We recently published an article about the Fon of Bafanji in which he cleared the air on mismanagement allegations, thus pointing accusing fingers at the elite(s) in the Diasporas for instilling disorder. A Bafanji Elite based in the Diasporas has opened a can of worms on the obnoxious practices that is hindering development efforts in the village. The Eye's Fai Cassian Ndi met one of the foremost development luminaries of Bafanji Village to throw more light on their grievances against the Fon of Bafanji, FASDA and the Task. Excerpts....
We published an article in which your name was mentioned as one of the many in the Diaspora who have incessantly raised the dust in the air about management of Fanji Development funds and have pointed fingers to the Fon of Bafanji and the Former president of FADCA Mr Pezumbia Philip for mismanagement whereas some of you have contributed little or nothing for development. What is your say about this?
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It is alleged that some of you want to create confusion in Bafanji by raising baseless accusations about mismanagement whereas you people have never contributed for village development. Is this true?
Sir, permit me say that people get confuse between the words Mismanagement, Embezzlement, Accountability and transparency to mean the same. I will begin by stating that between February 2012 and August 2012, there was a lot write ups on “Bafanji Community” a face book group as well as private correspondences related to issues concerning the management of Funds raised during the reign of HRH Ngwefuon II. I contributed greatly in most of these writes up and together with other elites in the Diaspora criticised the manner in which affairs of finances were being handled by those concerned. I called regularly for accountability from members of the TASK FORCE, as well as FADCA officials over how they were to spend the 31.6 millions because they had promised the public through written statements that they will publish the account as they did with the car project. I personally drew the attention of the fon to these issues in a letter dated 20th June 2012 addressed to the fon in which I tabled a six point suggestion to the Fon asking him to request FADCA and TASK FORCE EXCO members to produce a statement of account between February 2011 and April 2012.So when the fon said we accused him of mismanagement, he should refer to this letter, which the Eye Newspaper is here presented with a copy.
It surprises me greatly that the fon in his press interview made false statements that we want to set confusion in Bafanji, when it is actually his poor handling of issues on the ground most especially his handling of accountability that have degenerated into the confusion which he perceives in his mind. Actually the fon made it difficult during the AGM that held from 25-26 May 2012 for the TASKFORCE to present a detailed account of how the 31.6 million was spent. The fon cannot accuse the Diaspora including myself for setting confusion, when he rightfully knows that there was great conflict of managing the 31.6 million between TASK FORCE and FADCA and a kind of infighting between the two that led to the then National Treasurer of FADCA withdrawing her services in the management of TASKFORCE Expenses of the 31.6 million in a letter dated 1st June 2012 to the fon. And during the failed AGM that held on 25-26 May 2012, Mr Pezumbia out of frustration resigned in his welcome speech. Talking about Mr Pezumbia, it would be worth mentioning that his financial secretary in the person of Ndoke Benjamin resigned on 27th June 2012 over a number of allegations against the President ( Pezumbia) including spending the 31.6 million and misinforming the public about who spent the money, lack of invitation during preparation of financial statements, being presented with pre-prepared statements to read. The press can get a copy and read for more insight. Mr Pezumbia himself should know that he contributed greatly to the shady nature in which the 31.6 million was spent because he and the fon created the coordination committee that squandered the money whereas he refused taking part during the collection of this money.
Despite these points you raised, the fon noted that you in the Diaspora have never contributed for village development projects but make the greatest noise. What can you make of this?
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From your explanations, you seem to speak a lot of general issues without addressing specific issues. Considering that you were one of the few persons who protested and requested that accountability and transparency must go hand in hand with expenditures, what is your contribution to Bafanji Development projects that can convince the public and the fon?
I would like to state that there are different contribution types, and elites must not necessarily go with the annual financial contributions for the fon to acknowledge that they are contributing for development. It is also worth mentioning that students generally do not contribute financially towards annual village development except otherwise. But the fact people do not contribute do not DENY them the rights to question how money collected are spent. Though here in the diaspora, we have families back home who make these contributions and some of their contributions comes from some of us. Again I was a student until august 2011 may not have contributed much but have read about development and know how and why accountability is important. However I have a few contributions which can buttress my points against the fon. I can outline some contributions towards Fanji over the the years.
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- I equally bought the AES Sonel meter which is presently in the palace today for late Ngwefuni II, and paid the electrician’s transport to go install it from Ndop.
- In 2007, I tabled the health situation of his father, and lobbied from my siblings in the USA over 200.000 FRS which I travelled to Bafoussam and handed to his late father who was hospitalised there in the presence of Mr Tiengieng. This happened on two occasions.
- In 2008 while a student in yaounde, I occasionally food p money to the present fon whom by then was just a prince and a student like myself.
- October 2008, I left Cameroon for the United Kingdom, one week after arriving in the UK, I sent over 100.000frs to then Prince François who is today the fon to enable him process and dispatch by DHL his documents to Chalmers University, I equally sat down and wrote two recommendations letter for him to enable him secure a Scholarship. Unfortunately he did not get the offer.
- August 2009, I together with Tiapo Neville in the Cardiff UK, Alima Isaac in London Uk, sponsored a trophy for the students at 200.000frs.
- I went further to contribute financially for the erection of two metal football poles which are still standing today at GS Mbangang as my legacy for the students to use due to the wanton destruction of the old poles ( by palace Children).
- I supported financially other small student’s activities, not worth mentioning.
- In august 2010, I still sponsored now from Denmark students activities in Bafanji with a trophy offer of 100.000frs.
- In March 2011, his father disappeared as it is said, and I immediately dispatched 100.000 frs to the palace on behalf of all my siblings to the condolence book to enable them feed the population who were streaming into the palace.
- April ending 2011, 5 members of the Nchichupa’s in the Diaspora contributed 465.700frs for the fon’s car. Of this amount, I contributed 115.700 FRS.
- In March 2012, The fon needed a secured place where his wife and newborn baby could leave in Bamenda before they could find suitable place, and despite the arguments about his administration, his handling of financial issues, and the verbal threats which he had given me, I was still compassionate to allow his wife sleep in the house which I rented for my mother and in my mother’s bed for close to 3 months at Foncha Street without him having to pay rents for that.
- Still in march I was able to send contribution for the late fon’s crydie through my mother.
- In april 2013, I was in bafanji to bury my uncle Feko Vincent despite being bereaved, I was still able to offer a few containers of tablets to the health centre in Bafanji and had asked the chief of health to distribute to patients free of charge.( something which i hear the fon disputes) It doesn’t matter if it was small.
- In May 2013, I pledge 10 benches to GBS Ekwo Bafanji and two Blackboards to the tone of 150.000frs, I sent in an advanced amount of 85.600frs on 29/05/13 to Mr Clement Nosimbang and promised to complete the rest by July 2013.I was not alone, others members of the Diaspora have contributed towards the bench project including Lienghotue Gideon whom you have mentioned in your article.
If after these recollection of facts, the fon and Mr Pezumbia still think, development of a village is only to contribute at the end of the year, then I wonder what they understand as development. There are still many in the Diaspora who have contributed in many different ways probably not known to me which the fon failed to acknowledged which is disturbing. For example, I know from the final report published by the car committee, the Fanji Diaspora contributed about 1.3 millions in 2011 towards the purchase of a car for the fon. The fon should have been honest to recognise this. Others contributed financially directly to the fon during the “ final celeberation of Late Ngwefuni “ which he has not acknowledged.
So after reading the fon state that the 31.6 was well spent, and accounted for , would you withdraw your scepticism about this accountability issues.
NO ! What was done, was done. The Diaspora have a copy of the reports presented by all those included in the management of the money, and a lot of unanswered issues still remain there which nobody really wants to question now.The people gave their verdict in December 2012 and will still give their verdict at the end of the year if they were satisfied or not with how the money in 2011 was spent. The people demanded a statement of account continuously, and the fon was even coerced into asking the Taskforce members present this account in Limbe during a reconciliation meeting between all factions in the village over the alleged sum of money.
If the fon claims all went well with the 31.6 million, and that all is well now, He would not have called for a reconciliatory Meeting in Limbe where FADCA officials and TASKFORCE pledged to work for the good of the village, The AGM for 2012 would not have been postponed twice over disagreement over account balance, the Fon’s 50million target for 2012 as stated in his mail dated 3rd February 2012 would have been met. But to show the disapproval of the population, The Annual development fund could not amount to 10 million francs as opposed to 2011 when they gathered 31.6 million. If the fon was wise enough, he will understand, the failure of accountability, and his poor handling of the issue penalised FADCA.
You claimed that you were banned from the village by the fon. But Mr Pezumbia denied that, and even explained that you were home to bury your uncle Vincent Feko. How will you explain that?
I will begin by asking you, if you had questioned the fon about that? If You did not, then it will be good to ask him. But before he start denying that, i will like to draw your attention to the fact that, the fon has issued many of these excommunication orders.
The first incident pitting the fon and an elite of the Diaspora over excommunication orders occurred in March 2012 when the fon called the DO of Oku Mr Lienghotue Patrick informing him that Lienghotue Gideon of Ireland was banned from Bafanji for allege criticisms of the fon. He was asked not to accompany his Dad’s casket to the Village and to remain at the Mortuary. It took some diplomatic cables and secret security intervention that he got home. The day after burial , the fon sent some punishment messengers from the “ ngumba” with instructions that the family should punish Gideon and bring back a report to him. These messengers came, unable to answer a lot questions, collected a bribe of 10.000frs and left. One year after, the fon still bent on his excommunication decision, as he sent out a restriction order last weekend refusing the holding of the memorial services for Gideon parents (Lienghotue Peter, and Theresia of late) to the DO of Oku without due justification. This order came despite the fact that the programming was done since January 2013 by his traditional prime minister.
Last may 19th 2013, the fon on phone to my cousin Mbiojing Isaac and George also instructed them to inform me of my excommunication from Bafanji. What were the reasons, because we in the Diaspora have been informing the public through Bafanji facebook group about his activities as a leader in bafanji in the last 26 months’ Some of these exaggerated activities of the fon known to us include:
· Meddling in the affairs of FADCA and prevention of accountability
· The setting up of a village militia style group called BIR who go around beating and rubbing villagers in mud.
· The forceful collection of 500frs from villagers for traditional rites
· Collection of 100.000frs for attending occasions out of the village
· Threatening elites with forceful contribution of annual development money.
· Harassing of families during mourning periods or during memorial services
· Being inconsiderate about the plight of the poor villagers working okro on mashy lands at Tangwang,
· A huge appetite for money
· Excommunications orders including the recent one whereby by he sent away a man from another village out of Bafanji over a menial incident
· Involvement in land issues and its sales and much more.
These vices to us have greatly damaged his reputation reason why during the meeting last Sunday the 2nd of June, some prominent elites cautioned him about using military training style acquired from ENAM and attempting to use it in ruling the people. For Mr Pezumbia to say we were not banned is wrong because he has no knowledge about the actions of the fon.
With all the issued raised here, In your opinion what do you think can make Bafanji village move forward whereby the Diaspora and the elites back home can work together?
· First of all, the fon must renounce his threatening attitude towards his subjects and know that he is a fon because of the people.
· The fon must comply with basic correcting mechanisms to all defaulters in the village.
· He must stop meddling in the affairs and decisions of FADCA especially finance.
· He must reach out to his people and seek their face in an apologetic manner ( Even though the fon never say sorry).He must know he is not infallible.
· The fon must stop exploiting the poor villagers working either in swaps or the rice farm.
· The fon must know that even his late father who was slapped by an elite did not excommunicate the said individual from Bafanji.
· He must recognise that when a love one dies, it’s not an opportunity for him to extort money from family members in the name of village development.
· The fon must ensure that transparency is his watch word to build trust in his people.
· The fon must withdraw his order banning all individuals from the village and also avoid creating a scandal for himself by refusing the holding of the memorial services of the above mentioned people.
· Most importantly the fon must set up a team of good and frank advisers who can counsel him on decision taking.
· Also important he must set up a reconciliation team to identify all mistakes made from his side and all other elites and give a window of opportunity for reform.
· Those managing village funds must be accountable, and accountability should be an obligation to the people, and not a favour.
· Finally he must REFORM his attitude towards his people, BACK OUT of the Press and stop making his administration and village come under unnecessary focus.
As for the Diaspora,
· While criticising the authorities, they must also start thinking alternative ways of getting involved in small affordable projects meanwhile still watching the activities of the leaders and their attitudes towards the voiceless population.
· They must recognise that if the fon changes his attitude towards the people, the Diaspora’s presence must be felt in the village, and we can also write praises for the fon.
· But if the fon or those managing village affairs fail to meet up to the expectations of the population, then the Diaspora must continue with revolutionary ideas that can reform the system in the village and use every necessary means to bring the leaders to oder.
· All antagonising parties must learn to accept criticisms, then we shall see bafanji move forward.
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