Dr Christopher Fomunyoh: Leading voice on African democracy, despised in Cameroon, hailed globally.

On the Cathedra of Cameroon’s global human resources are many names that are movers and shakers of quintessential standing. These persons, ironically, have dared and succeeded where others in the same fields have failed.

The question that often comes to mind, especially during international fora and other world-shaping gatherings, is why these same revered Cameroonian fellows are not replicating their exploits elsewhere in their home land?

When it comes to topical discussions around politics, good governance, transparent elections and building institutions that put the people first, and not strong men in Africa, the name often cited is that of a Cameroonian, the revered Dr Christopher Fomunyoh.

The Senior Associate and Regional Director for West and Central Africa at the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, NDI, has made his mark for decades, shaping democracy and addressing dicey issues across several African countries and other parts of the world.

Yet, in the repertoire of his global democracy and good governance exploits, assessments are showing that Dr Fomunyoh is not different from the proverbial prophet who is not valued at home. 

Analysts say his story, vis a vis his country of origin, Cameroon; is that of a revered personality, hailed globally but ignored and despised by the Biya regime, despite his matchless acumen on democracy and good governance on the African continent and beyond.

His associates say the gaping fissure between Dr Fomunyoh and the Yaounde regime is not an accident but a seeming deliberate posture to keep at bay a voice that can rock the boat for the common good.

Close associates of Dr Fomunyoh across the globe, argue that though some persons may have been giving the impression that the global civil servant doesn’t have interest in the wellbeing of his country of birth, the reality is different.

They insist that Dr Fomunyoh has the passion to more than see Cameroon shine in the areas of democracy, good governance and national development. 

Notwithstanding, Yaounde, they say, has repeatedly slammed the door on Dr Christopher Fomunyoh. 

According to them, Dr Fomunyoh can only replicate what the world has benefitted from his experience in Cameroon, if he is given the space and respect accorded him on the African continent and beyond.

Quizzed on the wavelength between the regime and Dr Fomunyoh, one of his confidants, who elected to stay anonymous, said, “his relationship with the Biya regime is distant”.

Going by the authoritative source, the Biya regime knows Dr Fomunyoh’s “stances and influence and hesitates to engage him for fear they’ll be eclipsed or criticised on key issues like democracy and good governance”.

 

‘Biya regime not friend to people who speak truth to power’

Justifying further on why the Biya regime dreads and despises Dr Fomunyoh, another political analyst, speaking on condition of strict anonymity, posited that “the Biya regime does not easily open its arms to those who speak truth to power”.  

He minced no words in putting the Biya regime in the brackets of governments that “do not tolerate even the most positive criticism”.

With such a posture, he said, the Biya regime will, without doubt, “find it difficult to engage with people like Dr Fomunyoh, who are both knowledgeable and willing to speak truth to power, without caring whose jigger toes are smashed”.

 

Biya regime afraid of independent thinker?

Still on the lukewarm attitude of the Biya regime towards Dr Fomunyoh, another source who once worked with him said, being a free and independent thinker, the regime may be afraid to engage him because of his versatile frankness.

Our interviewee said: “I don’t know whether ´detested’ is the right word; but they certainly aren’t warm to him because they know Dr Fomunyoh is an independent thinker with values that don’t match theirs”.

 

Dr Fomunyoh’s growing popularity threat to Biya regime?

For a man of Dr Fomunyoh’s standing, whose name has repeatedly been cited by both Anglophones and Francophones, as good presidential material, a political scientist who spoke to The Guardian Post did not rule out the possibility of his popularity being seen by the Biya regime as a threat.

“I am not sure what defines their position, except perhaps the thought that he could do better, given his globally-hailed democratic and good governance principles and domestic likeability by both Anglophones and Francophones, from all of Cameroon’s ten Regions; his international aura and connections,” the political scientist indicated.

 

Denied audience by Biya 

In The Guardian Post’s quest to understand the Lilliputian status Yaounde is giving Dr Fomunyoh, who is always seen having high-level meetings with other Heads of State across the world, another source disclosed that his attempts to meet the Head of State, President Biya, have been fruitless.

A source told The Guardian Post that the onus is rather on the Biya regime to explain the cold feet it has towards such huge global human resource, who Dr Fomunyoh is. 

Quizzed on why Dr Fomunyoh has never requested to meet President Biya to discuss Cameroon’s democracy and good governance woes, the source, who did not want to be identified, retorted: “Ask President Biya the question. I know Dr Fomunyoh asked to meet him twice. The first request was in 2014 and then between 2018 and 2019 when the Anglophone conflict was flaring”.

 

Absence from Major National Dialogue

In the process of our digging to understand how Dr Fomunyoh relates with the Biya regime, it also emerged that he did not take part in the Major National Dialogue of 2019; intended to seek solutions to the crisis in the North West and South West Regions.

One of those closed to organisers of the Major National Dialogue, told The Guardian Post that Dr Fomunyoh was only informed of the gathering while it was ongoing. 

He is also said to have been programmed to chair one of the Commissions of the dialogue. But how there was no effective communication to ensure he was actually present, some say, is not different from other actions that have been taken to eclipse him from national space. 

 

Origin of Biya regime, Dr Fomunyoh feud 

At the level of the National Democratic Institute, NDI, where Dr Fomunyoh is Senior Associate and Regional Director for West and Central Africa, one of his colleagues, who spoke on condition of anonymity, gave to understanding that the institution’s report on the porous nature of the 1992 presidential election in Cameroon, could still be pricking the bile of the Biya regime.

The official rather encouraged “everyone to find a copy of the 1992 NDI report, which stated back then that the election was meant to fail”, adding that: “That conclusion was valid then as it is now, more than 30 years later”.

 

Dr Fomunyoh & Cameroon’s future

In the seeming dislike the regime has for Dr Fomunyoh, some still hold the believe that all is not lost. 

One of those who master Dr Fomunyoh’s influence as a leading voice on democracy on the African continent and the globe, submitted that he “could turn out in the not-too-distant future to be the Biblical ‘rejected stone’ that turns out to be the corner stone”.

about author About author : Maxcel Fokwen

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