When news broke out today April 27th 2019 about the “arrest” of opposition scribe and Biya foe Ni John Fru Ndi in his native North West region by armed civilian fighters, many Cameroonians receive the news with utter disbelieve and consternation
Even by the standard of recent high profile kidnappings by in the restive North West and the armed group, news of the chairman’s “arrest” sends worrying signs to anyone who understands Cameroon’s politics.
For starters, Ni John Fru Ndi is by far the most respected human being by any standard west of the Mungo.
Basically, before the crisis, he was simply worshipped and adored by the populace who now “interrogates him at gunpoint.
He has been running an effective and combative opposition party since the early 90s and is hugely credited to have forced the CPDM party and its leader, Paul Biya to introduce some semblance of “democracy in the country” which Ahidjo ruled with iron fists since 1960.
His party has remained the most outspoken critic of the Biya regime calls North West region political its base.
The North West born veteran politician was seen for years as the only credible personality who can stand-up to the lion man-Pau Biya in Etoudi and many had tried to brandish his party as a regional party which cannot strive beyond the North West and South West regions.
Years after years, his party has relished successes in election results in his native North West region even as party officials cry foul in other areas
He was fondly called the president of the North West region for many years and he was considered untouchable even by Yaoundé standards
But the once bold, daring, revered and fearful Politician has been suffering from dwindling fortunes in recent years and the Anglophone crisis did not make matters better
For a crisis which has killed thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands and caused untold damage to the people of English speaking regions of the country, many Anglophone Cameroonians give no regard for political allegiance any more
Many blame politicians for their hellish state and say irrespective of political leaning; enough has not been done to end the three years crisis.
Fru Ndi has abandoned the race for President when he dropped his candidacy in favor of younger Joshua Osih, whose results in 2018 was a catastrophe, perhaps striking relaxation of the state of the party as the population of the affected regions boycotted the votes
But the Natrinkong landlord did not bow out of the political stage; holding on to the party leadership as he still remains the national chairman of his party as the SDF boat sinks.
During the funeral service of his party’s former parliamentary group leader Hon. Joseph Banadzem yesterday April 17, 2019; the chief opposition leader had vowed to give the MP a befitting burial in his native Banso despite threats from armed civilian fighters who consider all lawmakers an enemy of the revolution.
The news of the brief kidnapping and interrogation of one of the most famous faces in the country’s political chessboard sends a strong and unmistaken message about the scale of the crisis
The armed civilian fighters by taking the most revered politician and the face of the country’s “political liberation” in an unprecedented show of force has sent a message to Yaoundé and other politicians who might nurture hopes of challenging ground fighters in future
Fru Ndi’’a arrest today justifies the heavy armed military artillery and armor cars which usually trail government bigwigs who scarcely visit the affected regions and indeed should give politicians like Edith Kah Wallah goosebumps following their own message of defiance in recent weeks to the fighters and their backers
Party officials have debunked the news, saying there was a misunderstanding in communication between the armed civilian fighters and the national chairman, even though their statement falls short denying the fact that he was not “arrested”
But the very fact that permission was obtained from ground fighters and the chairman interrogated tells of an area out of government control, rubbishing government’s narrative that the crisis is coming to an end despite months-long military campaign
The arrest also sends a clear message to all Cameroonians that no want is safe as even Fru Ndi who has resisted criticizing the armed groups in the past has come under fire.
The younger brother and two workers of the national chairman were arrested earlier this week and a 6 million ransom was demanded.
The politician refused the blame the armed groups who have been known for kidnappings in the regions, blaming government officials instead for what he says were parallel armed fighters in the regions who are working for their interest. A view which most secessionist activist quickly agreed with the veteran politician