|SIT-IN STRIKE TAKEN TO THE STREETS|
After meeting with Common Law Lawyers, Teachers Trade Unionists and other groups of professionals, with the Prime Minister in the North West Region on November 25 and 26 2016, and with no concrete resolutions the strike action according to the aggrieved professionals will have to continue.
The teachers and lawyers maintain their grounds, with the PM, Yang Philemon, promising to look into the grievances tabled, some early next week.
This report below contains statements from the Lawyers and Teachers, each narrating why the strike action has to continue. There are indications that there is need for a strong political for the issues raised to be addressed.
Below are reports from Lawyers and Teachers
FROM COMMON LAW LAWYERS (26 11 2016)
We were informed on Thursday evening by Barrister Bobga Harmony President of NOWELA that the Prime Minister wants to meet with Common Law Lawyers who called for the strike action in Bamenda on Friday 9 AM.
In line with our last Mutengene resolutions that we intend to meet only with the Prime Minister and either in Buea or Bamenda, a delegation made up of President NKONGHO FELIX AGBOR, BCM NJUALEM CHARLES, BCM NTOKO JUSTICE AND ASOH EPEY left for Bamenda on Friday 3 AM.
|PM YANG: I WILL REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT|
We got to Bamenda and realised that the PM invited us and other groupings like Teachers, Fons, Clergy Men, Politicians etc.The PM also decided to receive these various groupings separately.
Eleven lawyers went into meeting with the PM whilst the others present waited outside.
The PM opened the discussions by saying that the meeting is upon instructions from the Head of State to know exactly our worries and open dialogue with the lawyers.
During the discussions, all our problems which have been expressed in our various resolutions, communiques and declaration were presented to the PM by the various speakers (lawyers) who took the floor.
Federalism a Political Issue
On Federalism, the PM said neither he nor any other minister is competent to discuss it because it's a political issue. He however agreed that though legal the issue of Federalism is a political issue and he will like us to concentrate on the other worries. He acknowledged that most of the issues raised are genuine and we should not cease to demand for them and we should seek a broad based discussion on them so that lasting solutions can be arrived at.
Wigs, Gowns Still With Government
He promised to make a statement on the ill treatment of lawyers next week and equally that we should give him up to Friday next week to resolve the wig and gown issue.
On the banning and suspension of our associations, he said he will equally look into same but adviced that the associations which are not registered with the administration should do so. He said he was not comfortable with the creation of Common Law Bar Association because the present Bar Law has to be modified before we create the Common Law Bar and not the reverse. He however said from our explanations he on a personal note thinks a Common Law Bar is a brilliant idea.
|COMMON LAW BAR LAWYERS|
The issue of transfer of civil law magistrates was elaborately discussed and the PM sought to know the problems created and how feasible to transfers were to be done. We explained and he said we should rest assured that he is taking that seriously but did not promise any immediate solution.
The PM showed some instructions from the Head of State to the effect that all laws must be published in both English and French. He however acknowledged that there have been some lapses and same shall be cured.
On the creation of Law School, the PM said it's a great idea but the modalities must be put in place in subsequent consultative meetings with all judicial actors before same can be created.
Gentlemen it was a 2 hours plus meeting and it's difficult to put everything down over this medium.Generally, the PM was gentlemanly and listened carefully to our worries. He asked questions and equally answered questions from us. He made it clear that he and the entire government is open to dialogue and ready to seek lasting solutions to our problems. He advised us to ask for broad based discussions and not to sideline our titular ministry.
|LAWYER'S BEING TEARGASED|
There is An Anglophone Problem
The PM expressly acknowledged that there is an Anglophone problem and that to him all what Paul Atanga Nji said is not the government position. My opinion is that the PM as a politician did well in the meeting.
That it's a plus for us that the PM left Yaounde to talk to us at our base.That we should wait as he promised for the outcome of our meeting by Friday next week.
At the end of the meeting, our leaders decided that the strike continues until we see the manifestation of good faith and some actions carried out by the government to resolve our worries.
REACTION FROM TEACHER'S TRADE UNIONS
Bamenda today (November 25 2016): Talks end at deadlock
Today, (November 25 2016) 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 mototaxi 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.
|POLICE BLOCK DEMONSTRATORS|
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 proves 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 cannot 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 cannot 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.
|VICTIM BEING RUSHED TO HOSPITAL|
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,