Hon. Fobi Nchinda’s Interview Raises Commotion In CRTV

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Hon. Fobi Nchinda

Hon. Fobi Nchinda

A seemingly innocuous interview by the Member of the National Assembly for the Mezam Central constituency, Hon. Simon Fobi Nchinda, has stirred commotion in the State broadcaster, CRTV radio. The interview that was broadcast on a radio programme known as Parliamentary Echoes presented by senior journalist, George Arrey, focused on current economic issues of the country.
 

While commenting on the measures Government took to mitigate the negative effects of the increase in the prices of petroleum products in the country, the interviewee said such decisions amounted to stupidity and madness. He said if President Paul Biya had good economic advisers, they would have dissuaded him from such measures that benefit only a tiny fraction of the population. The Francophone gatekeepers at the CRTV Radio, sources said, did not try to understand the argument of the Member of Parliament.
 

After listening to the interview, the Director of Information at the radio, Alain Belibi, reportedly interpreted the words “stupidity” and “madness in his own way. Without understanding the sentence and the context in which the MP used those two words, the senior journalist hurriedly concluded that Hon. Fobi had insulted President Biya as being stupid and mad.

It was on the basis that the presenter of the programme, George Arrey, was summoned to appear before his bosses and possibly face the guillotine on Monday July 14. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the meeting that was to decide Arrey’s fate was postponed to the next day, Tuesday July 15.
 

The Post learnt that when the “censorship officers” turned the heat on Arrey, the Editor-In-Chief for English Language desk at the CRTV Radio cum editorialist, Peter Ful, waded in. He reportedly took exception to the unrealistic and parochial interpretation they made of the MP’s interview. He is said to have wondered why the French language journalists did not take along an English language colleague when they went to listen to the recorded version of the programme that was broadcast Saturday July 12.

While analysing the interview, Ful reportedly said it would be unrealistic for one to expect that an opposition will be singing praises for Government. It is reported that when the journalists heard the words “stupidity and madness”, they stopped listening to the rest of the interview and concluded that Arrey had a case to answer for broadcasting insults on the President of the Republic.
 

After the meeting, Arrey is said to have been issued a query to explain why he allowed such words at a very sensitive period. A source quoted the Director of Information as saying ‘all CRTV journalists ought to accompany Government in the measures it has taken and not broadcast hard contrary opinions’.

During the meeting, the presenter of the Sunday morning English Language Magazine Programme, Cameroon Calling, Samson Websi, was also scolded for allowing the use of hard words on the programme. The Director of Information wondered how Websi could use phrases like “economic disaster” in a slot in the programme known as “voice clip”.
 

Some CRTV journalists, who commented to The Post under anonymity about the meeting, said they saw in it the return of heavy censorship in the house. They hold that it is difficult to practise balance and objective journalism in such an intimidating atmosphere. One of them put it bluntly that “journalists are born free but everywhere in Cameroon they are in chains”.

He qualified a meeting the Littoral Governor, Joseph Beti Assomo, held with journalists in Douala recently, as a vicious attempt to gag the press and cause it to shy away from being critical on issues of public interest. To him, it is not the responsibility of the Governor to be telling journalists how to do their job.

By Yerima Kini Nsom ( The Post Newspaper)

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