With the Presidential elections barely three days away, The Post, in this special report, profiles the 16 presidential hopefuls, and takes a look at their campaign platforms.
FRU NDI: Man Of The People
By Chris Mbunwe
The frontline opposition leader in Cameroon, Ni John Fru Ndi, who hails from Baba village in Santa Subdivision of the Northwest Province, defied the heavy presence of troops on May 26, 1990, and launched the Social Democratic Front, SDF, party. Gendarmes opened fire on hundreds of excited SDF militants who demonstrated from Ntarinkon Market where the party was launched, to City Chemist Roundabout. Six souls were slain that day.
The launching of the SDF was not only interpreted as an affront by the government and the ruling CPDM, but as the boldest political adventure ever taken by a Cameroonian since independence. Since 1990, Fru Ndi, to many observers has remained consistent. Today, the following personalities who started brainstorming in 1989 for the birth of the SDF in 1990, are called Founding Fathers viz;
Rtd. Justice Nyo Wakai, Albert Mukong (late), Dr. Siga Asanga (late), Vincent Feko, Dr. Alfred Azefor, Hon. Clement Ngwasirri, Dr. Carlson Ayangwe, Dr. Gemuh Akuchu and Ni John Fru Ndi
The Founding Fathers proposed the following names for the new party; Social Democratic Party, SDP. This name was rejected on grounds that it was exactly the same name of a party in Nigeria. Other names that were suggested included Federal Democratic Part, FDP, National Democratic Party, NDP, but Dr. Anyangwe suggested “Social Democratic Front.”
This was unanimously accepted and the SDF was born.
Day Of Launching
The then Divisional Officer for Bamenda Central, Augustin Tchousanou, whom the SDF had duly informed of the rally to launch the party, banned it. The order from the DO said no meeting should hold in his Subdivision. Both the Governor of the Northwest in 1990, Magloire Nguiamba, and the SDO for Mezam, Emmanuel Tabe Arampe, were silent on the impending launching of the SDF.
So, when the DO’s banning order was read on radio on the night of May 24, 1990, declaring all rallies or meetings on Saturday, May 26 illegal, the population vowed to defy the ban. SDF officials aware of the fact that the town was heavily militarised, moved the venue from Municipal Stadium and City Chemist to Ntarinkon Park.
In a terse speech, Fru Ndi on top of a landrover, launched the party. The skies broke loose, and it rained heavily for a short while. Those who were shot to death included; Mathias Tifuh (a student), Fidelis Chosi (corn mill operator), Juliet Sikod (student of CCC Mankon) Asanji Christopher (student GTHS Bamenda), Edwin Nfon (tailor from Noni) and Evaristus Chatum Gwellem GCE “A” Level Candidate in (NACHO).
Fru Ndi was President of Lions Club International, Bamenda branch, between 1987 and 1988 and the of Lions Club in USA in 1988.
He was one time President of PWD Bamenda. His first political experience was in 1988 when he contested in the kahki list of the CPDM in a bid to enter the Bamenda Urban Council, but lost the election.
As allegations of rigging became rife, he petitioned against the malpractice perpetrated by the rival green list.
From then on, Fru Ndi began building the SDF revolution. In 1992, the SDF boycotted the parliamentary elections on mere grounds that the electoral laws were too bad for a free and fair elections in Cameroon. So, many people blamed the SDF for the boycott and described that act as a political cowardice.
The same year, Fru Ndi went in for the Presidential election of October 11, 1992, and results were proclaimed by the Supreme Court in favour of Biya. The final scores stood for Biya 39.97 percent, Fru Ndi 36.96 percent, Bello Bouba Maigari 19.21 percent, etc.
Fru Ndi cried foul, and declared himself President at Church Centre, Mankon. A state of emergency was slammed for three months in the Northwest.
With the bad laws, the SDF has participated in all the elections since 1997 up till date, not without protests.
GARGA HAMAN ADJI:Hunting Embezzlers
By Kini Nsom
The name Garga Haman Adji rings a bell in the minds of the observers of Cameroon’s Contemporary Political History. The Presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy and Development, ADD, is not a parvenu.
He is not the type of politician that was shot into the “Dirty game” by a vicious conspiracy of egoistic circumstances. Born in 1943 in Ndiyam- Tcholli in the Far North Province, his journey through an academic and professional career gives him the stamina to somewhat call the shots in the politics of ideas and ideals that are aimed at unseating the statusquo.
After attending the National School of Administration and Magistracy, ENAM in 1965, Garga Harman read law in the Federal University of Yaounde in 1969. He equally studied in the International Institute of Administration in Paris, France in 1968. He holds a diplomat in Political Science. The man’s career spans through National Security, Administration, Banking and Politics. As a devoted Muslim, Garga has firm attachment to truth, a virtue he inherited from his parents.
Garga Haman got into politics at the tender age of 19. He became a militant of Late President Ahmadou Ahidjo’s Union National Cameroonaise, (UNC) in Mokolo Diamare Division of the Far North Province in 1962. Gloom fell over his career when he was detained at the Kondengui Maximum Security prison in 1984. The Biya regime accused him of being one of those who masterminded the April 6, 1984 coup attempt. He proved his innocence and was released.
On October 24, 1984, his romance with Biya regime began when he was appointed Manager of Boston Bank Cameroon. President Biya later appointed him Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reforms on August 1990. According to Garga, he took his job description initiated reforms and at cleansing the public service of endemic corruption.
He waged war against the embezzlers of public funds. Speaking on CRTV’s English Language News magazine programme, Cameroon calling recently, he even submitted names of some corrupt officials and embezzlers to president Biya, suggesting they be punished. But Biya ignored him. He says he resigned from government in 1990, because Biya did not give him the opportunity of bringing sanity to the public service. He dismisses claims that Fru Ndi convinced him to resign. He campaigned for Fru Ndi in the 1992 Presidential elections. Little wonder that he has never stopped pointing out that Fru Ndi’s victory was stolen.
Observers see Garga Haman as one who was driven into the Opposition by conviction. Politics is a game of numbers. But Garga seems to lack the numbers. His party, the ADD, he said, is implanted in the West, Littoral, Far North and the Centre Provinces. Yet electoral fraud orchestrated by the Biya regime he charges, has not allowed the outfit to show its real strength during elections The ADD presidential Hopeful is the lone Northern Candidate in the race for the Etoudi palace. He dismissed the idea of supporting any other candidate.
He has the impression that he fully masters and marshals the aspiratory of the Cameroonians people. His detractors castigated him for not joining the coalition saying that he was driven by egoism. But the man said it bluntly that he could not join the coalition because apart of Fru Ndi and Ndam Njoya the outfit was made up of hawks who were ready to join the CPDM at any time. Antar Gassagay has already done it.
He intends to stimulate employment, revise fiscal policy, and ensure total transparency in the management of public affairs. As Head of state, Garga will reinstate the salary of Civil Servant and integrate state agents into the public service.
Dr.GEORGE NYAMNDI: The Winning Horse
By Che Anoma
Dr. George Dobgima Nyamndi, aged 54, was born in Bali Nyongha, Northwest Province. Although he has not been too vocal on the political scene, he has been an actor in politics for a very long time. For instance, he was one of the founding members of the Cameroon Democratic Union, CDU, where he served, as a pioneer, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Nyamndi later left the CDU and joined the Liberal Democratic Alliance, LDA, where he was one of the Vice Chairmen.
In 2000, Nyamndi decided to be his own man: he founded the Social Liberal Congress.
Dr Nyamndi is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Administrative Affairs at the university of Buea. He is articulate in French and English.
As an educationist, Nyamndi proposes an “educational policy that ensures free primary education and lays stress on Science and Technology as agents of progress.”
On electoral matters, the SLC advocates the creation of an independent electoral commission and a two round presidential election with the winner obtaining a simple majority.
Dr. Nyamndi appears like the new crop of leaders who will be watched carefully. He believes that, as “the winning horse”, Cameroonians should take on his ability to give them a fresh start by “working for the advent of a citizen’s state, encouraging and rewarding intelligence and creative imagination and, above all, promoting the ethics of justice, hard work and social advancement.”.
His party no doubt has in recent times gained considerable grounds but not enough to win the hearts and minds of the electorate. But, the SLC may be popular but not populous. Granted that numerical strength is not all it takes to be elected president, the SLC still needs a few more years to have a firm grip on the national territory. This obviously constitutes the baseline of politics.
At the end of the day, if Dr. Nyamndi and his SLC party do not make it, he will still have made a giant political stride, given that hitherto the party was not so popular. Many hold that Dr. Nyamdi who is sure to become president of this country, may have begun the veritable phase of laying a foundation now.
Cameroonians are so far very impressed with his appearance and presentation on radio and television.
He has exhibited intelligence, eloquence, bilingualism, he is convincing, above all has a vision for this country. But as the saying goes, there is time for everything. All he needs now is to consolidate his support nationwide including his political headquarters, Buea. And given his current nationwide campaigns, at least the SLC will emerge after the October 11 polls stronger than before.
DJEUKAM TCHAMENI:Building Tomorrow's Cameroon With The Youth
Walter Wilson Nana
The Douala-based Djeukam Tchameni is the Presidential candidate of the Movement for Democracy and Interdependence, MDI, of which he is also national President.
Djeukam who has declared himself the people’s candidate for the Octàober 11 polls, is ironically a candidate who says he is not running for the elections to win.To him, the Biya regime has already massively rigged the elections through a big fraud at the level of voter’s registration, and thus, has already won.
Djeukam is known to be one of the most, if not , the most radical political leader in Cameroon (Founder of Cap Liberté in 1991) He has several times ran into trouble with the administration and the security for preaching mass uprisings against the Biya regime.
Djeukam, who says he has never been allowed to appear in any television program (CRTV), says the main reason for his going in for the Presidential elections, is to have a podium during this campaign period to address his message to the Cameroonian people. Known also for his panafricanist stand, the MDI Presidential candidate for his party, has a package of reform program for Cameroon, titled : Minimum Patriotic Program. Born on March 1, 1961, Djeukam holds and MBA from the University of Houston in Texas, and is of course bilingual. Married and a father of three Djeukam is currently a senior consultant with Moody & Smith (a consulting firm). He also teaches at the Douala University.
HUBERT KAMGANG:Cameroon’s Economic Magician
By Kini Nsom
Hubert Kamgang who is running the presidential race on the ticket of Union Des Populations Africaines, UPA, was nobody in Cameroon’s political arena until 1997 when he made a timid show into the 1997 presidential election.
After declaring his candidacy, he later withdrew. He says his participation at the time would have only given undue credibility to the masquerade the 1997 presidential election was.
“I was right to withdraw because all the big parties like the SDF boycotted the elections” Hubert Kamgang told The Post in Yaounde.
Born in 1944 in Batie, kamgang seems to have the necessary academic arsenal and the competence to turn things around and give the Cameroonian nation a new kiss of life.
Retired from the civil service, the UPA presidential candidate is an economist and a statistician. His campaign message is hinged on claims that he has the magic wand to rescue Cameroon’s economy from the doldrums of quagmire. He also has the dream of making the United States of Africa a reality.
According to him, his programme is predicted on the plight of the suffering masses. His ideas are motivated by the writings of Web du Bois, Marcus, Kwame Nkrumah and George Patmoore.
Explaining what he calls the economic miracle, he said if elected president, he would drag Cameroon out of the franc zone and from the Bank Of Central African States, BEAC and from the CEMAC zone.
Withdrawing from CEMAC, he stated, is justified by the fact that other countries in the sub region are refusing to play the game of integration. If Cameroon withdraws, it will join Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and the Gambia in the march for a common currency for the United States of Africa.
Kamgang narrated a short anecdote to beef up claims that he will take Cameroonians into a wave of economic bliss if the electorate favours him on October 11.
Hear him “In 19961, South Korea, Taiwan 11 poor countries were surviving through American aid, even food aid, For 20 years, these countries developed so much. What recipe did they apply? I have studied this recipe and I am proposing it to Cameroonians. It consists of applying full employment measures, which have been prescribed by John Menard Kings in his book “General Theory of Employment Interest and Money”.
This was after world war 11. Even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt applied these measures in America. And all western countries after world war 11, applied them. Even the Dragons of South Asia: Korea, Taiwan and Singapore did that. It consists of putting first, boosting consumption by allowing money to be spent”. In our own case he said this would be reinstating scholarships to students, re-instate the salaries of civil servants to the 1993 status; increase benefits of retired civil servants.
According to him, this would give more money to certain categories of the population to spend.
“We would curb inflation and facilitate access to bank loans by cutting down interest rates”, he said. He said he would make available more social amenities especially in the educational, health and infrastructure domains.
Even Biya Should Vote For Me
Hubert Kamgang says since the incumbent president Biya would like to be remembered as someone who brought democracy to Cameroon, he should vote for him because he (Kamgang) has something for Cameroonians while he (Biya) has nothing.
The UPA candidate said his campaign onslaught is being stifled by lack of funds. “We have not yet had campaign money and we don’t also know what is happening”, he told The Post in Yaounde on Wednesday morning, October 6.
He said he has prepared for the October 11 elections onslaught. I have the economic miracle for Cameroon. Let Biya call on his militants to vote for me.
GEORGE ANICET EKANE:50 Proposals To Rescue Cameroon
BY Mirabel Azangeh
George Ekane Anicet, former President of the Movement For African New Independence and Democracy, MANIDEM, is the Party’s candidate for the October 11 elections.
Formerly considered a trade union because of its pro-masses undertones, the party is going for the elections first time ever at eight (created on March 3, 1993). It has as major objective the complete overhauling of the national economy, which it considers is in total ruins. For this, the Candidate proposes some 50 points surrounding four major concerns of the party as follow: the consolidation of democracy, the promotion of national sovereignty, a strong and performant economy, and the availability of social structures - at the reach of both the rich and poor.
To him, transforming these points into reality withing the next three years of becoming the Head of State, would pull out Cameroon from abject poverty and misery.
Ekane, who also advocates for a free and fair elections, says he would only believe in the results of the October 11 elections if any other person wins, apart from Biya. “the balance sheet is there to prove that he is not worth another term, except he gets them through political manipulation.
It may not necessarily be MANIDEM, but the party will still go ahead with its process of changing Cameroon “after all, the elections is just a stage of the entire process, he says. He says the party would still engage in its process of directing its real essence to the masses. “our tool of analysis is massism, that is, finding the problem from the roots.
We want to change the material condition of the masses. He believes no other candidate would do so more than he can do, besides, “change of President is not a change of the condition of the people,” he says. For this change to come, he professes that the party is so far so sure of victory, since it has been meeting the people and getting their feedback.
If campaigns, till now, have taken the form of interpersonal communication, between persons at markets, public places and toll gates, he however, plans an ‘American style’ campaign for each of its four main headquarters spread throughout the national territory. Before now, there have been the deployment of party militants to campaign in their various areas.
Born in 1951, he is a product of the University of Lille in France where he studied Commerce and Administration of Enterprises. He used to work as promoter (in 1984) at the Societé de Signalétique, SIBAC, before he was arrested and locked up in 1990. His party has worked clandestinely with the UPC - Mackit faction, from where he openly declared his party.
He has also been communication officer for the UPC -Mackit faction. He was also implicated in the Yondo Black Affair, for which he paid with his freedom with four year jail term and a fine of FCFA 20 Millions.
He is married and a father of three, who are all resident abroad.
VICTORIN HAMANI BIELEU:The Market Politician
By Pegue Manga
François-Victorin Hameni Bieleu has seen the vicissitudes of life. That is why at 54 and despite the fact that he is a holder of a Ph.D from the University of Sorbonne, Paris, France, you would see him sympathising and empathising with the downtrodden.
For one thing, he lost his father, Raphaël Bieleu, a nurse in the Nkongsamba central hospital after an illness, while he was just three years old. Then in the 1970s political enemies poisoned his stepfather, Isidore Kolla, a local political official, to death. This made the young Bieleu to hate the regime in power.
This antipathy was to translate into political activism as he would, as a student in the university of Yaounde, vote against the creation of a unitary rather than a federal state in the May 20, 1972, referendum.
In the polling booth and alone before his conscience, Bieleu voted against a unitary state.
According to information obtained from the UFDC Secretariat, Bieleu was summoned by the elements of Sedoc (Documentation Service), the political police of the regime, and detained for several hours in the home of the quarter head who, like Bieleu’s mother, hailed from Fotouni village in Upper-Nkam Division.
After ample explanations by the latter, he was released from the claws of his jailers.
Today, Bieleu recognises the risks and gravity of his act. “Had this relative not intervene, I would have ended up in Matomb or Tchollire. I am grateful to him. In any case, I wanted through my deed to denounce the general drift of Cameroon, especially the cultural assimilation of our Anglophone brothers,” Bieleu readily tells those who mention this period of his life.
This was just the tip of the iceberg, as the young Bieleu will pursue this silent but persistent radicalism until 1990 when on October 1, 1990, in a pointed allusion to the day of unification of Cameroon, the constituent General Assembly of Union of Democratic Forces of Cameroon, UFDC, was held in Yaounde. This party was legalised on March 1,1991.
Born in Bafang, West Province, on January 23, 1948 Bieleu is a twin and fourth child in a family of eight. The children were initiated quite early into Catholicism and completed their primary education in the Government Primary School, Group I, in Quartier III, Nkongsamba.
Upon completing primary school at age eleven, he returned to Bafang, his birthplace, to pursue his secondary education at the Collège Saint Paul secondary school. His secondary education culminated in his obtaining the Baccalauréat certificate in 1971 at the Collège de la Retraite in Yaoundé after several years spent in Collège Vogt in the same town.
In October 1971, he entered the University of Yaoundé, enrolling in two faculties: laws and letters.
In 1972, sponsored by his relatives, he left Cameroon for France where he registered in the Sorbonne University in Paris. In 1979, he obtained a Ph.D in political science minoring in defence strategy: grade “very good”.
This award marked the end of his university studies which were interspersed with several certificates, notably the Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies (DEA) in Defence Policy, the diplôme de l’Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales of Paris, a post-graduate diploma in political science, an LLB and other certificates in Letters.
In 1975, he married Elise Tcheupi with whom he had four children (two boys and two girls).
Bieleu has focused his campaign on traders in the market places. Coming from the West Province, where most of the people are enterprising, Bieleu has already campaigned in the Yaounde, Ebolowa, Douala, Bafoussam and Bamenda markets.
He sees a new Cameroon where each citizen, regardless of their origin, will have a right to freedom and the protection of the nation.
JUSTIN MOUAFO:Centre Right Pacifist
By Clovis Atatah
You need to take a deep breath before reading aloud the name of the party that has invested Justin Mouafo, 67, as its presidential candidate. The candidate of the Nationalisme des Pacifistes du Cameroun pour le bien-être et l’Unité reélle contre les souffrances des Humains, NPC/BUSH, however, is not in a hurry. He believes he is in for the long haul. To Mouafo, participating in an election does not necessarily mean you should win. That’s sportsmanly.
And Mouafo is a sportsman. He particularly loves football and is one of the founders of Racing Bafoussam, one of Cameroon’s most prominent elite soccer clubs. He also founded two other clubs.
But Mouafo believes he was cheated out of Racing and was again a victim of cheating by football authorities when he founded the other clubs. That is why he is no longer very involved in football nowadays.
It is not only in football that this peace-lover feels he has been short-changed. In fact, by his own account, his life seems to have been replete with people pulling a fast one on him.
Mouafo, who joined the UPC in 1955, soon found himself drifting more towards the political right. By the end of the 1950s, he had joined late President Ahmadou Ahidjo’s Union camerounaise (UC) and was one of the youth leaders. When the single party was founded in 1966, Mouafo remained loyal to Ahidjo. He was still a loyal member of the ruling party when the new president changed its name in 1984 to the CPDM. In 1989, Mouafo was Section President of the Mifi.
He sowed his political seeds for many long years. But when it came to harvesting, Mouafo complains, hawks grabbed everything. He was accused of being an alcoholic and deprived of sharing in the political spoils. He says the accusation was not true because he had not consumed alcohol in decades.
He left the CPDM in anger and founded NPC/BUSH in the early 1990s. But in spite of his disappointment with the CPDM, he still supported President Biya’s candidature at the 1992 presidential election. Mouafo argues that his decision was predicated on the belief that the Grand North was intent on taking power again.
Mouafo has a religious belief in a peaceful approach to politics. At the height of the ghost town operations in 1991, he wrote to the Presidency of the Republic to do something about it so that his people could live in peace.
On the economic front, he says he is against chaotic privatisation. He is unhappy that basic utilities like water and electricity are not being properly managed. That is why he founded a group to press SNEC and AES SONEL to improve services. Unfortunately, he says, nobody is listening to them.
Mouafo, whose political ideology falls in the right of centre, dreams of a nation characterised by love, generosity, sharing and solidarity.
He complains about people who say his party is made up only of his wife, son and himself. But he reminds such people that one could participate in an election even if one were sure to lose. And it would be miraculous if he does not lose.
YONDO BLACK MANDENGUE:The Man Who Triggered Multi-party Politics
By Francis Wache
Yondo Black Mandengue, 66, it can be said, is the man who fired the first democratic shot in Cameroon in 1990.With a group of ten other Cameroonians, Yondo Black was arrested and sentenced to a three-year imprisonment.
At his trial, Yonda Black admitted that he and his associates had met to discuss the rampant economic crisis, corruption, laxity, fraud and the slow process in the execution of justice.
When he was released, he went underground and little was heard about, or from him.
Born in 1938, Barrister Yondo was the first President of the Cameroon Bar Association. He also served as late Ahmadou Ahidjo, Cameroon’s first President’s, official lawyer.
Yondo believes that he is “competent, honest and generous” and that, having shown proof of his love for the fatherland, he can lead Cameroonians.
He also believes that another Cameroon, totally different and better, is possible.The Barrister and candidate for the MSND, sees himself as the ideal person for the Presidency. He says the Biya regime does not favour fair trial with respect to the defendant’s rights.
If elected, Yondo intends to bring back the remains of Ahmadou Ahidjo, so that he could be given official funeral rites.
Apart from Ahidjo’s remains, Yondo plans to ensure that “patriots who have served or fought for their fatherland” will be recognised.
Furthermore, he proposes a “society of liberty, justice, dignity, solidarity and participation.”
To achieve this, he plans to, among others, facilitate dialogue between the private and public sectors, reduce taxes, convene a national cultural conference and draw up authentic laws for political parties.
Also, to ensure that elections are free, fair and transparent, Yondo will, as President, draft a new electoral code, hold a national conference to reconcile Cameroonians and, above all, put in place neutral and efficient legal mechanisms to combat corruption, favouritism, embezzlement, and the misuse of public funds.
The choice voters are called upon to make on October 11, by Yondo, is between a modern Cameroon and a Cameroon “advancing irreversibly towards chaos.”
Whether Yondo Black Mandengue becomes President or not on October 11, his name will go down in history as the man who, when it was not traditional to question the one-party oligarchy, dared to raise his voice for multiparty politics.
JEAN JACQUES EKINDI:The Lion Hunter
By Joe Dinga Pefok
Jean Jacques Ekindi is Presidential candidate for the Mouvement Progressist, MP (Progressive Movement); a political party of which he is also National President. A graduate of Polytechnique de Paris, Ekindi got involved in politics while still a student. While on holidays in Cameroon in 1970, he was arrested in Yaounde for his political views, and detained for close to two years.
During his detention, he shared the same cell with some high-profiled political detainees like Ernest Ouandie, ArchBishop Ndongmo, among others.
After his release, he returned to France to continue his studies. He later returned home. When Biya became Head of State, with all the beautiful promises to bring change to Cameroon, Ekindi saw hope in the horizon, and so joined the CPDM at birth. He was to be elected President of the then powerful Wouri CPDM Section (entire Wouri Division) in 1986. He occupied this post until 1991, when he resigned and created his own party.
Ekindi was a candidate in the 1992 Presidential election, at which he got the name Chasseur de Lion ( lion hunter), because of his strong criticism of Biya, who called himself Homme Lion (Lion Man).
One of the founders and long-time President of an opposition alliance, the Front For Alternative Forces, which today backs no Presidential candidate, Ekindi is going in for the October 11 election with a programme for Cameroon based on equality, social justice and probity.
Ekindi says he has a vision for his country, and that is why he remains in politics, in spite of all odds. Not all members of his family are pleased with his insistence to remain in Cameroon to fight for change. This is because he is known to have turned down a total of three international job offers of which he would have been based in Europe, because he says he wants to stay at home where he has a political vision.
Married and a father of four, Ekindi who lives in his ‘village’ – Deido, Douala, is bilingual.
GUSTAV ESSAKA:Inviting Biya For A Debate
By Joe Dinga
Gustave Essaka, one of the Presidential hopefuls for the October 11 Presidential polls, is the founder and flagbearer of his party, the Democratie Integrale Du Cameroun, DIC.
Born in Douala around November 24, 1935, he used to be a mathematics teacher, and later a teacher of the German language in most secondary schools in town, before he was offered a job at the Douala City Council, precisely on December 31, 1993. Though he ought to have retired since 1996, he has had the government renew his work contract several times, given that the job was some sort of compensation for him from the government. Though he says the former Governor of the City Council gave him the job as a friend, popular opinion has it that the job came because he ego-massaged the government, to the detriment of some opposition parties in the early 90s.
Essaka calls himself ‘le premier Triumvir’ because he is the founder and President of DIC, which, together with his wife, especially Deuxieme Triumvir), and its scanty militants, consider it the first-ever legalised opposition party in Cameroon.
For his philosophy, he concocts a corruption-free Cameroon; a Cameroon free of all remnants of neo-colonialism. To him, neo-colonialism, which is still very inherent in the country, is the root cause of all forms of socio-political and economic malaise the country is facing.
“It is a paradox that Cameroon should be endowed with a lot of natural resources, and yet Cameroonians still languish in the darkest form of misery”. To him, its due to this that corruption thrives even in hospitals and schools, which are supposed to be free donations of the state to its people.
In a rather shaky voice, Gustave underrates his chances of emerging victorious in the elections. This would, however, be a golden chance of bringing his party’s ideas to the lime, despite the fact that he is going in for the third time, consecutively. He believes that for the elections to turn out fine, all contesting candidates must declare their sources of revenue.
Openly declaring his, he told The Post in a telephone interview that he earns FCFA 208.000 at the council where he serves as Deputy Chief of Service in the Public Market Department. He reiterates that he is ready to say this to whosoever chooses to listen to him, and insists all should have done the same before being given the chance to run for President.
Because of this, therefore, Gustave Essaka, who, before now, was strongly for the immediate disbursement of campaign funds to candidates, says he still has a number of places to visit before October 11. Among every other hopeful, he estimates only President Biya can challenge him, reason being that Biya is the outgoing, and he is the incoming.
He has so far been to Yaounde, Douala, and hopes to be in the West Province today, precisely in Foumban. He says he has so far been doing media campaigns, which he estimates reaches every interested Cameroonian. For this reason, the number of places he is still to make make public appearances at, depends greatly on his time. He believes his base alone, Douala, can bring for him the desired victory.
He still lives in his late mother’s dilapidated house in Kotto, Douala, with his wife, whose wealth was also inherited from her own parents.
As Curriculum Vitea, the DIC President abstained his BAC in 1956 in Lycée Leclerc in Yaounde, after which he furthered his studies in Germany, where he obtained three diplomas in Law, the Languages and German Civilisation, respectively. Upon returning in 1988, he created the DIC in 1990. He was in political exile during the Ahidjo government, till he was called back when amnesty was granted to all political prisoners.
He is married and father of five.
NDAM NJOYA:Mr. Ethics
By Bouddih Adams
Ndam Njoya wears many caps: Mayor of Foumban, MP of his party, Chairman of the United Councils and Municipalities of Cameroon, Chairman of his Cameroon Democratic Union, CDU, which he created on April 26, 1991, after over 11 years in political wilderness, wishes to be the next president of Cameroon.
Ndam Njoya is a prince of Foumban and nephew to the present Sultan of Bamoun, Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya.
In an interview he granted Cameroon Life magazine in 1991, Francis Wache, the then Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, observed that Ndam Njoya was born with a “ruling spoon” in his mouth. Wache wrote: “For, apart from observing - on a daily basis – his uncle, the Sultan of Bamoun rule, he equally watched his father who was immersed in the hurly-burly of modern politics.”
His father, who had been a Senator in the French Senate (1946 -56), also served as Minister of State under late President Ahmadou Ahidjo. His father died still serving as the Grand Chancellor for National Orders.Ndam Njoya is reputed for his probity and high sense of rigour and an internationally recognised intellectual. He is also a member of the world council of religious bodies.
He has written many books and essays in various literary genres Manifesto of the New Ethics; theatre Dairou IV; poetry Mandou Yenu – translated into German; short story Adieu les Vacances; novel Le Roi Njoya, among others.
He is quoted as saying after creating his party, that: “In the CDU, we intend to give the women a frontline role.”
He was bitterly criticised when he was Minster of National Education (1977-80), when he propounded a 25-year age limit for enrolment into the University.
Until September 14, he was hand-in-hand and chummy-chummy with his opposition political friend, John Fru Ndi, Chairman of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, in the National Coalition for Reconciliation and Reconstruction, NCRR.
The grapes became sour between them when, after a marathon tour of the country drumming support and vote for the Coalition, for the presidential election, they arrived the selection for the consensus candidate of that alliance.
Ndam Njoya, reportedly declared himself winner of the selection, when the screening exercise was at the third stage, and flew over to France, discernibly, to sell his candidature to that country, which has a lot of influence in Cameroon.
Dr. Adamou Ndam Njoya, whose selection as candidate of the NCRR has been contested, sees himself at Etoudi, come the day after October 11.
JEAN MICHEL TEKAM:Restless Fighter
By Clovis Atatah
Jean Michel Tékam, 64, is running for the Presidency under the canopy of the Parti démocrate socialiste, PDS. Although he has been in the opposition most of his life, this France and US-trained pharmacist is little known outside his native Bafoussam. He is said to hold strong political views and is an intellectual social democrat, easily quoting such big names in the social sciences like Max Weber.
He started his romance with politics in 1968 when, as a young man of 18 at President Biya’s alma mater, Lycée Leclerc in Yaounde, he joined the revolutionary UPC party.
After the independence of French-speaking Cameroun in 1960, Tekam left the UPC that had gone underground and joined the West Province-based FPPI party. He later left for France and then the United States where he studied pharmacy.
In the diaspora, Tékam stayed true to his radical ideas. He joined the l’Union nationale des étudiants kamerunais, UNEC, that was close to the UPC as well as the Fédération des étudiants de l’Afrique noire en France, FEANF. During this period, he also clandestinely campaigned for the candidature of Abel Eyinga at the 1970 Presidential election. Although this did not come to fruition, the Ahidjo government blacklisted him.
Tékam returned to Cameroon in 1974 and was employed in the Faculty of Sciences in the then lone University of Yaounde. But his disapproval with the way the university was running did not go down well with the authorities. In 1976, he left the country and had teaching stints at universities in France and Algeria.
While in the diaspora, he founded a political party known as the Organisation camerounaise de lutte pour la démocratie. However, this party operated clandestinely.
In November 1987, he and the veteran UPCist, Ndeh Ntumazah, founded the Cameroon Democratic Front in the diaspora. He was the Secretary General of the party. This party established contacts with other radicals in Cameroon like Albert Mukong (RIP), Yondo Black and John Fru Ndi.
Tékam returned to Cameroon in the early 1990s with the re-introduction of multipartyism in Cameroon as Secretary General of the Parti social democrat camerounais, PSDC.
He joined the bandwagon of the radical opposition and was made Secretary of the Alliance for the Reconstruction of Cameroon through a Sovereign National Conference, ARC/SNC that gave sleepless nights to the Biya regime.
PDSC fused with the SDF in 1997. But the restless fighter would not stay long in the SDF. In 1999, according to sources, he was very disappointed when he did not receive support in his secret bid to become the Secretary General of the SDF.
Tékam then founded the Parti démocrat socialiste, PDS in 2000. In 2002, he took part in the legislative election but failed to grab any seat.
In his current campaigns, he has been talking of an economy in which the state controls the basic utilities and in which the Cameroonian capital, rather than foreign capital, predominates in the private sector.
Although he holds strong social democratic beliefs, Tékam is yet to make a mark in the popular psyche and is unlikely to perform well on October 11.
PAUL BIYA:The Arrogance Of Incumbency
By Peterkins Manyong
Some people are born great, others achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.
Paul Biya was born on February 13, 1933 to the family of Etienne Mvondo, a cathechist at Mvomeka’a, 54 kilometers from Sangmelima, capital of the Dja-et-Lobo Division in the South Province.
“Mvom” means “benediction” while “Ka’a” means promised benediction” a revered connotation of a local Bethlehem.
Biya attended St. Michael’s Catholic Mission Primary School at Nden in 1940. Upon completion, he entered Seminaries at Edea and Akono in 1947. His biographers tell us that he left the seminary without graduating “for personal reasons,” which they are either unable or unwilling to disclose.
He later attended Lycee Leclerc, Yaounde, in October 1954 from where he obtained the Baccalaureat in June 1956.
In France, where Biya continued his studies, he obtained a Diploma from Lycee Louis le Grand in (Paris). He later acquired a degree in Law and Political Science from the prestigious University of Sorbonne from which he graduated in 1961.
In August 1962, he was appointed Charge de Mission at the Presidency. On January 9, he became Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Culture in 1965 and Director of Civil Cabinet 1967; Secretary General at the Presidency June 1968, and Prime Minister in 1975. On November 6, 1982 he was sworn in as the President of the Republic of Cameroon, after the resignation of Amadou Ahidjo alleged to have been manipulated by French physicians.
Paul Biya is one of the most unpredictable politicians in the world. When he took over in 1982, he immediately made a break with the past which was characterised by an iron-fisted administration headed by Ahidjo. He changed the name of the ruling party the Cameroon National Union, CNU, to Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM, thereby raising hopes of greater freedom than Ahidjo ever gave. He later allowed challengers to oppose him in a 1985 Presidential election, but made the conditions next to impossible by demanding 300 signatures from top ranking personalities from all the ten provinces of Cameroon.
From La Democratie To Democracy
This is the title of an essay by RODCOD GOBATA, which aptly helps to distinguish between what Biya terms democracy to what democracy really is. Proof is that the political history of Cameroon since 1990, is in reality, a history of manipulations and intrigues, a conduct that has earned him the admiration of BBC’s Robin White who described him as a “great manipulator.”
Biya’s style is unique. He does not react even in the face of the most “scathing attacks”. Then, when least expected, he lashes out at his opponents in a style, which can be described as a mixture of witticism and sardonic humour. His declarations at Monatele against his challengers speak volumes about him.
He described them as dreamers; people who want to “grab” power at all costs. “Who are these magicians to make Cameoron a paradise with a magic wand? Let them get themselves united before dreaming of changing Cameroon. What is their experience? What are their methods?" he asked.
To him, the other presidential candidates are amateurish, accustomed to blackmail and bound to violence; people likely to plunge Cameroon into an infernal abyss, apocalypse, anarchy, disaggregating economic collapse and diplomatic isolation, if voted into office.
One very peculiar aspect of Biya as a politician is that even at the apex of provocation, he never mentions his opponents by names.
To sum up Biya’s character, it can be said that he is “a great legal mind” as aptly described by one of his greatest admirers, El Hadj Lawan Bako. He is patient, determined and very resistant.
BONIFACE FORBIN:Publisher On The Soap Box
By Charly Ndi Chia
Born in Mamfe, in the Southwest Province some 60 years ago, to parents of Lebialem extraction, Boniface Forbin, was educated in Anglophone Cameroon’s foremost secondary school, St. Joseph’s College, Sasse, near Buea.After university studies in Nigeria, Forbin returned to Cameroon in the late 1960s to pick a broadcasting job with the then Radio Cameroon.
He belonged to the team of fire-eating journalists that dared at the time, to run the critical Sunday morning programme, Cameroon Report, the forerunner of today’s Cameroon Calling.
Not contented with public service broadcasting, Forbin quit Radio Cameroon in the late 70s and headed back to Nigeria, where he worked for a very reputable international syndicated news service. He combined this with a teaching job at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, where he taught Mass Communication, and studied at the University of Lagos, which culminated in a PhD.
When he returned to Cameroon in the early 80s, Forbin took up a job with Cameroon Airlines, where he served as Chief of Service in charge of Communication. The restless Forbin was soon to quit even this job that seemed so lucrative and assured, to venture into the unsanitary waters of newspapering, with the founding of The Herald, in 1992.
One thing led to the other, and in the second half of 2003, the Editor/Publisher of The Herald became the Chairman of the newly approved Justice and Development Party, JDP.
The Herald newspaper, it could be said, very patiently and meticulously midwifed the JDP, hinting at every turn and opportunity, of Dr. Forbin’s political ambition and wish to solve the much-parroted Anglophone problem, not through SCNC type militancy, but rather, through conventional party politics.
Hence, his argument that the Cameroonian nation, could at once, cure the headache of poor leadership and have the Anglophone problem, effectively taken care of, by simply voting for the JDP candidate, whose upbringing in typical Anglo-Saxon tradition, is an asset worth cashing in on.
FRITZ PIERRE NGO:The Environmental Campaigner
By Nformi Sonde Kinsai
The Mouvement Ecologique du Cameroon, MEC, Presidential candidate, Fritz Pierre Ngo, has expressed optimism that his party will occupy an honorary position in terms of ranking, after the Presidential polls of Monday, October 11.
He was reacting to a question from The Post on telephone, October 6, on the state of preparedness of his party and his chances of winning the post of the President for the next seven years.
Going by Radio France International, FRI, ranking of candidates that morning, where Ngo was placed 5th, the MEC aspirant, after a long laugh, told The Post that he may not win, but the party will come out of the elections with a better image than before. He complained of government failure to disburse campaign funds, which is negatively playing on the opposition political parties. He said, that notwithstanding, MEC is commanding a good following.
It is the first time in the history of Cameroon that a Presidential candidate is basing his campaign messages on environmental issues to lure Cameroonians to vote him for the top most job in the country.
According to Ngo, of the six-year-old MEC, human society that depends on ecological resources must guarantee and preserve the ecosystems, which provides life.
Nationwide environmental impact assessment; conduct of an inventory of state’s sustainable resources; systematic control of polluting companies and payment of eco-tax by defaulters, fight against desertification and strict application of the 1998 law on management of forests; etc, are some of the pressing environmental issues on Ngo’s campaign agenda for the presidency.
Like other opposition candidates, development of infrastructures such as hospitals and roads, work to attract foreign investment, obligatory education up to the age of 18 for all, complete ban of imported frozen products declared toxic and so on, are some of Ngo’s preoccupations.
Married and a father of five, Ngo was born on June 25, 1952 in Douala. In 1973, he obtained a professional certificate from the European Management School of Havre in France; in 1976, advanced diploma in accounting in France; a degree in applied accounting at AFCA in Cameroon and in 1992, he did communication at l’Ecole Française d’Attaché de Presse.
Professionally, Ngo was between 1973 and 1975 responsible for newspaper and magazine distribution with the Hachette Group and from 1976 to 1985, he was Chief Accountant at the Societé d’Engrais et des Produits Chemiques d’Afrique Equatoriale (SEPCAE-Cameroun).
From 1985 to 1989 he was in charge of overseeing the distribution of foodstuffs in the northern part of Cameroon; 1990-1991 Ngo was auxiliary intern in charge of public relations at the Belgium-based European Union Economic and Social Committee. In 1991, he was assistant intern to the Representative of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific, ACP, countries at the European Union and in 1992 he moved to Belgian Verdict Communication Agency as sales advertiser of Coca-Cola, sprite and Fanta.
In 1993, he was Groom Advertiser at Chaine de Magasins de Luxe City 2 in Belgium and moved in 1994 to another Belgian company, Groupe Media le Vif-Express de Bruxelles, as Marketing Delegate.
In 1995, Ngo returned to Cameroon and created the Générale de Communication et d’information. He entered politics in the same year and flirted in the political parties of Garga Haman Adji and Antar Gassagay, before creating the Mouvement Ecologique du Cameroun, MEC, in 1998.