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Opinions of Thursday, 5 February 2015

Journaliste: Tikum Azonga

Is Ayah Paul Abine a traitor?

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The Hon. Ayah Paul Abine, a member of the opposition People`s Action Party (PAP) has accepted and formally installed as Advocate-General of the Supreme Court of Cameroon. So from now on, he will be operating from the Court`s headquarters in Yaounde, the national capital of the Republic of Cameroon.

The Founder and Secretary-General of PAP was appointed to that position among other top officials in the judiciary recently by President Paul Biya, Head of State of Cameroon and also leader (National President) of the ruling Cameroon People`s Democratic Movement (CPDM).

While the appointment has surprised many observers, it is perhaps Ayah`s acceptance of the post that appears to have shocked people even more. For one thing, Ayah was an ardent opponent and a vociferous critic of Paul Biya and his regime.

What is more, Ayah who even won his parliamentary seat initially on the ticket of Paul Biya`s CPDM ticket, at one point, quit the CPDM boisterously and formed his own party. That was not all because he went further and stood as a candidate against Paul Biya at the last presidential elections held in 2011.

Ayahs`s appointment to the post of Advocate-General is very significant for several reasons. Firstly, he is not a new person to the judiciary. As a matter of fact, he was Vice President of the Appeal Court of the South West Region prior to his election to the National Assembly.

His new appointment is prestigious and relatively lucrative. That is why in a recent interview in The Recorder, he saw the nomination as a right because as he puts it, the period he spent in the National Assembly was one during which he was simply on “detachment”.

He goes on to explain that “at the end of your period of detachment, the law provides that you come back to your former department as of right.” He also affirmed: “This is a matter of law as I have said and I, as a man of law should not be the first man to go against that law”.

He defends his acceptance of the post again by saying that those who urged him to go into politics offered him little or no financial support for him to sustain himself, coupled with the fact that after quitting the Bench, he lost his salary for fifteen months.

He adds : “Those who heard the appointment and those who are reading me would understand that, I was raised to the highest point in the Judiciary; I was raised to Index 1300, backdated to July 1, 2012, which means that by now in accordance with the law-the statute on the Judiciary I have clocked Index 1,400.

I don’t see how I opted for a career and all of a sudden I would turn away in favour of politics and lose what may help me in the end. What may help me in the end in the sense that, my pension would be calculated on my index level?

So, I have to prepare my future. You cannot work for the society without being alive, without having the means to work.”

He also stated that: “So working for the society is one thing, but you have to work for yourself as another thing. And, without working for yourself, you cannot work for society. My Priest recently told me that the only useful person is the person who is alive. I don’t see how I can do politics without a means of livelihood.”

Even so, a lot of people have criticized Ayah for accepting the appointment, with some even calling him “a traitor”. Some say by this act, he has slapped the Anglophone SCNC movement in the face because “not so long ago, he was elected its National Chairman in replacement of Chief Ayamba who died”.

But the truth of the matter is that this claim was more from the media and other persons than Ayah himself. As things stand, Ayah did not publicly declare that he was the new Chairman of the SCNC, although he also did not quash the rumours.

In fact, when The Recorder put this question to him, he responded: “My reaction, first, is that I have decided not to say anything about SCNC in the time being. I may give you another opportunity to come for an interview on the SCNC on a subsequent date. So, I would not say anything in that regard now.”

Nonetheless, a critical look at the current situation indicates that Ayah has become even more distant from the SCNC than before. One reason is that it is hard to see him being a Supreme Court Judge appointed by Paul Biya and sitting in Yaounde, also playing the role of championing the cause of the SCNC which not only refuses to recognize Yaounde – a national capital which it which it pejoratively says belongs to “la Republique”, knowing full well that his paymaster is in Yaounde and not in the so-called Southern Cameroons.

Another point is that those who are so bitter about Ayah`s acceptance of the post seem to have forgotten that by previously running as a candidate for the post of Republic of Cameroon which is the antithesis of the Southern Cameroon struggle, he was placing himself in the “adverse” camp and not the one thought to be “naturally” his.

Besides, these same critics did not appear to have cried foul when after resigning from the ruling CPDM party, Ayah instead ran as a candidate to rule Cameroon, instead of taking up the Southern Cameroon struggle.

It would therefore appear that those “pushing” the Advocate-General to renounce his post and lead the SCNC away from Yaounde are attempting to force him to live their dreams for them.

The same situation arose in the heady days of opposition civil disobedience in the early 1990s when people were disappointed that Cameroon`s Catholic Cardinal Christian Wighan Tumi who is of Anglophone Origin also refused to “lead the people in the struggle”.

As far as Tumi was concerned, he was prepared to denounce social and political injustice but not to become a political leader. He has maintained that posture up till today.

Whether proponents of the SCNC like it or not, Ayah has made his choice. In doing so, he has carefully considered his personal and family circumstances and decided that he cannot be a pointless scapegoat. It is his right. He did not sign a contract with anyone or any group of people to represent them as such. If anything, it should be members of his Political constituency Akwaya/Manyu to complain, not the imaginary and fragmented SCNC faction.

By choosing the path of the Supreme Court and Yaounde, Ayah has not denied that there is an Anglophone problem in Cameroon. He has rather indicated that the problem is best fought from within, not from without. That is the path some other Anglophone political leaders have taken. They include Ni John Fru Ndi, leader of the country`s main opposition party, the SDF, and other Anglophone political party leaders such as Kah Walla, Bernard Muna and George Nyamndi who also stood as candidates for the post of President of the Republic of Cameroon in 2011.

Today, despite its legitimate claims, the SCNC still has a long way to go. It is fragmented, speaks with several voices, is indecisive, unconvincing and yet to make any real impact. Although it was advised by the International Civil Court in the Gambia to form a political party and operate openly from it rather than groping in the dark as just a pressure group, it has not heeded that advice. That is why it appears like a toothless dog and a lone voice in the desert.

After losing Chief Ayamba to the cold hands of death, the SCNC has lost Hon. Ayah Paul Abine to Paul Biya and the Yaounde regime. At least for now, it is one goal for Paul Biya and no goal for the SCNC.

If the SCNC has to pick up the pieces, it must be honest with itself and be prepared to ask face tough questions on where it goes from here. It is not emotions and insults that will solve the problem. It is cold-headed thinking and concrete action.

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