Few months ago, all the ELECAM Divisional heads (including some council heads) in the North West and South West Regions appeared before a “kangaroo” disciplinary committee concocted by the Director General of Elections, Sani Tanimou. After being bullied into submission, they were all slammed eight days suspension for attending an “illegal training” workshop on the invitation of the President of ELECAM, Fonkam Azu’u. This is however indicative that the brouhaha between the President of ELECAM and Director General of Elections has finally reached the climax with Anglophones working at ELECAM being scape-goated.
In prelude to his tour of the seven Divisions of the North West Region to assess the level of registration as well as review the electoral registrar, Dr. Fonkam Azu’u had time to address some of these pertinent issues with journalists in Bamenda. This was during a Press Conference that took place on June 5, 2015 at the regional office of ELECAM.
In his preliminary Press statement, he decried the fact that some political parties are not very serious in wooing voters to register in the electoral registrar. He said that the fact that there is no calendar announcing elections for this year is not an excuse. He added that the head of state decide to call the people to the polls for a referendum and if any such thing happens, some electors will be hooked. He said that the advantage political parties in Cameroon have and have not been exploiting is that while in other countries election matters are handled exclusively by the election body, in Cameroon; political parties are stakeholders in the process. He commended the Cameroon model which is participatory. He revealed that the North West tops chart in the country with Mezam registering the highest number of voters. Some 22.821 new voters were registered and Bamenda II council where unfortunately its council head was sacked recorded the highest number of voters. But curiously, the ELECAM council Head for Bda was sacked. In a general appraisal, Dr. Fonkam Azu’u revealed that youths ages 20-35 years constitute 82.17% of the total number of registered voters.
In response to clear the air on the conflict between the Board and the Directorate of elections that has stifled activities, led to arbitrary dismissal and suspension of staffs, Dr. Fonkam Azu’u told journalists that the electoral code stipulates that all what the directorate of elections does is under the board but wondered loudly why a subordinate should give a contrary opinion to a decision taken by hierarchy. Dr. Fonkam Azu’u Samuel who was flanked by Dr. Nsangou Issafo (Board member) said that from the way things are unfolding at ELECAM, the structure seems to harbor two independent bodies. He added that the only thing that spells out the preordain roles and responsibilities of each and everyone is the law. He emphasized that in the case of ELECAM, the base is the electoral code. Drawing inspiration from the electoral code, Fonkam Azu’u vomited that the law is very clear on that. It is impossible “That President Biya appointed 18 people to be rubbished? This can happen only in ELECAM”. Dr. Fonkam Azu’u further justified his statement by adding that one doesn’t need to be a jurist to understand that the electoral board and the directorate of elections are two organs with one operating under the other. The situation he reiterated is getting worst given that those who refuse to act on the whims and caprices of the DG have been slammed sanctions. He cited the case of Divisional heads in the North West and South West Regions who were each slammed eight days and their salaries slashed for attending capacity building workshops that ELECAM did not spent a dime. “The first thing is that you do not sanction without a query”. None of them he revealed received a query or was ever told why they were summoned to travel to Yaounde. “What is the offence that they committed?-that is not how administration is done”. To Fonkam, the staffs were bullied into submission and that is what is being brandished today.
“It should have been me not the poor staff”. The Eye is aware that Tanimu’s sanctions are mostly directed towards Anglophones. According to ELECAM Boss, Sani Tanimou had in violation of the electoral law appointed and installed even some regional heads. When a subordinate in the administrative hierarchy can take upon himself to obstruct the execution of an act duly taken by a superior authority; it does not only constitutes a clear case of insubordination but can be rightly interpreted as done in total disregard and disrespect for the president of the republic who appointed him to that position. After the clarification and indictment, Fonkam Azu’u said the crisis was going through an “internal examination” for a resolution.
The Eye is also aware that the Divisional head for Ngoketunjia, Council head for Santa and Bamenda II are the latest victims. Even though the position of a director general of elections has sweeping administrative and financial powers, indicators are rife at that Sani Tanimou has waged a tug of war with Fonkam to establish that he too can. Even though the law stipulates that he (Tanimou) operates under the authority of the board headed by a president to “ensure the smooth functioning of Elections Cameroon, the Director General of Elections has been rubbishing all the actions by the board. There is no gainsaying that Sani’s disrespect for the ELECAM electoral board and insubordination is another form of Anglophone marginalization. Dr. Fonkam Azu’u not have said it during the Press Conference but public opinion holds that Sani Tanimou’s headiness is not unconnected to the fact that Fonkam is Anglophone. Fonkam further revealed that the Regional Head for Littoral was threatened when he was contacted to attend one of the seminars. It should be recalled that the Kribi seminar was organized with funding from the African Union same goes with some five elecam staffs who attended another training workshop on election matters in South Africa and Korea. Dr. Fonkam Azu’u went further to lament that one Anglophone regional head was deprived of his special allowance on grounds that he refused to submit to the dictates of the Director General of election. Tongues are still waging in the North West and South as to why Tanimou has taken upon himself to obstruct the execution of several activities duly planned and deliberated by a superior organ. Classified sources say Tanimou’s plans to frustrate the Board have been succeeding smoothly but may soon hit the rock. A case in point is the annual meeting with stakeholders that has not held for a long time now. ELECAM Board chairman even told journalists in Bamenda that the annual meeting with stakeholders could not take place due to circumstances beyond their control. Besides, he (Tanimou) relies on the South solidarity given that he hails from the same region with the head of state.
Some years back, Fonkam rightly said, that the crisis is not between him and Sani. It is a problem between the directorate general and the board caused by the law designed to brew such conflicts. But actually, Anglophones working with Elections Cameroon have been caught in the mess and are being victimized.
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)