Momo Administration to Begin Negotiations With “Amba” Boys

Divisional Officers at the meeting

“Our mission here today is to plan on how to welcome back home these prodigal children. Our mission is not only to wait for them to come back but to go to them and ask them to come back.” These were the opening words of the Senior Divisional Officer of Momo Division, Absalom Monono Woloa as he chaired a special meeting in the conference hall of the Divisional Delegation of Labour and Social Security, Momo, last Friday December 21st 2018. Attended by Divisional Officers,  Mayors, and Service Heads within the division, the meeting was aimed at facilitating the decision of the Head of State through Decree N° 2018/719 of 30 November 2018 to establish the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee.

Monono schooled his collaborators on the appropriate message they have to pass across to the population. He made allusions to the biblical parable of the prodigal son and contextualized it to the present sociopolitical unrests rocking the two English speaking regions of Cameroon where despite perpetuating killings, kidnappings, burnings, destruction of state/private property and crumbling of the economy as a means of venting their anger, the Head of State has still decided to pardon the separatist fighters commonly called “Amba Boys.”

 He also assured them, his collaborators that contrary to the past where victims of kidnap were scared to report to hierarchy or security forces for fear of repercussions and tagging as sponsor of the struggle after paying ransoms to secure their freedom, the situation now is different. To him, the state is rather in dire need of information about the fighters not to arrest and lock them up or kill them but to offer them an olive branch. “They are your children and you know them. If you are afraid, give us their contacts especially those of their leaders so that we can talk to them and assure them that what awaits them is better than what they have in the bush.” were his words. He added that measures have been put in place to engage the returnees in training and or employment in any sector of their choice after checking their health situation.

A circular letter from the North West Regional Governor addressed to all S.D.Os and dated 23rd November 2018 with subject, implementation of the Head of State’s program to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate repentant fighters was then read to the hearing of all. According to the letter, fighters who have manifested their intentions to repent or have already done so are in their numbers. It further compelled all administrators within the region to organise at their levels in relation to sectoral concerns, meeting sessions with concerned stakeholders on how to chart a way out of the crisis through the effective implementation of the president’s decision.

Having gotten these clarifications, room was then given for the members to propose ideas on how to implement the program. Monono insisted that the proposals must be geared towards actions at the local level (Mbengwi, Momo Division) not those that will have to be channeled to hierarchy. The mayor of Mbengwi Council, Tebe Beatrice proposed that for any committee that shall be formed to be effective, it must involve local religious leaders, traditional authorities, civil society activists and middlemen within communities where the fighters reside. The mayor of Batibo council, Frederick Tanjoh on his part proposed that a hotline should be established and circulated for members of the public to use in giving their suggestions if possible on anonymous basis and for repentant fighters to also contact it so they can be reached and taken back into society. To mayor Tanjong, for the process to be successful, a lot of secrecy must be involved purposely for the security of the informants so that people are not termed “betrators” (as used by fighters and sympathisers of the struggle in his municipality) and eliminated especially as the recent trend is that of enemies npw hiding behind the crisis to settle old disputes over land, marital issues, political interest and personal grievances.

Here the S.D.O intervened and said “The truth about it is that most of these youths want to come back but their only challenge is fear of their leaders, members and doubts if the state means her words.” He said they call even him and appreciate his administration after which they’ll then ask for support but the answer he always gives them is same, “My job is not good when you are in the bushes. Come and meet me let me give you a permanent source of income.” With this, they will always laugh over the phone and ask him, “You want kill me?” To conquer fear, Monono told the D.Os, mayors, heads of services and military units that “The truth is we will all die and death is everywhere. It will be good that if you have to die, die while doing good.” This however doesn’t imply that you shouldn’t take security measures to preserve your life, he added.

Other proposals came in from the Divisional Delegate of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Jaidzeka Irene and that of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nkwawir Martha. The former proposed a mindset change and moral rearmament of the fighters through media campaigns that they won’t be stigmatised upon throwing in the towel while the later regretted the cutting off of the few available earth roads by the fighters, a strategy that is rather impoverishing and inflicting further hardship on the locals. The last proposal from one of the attendees was for tracks bearing messages of disarmament to be printed and circulated in the concerned areas especially those without network, electricity and other social amenities.

Committees were then created that shall be liaising with those at the regional and sub divisional levels. In his closing statement, the meeting chair, Absalom Monono reminded all present to keep hammering the right message till it gets stuck in the ears of the concerned, that Rome was never built in one day, that not all solutions to all problems can be gotten and executed in one day. “Tell them that we should learn to accept what has been done while asking for more for it’s not a taboo to do so”, he said. “But when doing so, be gentlemanly to accept that the person who has to give is limited for even God has not finished giving to us”, he added. “There’s no reason to be killing ourselves and destroying the property that we have because we want a better Cameroon. We have all received the prodigal message of the Head of State and we can only implement it by trying.” These were the last words of the S.D.O as he ended and dismissed the session.

One Response to Momo Administration to Begin Negotiations With “Amba” Boys