By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The 47th edition of the National Day celebration has been commemorated in Buea with some educational establishment, political parties and traditional rulers in Buea boycotting the national day celebration.
The event which took place at the independence square was presided over by Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai saw the presence of Mayor Ekema Patrick Esunge, UB VC, and the population of Buea, though in a timid nature.
The present socio-political atmosphere and information circulating on social media by unknown men promising chaos on all those who decide to take part in the celebration, many say are the reasons why many people never showed up for the celebration. Many decided to stay at home while business premises, and other services remain closed and the fear of the unknown was the driving factor for people refusing to take part.
However, a handful of Buea inhabitants braved the odds and decided to turn up and celebrate the National Day celebration, with the day characterized by the award of medals to some deserved personalities.
The Governor of the South West Region Bernard Okalia Bilai was very upbeat indicating that the event was a success. He said: “We have had a wonderful match past with youths in particular matching. We are all witnesses to the fact that everything went well; no incident and I want you to make the echoes known”.
To the population of Buea, the Governor said “to stay calm and vigilant as usual and to collaborate with the forces of law and order who are there to protect them and to sensitize the youths to go back to school and sensitize the misguided youths who are still in the bushes to drop their arms and listen to the call of the Head of State, President Paul Biya”.
Previously, Primary schools in Buea will usually turn up and exercise their civic responsibility by taking part in the match pass. The case was very different this year as no primary school took part in the celebration, while about five secondary schools and other higher institutions of learning effectively took part in the National Day celebration. Schools such as BGS Molyko, GTHS Molyko, GHS Buea Town and others that usually have hundreds of students taking part was a shadow of itself as few students graced the celebration.
The main opposition party SDF had earlier promised to boycott the event with the MRC party of Maurice Kamto also indicated that they had no intention of taking part in the National Day celebration. The calls from these parties were very evident as none was seen, with the ruling CPDM party the only one to match. Other parties that usually celebrate the National Day such as the UPC Party were absent.
Many observers were equally left confused as majority of the traditional authorities in Buea did not show up for the National Day celebration. Just the Paramount ruler-elect of Buea and some third class chiefs were pictured at the grandstand. It should be observed that during the second preparatory meeting ahead of 20th May, the chiefs came out and indicated that they are there to support government’s efforts.
The reasons for most of the chiefs not to be present at such a ceremony are yet to be made known but observers speculate that it may be due to the Governor’s call for chiefs to take part in the celebration by matching with their subjects. However, in a communiqué from the South West Governors office, it indicated that “…The administration through the Governor did not demand to dethrone chiefs, but rather sought to bring them to represent effectively their communities. As auxiliaries of the administration, their presence at least during official ceremonies is expected”.
The communiqué added: “in an off microphone declaration, where the Governor invited the traditional rulers to return to their chiefdoms and regain control of their population by mobilizing them to represent their communities with placards at this celebration of national unity as this was the case in 2017, where they showed their attachment to the republican institutions”.
The paramount chief designate of Buea, Chief Dr. Robert Esuka Endeley had equally lashed out and called on all the chiefs and population of the chiefdom of Buea not to yield to calls to boycott of the National Day celebration. He equally called on the population to massively turn out for the national day to exercise their civil right.
The national Day across the country was celebrated under the theme: “Unity in Diversity, a major asset of the Cameroonian People in their Determined Move towards Emergence.