Perspective

Personal reflection of a Sub-Saharan African Economist and Development Enthusiast: Part 3

Thursday, 16 March 2017 603 Views 0 Comments

The Cameroon we live in: A diagnosis and Policy prescriptions for cleaning our institutions

Exactly three months two weeks in retrospect, I lament (in my reflection 1: a Prelude to Part 3) about the colonization and recolonization of many African countries. The miserable living conditions of citizens and the hopelessness that clouds the minds of many a youth when they courageously venture to think about their future and that of their beloved nations. Then, I disguisedly called on the African Youths, especially the Cameroonian Youths to make headway and LEAD the nation. Today, I come with a diagnosis and policy prescriptions.

Undoubtedly, to lead, we must have and implement policies! Inclusive policies through inclusive institutions that work for EVERYONE, EVERYTIME AND EVERYWHERE within the country. But then, just as a doctor doesn’t make a prescription without a detailed diagnoses of the ailment, we must be able to point out truthfully and consistently so, at the ills plaguing and crippling our nation;

Within this three (3) months (2) weeks period, a lot has definitely plagued Cameroon and I cannot neglect these events even if I wanted to. Cameroon is engulfed in a crisis, very different in both type and scope from anything the country has known in its recent history. To summarize it all, the injustices of the system have cumulated to a sit-in strike of Lawyers and teachers in the English speaking regions of the country. As a result, and in a somewhat desperate attempt to prevent the spread of information in those two regions and put an end to the crisis, our government has resorted to some tactics known and used only by regimes like those of North Korea. Well, Cameroon now could be referred to as the “AFRICAN VERSION OF NORTH KOREA”. Internet has been shut down in those two regions. Activists and politicians arbitrarily arrested and it is alleged treated badly in prison. Some others have been forced to exile in neighboring countries. In fact, the government is unhinged. This is just one of our problems. Read on.

We live in a country where thirty percent of the senate is appointed/selected: By the president, not the people through elections. Most of them, SEPTUAGENARIANS, OCTOGENARIANS AND NONAGENARIANS. Where then are the youths – whom we were told back in the days – are the “LEADERS OF TOMORROW”? Recall, “Today is the Tomorrow we thought about yesterday”.

We live in a country where all regional governors are appointed by the president. Criteria for appointment; Sophistry in favor of the government and being a fearless defender of the president who by the way has been in power for thirty-four years and counting.

We live in a country with over TWO HUNDRED political parties! WAIT A MINUTE and draw no quick conclusions yet. It isn’t a democracy, rather, it is a “DICTOCRACY”. An AUTOCRATIC REGIME that has successfully implemented a ‘DIVIDE AND RULE’ strategy. Consequently, it is “democratically (s) elected” every now and then in some staged elections.

In fact, our so-called democracy and electoral system is suffering acutely from “ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION”.

We live in a country where in some cities, neighborhoods and villages, a full hour of uninterrupted electricity supply is unheard of and even celebrated yet we are an OIL PRODUCING AND EXPORTING COUNTRY.

Our nation is referred to as… “a peaceful Nation”. The truth is, we are a nation that is PEACEFULLY AT WAR WITH itself, blinded by a consistent supply of alcohol and perpetual drunkenness. The result! Omnipresent hangovers that ninety or more percent of the time, hamper our ability to react to the injustices of the regime.

Our forces of law and order. WRONG APELLATION. Forces of LAWLESSNESS AND DISORDER are an armed wing of the political regime who without remorse or any form of restrain, are deployed to brutalize, kill and rape innocent citizens when they venture to demand for change. They spend hours on the highways, blatantly forcing drivers to cave in to their bribe schemes. Indeed, they are legalized bandits and operate with absolute impunity.

We live in a country with over TWO HUNDRED political parties! WAIT A MINUTE and draw no quick conclusions yet. It isn’t a democracy, rather, it is a “DICTOCRACY”. An AUTOCRATIC REGIME that has successfully implemented a ‘DIVIDE AND RULE’ strategy. Consequently, it is “democratically (s) elected” every now and then in some staged elections.

Our judicial system is a farce and courtrooms, theatres in the making. Lawyers and magistrates are nothing less than con-artists, specialized in the selling of “justice” to the highest bidder. Instead of lawyers who stand in defense of the law and the protection of every citizens’ rights, they are professional liars who act in defiance of the law for their personal gain and enrichment.

Our institutions of higher learning are a political tool where of course all political discourse is banned, except those in favor of the ruling party. Universities have become the center of many things but studies and critical thinking. Critical thought is gagged as many lecturers wait in anticipation for political appointments to various positions. Marks are being shamelessly exchanged for sex and some lecturers have become multi-millionaires by forcefully selling their (sometimes poorly written) books to students. Even more disturbing is the fact that to write make-up tests, students sometimes are required to pay a given sum of money. (I WAS A VICTIM)

We pride ourselves by saying our nation is one of potential. Potential alone, we cannot eat and doesn’t build a future. Economic growth has been lackluster and mainly triggered by white elephant projects mostly executed through foreign financing, foreign labor and maintained with foreign expertise. The dearth of infrastructure is rife. Roads are a death trap with maybe a higher probability of dying in a road accident than from disease. In some regions, a handful schools are non-existent, except on paper. The labor market is flooded with degree holders who in most cases know very little about what they can or cannot do. Hence rising unemployment.

Our tax system, just like the “Insecurity forces” and judiciary is predatory. Heavy taxes are imposed on businesses. Some of which are even more than the profits they can make in a year. Faced with the inability to pay in full, these business owners are left with no choice than to pay given percentages that do not end up in state coffers but line up the pockets of some unscrupulous tax officials. The result! the state loses enormous sums of money and is left with no option than to embark on a borrowing spree without any repayment plan. Happy are we (The Young) for we shall, though unwillingly inherit the National Debt.

Our country is gradually transitioning from an exporter of primary produce to a net positive exporter of men, women and children. Many citizens, composed mostly of the young leave the country in droves in search for better economic opportunities in other nations.

In fact, the country has been on a downward spiral for many decades and the political system is just a reflection of the filth in the streets.

The labor market is flooded with degree holders who in most cases know very little about what they can or cannot do. Hence rising unemployment.

This is just to name a few of thousands of problems in this country but at this juncture, I offer my solutions;

  • At the end of his current mandate, the president should quietly and respectfully leave or negotiate his way out of power and all his current ministers should resign including the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
  • A National Council of Dialogue (NCD) should be formed and composed of reputable incorruptible technocrats from all walks of life and representative of all 10 regions of the country (That is if we are still one Country). The council members should be of minimum 25 years old and maximum of 65 years. This council will have sub committees preoccupied with different elements of governance and the economy.
  • The national assembly and senate be dissolved and the top bras of the security forces step aside.
  • The NCD will ensure a return to a federation where all governors, senators and parliamentarians are elected under the banner of at most 5 political parties. All elections should be organized within 6 months of the formation of the NCD and NCD members are automatically ineligible to run for office. There should be an Absolute Respect for the two sub-systems. NO ASSIMILATION.
  • Presidential terms should be a maximum of 5 years, renewable once. Senatorial terms, 4 years, renewable once and parliamentary terms be 3 years, renewable once.
  • Voting age should be taken down to 18 and minimum required age to hold a ministerial post or run for office be 25.
  • Recruitment into the civil service be put on hold and the tax structure be revised to encourage entrepreneurship. Personal income tax of 5% and corporate tax of 15% for profits below FCFA15 Million per annum and 25% for profits above FCFA15 Million.
  • A complete external audit of all state companies, parastatals and schools of higher learning.
  • The designing of an infrastructure plan. Roads, bridges, railways and hospitals should be prioritized. Also, should utilities like electricity and water.
  • Finally, a country cannot be fully independent if it has no control over the issuance of its own currency and its monetary policy. The FCFA (Franc Communaute Financiere Africain) has been a disaster for our economy and influenced by a model used by Nazi Germany to usurp the financial system of German occupied France, hence a complete withdrawal from the Franc CFA zone.

The list of to do things at this moment is in-exhaustive given the mess we are in but unless we start with these basics and forge ahead with nothing other than lightning speed and a bulldozer’s strength, we would not be able to achieve anything credible. We are at a critical juncture of our history and failure to act in whatever way suggests complacency and siding with an oppressive government. It is therefore an absolute necessity for all the Cameroonian youths to rise up to the injustices of our time and speak up. If, I Say if it is for the right course we should be ready to give the ultimate sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

 

Melaine Nsaikila

Nsaikila Melaine is an economist, data analyst and development professional/Enthusiast from Cameroon. In 2013, he moved to the U.S to study under the Fulbright Scholarship Program for a Masters in Economics.Currently serving as Economic Policy Analyst at the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation in Cameroon.

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