By Innocent Chia
Magistrate Paul Abine cannot be oblivious of the creamy history of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), Achidi Achu and Fru Ndi. It is an open secret that the legend of John Fru Ndi and his ascension to the SDF throne is only made possible thanks to President Biya’s torpedo of the original choice of the party’s Founding Fathers. Ahidi Achu became President Biya’s choice for Prime Minister shortly after Biya got wind of what the SDF was brewing. The Founding Fathers gave Fru Ndi the opportunity to take the bull by the horns; he registered the SDF party; broke the one-party monolith; and torpedoed the cause and course of the organization as a movement for the liberation of Southern Cameroons. The difference in scenarios is that the would-be appointment of Achidi Achu will forever remain a myth. We will never know if in fact Achidi Achu was the guy that the Founding Fathers wanted for the SDF. It is, however, public knowledge that Hon. Ayah was nominated Chairman of the SCNC a couple of days before getting appointed by President Biya as Advocate General of the Supreme Court. No one is disputing the credentials of the Honorable.
No not anyone is disputing that he is deserving of it. But the Magistrate has stunned, not surprised, many fans by accepting his appointment to the Supreme Court. Observers remember, like it was yesterday, how Paul Abine was barking like a dog from the roof tops about his deserved pension that wasn’t getting paid by the regime in Yaounde. In fact, on the occasion a junior magistrate at the Supreme Court in Yaounde told him to “amenez vos betises a Bamenda…” (Another refrain for “Go back to your country”). It was so humiliating, the respectable Honorable felt he had an epiphany. He immediately shared his distress with the World. From Saul to Paul and back to Saul After getting frozen water thrown down his back with the invitation to return to his country, the flame of Southern Cameroons was lit on the testicles of Ayah Paul. The jurist, luminary law maker and PAP party leader knew what time it was. He knew that the cocks had come home to roost. Like Tandeng Muna, J.N Foncha, and much like Biblical Saul who was blinded and converted while en route to persecute more Christians as he had done up to that point, Hon. Ayah felt the timing was right for the great announcement. He has served La Republique du Cameroun for 38 years. It was time to go. So he stood before the Yaounde Supreme Court where the junior magistrate had told him to “amenez vos betises a Bamenda...Ayah stood outside the court and said… “You have rejected me and I now reject you”. It was a bold, emphatic and unequivocal statement. And it is that conviction that sold the leadership, diehards and rivals alike of the SCNC, several reliable sources confirmed to me shortly after he was nominated SCNC Chairman. It was at a special session to fill the vacant seat that the Secretary General, Nfor Nfor Ngala had assumed following the death of Chief Ayamba.
Over and over again as I asked my sources why they felt Paul Ayah was the best fit / candidate for the position of SCNC, they pointed to his recent statement about going back home to Southern Cameroons; they pointed to his long career as a magistrate, with many years in the Northwest Province (Region) as well; they pointed to his history of fighting for what is right, even when it was against the interests of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) for which he was a parliamentarian at the time; they asked me to point a Cameroonian who was corruption free and they would point to Paul Ayah. Finally, a colleague with inside access said: “Innocent, the man wants power. He can have it” The Pension that set Ayah ablaze: That he was in Yaounde fighting for his pension is enough benefit of doubt for any naysayers that may have been questioning the outstanding and honorable career of Paul Ayah as a Magistrate and legislator. But it also served as a red flag of potential weakness to the keen observer, including a President and system that have taken enormous pride in the economic and financial emasculation of the Northwest and Southwest Regions. I do not know that the SCNC offered any financial package to Hon. Paul Ayah, or how much it would have been compared to how much he will be guaranteed as Advocate General of the Supreme Court. The fact of the matter is that he was clearly on a shoe string budget already. Without any guarantees from the SCNC on how or where he was going to eat his next meal and take care of his financial needs, the issue of Southern Cameroons could wait another lifetime. It is a fact of life that financial considerations do make a huge difference, and organizations like the SCNC must certainly be aware of.
There is little doubt in my mind that the week that ended on December 19th was a rollercoaster one for Hon. Paul Abine – nominated Chairman of the separatist SCNC in midweek and appointed, two days, as Advocate General of the Supreme Court of the country from which the SCNC is intent on seceding! But, just as opposing as these two positions and directions are, there is a context of disrespect, condescension, second-classicism, and alienation that Hon. Ayah cannot, and will not deny, or fix, by becoming Advocate General of the Supreme Court. Those are the circumstances that led to the emotional outburst of Hon. Ayah Paul – determined as ever before that the time had come to “let our people go”. Those circumstances mirror the frustration of the current Prime Minister, Philemon Yang and his predecessors – Ephraim Inoni; Mafany Musonge; Achidi Achu – who all have, or had, volumes of subordinate Ministers disrespect them publicly. The quandary for Hon Ayah, and those Southern Cameroonians, who believe that they can go in and make a difference is that they do not realize they are only individuals fighting against a system called La Republique. PM Philemon Yang thought his long and close ties with President Biya would give him certain latitudes as Prime Minister. He has discovered, to his chagrin and as testified by the couple of times he has unsuccessfully tendered his resignation, that there is no turning back once you walk past a certain threshold in the sect of leadership. The twist, for Anglophone Cameroonians, Ayah is soon to discover, is that every Francophone in that “sect”, to the very last “planton”, is more valuable, more important than the window dressing that you are. SCNC may have lost this round, but it is probably best that Hon. Ayah was not too deep into the “ngomba” house yet. May be, like the SDF losing Achidi Achu, the SCNC can find the ONE, and remain assured that it probably remains the greatest threat to the Yaounde regime.