SDF National Chairman’s 2016 New Year Message to the Nation
Fellow Cameroonians, Ladies and Gentlemen, brave people of change,
Twenty-six years gone! Yes, twenty-six years already. How quickly time goes by! Twenty-six years since, together, we have been struggling for the advent of a new and better Cameroon! But that important time span cannot make us forget that for thirty-three years, our dear country has been languishing under the reign of a dictatorship masterminded by a group of corrupt and dishonest officials.
I would once again wish to pay tribute to those Cameroonians who, under the reign of Mr. Biya, have made the ultimate sacrifice for the construction of a democratic, peaceful, free and prosperous country, where the well being of Cameroonians must be at the heart of all our preoccupations. From 1982 till today, in all regions and all families, many of our compatriots have lost their lives through torture, bullets or speedy tele guided trials.
I would once more like to pay glowing tribute to those Cameroonians who,since 1990, under Mr. Biya’s regime lost their jobs, property, were maimed and sacrificed their lives, fora democratic, free and prosperous Cameroon; a peaceful Cameroon whose interest is at the center of our activities.
I wish also to pay tribute to Pa Nicolas Ade Ngwa, our compatriot who passed away on 3rd January 2016. Pa Nicolas Ade Ngwa who, not only fought along with us, but served the Party over a long period of time as the first National Administrative Secretary and used his administrative know-how to set up the archives and filing system of the Party.I humbly ask everyone to observe a minute of silence in memory of this great man and many others who contributed in no small way to the struggle.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The reasons for which we created a political party:the Social Democratic Front (SDF) is still topical and is proof of the fact that the fight for democracy is ongoing.We have the firm conviction that the one party system has never succeeded in either guaranteeing fundamental human rights nor has ever provided efficient and accountable governance. Rather it has often bred tyranny, corruption and perpetual oligarchy. We remain determined and committed to the struggle to rid our society of these ills. We reaffirm our commitment to our relentless fight against social injustice, tribalism, nepotism, corruption, wastage, moral decadence and all forms of discrimination.Democracy remains the only genuine and commendable means by which a people can get to power, build their future and live in harmony.
Together we should without discrimination, and with the help of each and every one,deploy all our efforts to force the Biya regime to institute democratic governance in 2016 by carrying out the following:
– The Constitutional Council provided by the constitution20 years ago has become a necessity in order to enable it contribute to our evolving democracy;
– A consensus electoral code, an independent electoral Commission and an electoral calendar are the minimal conditions for free,pluralistic, transparent and democratic elections;
– Introduction of the single ballot paper, the only means by which the buying of consciences at the polls can be checked;
– Revisit the audio-visual law so as to grant subsidies to all media institutions and not only to CRTV;
– Effective implementation of the collective agreement and auto regulation laws which are the guarantors of a free and independent media landscape ;
– The effective implementation of section 66 of the constitution on the declaration of assets by those who hold public offices;
– The passing of Legislation on double nationality.
I call on our parliamentarians as usual to seek ways and means to bring the above into fruition in the interest of our dear fatherland.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Like other preceding years,2015 was characterized by very disturbing situations for us as individuals and as a nation. Those who govern this country considered hawking, moto-taxi, call-box, the indiscriminate opening of off licenses, churches and other dangerous activities as assuring employment, to the extent that they considered them as having created hundreds of thousands and even millions of jobs.It is awful for a regime to consider such precarious activities as a mode of development of a model economy.
Again, the 2016 Finance law remains a faraway dream to our citizens. When we consider that the prices of a kilogram of rice and other basic necessities have risen by more than 200 francs cfa as a result of the implementation of the common external tariff of 5% on food stuff, it becomes evident that life will be unbearable to the ever increasing poor Cameroonians in 2016.
A reduction of 20 francs per liter of fuel means that in 2016 the price of fuel at the pomp shall continue to be expensive, whereas the price of crude oil in the world market had dropped drastically by 60% since March 2015 and we ought to have had corresponding reduction by 60% which is 402 francs since then.This is an insult to Cameroonians as fuel prices shall continue to be more expensive in Cameroon than elsewhere in Africa and the world, despite the fact that Cameroon is an oil producing nation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Close to half of our compatriots live on less than 500 francs a day which is less than the poverty line and worst still, this amount is far less in the rural areas and in the northern part of our country.In real terms, more than 70% of our youth are unemployed; our real inflation rate leaves much to be desired and our growth rate does not predict better days to come.While Cameroonians are over-taxed, the very low investment budget is not consumed.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, our country is waging war against the Boko Haram sect in the far North, fighting insecurity in the East and great banditry in the hinterlands. We must reflect on the very fundamental and remote causes of this state of affairs. We have lived through decades of discriminatory and unbalanced development of the National territory. Some regions of our country are swimming in luxury while some other regions are in abject poverty. It is no wonder that Boko Haram found fertile ground in the far North region, and would have done same if it penetrated into some parts of our hinterlands. We had over the years drew the attention of the Biya regime to the evil consequences that would befall Cameroon as a result of this discriminatory development of the national territory.We continue to congratulate and encourage our valiant soldiers who are fighting at all these fronts to defend the integrity and sovereignty of our territory.
This also gives us the occasion to reflect on the future of our country with the view to charting a better tomorrow for our people. In this wise, it is our bounding duty to dissuade our children from easy going life and inculcate in them the indispensable values of good morals and hardwork which constitute the bedrock of a sane society and a prerequisite for our development. The education of our youths and the guarantee of primary health care are the indicators of prosperity.Adequate training will enable the citizens to acquire decent jobs.
In the domain of agriculture, we continue to practice subsistence farming. We should modernize in order to make it competitive and to guarantee self-sufficiency. Our population should be the first to benefit from our resources.Cameroon covers 1.6% of the surface of the African continent and ranks 5th in biodiversity after the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Tanzania and South Africa. Cameroon is rich in natural resources and contains approximately:
– 21% of the African fish species
– 48% of the mammals
– 54% of the bird species
– 50% of known continental amphibian species
– 50% of the reptile species
– 42% of all recorded African butterfly species.
Despite such an endowment in rich resources, the country of plenty is characterized by severe poverty.
The Social Democratic Front seeks to address the poverty situation of the citizens through proactive and progressive agricultural policies. Such policies will address some of the known obstacles to agricultural development in Cameroon particularly deforestation, wind and soil erosion, indiscriminate exploitation of our natural resources (forests, fisheries, livestock,), insufficient involvement of the local populations in decision-making, weak legislation and law enforcement, entrenched corruption and inefficiency and institutional inertia.
The liberalization of the fertilizer sector was not in itself a bad thing. But poor focus, inadequate preparation for the transition, inefficiency and corruption in the bureaucratic machinery of the State created artificial scarcity leading to skyrocketing prices which have contributed to cripple Cameroon’s agriculture and preclude its industrial development. The situation has been compounded today by the consequences of global warming and climate change. In order to adapt to the changing climatic situation and also mitigate its consequences on agriculture in our country, we will develop partnerships with the youths, women and the private sector in general for the effective participation in the provision of inputs. In doing this, we shall ensure that biological and environment friendly methods of protection are widely adopted. The use of manure from household refuge and animal dung, the preparation and production of compost manure and the use of vegetable remains on our farms will be promoted.
This will bring to a halt the burning of our vegetation and charring our soils which has resulted in the destruction of the texture of the soil, its humus and its beneficial micro-organisms that enhance plant growth. These policies and measures will enhance our agricultural production and also go a long way to contribute to the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases.
We are therefore compelled to make some reflections on the concept of climate change. Generations to come will better apprehend this world phenomenon if, while they grow, they are taught the fundamentals of weather observation which has been abandoned in our school programmes. These principles used to be acquired during “Nature Studies” in the primary, secondary and professional schools. It was during these studies that climatic elements such as temperature, humidity, amount of rainfall, wind direction or cardinal direction of the wind, just to mention these few, were studied by the pupils and students alike at all the levels. In the implementation of such basic principles, future generations will be able to mitigate the consequences of climate change and adapt to changes in weather and seasons in every sphere of life. So, we on the Biya government to reintroduce these programmes in our educational system.
It is sad that today the CPDM obese Parliament blocked an SDF Private Member Bill on the protection of wetlands and water catchments only to turn around to pretend to be fighting against climate change. That is political demagogy.
Be that as it may, we call on the developed and industrialized countries whose attitudes and activities have depleted the ozone layer of the atmosphere and facilitated the conditions for climate change, to take their responsibilities to stop climate change. These countries have exhausted the tropical rainforests of the world through selfish and indiscriminate timber exploitation.
We call on them to repair the damage already caused by stopping indiscriminate forest exploitation and compensating for damage caused to the regions which are primary victims of such exploitation.
The planting of trees should be devoid of politics. We have pretended for too long in the planting trees in our country; the facts are clear that there is nothing or very little to show for it. The desert continues to threaten the northern region of our country more than ever before.The SDF, therefore, proposes that for every tree cut, two or more of the same species be planted and for the northern region generalise and intensified tree planting should be the order of the day. In this wise, we call on the exploiters and the government of Cameroon to create tree nurseries of the exploited species and Sahel tested species to make planting and replanting possible.
Lodging, potable water, electricity, our roads and highways continue to pose a great challenge. Talking about our road infrastructure and transportation, this is a sector of our society that is devoid of policy, is destitute and has fallen into ruin.
The regime purports to spend colossal sums of money yearly on the maintenance and construction of roads but we do not have the roads. No sooner do the CPDM contractors leave the job site than pot holes start appearing and wind and rains start washing away the thin layers of poorly mixed tars and undrained earth roads. Road construction and transportation in general has been arrogated to the financing of the party in power. The only qualification to win a road construction contract, importation of transport equipment such as railway coaches and air planes in our country is to belong to the CPDM. Everything in this sector is done with nothing but political patronage.
Our vision is to ensure sustainable maintenance of the road infrastructure with revenue derived from toll gates and weighing bridges. The Biya regime high jacked this vision, as it did with many other SDF visions,implemented it haphazardly with disastrous consequences leading to our roads becoming death traps and the funds derived from them being diverted into unwarranted and even destructive political ventures. We call on Cameroonians to dislodge all tollgates found on the dilapidated sectors of our road infrastructure and civil disobedience in the payment of tollgates by all road users until the roads are properly maintained.
It is very disturbing that roads are allowed to be damaged completely and then repair contracts are awarded to unscrupulous contractors and embezzlers of the regime in power. We shall not let gullies cut across our roads, take lives, destroy vehicles and paralyze economic activity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Social Democratic Front celebrated her silver Jubilee in 2015. Twenty five years of existence, Twenty five years of battle; Twenty five years being at the forefront of the fight for change in our country.
We have lived exciting and memorable moments together.Moments of communion, joy, happiness and pleasure as well as moments of crisis which we cannot overlook. That has been our political journey.At this point, it is an opportunity for each and every one of us to ask for pardon and to equally forgive others.
The dream of our fathers of independence and the founding fathers of the SDF has been to build a Democratic, modern, prosperous and peaceful Cameroon where every son and daughter will have equal rights and equal opportunities. It is against this backdrop that I wish you a happy and prosperous new year 2016
Long Live the SDF.Long live Cameroon. May God bless us all!
Ni John FRU NDI