The high profile personality, Joseph Owona has been appointed by Presidential decree on Wednesday April 15, 2020 to join Cameroon’s highest judicial setup, Constitutional Council being headed by Chief Justice Clement Atangana.
Having a rich experience within the legal system, education, sports and public administration, his appointment is already been acclaimed and seen by many as a square peg in a square hole.
WHO IS HE?
The 75 year-old first saw the light of day in Akom, centre region on January 25, 1945. After achieving his Baccalaureate certificate (A4) equivalent to GCE Advance Level certificate in the Anglo-saxon system of education, he moved to the lone university in the country at the time, now University of Yaounde 1 (where he later became Rector) and furthered studies at University of Paris 1.
All through, young ambitious Joseph obtained a law degree, a DES in Political science and a State Doctorate in Public law.
Prior to his return back home to join the education family at Yaounde 1 in 1972, he served Sorbonne university as assistant lecturer for 3years.
He crisscrossed several offices in the University of Yaounde 1 and as Director of IRIC before being made the Rector of University of Yaounde 1 from August 22, 1983 to September 13, 1985.
His militancy in the party in power (Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM) would eventually land him a high seat at the Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon as Deputy Secretary General (Aug 24, 1985 to May 16, 1988).
This marked the beginning of a long career with the New Deal Regime as he once more crisscrossed from Minister of Civil Service and State Control (May 16, 1988 to September 7, 1990), Minister of Higher Education (September 7, 1990 to April 9, 1992), Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic (April 9, 1992 to July 21, 1994), Minister of Public Health (July 21, 1994 – September 19, 1996), Minister Delegate to the Presidency of the Republic in charge of State Superior Control (September 19, 1996 – December 7, 1997), Minister of Youth and Sports (1997 – 2000). His last position in government was Minister of National Education where he reigned for 4years (2000-2004).
His record in Cameroon sporting milieu, having propounded the country’s national football team to their third continental trophy as minister of Youths and Sports at the time coupled with his rich legal expertise (being part of the committee for the revision of Cameroon’s Constitution in 1996) earned him the FECAFOOT top job from FIFA to normalize Cameroon’s football in 2013.
It is generally believed that Joseph Owona is fit for the position in terms of his expertise, intellect and longevity in the domain of constitutional law.
However, not all Cameroonians think he’s the best pick and question his neutrality given his political leanings. “Our greatest puzzle is, why only members of the CPDM? why only age people? Why only people of a special region?” said a denizen in Yaounde.
He further states that “it’s enough provocation to the youths and at least another part of the population who are clamouring for such changes to take place.”
A legal mind, Barrister Galabe Sama told News Upfront that Owona has always been a backbone against the constitutional changes that has brought the country to the level where it is now. “From 1984, 1986, they have always been behind those crafting these questionable constitution provisions and electoral code all in a bide to make sure that a particular group hinge onto power at the detriment of the people.”
The Advocate-Solicitor of the Cameroon Bar Association and Supreme court of Cameroon insisted that “appointing him, is to preempt other fraudulent machinery that they are about to put in place. So that at any minute, he will be able to see black and say its white, since that court (Constitutional Council) has no appele judition. What they decide is final and it needs those who are loyal to the President, CPDM party and will always do what the executive wants.”
It should be recalled that, the former minister, had criticised opposition Maurice Kamto for claiming he won the 2018 presidential race describing it as “putschit” attitude which recalls the era of Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
It is now left for time to reveal the secrecy behind the appointment and whether he’s the square peck for the square hole or not?
By Macwalter Njapteh