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Published On: Tue, Mar 21st, 2017

Ten Questions for Paul Biya

This Columnist was passing through Cameroon, on assignment and stumbled on one of those incidents that will give a writer – an inspirational windfall, an evangelist – a Saul/Paul coming to Jesus moment, a nationalist – a coming to tears moment, and a columnist – a time to pull out the laptop and scribble something to the head office.

In effect, cramped in a 70 seater bus from Bamenda to Yaoundé, the columnist watched an ailing, octogenarian struggling to remain stable in an atmosphere that was obviously unpalatable and unfavorable to his physical and mental condition.  Even so, the columnist could not focus on the malaise of the man. The columnist had a lot to worry about his own comfort amidst the buzzing heat, innumerable sounds and the miasma of scents that emanated from several ponderables – hygiene, general health, uncoordinated eating, stomach displeasure and discharge, the fermenting effect of silence and the fragrance of sustained sweat, sneezing and nose clearing.

There was the unsolicited sale of herbs and cures of all kinds of maladies, real and perceived, recurrent and epidemic, from charlatans who had traveled to all the conjectured lands of abracadabra, and back. And now they were here and now to sell these prized apothecary ordained ointments, powders and liquids.

And then there was the erratic and maniachical oscillation of the driver between the stability of alcoholic fixes and the superfluous confidence of hemp grandiosity.  These two extremes were in full display with the speed of the monster bus in relation to the width of the road, overtaking, negotiating bends and most expertly but most frighteningly at the revving of the engine during accelerations and decelerations.

And of course, there was the state of the roads – a situation that seemed to be a curse sitting at the crossroads of ancestral complacency and colonial arrogance running wild at the confluence and congruence of the one fork that was bearing the brunt of it all, and leading irreversibly to hell itself: potholes, gaping like the gullies that were laughing in ridicule of the deforestation that lay in rampant and vagrant disclosure of the terrainial rape that was pointing directly to both parties involved, especially this one that had morphed out of the decadence of the very confluence and congruence; the unique marriage of laterite and tar wedded in reverse macadamization that there seemed to be a river perpetually flowing in the middle of the road as opposed to the elevation that should have been driving the collected rain pour away from a slightly ridged middle of the road; meanders that snaked themselves with the irregularity that reflected the inconstancy of the same untrustworthiness and unreliability that had come to be expected of the same confluence and congruence; and then the rail less gutters that exposed the monster bus to the ravines and valleys of the Mandara mountains like a loaded semi-automatic in the hands of toy denied, attention starved and serial deviant toddler.

These and more occupied the columnist until there was scream from the octogenarian causing a sudden reality on the driver who returned all his gears in reverse thrust and stopped. Before the motor-boys could open the middle door of the monster bus, the man, who had struggled to the door and was leaning against it fell out on his faced and died. The columnist does not know whether it was because of his pent up malaise or because of the fall – even so, he died.

In the commotion to file out of the monster bus, the columnist clutched a piece of rumpled paper that fell from the man as he struggled to the door from whence he fell out and died.

The columnist protected it with journalistic fervor without regard to its content. He lodged it in his pocket until he reached Obili where he pulled it out in the privacy of his inquisitive conversion and read the following words.


Ten Questions I will like to Ask President Paul Biya

  1. President, what is the Population of the North West Region, and since you became President in 1982, how many Ministers have appointed, from this Region, that you famously called your ‘second home’; meantime, what are the Populations of the Center and South Regions? Yet, how many Ministers have you appointed from only these two Regions – is there a specific reason for this discrepancy?; furthermore, Mr. President, what are the populations of the West Region and how many appointments have you had from the West, in relation to the number that you have appointed from the South Region alone? Further still, what is the percentage of GDP that is coming out of the South West Region, and yet how many appointments have you made from the South West Region? Better still what is the exact amount of taxes that are generated by the National Refinery in Limbe and how much of that income is invested in Limbe? – is there any reason for this flagrant oversight, in the South West Region, and the attendant emphasis on the South Region?


  1. President, how many times have you traveled by land (train, bus, car, horseback or trekked) from Yaoundé to Bafoussam, Bamenda, Buea, Maroua, Garoua, Ngaoundere, Bertoua or Ebolowa? If at all you have traveled by land, how was the state of the roads? Mr. President, for your three decades, and counting, as the head of state of Cameroon, and the first citizen, how many times have you visited the ten different regional (provincial) capitals?


  1. President, a good gauge of the quality of education in your own country is the comfort with which you allow your own children to study and complete their own education in Cameroon. Mr. President, where do your children attend college? What informed you and your family’s decision? Why, for instance, did you chose the University of California – Irvine, for Brenda? Why did you not insist that Brenda studies in one of the six University Centers in Cameroon?
  2. President, the litmus test of any healthcare system in the world should be whether a person and their family can submit themselves to the services of the said healthcare system – can your excellency submit himself and his family to the Cameroonian Healthcare system? Better still, Mr. President, which is your primary care hospital in Cameroon? Where did First Lady Chantal Biya attend pre-natal, maternity and post natal care? Who was her primary physician and why? How often do members of your family receive routine medical care? Mr. President, is there (or are there) a resident Physician (physicians) in the Unity Palace – who are they and what informed your choice of these physicians?


  1. President, the measure of a man’s psycho-social stability is the confidence that he enjoys amongst his people. Which Agency is in charge of your personal security? Is the agency, Cameroonian? If Not, what country is the Agency from? And why are they not Cameroonian? Mr. President, why do you trust the Israelis more with your security than you trust Cameroonians?



  1. President, the measure of a person’s work and worth is that person’s pay – their salary or compensation. Mr. President, what is your salary? How do you get paid? Who are your bankers and how often do you access your accounts?


  1. Your Excellency, savings and investments are the measure of a person’s success or lack thereof in life – since you became President of Cameroon, how much have you saved and what have you invested in? Mr. President, in 1986, there was a famous picture of you tending a pineapple farm – where is the farm and what is the state of that farm?



  1. President, what attracts you to Switzerland and to France? Why do you like spending time in these countries? Where would you like to retire, if you had a chance to so do?


  1. President, how do you organize your presidential campaigns? How do you campaign for the presidency? What was your toughest campaign? Why was it the toughest? What happened in 1992? Why did you appear so unkempt and unprepared for your victory? Mr. President, why did it take you so long (until 2015) to meet with Chairman Fru Ndi?



  1. President, since April 6, 1982, what are your greatest regrets about Cameroon? What did you want to achieve the most and failed? Conversely, Mr. President, what are you most proud of?

When the columnist read the rumpled paper he folded it with reverence but not before taking a copy of the letter on his cell phone and calling his head office and talking to his Column Administrator.

And this is how I see it!!!


The opinions expressed here are of the writer and not necessarily of the African opinion.


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