By Ndi Eugene Ndi
The Minister of Territorial Administration, (MINAT), Paul Atanga Nji, has been evaluating the security situation of the three northern regions of Far North, North and Adamawa ahead of Sunday December 6 first-ever regional election in the country.
The MINAT boss began his six-day tour of the three northern regions in Maroua, in the Far North region, accompanied by his colleague of Public Works, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi.
On the high instructions of the Head of State, President Paul Biya, the two members of government visited and evaluated ongoing construction works on the Palar Bridge on Saturday November 28. The bridge serves mainly heavy duty trucks traveling to Kousseri and to neigbouring landlocked Chad, through the Far North regional capital.
Atanga Nji said their visit was a follow-up to that of an inter-ministerial team that was in the region in September when the bridge was cut off by flood waters, and was aimed at ensuring that work was progressing in order to avert another tragedy that could occur on the Pont Vert (Green Bridge) which motorists have been using since the collapse of part of the Palar Bridge.
Construction works on the dual carriage passage-way and deviation had been suspended due to heavy rains and recently resumed with the coming of the dry season.
Minister Nganou Djoumessi instructed that the timeframe for the construction be reduced from three months to 45 days. The two ministers also called on the contractors to speed up work and provide an alternative bridge on the dried up River Mayo Kaliao in the days ahead to permit the population go about their duties without stress. The temporary bridge will be meant for vehicles of 3.5 tonnes and above, Nganou Djoumessi explained.
Security situation of the region
Later same day, the Territorial Administration boss, Atanga Nji, met with top administrative and security officials of the region to take stock of security measures in place or envisaged to ensure a successful organisation of the first-ever election of regional councillors in the country come Sunday December 6, and end-of-year festivities.
Present at the closed-door meeting were the governor, Senior Divisional Officers, Divisional Officers and defense and security chiefs of the Boko Haram-prone Far North region.
During the meeting, President Biya’s envoy handed the Head of State’s instructions regarding the hitch-free organisation of the election, which, he said, comes to deepen the decentralisation process.
He also called on the administrative and defense authorities to remain vigilant during the end-of-year festivities that are usually marred by some excesses.
Population rejects “10 Millions de Nordistes” movement
A day after the security meeting, Minister Paul Atanga Nji held a consultation meeting with key stakeholders of the three northern regions including traditional rulers, members of the civil society and bike riders.
As one man, the stakeholders rejected “10 Millions de Nordistes” movement, a pressure group which advocates for the rights of the northerners, which the government had declared illegal.
According to them, the association holds contrary views to Republican values of Cameroon as incarnated by President Paul Biya.
In a memo read on the occasion, the northerners once more renewed their commitment, total and unflinching support to the visions of President Paul Biya.
Atanga Nji reassured them of the special place reserved for the Grand North by the Head of State and the series of development projects underway, insisting that none of the projects will be abandoned.
Security situation in the North
Paul Atanga Nji continued his crusade for hitch-free organisation of the pioneer election of regional councillors to the North. Like was the case in the Far North, the MINAT boss on Monday December 30, held a security meeting with top administrative and defence officials of the North region led by Governor Jean Abate Edi’i.
Atanga Nji told the governor and his ‘état-major’ that in addition to taking stock of security measures in place for hitch-free organisation of the vote and end-of-year festivities, President Paul Biya had also sent him to encourage the defence and security forces for their bravery and loyalty in defending the territorial integrity of Cameroon.
Concerning the first-ever election of regional councillors to take place this Sunday, Atanga Nji said, the Ministry of Territorial Administration, being government agent in the organisation of the vote, has as task to assist Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), independent poll management agency in the process.
The North region is notorious for organised crimes and unruly behaviours, especially by young people in the region. The minister said that was also part of his mission to the region — to sensitise the youth, especially commercial motorbike riders who, according to him, are more prone to crimes, disorder and manipulation by some unscrupulous politicians.
“In as much as some of the motorbike riders are very serious, we have realised with dismay that highway robbers and bandits have infiltrated this sector and they want to make it an activity which the government has no control over,” Atanga Nji said on the state radio, the CRTV. At the time of this report, the Territorial Administration Minister was in the Adamawa region for the same exercise.