It is no longer news that Cameroon’s defense forces have recently suffered significant human losses from internal as well as external attacks.During his six years at the helm of the defense ministry, Mebe Ngo’o demonstrated unrivaled greed in the management of funds for purchasing equipment as well as soldiers funds. His reign was marred with such despicable incidents where elements of the elite amphibious squadron in Douala and Rapid Intervention Battalion could not hold themselves back from writing open letters to the Head of the armed forces reclaiming their benefits. It was also during his tenure that a soldier discharged his firearm as the motorcade of the Presidential convoy drove by. Speaking to our intelligence officer during the funeral of one senior officer, an anonymous element of the Amphibious Battalion in Douala told our reporter that ‘it has become customary practice for all levels of the defense chain of command to scoop a big chunk off soldiers allowances and divert funds for equipments into private accounts. From the minister-delegate at the presidency in charge of defense through various levels of hierarchy Yaoundé, and to some commanding officers at the regional headquarters, up to half of the disbursed money never arrived at their intended destinations’. With this sick management, one can only expect that Cameroonian troops would remain ill-equipped vis-a-vis the well armed terrorist and other pirate groups. The recent death of 30 years old captain Yari Emmanuel on the 11th of February, 2016 is partly as a result of poor equipments of the military.
Another high-ranking member of the defense ministry who sued for anonymity revealed that ‘soldiers had every reason to complain because they are neither given the sofiscated weapons nor given the minimum financial motivation. The only thing that motivates the valiant soldiers is their love for fatherland which fuels their relentless efforts to protect the territorial integrity of the nation’. But this source of motivation wears thin as the days go by and a dreadful military strike could be inevitable if the situation is not reviewed.
On September 9, 2015 Cameroonian troops serving in the United Nations Mission for Stabilisation Mission in Central African (MINUSCA) protested against their delayed allowances and salaries. The incident prompted statements from Mebe Ngo’o, who denied having received any money from the UN. But how could this be, when all other troop contributing countries to the MINUSCA mission had been duly paid their benefits. Such statements are susceptible to cause diplomatic rifts between the country and UN. So the question is: was Cameroon sidelined by the UN or Mebe Ngo’o simply sought false justifications for his swindling?
On that fateful day, the soldiers demanded their salaries and allowances which had not paid for months. Instead of fixing the problem, the greedy Mebe Ngo’o fixed his gaze on their Commanding Officer, late Major General Tumenta Martin Chumo, with whom he had several bitter exchanges on thesame topic. Even, within the defense ministry, accusatory fingers are pointing at former defense boss and the Cameroonian military hierarchy for the death of the Commanding officer. It is also believed that Tumenta’s close bodyguard for more than eight years had too immediately follow his boss to the grave, so that no information would be released to betray the general’s true murderer(s). The body guard’s murder was orchestrated to occur on the 27th of January, 2016, the same day the a military barracks caught fire in the Garoua and till date source of explosion unknown – a perfect decoy to shift attention from the guard’s death.
The new MINUSCA Commander, Senegalese born General Balla Keita’s candidature was strongly supported by France to the disfavour of Cameroonian born Brigadier General Mahamat Ahmed. This accounts for a major diplomatic and strategic loss for Cameroon. It should be noted that president Biya did not have a competent General to immediately him to Central African Republic. It has been his age-old policy to appoint a maximum of 5 competent generals at any particular time. He prefers to surround himself with a band of old generals whose best contribution is to siphon money to their personal accounts. That is why Mr Biya had to quickly appoint raise some competent colonels to generals before affecting them serve in the multinational joint task force against Boko Haram terrorists group.
With the absence of a Cameroonian at the head of MINUSCA, it is now evident that the Eastern frontier of Republic might receive less attention and probably become more porous for infiltration of armed groups from CAR. The Republic of Cameroon has lost more than a General, she has lost a very strategic military control and she might pay dearly for it. What a loss; yes, what a shame!
By H K TANTEH