Three years since the Major National Dialogue was held in Yaounde from September 30 to October 4, Cameroonians have been counting the gains as peace gradually returns to the North West and South West Regions.
The gains achieved on the ground so far are the results of thought-provoking discussions of Cameroonians from the ten regions who met in Yaounde to tackle the crisis in the North West and South West Regions and see how power can better be decentralised in order to enhance local development.
The outcome of the come-together is what has redefined the strength and capacity of the people of the English-speaking regions now experiencing economic revival, social growth, and educational and cultural rejuvenation.
To show government’s good faith since the dialogue ended, the Head of State, Paul Biya ensured a swift follow up and implementation of recommendations by creating a follow up committee headed by the Prime Minister Dr Joseph Dion Ngute. The Committee recently met for its fourth steering committee on August 4.
Among the achievements so far is the i9s the implementation of the Special Status in the North West and South West Regions with the House of Chiefs of both regions function, the Public Independent Conciliators on the field and the Regional Assemblies fully functional.
Prior to the convening of the Major National Dialogue, the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute, had signed Decree N°2019/3178/PM of September 2, 2019 to specify the procedures for implementing the status of economic disaster areas. He also outlined conditions for related tax benefits provided for by the provisions of articles 121 and 121a of the General Tax Code.
Between 2021 and 2022, the situation of economic activities across the two regions has greatly improved. Markets and other social ventures are now operational in the 13 divisions of the two English-speaking regions. The tone for this was set at the Major National Dialogue.
The Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, has resumed activities in most of its plantations. This has started placing the country’s Banana production capacity to what it used to obtain.
The central bank of the Central African Economic Community, BEAC, had in one of its recent reports stated that: “Banana production is expected to increase in the second quarter of 2022, benefiting mainly from the maturation of plantations in 2021, and to a lesser extent, the resumption of activities in some plantations of the CDC that stopped working last year due to the Anglophone crisis”.
In 2021, when activities fully resumed, CDC rehabilitated 520 hectares of plantations it had abandoned due to the armed conflict in the English-speaking regions.
This led to an increase of Banana exports in Cameroon by 4.8% in early 2022. PAMOL has also resumed activities. Several workers have regained their jobs despite sporadic separatist incursions. Kumba, the commercial capital of the South West Region has fully regained steam with businessmen driving in from Douala and beyond to continue business as it was before. Almost all villages now enjoy the traditional market days as it obtained before the armed conflict. Another clear socio economic indicator is the fact that farmers now feel confident, safe and are engaged in farming more than ever before.
One of the key points highlighted during the Major National Dialogue was the quest for peace to return to the troubled North West and South West regions. The return of peace, the commission tasked to profile the situation of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs had indicated would pave way for the return of those who were forced to move out of their communities.
The early signs of Major National Dialogue impact was visible when some internally displaced persons decided to return home early last year. Not long, before the end of 2021, a good number of IDPs had taken back residence in their villages.
The return of refugees and IDPs was the task of commission number six at the Major National Dialogue. This commission proposed ways and methods which could accelerate normalcy and cause the return of IDPs and refugees.Today, the talk about IDPs is fading away. The return of refugees has been gradual. But reports say, the deception and manipulation from the Diaspora is a deterrent on the will of some refugees in Nigeria to come back home.
President Paul Biya, however, has remained committed to address the hurdle. In 2021, the Head of State sent a special consignment of relief material to refugees of the crisis in Nigeria.
One of the key sectors which made the North West and South West regions proud was the rare educational structures and value they attached to education.
Since the holding of the historic Major National Dialogue, there is no contradiction that, education which is popularly known as the multibillion industry of the North West and South West regions is inching back to its glory days.
The glaring proof Is the thousands of candidates in the two regions who have been sitting in for exams organised by the General Certificate of Education, GCE Board.