Saturday, 26 November 2016

Anglophone Teachers/Lawyers strike - Lawyers and Teachers say strike continue, after Prime Minister Yang failed to win during Peace Talks - As explained by a participant

Image result for Philemon Yang
Prime Minister Philemon Yang

As we all know, the Peace Talks between the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cameroon Philemon Yang and the Anglophone Community representatives, ended in in a deadlock, while we are putting in details on blog, we urged you to read this narratives of one of the participants.

Bamenda today: Talks end at deadlock

Dear brethren,

Today, the lobby and court yards of Ayaba Hotel was flooded by anxious Southern Cameroonians waiting for the outcome of the talks with the PM who came all the way from Yaoundé. 

Small groups of people could be seen converging and listening to one speaker or the other be it Lawyer Bobga harmony of the CCLL association or of Tassang Wilfred, NESG for CATTU or Tameh Nfon Valentine of TAC or the leaders of the motor taxi drivers union. Journalists paced up and down trying to capture what each group leader was telling the others before the real talks.

BBC’s Randy Joe Sa’ah Zeng was present with his big microphone. Other TV Stations that were present included Equinox, Anye Collins of Canal 2, not to mention the local TV stations of Abakwa and the rest. While loitering among the crowd and waiting for the meeting, which we erroneously thought would take everyone into the same hall, we were informed that the PM was going to take us in one group after the other. That was the plan from Yaoundé. However, we succumbed. Soon Ni John Fru Ndi arrived with his entourage and was immediately ushered in.

We learned that the PM had already received the traditional rulers and the clergy or religious leaders. Finally it was our turn, the teachers. We all scurried to the passageway to the conference Hall and we were politely sent back. They needed only the leaders, we were told. The SYNES, TAC, CATTU, PEATTU, BATTUC, and CeWOTU leaders, respectively Dr Abangma James, Tameh Valentine, Tassang Wilfred, Afu Steve , Ayeah Emmanuel, Kimfon Michael, and Tasi Ntang Lucas Representing the parents or CEF. 

The rest of us withdrew and held our breath waiting for the outcome. It was to take about 3 or more hours. Soon we saw the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bamenda Prof Nkuo Theresa Akenji scuttling into the hall and we guessed it was at the behest of the PM since that domain particularly concerned her. 

After three hours or more of deliberation with the PM, the Teachers’ delegation reemerged at the lobby looking grim and tired. They had been told to go and draw up a chronogram of their demands. According to them the PM had been very nice and they were granted all concessions but told to arrange them according to priorities giving deadlines. Two people from the Teachers’ Unions: Valentine Tameh of TAC and Dr Fontem from the University of Buea, Secretary General of SYNES and two envoys from the PM’s Office Dr Ngam Gilead and some other person I did not get the name. However from his accent and manners he prove to be a francophone. The Teacher’s resource Centre Bamenda was the best venue for this.

The Francophone man directed us on what to write and Dr Fontem became the Secretary. The PM’s man wanted us to make a timeline of activities which consisted of creating what he called Institutional Framework. Giving them a time limit to work and submit results, and most desperately make a declaration that the Strike has been called off. 

We countered explaining to him that we can not call off a strike on the basis of promises. He insisted and we told him to go and we see what we can do. We did what we could do. And prepared a press statement (that was never read).

Back in Ayaba we met this duo. They received us outside on the corridor facing the Ayaba swimming pool. The long and short of it is that they were very disappointed when they never saw any where that the strike had been suspended. They insisted and the Francophone envoy said “we are not leaving this place without the suspension of the strike”. By then some anxious lawyers had come and they joined a few teachers to say “that is a threat.” 

One of the main points was that we don’t trust this government and so we can not suspend the strike without at least one visible concession made. The debate here was long and heated and Tassang Wilfred of CATTU and others stood the heat. 

One remarkable point was that the man inadvertently said we should suspend the strike to save the PM, whereupon we told him that by refusing to suspend the strike we were protecting the PM from being a victim because we know he is powerless. Meaning if he goes and the Francophone regime turns down our demands we would have been the losers. Hence holding fast to the strike will yield us better fruits.

All points advanced were countered or attempted to be countered by the PM’s envoys. At a certain moment they seem to have given in and said they were going to report to the PM. Within the twinkle of an eye they reappeared and we said they had not seen the PM. They said that they had to be very fast. Then ensued another long session. This time the union leaders were isolated. 

They even threatened but our leaders showed then threatening phone calls and messages from teachers who were swearing that if they caved in that will be to the detriment of their families.

To cut a long story short it ended with a stalemate and may continue tomorrow.

Meanwhile the move has galvanized wonderful solidarity between the lawyers and the teachers.

Words of courage poured in from all directions.

This is my submission. I can’t give all the details since I don’t have. But I am sure newspapers and other people will give other details.

Submitted by Nke V Yong

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