Cameroonians Have A Right To Know Where Their President Was!
BY YERIMA KINI NSOM
Their faces contorted to a grimace of disbelief when they saw a visibly healthy and chubby President Paul Biya on television last Thursday April 16.
Many sadistic faces were tense with disappointment that the man had not joined his ancestors as they had wished.
His appearance cast an awesome silence of guilt on them.
They are the tenacious rumour-peddlers who had believed in and propagated Cameroon’s President’s supposed demise in the social media.
For over a month, talk of Mr. Biya’s death remained undying.
It plunged the entire country into a stressful abyss of anxiety and uncertainty.
Social media criminals even photo-shopped scamming images to claim that our lovely President was a corpse. Even when the government Spokesman, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, dismissed the rumour as unfounded, the social media continued to announce the presidential obituary in all resilience.
For one thing, the government’s rebuttal was rendered impotent by a huge information void. It did not tell Cameroonians where their President was and why he was absent from the saddle at a very critical moment when a raging fire, called the coronavirus, was virtually devastating the national edifice, roasting several citizens.
Once more, the citizens’ right to be fully informed on issues of public interest, as provided for by article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of human Rights, was violated.
Throughout the over month period of the persistent allegations, the government behaved as if the Cameroonian people who elected President Biya do not matter.
Those who steer the ship of the state behave as if it is a taboo for the people to know the whereabouts and the state of health of the President.
That denial is a heart-rending affront to the citizen’s right to information.
The arrowheads of this opaque management of public information, exposed Cameroon to international ridicule.
Comedians on radio and television stations in one neighboring country, kept on making a mockery of our beloved country on account of allegations that our lovely President was missing.
The chieftain of the opposition MRC party, Prof. Maurice Kamto, waded in by calling on the Speaker of the National Assembly to take note of the vacancy at the Etoudi power house.
Lack of information about our President usually makes Cameroon stand tall as the proverbial he-goat that cannot hide its stink in the international public space.
It projects the undoing of a dysfunctional socio-economic and political order that sees accountability to the people as a weakness.
The people keep groping in the dark because they belong to a system that dangerously lacks the democratic talk-back culture.
The sanctity of constitutional governance has never been the tour de force of this system.
The President’s reappearance at the Unity Palace last Thursday after a long and inexplicable absence of 37 days, cannot be an atonement for staying away from his people, who look up to him at these desperate moments.
The conservative and the hegemonic attitude of some of those who are expected to help the President on this issue, leaves one with the impression that the covenant of information rights is being flouted with impunity.
As the beginning of a divorce with the opaque pages of presidential information blackout, the authorities should tell the citizens of this country where their President was for 37 good days.
Meanwhile, the tenacity of the vicious rumours that entertained national gossip for over a month creates an elastic situation wherein every scenario is possible as to who its authors are.
At first sight, accusing fingers will be pointing at the so called detractors of the New Deal who will jump sadistically in joy if its lead apostle quits the earthly sage for them to mount the saddle.
The second hypothetical projection is that of flying the kite, testing the balloon or testing the waters.
It is equally possible that in their sit-tight propensity, regime barons could peddle such rumours to get reactions and test the waters of an eventual post-Biya era.
The chronological sequence of the rumours that roped in Franck Biya, as the successor, cannot just be dismissed with the wave of the hand.
There is already a coterie of social media generals who staged an imaginary coup at the Yaounde Military Headquarters.
They were swearing that the heavens will fall of the big man’s son is presented as the heir apparent to the throne. Others swore by Franck Biya.
The rumour equally laid bare the spiritual emptiness and inhumanity of our society.
Many people believed in the rumours with all wishful thinking and joy.
The comments some people made in the social media, were absolutely crude, unedifying and inhuman.
They enhanced our ugly narrative grotesqueries. Prof Kamto and the ruling party’s communication Secretary, Prof. Jacques Fame Ndong, crossed intellectual swords over the issue.
But their outings were virtually a push-me-i-push-you quarrel over the supposed one-month vacancy at the helm of the state.
Despite this circumlocution, digression and distractions, Cameroonians still need to know where their President had been for over a month.
Credit: Kini Nsom (Culled from The Post Newspaper)