The much awaited SDF national convention is around the corner. The grand ceremonies which is scheduled to take place from the 22nd to the 24th of February 2018 in the birth place of the party and opposition stronghold Bamenda will bring together thousands of militants of the party to decide on their future leaders and possibly the strategy to dethrone the CPDM natural candidate in the forthcoming presidential election as well as other elections scheduled around the country
For starters, we know that the battle for who will represent the SDDF lies between super favorite Littoral-based business magnet and SDF MP and Vice president of the party Hon. Joshua Osih and Fru Ndi’s right hand man and political protégé, Hon. Mbah Ndam from Batibo who still have real chances to upset the race.
Fru Ndi will stand as chairman of the party and as things stands he will likely win while other major positions too will be up for grasp
But this year’s convention is like no other. Holding amidst brawling Anglophone crisis which has deeply affected the entire English regions of Cameroon, places where any of its people are considered staunch SDF supporters, the staked could not be higher
There has been debate whether the convention should even hold in the first place amidst the rampant arrests, killings and fighting by government forces and Ambazonian forces in recent months and even the town to host to convention is presently under extended curfew to curb rising insecurity there.
But as the convention whose outcome might determine the political future of this country draws closer, it’s not the agenda which is under discussion but whether the convention should even hold in the first place
Critics say following government’s refusal to engage in genuine and meaningful dialogue with the people, the SDF should boycott forthcoming elections because participating will give the embattled Biya’s government credibility and a visa to continue with their abuses in this part of the country.
But SDF knows too well than any other party the dangers of elections boycott, they have threatened to boycott in the past and changed their position at the end while their last boycott in the 90s many say killed the party in many parts of the country.
But the strongest opposition to the party yet have emerged from the so called “Ambazonian defense forces” and its proxies who have threatened to attack and disrupt the gathering of the party in what they called” their soil”
But in a town where supporting SDF was like a religion and its national chairman Ni Fru Ndi fondly referred to as the “President of Bamenda” , the latest threats from secessionists would have been considered a 21st century joke. But times have changed and so have the people and nothing is surprising anymore.
The SDF no longer holds the kind of leverage it once did just three years ago in Bamenda and their national chairman and party founder Ni John Fru Ndi no longer enjoys the kind of rock star status he once did before the crisis
Many have accused the party of colluding with the ruling CPDM which they consider its government brutal, corrupt and systematically biased against the Anglophones, and labeled its leader as “power drunk”, a charge the chairman has always deny whenever the need arises for him to do so
But as observers continues to warn that despite SDF fall from grace in the North west region epitomize when the crowd unceremoniously walked-away the chairman at the Bamenda commercial avenue over a year ago during protests accusing of being part of the problem, the party still enjoys considerable support and many there still look at the party as their only glimmer of hope and any attack by extremists against the party there could risk jeopardizing the security situation of the entire country.
The party chairman has however remained defiant, insisting that the convention must hold against all odds. A litmus tests perhaps to his crumbling popularity and growing political misfortunes.