Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Biya’s Vacation: A Question of National Disgrace

This article is a response to Mr. Agbaw-Ebai’s article: Biya’s Vacation: A Question of National Pride” that was published on the Camnetworks yesterday. It always puzzles me why when someone writes an article, rather that rebut we go on with ad hominems. Whether the author was in Harvard, is going to Harvard or is jobless is inconsequential. What matters is what he writes and his personal life should be kept away from the message he is conveying.

Notwithstanding, the problem with Mr. Agbaw-Ebai’s article is that rather than refute with facts, he goes after the French. Cameroonians should thank the French reporters for informing them and giving them an opportunity to peep into the expenses of their country. The question should not be if the president merits a vacation or not (for anyone who works merits a vacation). Rather, the question should be how much vacation does the president of Cameroon merit? Who is that responsible father who would leave his hungry, tatterdemalion kids to go on an extravagant and ostentatious vacation?

Mr. Agbaw-Ebai starts by arguing that such inconsiderate expenses show national prestige and sovereignty. How does extravagance show sovereignty? Simply because a man is spending does not mean the money he is spending is his. Perhaps by late president Thomas Sankara asking all his ministers to drive Renault 4 it was not sovereignty. If so why did the very French collude for his death? Mr. Agbaw-Ebai argues that Paul Biya should not be blamed for doing what he did because every other president is doing it. Just because every other person is extorting and bribing in Cameroon does not make bribery and corruption right. Just because most third world presidents have a penchant for ostentation does not make it presidentially normative.

The author errs again by comparing the Cameroonian president with the American and French presidents. True, all are presidents but all do not have the same GNP. It is foolishness for someone who makes a $1 a day as daily perdiem to spend like someone who makes $50,000 a day. True both are earning money, but the other person makes more money. Perhaps their expenses are different and the person making more has many bigger expenses to make than the one making a dollar. But being precise it is clear that even with America’s or France’s expenses, they are still far richer than Cameroon for the Cameroonian president to emulate them in presidential expenses.

The author argues that a vacation is not really a vacation because the president is still working. So if a vacation is not really a vacation, are there no cheaper resort centers where he could go on vacation. How many Latin American presidents have gone on vacations the African style? Aren’t they sovereign nations and even with most of them richer than Cameroon?

He compares Obama’s visit to the theater and a restaurant as being expensive and similar. One thing you must note is that Mr. Obama did not cause the recession but it will be difficult to argue that Mr. Biya did not cause the economic crisis of Cameroon. After four years of his ascension to power, the recession began and hitherto Cameroonians have always been in a recession. If Cameroonians are not enjoying, why should he enjoy when it is beyond doubts that the recession began during his term. Let us say the groundwork for the recession were laid by his predecessor but having been there for more than a quarter of a century without fixing anything, shouldn’t he be more considerate as he spends the last francs of the country? If he knew and knows that a vacation was and is a noble thing, then he should have managed the country to a better port so that not only himself will take a vacation but other Cameroonians will take one.

By the way, Mr. Obama has the right to a sumptuous vacation for taking out or abating the recession in the US and consequently world economy. What has Mr. Biya done to merit the vacation?

Mr. Agbaw-Ebai argues that though he was on a vacation he needed a sumptuous and extravagant hotel to conduct the country’s business and to lure investors. That is a very ridiculous view. He is the president and does not need to take a vacation in an extravagant hotel to conduct business. Even if he was in a hole, there are many people who need him than he needs them. Thus, he could as well stay in a less expensive hotel and still conduct government business. Though I am not an Anti Biya but I believe the cost of the vacation was inappropriate and he should refund the money into the state coffers for I don’t believe that there was a budget of the sort for such a vacation, and if there is, then it is cruel to the many Cameroonians who will work and die without ever having a vacation because President Biya did not manage the country properly for them to get one.

Until then, comrade Biya should think of the people before he spends on himself.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).
Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).

Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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