Thursday, September 24, 2009

Biya returns from France after lavish spending spree; hides some of his entourage

The President of Cameroon Paul Biya and wife Chantal with some of the members of his entourage arrived Cameroon yesterday after his three weeks’ private visit to France. His sojourn in France this time around evoked numerous reports from the French Press about lavish expenditure in two luxurious hotels in the French seaside resort town La Baule.

Mr Biya according to the reports from Radio France Inter, Radio Fidelite Nantes and France 24, rented the Hermitage hotel, a five star hotel and the Royal Hotel a four star hotel all making up 43 rooms at a colossal sum of 27,300,000 francs a day! His three week’s stay therefore cost more than FCFA 650,000,000 francs. This, the reports further said, did not include the money for meals, expensive shopping sprees as well as his cost of treatment through seawater therapy which they called thalassotherapy. The reports further say he was decorated with a medal by the Mayor of La Baule, Yves Mateirau, as an honorary citizen. He is said to have responded in a press interviews that the city was a wonderful one and he would like to return there. The reports even compared the holiday expenditure for some world renown presidents like Obama, Sarkozy

In front of some journalists Mr Biya said:

“Your town is so comfortable. I will, no doubt, visit again”.

The report further commented, “Why would Biya have hesitated? He had received the best reception from the local authorities. Starting from the Mayor of La Baule, Yves Metaireau, who, on that Friday decorated his presidential tourist with the honorary medal of the town as a “new secondary resident”.

The mayor, just as any other traders who come round, appreciated these generous tourists who are so extravagant in their expenditure. This is nonetheless negligible in times of crises.

They are these press reports that Issa Tchiroma, desperately tried to deny, describing them as malicious. Equally the Cameroonian press while covering Mr Biya’s arrival used the opportunity to indirectly deny some of these facts. For example the French press reports said Biya had an entourage of about 43 people but the Cameroon Television said only 6 people accompanied Mr Biya. They list included only the Ministers. They failed to mention even Mr Biya’s wife, Chantal and all the valets and servants and body guards and Journalists and Biya’s children, as if they were not people. All Cameroonians know that when Biya is going out of the country he takes everybody in his household including the cooks and probably the night watchmen.

On hand to receive him at the Nsimalen Airport were the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang; the President of the National Assembly, Alhaji Cavaye Yeguie Djibril and the Secretary General at the Presidency, Laurent Esso.

Commenting on his arrival, CRTV journalists highlighted his landing at the Nsimalen International Airport at 5 p.m that evening just when the Cameroonians scored their first goal against Gabon in the on-goingAfrican Nations Cup/World Cup eliminatory tournament. They did not fail too to notice that the second goal was scored when the Presidential motorcade had just reached Mvog Mbi in Yaoundé.

At the airport the President granted audiences to the various ministers while Chantal, his wife, granted audience to the wives of top-ranking Cameroonian officials probably recounting her sweet experiences in La Baule. Meantime the President of the National Assembly welcomed him back home from his trip after “press attacks.”

By Nke Valentine

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