On Friday 13th July 2018, the CPDM candidate for the October 2018 presidential election in Cameroon, President Paul Biya, became public knowledge.
He used a social media platform, Twitter, launched in the world for the first time in 2006, to post the terse announcement. The candidate used twitter whose greatest strength is immediacy to bypass mainstream media and to address the public directly. The tweet read thus:
“Dear Compatriots in Cameroon & the Diaspora, Aware of the challenges we must take up together to ensure a more united, stable & prosperous Cameroon, I am willing to respond positively to your overwhelming calls. I will stand as Your Candidate in the upcoming presidential election.”
Difficult to say why he chose twitter but the president has very much been known lately to tweet on serious matters of state.
He tweeted to express his sympathy for the more than thirty people who recently lost their lives on the M4, the Bafoussam – Yaounde motorway or again when he called the October election, and when he received the chair of the AU commission last Friday plus other occasions when he has had to exchange with his counterparts abroad.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that thousands have been calling for the CPDM chairman to throw in the towel and retire.
Observers have claimed that the calls were mostly from political parties who have found Paul Biya too formidable to beat, a stumbling block to their ultimate political ambitions to Unity Palace.
However political scientists are unanimous that with the likes of Joshua Osih, Akere Muna, and Maurice Kamto in the fray, this year’s race could be exciting on who will tail the CPDM candidate. Perhaps key strengths of each candidate will be determinant.
Paul Biya has all the benefits that incumbency brings such as human and logistical resources all of which can help him outspend his opponents with smaller flatter pockets. Scores of CPDM party members have over the months been making public financial contributions for their darling candidate. Others have been holding political rallies urging him to run. And like he said three years ago to a French journalist in Yaounde, this was the time for the President to say whether he would run or not. He has chosen to respond to the many calls for him to win yet another victory for his party.
And there’s no shortage of issues that will define the forthcoming presidential race, issues that willdetermine where the pendulum will swing.
Challenges for the New Leader
The winner of the 2018 Presidential poll will have to deal with a number of challenges, not least ending the lingering Anglophone crisis that has deformed the country, entrenched hate and divided its people. The next president will need to sustain the fight against corruption for which the outgoing president’s governance has done its level best to mitigate.
He or she must prove that they are an incorruptible public servant with no skeletons in the cupboard. The economy will need to be taken care of, and job creation initiatives must be proposed to resonate with the many youth who are either unemployed or under employed.
And what about the challenge of organizing a successful 2019 Total AFCON whose strategy by the incumbent president of a 4-city tournament could be a catalyst for local economic development?
The question on every lip is what happened to the opposition’s much-trumpeted coalition? How realistic are they coming in dispersed ranks to beat a sitting president with close to 36 years of experience? Was it a missed opportunity for Cameroon’s opposition who longed for a political tsunami? Granted the known aspirants are experienced, successful men in their various professions but who unfortunately remain untested when it comes to the top job of the land.
Ultimately victory will boil down to who has the experience, resources, nationwide appeal, charisma and of course who will make Cameroonians dream in the third decade of the 21st century.
Ebenezer W. Motale