Friday, August 30, 2019

Anglophone Crisis: Governor Okalia Says Those Leaving The South West Region Are Holidaymakers, Not Fleeing Insecurity

Okalia Bilai Bernard, Governor of Cameroon's South West Region has rubbished claims of mass exodus from his administrative unit in recent times as a response to insecurity.

The chief executive officer of the South West paid a visit to Mile 17 Buea Wednesday, August 28, 2019  where he met with Motor Park officials and locals going about their routine activities.

After intense discussions with the park authorities, the Governor said those leaving the region are holidaymakers returning to school and not people fleeing perceived insecurity. He urged journalists to be more civil and responsible in their reporting in order to "build and not destroy".

"Have you seen that there is no panic? Everything is normal and everyone is going about their normal activities. Those who were on holidays out are coming in, while those who were here on holidays are going back," the Governor said.

He reassured the population that the security situation of the region is under control and the environment conducive for schools to resume for the 2019/2020 academic year on Monday, September 2, 2019.

Ahead of a looming lockdown announced by separatist activists in the troubled North West and South West regions, there has been a massive exodus of Buea denizens and those of other towns in the two regions fleeing their homes to towns and locations they deem safer. Many of them could be seen in possession of beds,  mattresses, pots and other household equipment.

The lockdown, separatists say, is intended to water down any efforts of school resumption in the troubled regions and also to express their disgust at the recent verdict by the Yaoundé Military court condemning their leader, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, and some nine members of his cabinet to a life imprisonment.

Even though the various factions of the Ambazonia leadership seem not to have agreed on the dates and duration of the lockdown, most fleeing inhabitants of these towns say they don't want to be caught in the trap.

"I am taking my family to Yaounde because of this lockdown. I don't want to risk my family. What are we going to be eating if we stay here? This is nonsense! The other time it was 10 days lockdown and we are the ones suffering. Let me go to Yaounde with my family where it is safer,” said a 45-year-old teacher seated in between his luggage and surrounded by four children and his wife at the Mile 17 bus station in Buea.

It is not the first time some inhabitants of the region are abandoning their houses due to an imposed Ambazonia lockdown. In the build up to October 1, 2018, considered by separatists as their Independence Day, and the October 7, 2018 presidential election, a 10-day lockdown was imposed on the Anglophone regions.

Governor Okalia Bilai Bernard has since continued to reassure the population of his administrative unit that they can count on the state for their security and safety,  urging them to collaborate with administrative and security officials.