Hold Parents Accountable

A New Paradigm for African Development?

Imhotep
G R E A T
by

It is déjà vu all over again in Africa: A public official is appointed or promoted today and the public knows that it is just a matter of time before their rags become riches. As a matter of fact, the public has become so cynical of this fact; it is not only an expectation, it is an imperative. Family members, including the spouse and kids, feel the moment and take appropriate steps to adapt to the nouveau riche lifestyle of decadence and opulence. Close and distant relatives, friends and foe, community and village know that salvation has come to one of theirs.
A one time Minister of Foreign Affairs in La Republique du Cameroun, Hon. Francis Nkwain had a refrain when addressing the population of his native Kom land: “I am now on top of the tree and I will make sure that you, my brothers and sisters, are eating the ripest and juiciest fruits”. This write-up argues that if anything, the children of Africa have to tell their parents that “enough is enough”! We have to be proactively telling our parents that we will no longer watch-on as they steal, with impunity, the treasuries and resources belonging to us. Part of this renaissance will require that politicians and administrators not be looked at in abstract terms. Every politician has a name. They also have families; unless they lay claim to be the pretentiously self-made Mr. Bounderby in Hard Times by Charles Dickens. In their overwhelming numbers, they have children, nieces, cousins. They have you and they have me. Let us start with this author's father, Prof. Chia Emmanuel. Have I made the effort to entertain any conversations about his administrative style as Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea, or current Director of the Advanced School of Translators and Interpreters (ASTI) in Buea? Are these discussions worth having? What have you told your own parent who is strongly rumored to have swindled public funds? Is it a discussion worth having, or do we

Innocent Chia
readily become dismissive of these treacherous acts when reality hits close to the heart? La Republique du Cameroun in CentralWest Africa, (estimated population of 16 million) topped the world corruption charts in consecutive years, 1999 and 2000, according to the German based Transparency International. Who were those responsible for the corruption? Or did the money just disappear into thin air? We have memories of the once notorious Minister of Communications Prof. Kontchou Kouomegni unashamedly stating at a press conference that money he was carrying to the unpaid soccer players of the national team, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at the 1994 World Cup in the U.S, had vamoosed somewhere in flight between the Paris and Washington! A few months later, it is alleged that he erected a multistorey building at the heart of down-town Yaoundé. Was there any connection to the money that had mysteriously disappeared under his care? Was there ever any investigation into the matter?

The fact of the matter is that these are people whom we know. They are our parents. In some cases, they are our friends. Around beer parlors and office spaces and our homes, we sit and beat our chests about how well connected we are to this or tha person. Therefore, we know them. In 2006, close to a decade and half after Haman Adji (a.k.a "the whale hunter”), Cameroon's former Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reforms, resigned in the wake of his public outcry against corruption in some of the highest quarters of government, the Biya regime probably succumbed to International pressure and timidly sat up on its ass by making some significant arrests. Among these were the arrests of Gérard Emmanuel Ondo Ndong, the former Director General of FEICOM (in charge of financial assistance to local councils) accused embezzling about 29 million dollars in less than five years; Gilles Roger Bélinga former Director General of the Cameroon Real Estate Company (SIC), and Joseph Edou, former Director General state land loan fund - Crédit Foncier du Cameroun. Whether we personally know of these three examples or not, there are others that we know. The question that begs to be asked is: What are we telling them about corrupt practices and policies that endanger our future as their children or the future of their grand-children or great-

Or igina l ly Wr itte n for : http:/ / w w w . gr e a ti mh o te p. c o m

Hold Parents Accountable

A New Paradigm for African Development
long as we pay the abominable interest rates. The choices are clear: Will you speak out now or will you forever keep your mouth shut and be an accomplice to the public looting of your parent(s)? If you chose to hold your peace, then stop complaining about all that is going wrong in Africa. If you chose to keep quiet, then stop the whining about the dictatorships and lack of good governance. If you elect to watch on, then blame no one for the wanton spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. If you think your silence changes nothing, then do not be appalled by the child soldiers that emerge during every conflict in Africa. If you still feel like it is none of your business to talk to your parent or guardian, rejoice when CNN and FOX and other media show the starving mothers of Africa, and celebrate the ongoing carnage in Darfur. You know where I stand. I am talking, even when they do not seem to be listening. Let’s talk… before Dad or Mom is making the next news headlines with handcuffs and you have your head buried in sand like an ostrich.

Imhotep

G R E A T

Let's talk...before Dad or Mom is making the next news headlines with handcuffs
grand-children? Are we having that discussion at all? Are you telling your father that, at the very least, you find it morally embarrassing that he is occupying two high level positions in the administration? For example, how can one individual be the Vice Prime Minister of the Republic and Minister of Mines and Energy with residence in Yaoundé, and also the Director-General of the State-owned electricity corporation (SONEL) located hundred of miles away in the city of Douala, as was once the case with Niat Njifenji in the 1990s? Is it possible that he is superhuman? And we wonder why things do not get done... All across Africa and far out in Europe and America, children of Africa watch on as their parents rule with impunity and disregard for the citizenry. It would be naïve to think that some progeny of these morally bankrupt officials will cut off the finger that feeds them. After all, will you tell your Dad who is about to pay off your $20,000 tuition fee in America that you do not need any of his blood money? It boils down to personal morality and responsibility. But children of Africa must do what their judicial, legislative and executive arms of government have woefully failed to do. Asking for accountability is no longer an option. It is a duty which must begin from the home front. After all, “charity begins at home.” For too long, charity has been hijacked to mean personal benefit at the expense of the collective. In the short term, which spans the lifetime of our parents, it has meant amassing stolen public wealth and swindling them into private Swiss accounts. In the long run, however, it means that you and I and our kids will perish under the burden of foreign aid packages that will keep on coming as

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