By Fai Cassian
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa
|Ni John Fru Ndi|
Ni John Fru Ndi, SDF National Chairman has been voted to pilot the affairs of the Social Democratic Front-SF for the next four years. He was reconfirmed the position of chairman with an overwhelming majority of 12 19 votes out of the 1431, scoring 87%. While Osih Joshua was also voted as the 1st Vice President while Mrs Elizabeth Tamanjong was appointed as the Secretary General of the SDF as prescribed by the constitution, but due to electoral lapses, the position of Organizing Secretary was handed to NEC for a final decision. Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi whose candidature was unchallenged has beaten record in the SDF for reaffirming his commitment to conquer power before he quits politics.
Barely above 71 years old, Ni John Fru Ndi who pundits were of the opinion that age was overtaking him reassured delegates that he is still vibrant and energetic enough to take the SDF to a safer shore. Having toured Cameroon 17 times in 23 years, Ni John Fru Ndi seems more determined and committed to the struggle he started with the launching of the SDF on May 26, 1990. Whether it was out of fear or not, the fact that SDF Chairman’s candidature was unchallenged continue to attract a lot of criticism yet another school of thought holds that SDF chairman like his colleague Paul Biya, and dozen others have been granted the status of being natural candidates. “Challenging the chairman in an elective position to me is like firing oneself on the leg” one SDF militant exclaimed. But a greater proportion of SDF delegates are of the opinion that Fru Ndi for now is the only person who can guarantee the sustainability of the party more than anyone else.
However, there is no gainsaying that many are still considered as black legs in the party today because they had challenged SDF natural candidate. Some of them voluntarily 8:2ed themselves from the party while others disappeared into the wilderness after such attempts. Such has been the case of Ben Muna, Hon. Ngwasiri, Hon. Paulinus Jua, Hon. Fobi Nchinda, just to name these few. “Gunning for the chairmanship of the SDF is like writing satanic verses that automatically leads to a divine sentence” one of the prominent militants of the SDF who preferred not to be named exclaimed. To others, the fear of the position of the chairman of the Social Democratic Front is the beginning of wisdom just like Paul Biya is doing to his die-heart supporters who are eyeing his position. Notwithstanding, the glaring example is that of Hon. Fobi Nchinda, who was crushed during primaries into the National Executive Committee-NEC as Communication Secretary. Not because he was considered incompetent but rather because to pay him in his coin for daring, Ni John Fru Ndi openly campaigned for Annembom Munjo(who during the convention was unable to present a simple report of her activities). Nonetheless, most delegates still consider her as a Lilliputian though vibrant in the yesteryears, nemesis have caught her with changing time.
But as many would think and say without fear or favour, the SDF is safer in the hands of Ni John Fru Ndi any school boy or girl who may auction the party overnight for a few banknotes. The fact that Osih Joshua has moved from the position of 2nd Vice National Chairman to the position of 1st Vice, there is optimism that the necessary strategies are being put in place to groom someone who could safeguard the aspirations of the Cameroonian people. For that, inside sources see Osih as a Fru Ndi in the making. Another perpetual threat which Fru Ndi himself denounced is multiple intrigues and strategies of the ruling CPDM to infiltrate the party ranks by using some SDF militants. “If the SDF has survived up to date, it is thanks to the steadfastness of the national chairman”, one militant from Bertoua remarked. But the fact that majority of parties officials in Cameroon have been at the helm of their respective party continue to spark a lot of debate.
SDF 8th Convention and Transfer of Power from the People
When the SDF was launched in 1990, one of the slogans that captured the admiration of Cameroonians was “Power to the People and Equal Opportunities”. What those who took the pains to attend the 8th National Convention of the SDF went back home with was that the SDF has adopted a new unsung slogan “Power to the NEC” meaning power which was once in the hands of the people has moved to the National Executive Council-NEC. According to what was adopted during the convention, the final say on who is suppose to be the mayor or Parliamentarian lies in the hands of the Investiture Committee (NEC). This measure which delegates saw as a means of taking away power from the hands of the people has been highly criticized by political analysts as well as party militants. The innovation which comes at the heel of the numerous challenged faced by the SDF during the last Municipal and Legislative election is being described as a slab on the jaws of democracy. Yet Samuel Minla says he is optimistic that such a disciplinary measure will eradicate obnoxious plans to challenge the Investiture and go free like was he case with Tikanjo Stephen of Babessi, Mangoh Jones Tanko of Nkambe, DK Nfor of Ndu, Ngong Thiato of Njinikom, and Bafoussam II, who succeeded in violating a decision of the investiture to impose selves as mayors. Even though some party officials say the modification is to check scammers from buying their way to the position of mayor, the ordinary militant on the other hand is of the opinion that it is golden opportunity for investiture committee members to trade positions for money to the detriment of the grassroot. “Where then is the slogan of power to the people”, another delegate of the South West Region says. “Of what use is the article 8(2) in the party if we cannot use it to ensue discipline” Nobert Soumme wonders.
Fru Ndi overpowered
One of the things that Suffer Don Finish’s 8th Convention would likely be remembered for is that it overdosed Chairman Ni John Fru with power. Apart from the fact that he is the chairman of the Investiture Committee, chairman of the National Advisory Council and chairman of the National Executive Committee, Fru Ndi was also catapulted to the commander of the Vanguard Corps. John like Paul the leading opposing Cameroonians have been drunk in the accumulation of positions. This public opinion say is a syndrome that takes roots as age and the necessity to have grip of power increases .
The SDF of Ni John Fru Ndi can heat the chest for one thing, that atleast the party was able to demonstrate it has a national dimension and can be able to mobilize over 2000 delegates, sympathizers and other stakeholders. That in 23 years, the party can price self of organizing 8 conventions, a national record yet to be beaten even by the ruling CPDM. The introduction of a single ballot paper and system of voting is one of the attractions of the SDF. However, democratic principle even though stringed were at it peak as even delegates would challenge the decision of Ni John Fru Ndi as was the case of the mayor of Kumba Asapngu Ferdinand, who voted on Fru Ndi’s face that the appointment of members of the electoral commission did not respect geopolitical balance. Indirectly, the message was that the notion of tribalism. Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi was obliged to move to the rostrum twice to defend why he took this or that other decision. It was indeed the spirit of free-speech though that characterized the convention. The SDF has proven beyind reasonable doubts that every time it dishes out lessons. By introducing the single ballot paper during the Bamenda convention, Fru Ndi and Co are sending a message to the regime that it could also be possible in Cameroon just like in other places. The fact that Fru Ndi announced that as unique candidate if he does not obtain above 51% in the elections he would turn down the position was another lesson. The notion of acclamation was effectively discarded as a democratic principle.
North West Loses Grip
Since the creation of the SDF, North West Region has always had a grip of playing the frontline role but unfortunately, the 8th National Convention turned tables. Delegates of the North West Region who did not have the leniency of the investiture as unique candidates were all flushed out. It is feared that the National Executive Council may collapse with the present dispensation. Besides, majority of the elective positions were won by people who may likely not take the challenge to attend NEC meetings. This political pundits say it could likely lead to the collapse of the SDF party as adventurers emerged from the wilderness to take over command. Fru Ndi the philosopher was right again in his predictions like Nostradamus that paid CPDM agents were infiltrating the party. In fact judging from that point he was “right indeed”. Yet, allegations are bound that SDF Chairman who for the past years has been fighting the few committed soldiers around him based on gossips and backstabbing has finally fallen prey in his own trap. “I am afraid that the next four years may be dramatic for us” one SDF militant told this reporter. In fact the truth is that a leader who passes time listening to gossips ends up wrap in dirt, whether Fru Ndi could finally understand that apart of the North West, other delegates came to the Convention as a block to express their grievances is an indisputable fact. Not Vaneganse Mochiggle, Mangoh Jones Tanko, Fon Yembe Martin, Tosam Bernard and others who were crushed by a block built years ago by some dark hidden hands right inside the party. Even though SDF Chairman would still have to appoint the Secretary General of the party as well as some few others, Pa Atekwana Joseph and Annembom Munjo escaped narrowly thanks to the clemency of the Investiture. Whether the NEC meeting will be able to form a quorum is another mystery. Whether it is a masquerade or not, the SDF party, a one time vibrant leading opposition party has been transformed into a sinkhole for character assassination, where politicians play like apes for nuts. Whether money did changed hands during elections is another mystery but yet, we gathered that candidates who were able to provide lodging as well as transport fares to some delegates were the favorites for votes. Those who knew that money can buy everything including votes were catapulted while those who relied on their abilities were down to naught.
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa