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Biya’s GCE Board Decree, the Last of Anglophone Identity Execution Orders? Part II
Category :- Editorial Author :- By Ferdinand Mbecha 
Posted on November 5, 2018, 9:03 am
Paul Biya’s October 22, 2018 decree reorganizing the Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board (GCE Board) is a blatant show of his unwillingness to genuinely consider the grievances of English-speaking Cameroonians. The new image of the GCE Board he has created shows that he is bent on shredding our identity by rubbishing our education system. If anything could ever be ill-timed in these perilous time of our history as a nation, then it is this decree published at a time when the nation is focused elsewhere on the post-election dramas.
 
The story of the undoing of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board (GCE Board) is consistent with the policies that the Francophone dominated government has had in place since 1961 to erase the heritage that the Southern Cameroons brought into the union. 
 
The story of the undoing of the GCE Board is a déjà vu. The story of the undoing of the federated state of West Cameroon closely mirrors the story of the undoing of the GCE Board. Read on, if you will.
 
. After trying in vain to interfere in the affaires of West Cameroon. After trying in vain to financially asphyxiate West Cameroon. Ahidjo finally got a whiff of inspiration. He removed the key figures who were standing in his way and appointed those who would be more pliable to his interference. Thus, exercising his constitutional right to appoint the Prime Minister of West Cameroon, Ahidjo appointed Solomon Tandeng Muna to replace Agustin Ngum Jua. The removal of Jua also led to the removal of his staunch assistants like P.M Kemcha. The appointment of Muna allowed Ahidjo to take over control of the West Cameroon police force, which, constitutionally, was not under federal jurisdiction. By taking over the police, Ahidjo left West Cameroon with no means to protect itself from him.
 
In 1970, Ahidjo appointed Muna as Vice-president of the federation in replacement of John Ngu Foncha. And going against the constitution, Ahidjo allowed Muna to cumulate the post of prime minister of West Cameroon and federal vice-president. It was under Muna’s watch that Ahidjo would eventually dissolve the federation in 1972 with a bogus referendum that was dubbed “The Glorious Revolution of May Twentieth.” Whatever that meant! And so, began the journey towards the assimilation of the Southern Cameroons by its more powerful sister – French Cameroun. Three years after, in 1975, Paul Biya was appointed Prime Minister of Cameroon. And seven years after, he became President and continued with Ahidjo’s policies against the values of West Cameroon. Although this time in a very accelerated pace. 
 
One may wonder why English-speaking Cameroonians did not raise their voices in protest. They did. Those that were too vocal like Albert Mukong were arrested and incarcerated under dismal conditions. Meanwhile, people like Foncha and Bernard Fonlon were just ignored. In his resignation letter from the CPDM party and ultimate retirement from public life, John Ngu Foncha succinctly captured the Cameroon government’s machinations to undermine the rights and identity of its English speaking minority: “…the constitutional provisions which protected this Anglophone minority have been suppressed, their voices drowned while the rule of the gun has replaced the dialogue which the Anglophones cherished very much.”
And now the GCE Board. Probably, with the University of Buea, the GCE Board remained one of the last institutions in Cameroon run to a large extent according to the way English-speaking Cameroonians would love to see their institutions administered. Like the erasure of the state of West Cameroon, the undoing of the GCE Board began the very moment that president Paul Biya signed the decree that created it. Just as in the case of West Cameroon, the Cameroon government has for the last quarter of a century been actively working to frustrate the GCE Board so as to look for an excuse to take over the autonomy of the outfit. As in the case of West Cameroon, fiscal starvation was used as a tool to undermine the smooth functioning of the GCE Board. Mbella Mbappe, the then minister of national education refused to release funds to enable the Board carry out its duties.
 
After the institution of the GCE Board in 1993 it went on to organize the first GCE examination in 1994 for general education subjects only. The following year the GCE Board decided to organize examinations for English-speaking technical school students. On 5 September 1995, Mbella Mbappe announced that his ministry would not recognize the technical education certificates that the Board was issuing. This created a lot of uncertainty for students who and taken the exams. It only took the intervention of the then prime minister Simon Achidi Achu to resolve the crisis.
 
After trying in vain to break the early baby steps of the GCE Board, the government finally found a second Muna in the person of the late Dr Hebert Ngangjo Endeley who was then the registrar of the University of Buea. First, Mbella Mbappe created a commission to investigate alleged examination leakages in the 1996 session of the GCE examination. Endeley did not hide his contempt for the autonomy of the GCE Board. As the son of one of Southern Cameroon’s foremost nationalists (EMLY Endely), one would expect the younger Endely to follow in his father’s footsteps. No. He even suggested, on the 18 of August 1996 on the CRTV Cameroon Calling program that some powers of the GCE Board should be curtailed and handed over to the ministry of national education. Endeley was later appointed the Chairman of the GCE Board, a position that put him directly as the boss of the no-nonsense pioneer registrar Azong Wara Andrew.
 
After his appointment as GCE Chairman, Endeley immediately went on the offensive. On the 12 of March 1997, Endeley convened an extraordinary meeting of the GCE Board of Directors. By the time the meeting wrapped up deliberations, Azong Ware was replaced by Dr Omer Wei Yembe a pro-regime fellow. The removal of Azong Wara was followed by the dismissal of other hardline personalities in the Board who could have still continued to fight for its autonomy from state interference.
 
Azong Wara Gone But Still Around
The Presidential decree No 2018/514 of 22 October 2018 that completely struck down the last autonomy that the GCE board had marks the hallmark of the government’s attempts to take control of the GCE Board and administer it the way it suits them. But the decree did not surprise the pioneer Registrar, Azong Wara Andrew. Twenty-one years after he was booted out of the Board, the Francophone-dominated government has finally succeeded in reversing what people placed their lives on the line to achieve. In the course of this year, two major changes took place at the GCE Board. One was the appointment of Professor Ivo Leke Tambo, a seasoned educationist to the position of GCE Board chair. Forty-eight hours later, a decision by the prime minister on 31st January 2018 appointed Mr Dominic Dang Aku as Registrar. But Azong Wara was not comfortable with the decision. 
 
After observing with dismay, the mounting problems of the Board, Mr. Wara petitioned the Chairman on 24th May 2018 with proposals that could be implemented to salvage the board. He received no repy. On 24th September 2018 Azong Wara agin petitioned the Chairman of the Board with the subject matter: SAVE THE GCE BOARD. He concluded his missive with this ominous warning to thze board chair.
As Pioneer Registrar responsible for laying the Foundation of the Institution I have been readily available to advise my successors. I am now guided by that same readiness to offer advice where necessary to make the above request. Mr. Chairman, I know you possess exceptional qualities to bring sanity to our revered educational institution. If you choose to be indifferent about this request, the future will certainly charge you with complicity to destroy the GCE Board.
Exactly one month after, Paul signed a decree completely wiping out the mechanisms that guaranteed quality assessment. 
 
Let history roll!
 
Tagged Keywords:  Editorial / GCE Board
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