Two wrongs cannot make a right. Seen this way, the recent complaints by Anglophone Lawyers and teachers’ trade unions have evidently given room for some sentiments to go overboard, justified or not.
In essence therefore, the wave of unrest triggered by the sit-in strike called by Anglophone Teachers’ Trade Unions and the Common Law lawyers in the North-West and South-West Regions drew attention, for the most part, in the State of the Nation address by President Paul Biya on 31 December 2016. Looking at the issues squarely he pointed out that any claims, no matter how legitimate, must not seek to compromise national values and State institutions because it has taken so much time to put the structures in place. President Biya was simply inviting Cameroonians to reflect on the justifiable claims and the approach that such arguments should have within the confines of an organised society.
In the fifth sentence of his speech, the Head of State said; “Some social and political unrest occasionally seemed to undermine the very foundations of our togetherness; but, ultimately, we were able to hold our ground.” By recalling the upheavals and the consequences to the nation, Mr Biya immediately exhausted the resilient attitude of Cameroonians who have always summoned the guts to stand up to difficulties whenever such hurdles try to rock the stability of the nation.
For those who might have had some axe to grind with the evolution of the nation, their greatest headache henceforth may not only be the issues that bother them, but how best to channel such frustrations without having to jeopardize the very foundations on which they stand. Needless indicating that in the process of the expression of legitimate grievances by teachers and lawyers of the North West and South West Regions, many have taken advantage of the situation to spoil the cause with inordinate claims that bear the risk of derailing what was originally a noble cause. Hijacking a noble ambition of that nature can only lead to unfortunate results for both the State and even those who feel undermined.
This is certainly the wakeup call the Head of State had in his address by recalling the role of the State in protecting life and property no matter the stakes. Of course, the teachers and the lawyers who raised a number of grievances never opted for any form of violence and extremism in getting their problems solved. Thus, the President noted that; “Due to the acts of a group of manipulated and exploited extremist rioters, Cameroonians have lost their lives; public and private buildings have been destroyed; the most sacred symbols of our nation have been desecrated; economic activities have been paralyzed momentarily.” It is incumbent on the State to act in situations of this nature to guarantee the peace and stability all citizens deserve.
The temptation that people with personal agenda and with the potentials of misleading a good fraction of society at a time when the social media has been hailed, adored, used and misused, and the level of intoxicative literature in the various networks has undoubtedly been real and disturbing. Even those who raised concerns, which they knew were professional and in the interest of all, must be wondering at the turn of events and asking questions if that was how they intended their claims to be managed.
Some persons have jumped out of nowhere to give lectures and post diversionary tracts on how they see the next Cameroon without any iota of certainty about where they want to lead the rest of the population. It may not be an exaggeration calling such moves as acts of collective suicide! That obviously was why President Biya stated that; “Under such circumstances, it is the State’s bounden duty to restore order, in the name of the law and in the interest of all. To act otherwise is to jeopardize our democracy and allow anarchy to prevail over the rule of law.”
With such an unwavering determination, Mr Biya went on to indicate the way forward for the State to be able to take full measure of the direction needed for national values to remain intact. “All the voices that spoke have been heard. They have, in many cases, raised substantive issues that cannot be overlooked. I have enjoined the Government to engage in frank dialogue with the various parties concerned to find appropriate solutions to the issues raised. I urge them to participate, without any bias, in the various discussions.”
The opening has therefore been provided at the highest level of the State apparatus and those who eagerly awaited the position of the President on the ongoing events prompted by the teachers and lawyers’ grievances must not allow themselves into errors of the past and miss another golden opportunity with history.