Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year Address: Biya’s Lingering Legacy Of Unkept Promises

Yaounde, Cameroon—Like with the past years, Cameroonians will today again be glued to their TV and radio sets as from 8PM to listen to the Head of State in his traditional New Year address, which is usually presented on the eve of New Year.
Paul Biya

Most Cameroonians who have been listening to the octogenarian Head of State, at least for the past four years describe his New Year messages describe as prattle.
On the 31 of December last year, (eve of 2014), President Biya in an angry mode chastised the Philemon Yang led government for what he described as poor execution of the public investment budget.
The Head of State opened his address on a note of optimism saying Cameroonians have all reasons to feel satisfied with 2013 which has paved the way for excellent future prospects.
Given that Cameroon witnessed the first ever senatorial elections in 2013, a year in which the current municipal and legislative authorities were also elected; Mr Biya explained that “having put in place the Senate and local and regional authorities, the establishment of the Constitutional Council within a reasonable timeline will complete the institutional structure enshrined in our Constitution”. One year on; Cameroonians have been waiting for this promise to be fulfilled.
The Head of State noted that the Cameroon economic growth which was projected at 6.1% could only heed a dismal 4.8% which according to him is not however dramatic though calling on all and sundry to redouble efforts.
Still in the economic domain, President Biya noted that Private investments that can boast the economy remain inadequate. “We still need to improve the business climate….”. One year after, economists say the situation hasn’t changed.
Cameroonians doubted the fate of the Yang led government when the head of state vented anger on them for failing to execute public investment projects, hear him “…But, how come then that in some sectors of our economy, State action often seems to lack consistency and clarity? Why is it that in many cases, decision-making delays still constitute a bottleneck in project implementation? Why can’t any region of our country achieve a public investment budget execution rate of over 50%? Lastly, one can rightfully question the usefulness of certain project monitoring committees which are unable to take any decisions”.
The above statement left many Cameroonians wondering whether Mr Biya after the address will continue working with the failed government.
More so, when the president after reprimanding his own government maintained that it will be absolutely imperative “that we address the causes of our weaknesses by removing sticking points, areas of dispersion and duplication”
 One year after, Mr Biya seems to have given more confidence to the failed government than ever; giving them new directives to be implemented in three years.
With the above promises and others, which Cameroonians are still waiting for its maturity, many are asking the question, what will Mr. Biya say again this year?
However, Mr Biya hasn’t failed in all his promises to his fellow compatriots. On the eve of 2014, the president announced that the country’s health map will soon have three additional referral hospitals, namely the Yaounde National Emergency Centre, the Douala Gynaecological, Obstetric and Paediatric Hospital and the Sangmelima Referral Hospital. These have been realized.
After venting anger on the Yang led government for failing to ensure public investment budget is executed properly, Mr Biya said “What we need in the coming years is a real contingency plan. With the GESP, we have a trend chart. Now is the time to act”. This plan has been launched with Cameroonians awaiting its impacts before or by the year 2018, though the realization rate of public investment projects has rather dropped as decried by the Speaker of the National Assembly during the budgetary session of the house last November.
After Cameroon of greater ambitions, Cameroon of greater realizations, Vision 2035 and now the contingency plan-all plans aimed at developing Cameroon, most Cameroonians see Mr Biya as a Head of State of slogans and promises.
Nevertheless, what the Head of State will tell his fellow compatriots on the eve of New Year 2015 is still a matter of wait and see.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde

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