As Prime Minister Philemon Yang leaves Mezam Division today to tour other divisions of the North West region, it is most likely that citizens in the localities will re-echo the conditions the people of Bamenda put before the Head of Government yesterday as prerequisites for resumption of schools.
PM Yang, who on Monday March 6 started a six-day mission to enforce school resumption in the North West region, met with parents and education stakeholders who told him openly that schools reopening will remain a mere wish if the detained leaders of a prolonged protest against Anglophone marginalisation are not released.
Besides the release of the leaders of the protest who are being tried for terrorism, rebellion, unlawful assembly, parents, teachers, and some elected officials of the region also requested the release of everyone else arrested in the cause of the protests which have raged on for over four months now.
#BringBackOurInternet was equally a major demand put before the PM. He was told that in addition to the unconditional release of the detainees, the internet must be restored in the North West and South West regions for schools to resume.
Hon. Wilfred Fusi Naamukong, MP for Mezam North also took the floor after the PM. Speaking in a tone which can only be compared to that of Hon. Joseph Wirba when he defied the House Speaker in the National Assembly last year, he pointed out things that need to be addressed promptly. He said government is asking parents to send children back to school when the state has failed to apologize for the “massive killing of unarmed civilians.”
He stressed “the arbitrary arrest must stop. Our citizens who have been detained for protesting against problems which the President (Paul Biya) has acknowledged, should be released!” Hon. Naamukong’s statements were greeted with deafening rounds of applause in the Bamenda Congress Hall. The MP also requested the demilitarisation of Anglophone regions.
He also told the PM and his delegation, that Bamenda city dwellers in the hall are even afraid to stand up and speak their minds because they are scared they will be followed up and later arrested and taken to Yaounde. “When the internet is restored and the detainees released, we will start feeling like we our part of this country. We are being marginalised even by the internet and human rights abuses” he said.
Yang rubbishes conditions
PM Yang, who in an earlier speech said education is the biggest empowerment which should not be sacrificed for anything, dismissed the demands of the people. Yang said the internet was cut off because it was being used to spread false information. He also said some detainees have been released but stated categorically that those in detention must be tried.
He also said the town of Bamenda will not be demilitarised until calm returns
Yang emphasised the importance of children’s right to education. He noted that even if one cannot eat or go out and drink a beer with friends, boycotting education is not the way to go. “It is an embarrassment on the international scene.”
The PM is expected to visit Nkambe in Ndonga-Mantung Division, Kumbo in Bui Division, Mbengwi in Momo Division and Fundong in Boyo Division. It is yet to be announced whether the Head of Government will also visit major towns of the South West region where schools have been paralysed ever since teachers and lawyers started a sit-down strike late last year.