee Estate, Ndu Tea Estate, Tole Tea Estate, etc) will be returned to the natives who will be paid land rents for use of their lands.
- Southern Cameroon will have an affirmative action policy in employment to redress the injustices of la Republique du Cameroun.
If Biya and the Cameroon National Assembly confer the “special status” recommended by the Grand Dialogue, with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with it, this will go a long way towards resolving the Anglophone problem. Any thing less will be a charade and a sham.
Unfortunately the above Quebec scenario is not likely to happen. Biya, the Speaker of the National Assembly (Cavaye Djibril) and the president of the Senate (Niat Njifenji Marcel) were all absent from the Dialogue. It was not a national priority. Not a good sign.
By Lyombe Eko on Cameroon Vision