By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Prime Minister Chief Dr. Dion Ngute Joseph has told ex-fighters of the Ambazonia separatists that the government of Cameroon has absorbed them of all things in the past. The Prime Minister was speaking in Buea May 17, 2019 as he concluded his 4 days peace mission to the South West Region.
According to the Prime Minister, necessary conditions will be created for the ex-fighters for them to have something to do, and everything they have done in the past is absorbed. The Prime Minister was so impressed by one of the ex-fighter’s job (poultry farming) that he promised to personally sponsor the activity when he leaves the centre.
He also urged the ex-fighters to spread the message that, it is time for them to drop their weapons and come out from the bushes. “If any person wants to come out (as the separatist generals are threatening individuals not to leave), the military will be there to assist in the process”. Individuals should drop their arms and come out so that they can be reintegrated back into the community” He said.
The National Coordinator of the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission Fai Yengo Francis adding his voice to the of the Prime Minister echoed the calls for separatist fighters to come out of the bushes like what happened in Kumba, South West Region of Cameroon. During that ceremony, some 21 ex-Ambazonia fighters dropped their weapons.
He has also called on doubters to come on board as what has been happening-ex-fighters dropping their weapons is just a tip of the iceberg.
The representative of the ex-Ambazonia fighters Ebako Solomon applauded the government’s creation of the NDDRC centre as one of the best ways to solve the crisis in the North West and South West Regions. He added “we were ready long ago to lay down our weapons but were unwilling due to the fear. The centre should prepare to receive more ex-fighters in the days ahead because I believe more will join soon”. “The government should consider us as the prodigal son in the bible who left and came back and was received by his father. So too we the ex-fighters are appealing to the government”.
In their preoccupations, the ex-fighters who most of them where students before joining the fight called on government to assist them in the recruitment into the police, military custom and other public institutions since as most of them have Ordinary, Advanced Levels certificates and others.
They have also pleaded with the government to help in the acquisition of some vital documents such as National Identity Cards, Birth Certificates, since as they were lost in the course of atrocities committed in their areas of residence.
The regional centre in Buea which host these ex-fighters from the separatist forces are being trained on various aspects of life to help in their reintegration back in to the community. They are trained on poultry farming, agriculture, driving, and sowing.
According to Fonju Bernard, Regional coordinator NDDRC indicated that, the centre was created on the 21st of December 2018 and went operational with just two fighters. “The number is increasing though timidly. So far, the centre hosts 21 ex-fighters of the separatist forces, though the number has increased with those who drop their weapons in Kumba. Adding those to the number we have, the number of ex-fighters will be more”. “The most pertinent issue that the centre needs has to do with healthcare. These fighters are faced with various conditions such as skin infections, follow up of bullet wounds poses a challenge” He added.
The Nationa Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission was created by Cameroon’s Head of State, paul Biya as a means of reintegrating ex-fighters of the Ambazonia separatists operating in the North West and South West Regions and ex-Boko Haram fighters. The commission operates three centres (Buea, South West Region, Bamenda, North West Region and Mora in the Far North Region of the country) as a means of reintegrating the ex-fighters back into the society.
It is still not clear how long the ex-fighters will be at the various centres before being reintegrated back into the community as there is no timetable for that. It is left for the administration to judge if at all the ex-fighters have been educated enough for them to go back into the society and not pick up arms against the state.