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Opinions of Thursday, 30 April 2015

Journaliste: Cameroon Tribune

National esteem for Armed Forces

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Many who have seen the national defence forces in Cameroon as a corps that was yet to proof its courage must have had time to rethink such a conclusion given the ongoing war against the Boko Haram extremists.

Presiding over the graduation ceremony of the 33rd or “Lieutenant Youssouf Mahamat Bahar” batch and the 34th or “Fiftieth Anniversary of Reunification” batch of cadet officers of the Combined Services Military Academy at the Military Headquarters Brigade in Yaounde on Friday 24, April 2015, President Paul Biya, who is the Commander-in-chief of the Armed forces, underscored the respect and admiration that the entire nation has demonstrated of late for the forces.

Since the open declaration of war against the sect by Cameroon in May 2014 following repeated attacks and kidnappings masterminded by militants of the group on Cameroonian soil, the various arms of the forces have swung into action, ensuring that no iota of land in the country should fall into the hands of the terrorists.

Of course, the consequences of the war have not been easy on the forces. Yet, the morale of the troops has remained intact. Such has been a sign not just of determination, but also an indication of the quality of training and professional know-how being displayed by the soldiers on the various battle fields.

Understandably, some Cameroonians initially thought that the war was a far off issue that concerned only neighbouring Nigeria and border localities close to the affected north-eastern part of the country.

However, when news gradually filtered out of the battle grounds, it became clear that the entire country could be embroiled in a problem that until now has been foreign to Cameroon. In effect, in spite of the mosaic religious, ethnic and cultural differences in Cameroon, no cases of extremism are known to the people since independence.

Thus, it was natural that the upsurge of extremism in Nigeria should be strange to Cameroon. As such, the nation was in shock when the sect started making frantic attempts to extend their activities to other countries including Cameroon. No meaningful leadership and rational community could be indifferent to such barbaric acts perpetrated on its territory for whatever reasons.

Consequently, when the Commander-in-chief of the armed forces chaired the graduation ceremony of two batches of cadet officers last week, he naturally felt duty-bound to recall and appreciate the sacrifices that the defence forces have made so far, going beyond self-defence to ensuring that Cameroonians continue to live in peace and harmony as before. “It should be underscored that our soldiers have done better than defending themselves and defending us.”

President Biya pointed out to an enthusiastic audience at the graduation ceremony. The statement clearly underlined efforts made by the military on the ground and the admiration that the population continue to have for the work the soldiers have been doing in the Far-North Region where the war has been raging.

Across Cameroon therefore, there has been a general mode of satisfaction and esteem from all segments of the population with positive reactions on the achievements by the forces. Members of the public from ordinary citizens to the most politically-minded and business operators have been stating laud and clear that they are with the forces both in words and actions.

Money, food items, and other messages of support have genuinely poured out to show approval to the prowess of the army and the sense of professionalism with which they have been going about the arduous task of defending the territorial integrity of Cameroon. The support can only be likened to the sense of unison that Cameroonians have in the past shown for the Indomitable Lions in their days of glory.

Political party leaders have been seen putting on the most admirable garments of unity and togetherness for a course that is obviously of major concern to the entire nation.

That was what Mr Biya, on the behalf of the people observed when he addressed the cadet officers on last Friday. He stated that, “From North to South and from East to West, Cameroonians have mobilized massively, and are still mobilizing enthusiastically and spontaneously, to make their generous contribution to the war effort in a remarkable show of solidarity.”

That is definitely the best sign of respect and concern that the young boys and girls at the war front would need to continuously boost their moral and enable them put in their best in the defence of the nation.

No better words could have helped in echoing the message to those getting out of training, especially as one of the batches already had a fore taste of the war having lost their colleague, Lieutenant Donkeng Joseph Kevin, who died alongside other soldiers during an attack by the Boko Haram terrorist group on July 25, 2014 at Bargaram in the Far-North Region.

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