Kumba Senior Divisional officer Chamberlain Ntou Ndong this weekend attempted to do what his hierarchies have failed to do for the past three years-end Ambazonian imposed Monday ghost towns in the two English speaking regions of the country.
The chief administrative officer for Meme had taken advantage of the grieving motorbike riders who were protesting among other things the killing of one of theirs and constant harassment to score what would have been a massive political and administrative win in his career.
The SDO told them to shun ghost towns and all their problems will be solved, prosing them 5 litters of petrol each and 3000 frs for a start in an attempt to kill a day many of the fighters and sympathizers of the course see as a symbolic victory of their revolution.
The senior administrative officers knew he had pulled his joker, giving the town has about 15000 motorbike riders, sending them on the streets on Mondays will all but guarantee the end of the ghost town and be seen as a big win for his political aspirations.
His strategy was seen as dead on arrival by political analysts in the region and separatists brandished it a no-show and given his division is one of the hot spots in the Amazonian war of independence, it is hard to imagine how his call could not have been seen as a lame duck attempt to demonstrate some administrative relevance in a division many believe is out of government’s control in many aspects
Mr. Chamberlain’s promise was rather seen as red meat for armed civilian fighters’ fighting for the restoration of the statehood of Ambazonian
What followed Monday, July 15 were well-organized and coordinated offensives in different areas of the town, with deafening gun sounds between armed separatist fighters and the country’s army lasting for hours and sending a clear and unequivocal message.
Even the meager 5 bike riders who had managed to braced the ghost town to reach the SDO’s office for their fuel and 3000 frs struggled to hide as it became apparent that the ghost town was non-negotiable
A failed experiment in the past
The SDO’s move is seen as another failed and incoherent strategy from a central government who has been fighting the malice for over two years now and has since abandoned the fight to local authorities
Regional and local authorities have exhausted all possible options to end the punitive ghost towns which usually paralyzes every aspect of society from transport to offices and even markets and hospitals in the two crisis regions of North West and South West of the country
The country’s most famous award winning mayor of Buea, the regional capital of South West region had implored similar tactics before, impounding taxis in the town and releasing them on Mondays with 5 liters of fuel per taxi in his own efforts to end the ghost town.
He had sealed over 800 shops in his municipality and threatened to seize business premises from those respecting ghost towns.
Even though the man fondly referred to as the political Maradona of Buea succeeded to weed off the civil disobedience in some small portions of the town, Buea and the rest of his musicality has largely remained loyal to the tradition of weekly ghost towns even as the Buea landlord continues to fight.
Why it’s so hard to end ghost town
Apart from Limbe in the South West and Nkambe in the North West region of the country all other towns and villages and cities in the affected regions respect ghost towns religiously
The idea was first introduced by the outlawed consortium of teachers and lawyers led by Barrister Bala three years ago when negotiations between the leaders and government failed
It was used to show the peoples support to the striking teachers and lawyers, and ever since the day has been seen as a symbol of the revolution and a message to Yaoundé that the Anglophone problem is the peoples call
The government has repeatedly criticized the ghost town but falls short to admit that it is powerless to end it, blaming armed fighters for causing fear and panic amongst the population
But amidst armed fighters and their backers say it’s a reflection of the support they enjoy from the majority of the population, touting its successes as an embrace of their revolution coordinated from abroad
The two regions respect every Monday as ghost town where all citizens remain indoors and all activities grounded. The day is usually characterized by gunshots in different areas as armed groups battle with military in their efforts to impose the law in areas where they believe the people are not complying
The regions are also obliged to remain home and observe another ghost town each time Sissikou and co are taken to courts and during the celebrations of major public holidays in the country like national day and youth day