Dictatorial regimes as a role do not carry out reforms because they think there are not necessary. They usually do so because they are not sure of themselves and dread the unpleasant consequences .That is particularly the case with the Francophone Africa.
Cameroonians who lived the return of multiparty politics in the 90’s can still recall how the Biya regime quacked on hearing the news that a new political party has been launched in Bamenda.
The Divisional Officer of Bamenda did not only ban the planned launch but huge consignment of troops was sent to Bamenda with arms and water-cannons to disperse all those might assemble for the event.
Even after the launch, the regime remained convinced that Fru Ndi the national chair man of the party had foreign backing. Stories circulated to this effect that the Nigerian national anthem was sung in Bamenda and that ten thousand Nigerians took par in the launch.
Besides, Fru Ndi was said to have fled to Nigeria. It was all wishful thinking, all because of the fear Biya had for Fru Ndi. The year 1991 was the golden age of Cameroon opposition. Each time Fru Ndi sneezed Biya caught a cold. There was every reason for Biya to dread the National Chair man of the SDF John Fru Ndi.
Apart from the huge following Fru Ndi had, stories Biya about him pointed to the fact that he was beyond human destruction. In 1992, Fru Ndi proved how formidable he was by beating Biya at the Presidential election of October 11. That year Biya attempted to abdicate.
Today, things are no longer the same. Far from being the source of discomfort to Biya,the president is very at ease with him. In 1990 stories circulated that Fru Ndi rejected a bribe of three billions francs from Biya,we have disturbing accounts of money changing hands between the Regime and the SDF National Chair man Fru Ndi. There was first the allegation that Biya did not only sponsored Fru Ndi,s trip to the U.S. when he fell sick in 1999, but settled his hospital bills.
Fru did has never reacted to this allegations which were made during a CPDM meeting at Bamenda Congress hall. Fru Ndi’s diehard supporters who dismissed the stories saying that it was a malicious fabrication, were tongue tied when the national chair man promptly welcome government intervention when Mrs .Rose Ndi, Fru Ndi’s wife collapsed during a Socialist International meeting in Yaounde. She was evacuated abroad but unfortunately she died.
Tazouchu Asonganyi,former Secretary General of the SDF ran into problem with Fru Ndi and close aids like Mbah Ndam who accepted the money .Asonganyi who was later tried and dismissed from his posts as Secretary General had also told the press that Fru Ndi had permanent contact with the regime and that Fru Ndi has been receiving money from Yaoundé authorities.
There was also an allegation that heavy sums of money close to hundreds of millions was given to Fru Ndi by Biya secretly. The money was to lure Fru Ndi away from the national coalition of Reconciliation and reconstruction with Ndam Njoya and other political parties to confront Biya in 2004 Presidential. Fru Ndi later quit the coalition.
The party witnessed another political setback when the party started receiving subvention from the government as support to political parties represented in the National Assembly. Although in principle it is just support to political parties, it was actually intended to soften the hard lined SDF.
Biya has achieved this purpose. In 2002, subvention given by government for their political campaign almost caused the collapse of the party. Militants indicted Fru Ndi for confiscating a huge amount for his accrued salary and other chunk for the purchase of his deluxe Land Cruiser. For militants it was unnecessary.
Maidadi Seydou then National Vice Chairman who was sent to the Northern Region for campaign allegedly pocketed another good chunk of the money in anger. Maidadi later resigned alongside Alhaji Sani and others because of greed for money.
SDF MPs and Mayors have also contributed to weaken the party through collaboration with the Regime. Mayors need to be on good term with the supervising authorities. The SDF’ is manipulated by the Minister of territorial administration and Decentralization (MINAT). This explains why Jones Mangoh and four others of the SDF mayors who were dismissed after the 2007 Municipal elections for getting themselves elected in defiance of party instructions were maintained in their position. The party had to re-admit them after realizing that it couldn’t get them out of the councils.
The situation is worse in Parliament. These guys most especially bureau members live in affluence earning millions of francs as salaries, with numerous advantages like automobile grants estimated at over 45million and car-repair budget.
They lobby and get contracts for their family members and other favourites. Ask the MPs and Mayors to quite to make the party strong and get their reactions. Fru Ndi once expressed fears in a chat with this newspaper that SDF would collapse if MPs and mayors are requested to quite. Asked why he can not allow some of the MPs to be appointed, he said most of them will turn against the party as they would be corrupted with money .This is exactly what is happening today.
Most MPs are indifferent to ELECAM and supporting the boycott of the Presidential election but would not boycott 2012 election for fear that they loss their positions in parliament in spite the bad laws. The party would have been very strong if she were not in parliament that does not favour them.
When SDF was still feared government would pay some money in the accounts of the most vocal. They would collect the money quietly thinking it was a mistake. The moment they tried to make noise they would be reminded of the money they saw in their accounts and quietly withdrew it knowing it was not theirs.
Others would be dribbled and sent on mission with huge sums of out station allowances to prevent them him from addressing sensitive sessions.
Article 8.2 Besides their compromising position in parliament, SDF most dreaded Article 8.2 has greatly weakened the party. Through the misuse of this weapon most of the great-brains of the SDF have been sent away. Many have resigned, some join the CPDM. Through this, most party secrets have been leaked to the ruling party.
CPDM now enjoys 9 parliamentary seats and 18 councils from the North West, the life of SDF and all but one parliamentary seat in the West and South West and only two in the Littoral in 2007. As indicated in previous editions an SDF inconsistent policy has also scared militants who decamp to the CPDM at every given opportunity.
Instead, of using soft words to woo the militants back, Fru Ndi as the Bible recommends in the parable of the Good Shepherd and his cohort claim that their departure leaves the party stronger. Politics is a game of numbers. The decline in the number of SDF militants and councils has greatly weakened the party, reason why Biya no longer dreads Fru Ndi and his SDF.
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