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ROLE, SIZE AND SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT

 

For decades, the sub-Saharan Africa has suffered from tribalism, corruption and bad governance. Some of this is due to the fact that the Governments we have in sub-Saharan Africa today, is a remnant of what the colonial Master left behind. Governments, for the most part, designed and implemented by the colonial Master –in his liking-- and mostly for the Masters interests and not necessarily ours.

In my view, we the Africans have not been engaged –enough-- in debating and developing new ideas to reform our Government –to our liking--, so it becomes more sensitive, more empathetic, and more responsive to the needs and demands of our people; which is what a Government of the people --and for the people-- is supposed to be about. Our government officials –even those who graduated from institutions like ENAM—are not necessarily engaged in the debate of making Government leaner, small and efficient, and more importantly responsive to the need and demands of its people. And as a consequence, a small country like Cameroon ends up with a misguided “mammoth” sized, outdated and inefficient Government, which for the most part is inimical and hostile to its people.—very same people it’s supposed to protect and serve--.

 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.."                                                       --- Excerpt from the declaration of independence of the USA--

 

What is Government ? Why do we have a Government ? What role should Government play in our lives ? What’s the proper size and scope of the Government for a country like Cameroon ? What should we expect from Government ? How much Government do we need ? How big or how small should our Government be for a Country the size and population of Cameroon ?

The word Government is derived from the Latin word “Gubernare”, meaning simply "to Manage". So what the Government really does is managing the business of the State or the Country. And it does so through an Administrative bureaucracy comprised of Legislators,--those who make the laws--, Administrators, --those who execute the law--, Arbitrators –those who interpret and apply the law--. The current Government of Cameroon is comprised of about 45 ministries, employing some 240,000 people.—exact figure not known--. To these numbers, we should add the armed forces. –the Military, the Police, the Gendarmes—. –exact figures are not known--

The job of the President is essentially to lead and to manage the Government. Leadership means that the President articulates the vision and the direction of the country. But also the job of the president is to manage the Government on a day to day basis, and keeping the country open for business. And he does so by exercising the executive powers conferred to him by the constitution and in accordance with the constitution or the law of the land. He must exercise his powers within the guidelines articulated by the constitution. So the President’s role is to run the Government in such a way that the institutions of Government –Legislative, Executive and Administrative and Judiciary-- are as effective and efficient as they can be to the lives of the people. The quintessential role of any Government is –or should be-- to protect and serve its people and insuring that the country stays open for business. And the Government does so --best-- with the consent of the governed. So as President, this is the estate you run. You articulate and execute the policies with the goal to make government more lenient and efficient in what it’s supposed to do:Protect and serve the people.

Leadership and Management are the essential skills we look for a president to have. A competent Government –hopefully one with the consent of the people-- is supposed to be of the people and for the people. A Government that protects the integrity of its national boundaries. A Government whose paramount objective is to protect the freedom, the properties, the dignity and rights of its people. A Government that serves its citizens and insures the well-being of all. A Government that is sensitive, empathetic and responsive to the needs and demands of its people. A Government that creates an atmosphere or a climate that is conducive for its people to pursue happiness and express their ingenuity, creativity and entrepreneurship. A Government that works to facilitate the people activities and movement, and the creation of wealth –personal and corporate--. A Government is supposed to serve its people.That’s why the citizens it employs are called civil servants –as in serving the country and the people--.

When a Government fails to do these things, it loses the consent of the people, its ability or capacity to serve. It loses its legitimacy and therefore must transition and cease to exist. With its legitimacy lost, it must yield power and transition through the formation a new Government, under the guidance of the constitution or the Law of the Land. When a failed Government obstinately clings to power --without the consent of the governed--, it inevitably becomes an instrument of oppression and repression of its own people, the very same people it’s supposed to serve and protect. Such a Government becomes an existential threat to the lives, the liberty and the pursuit of happiness of its citizens. It becomes an impediment, an albatross to the ambitions and the aspirations of a people. It becomes the monstrosity that stifles the progressive instinct and impulse within Man to aspire to achieve greater heights in the scale of evolution. It becomes a head-wind to the people’s progress and economic upward mobility. Simply put, when a Government fails its people and obstinately refuses to yield power, it becomes the enemy –from within--, the oppressive and repressive machine of tyranny and fear that stifles the dreams and aspirations of a people and holds back the destiny of a nation. When this happens, the people are left with no choice but to exercise the natural instinct, built-in the consciousness of man, to fight –and perhaps die-- for freedom in the quest to reclaim their dignity, their respect and their freedom. --As we have seen recently in Libya, Egypt, Syria and others..---

"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." -- Ronald Reagan--

There is no question that our Government today, has become our problem. It has become the culprit. The impediment to the progress of the people, --its people--. It has become too big, too costly, too heavy handed, too overreaching, too dysfunctional, too corrupt and too incompetent. After some 30 years in power, the current system has lost its way, it has lost its legitimacy, it has lost the respect and the confidence of the people. It has lost its ability and capacity to govern with the consent of the people. The people of Cameroon can no longer sustain it. They can no longer endure. So the current system –out of love for Country, or for the survival of the Nation-- must transition into a new one that can reclaim legitimacy and the consent of the people. It’s the best thing that could happen to our people and our country. It’s what is required for a renewed hope and exuberance to take birth. It’s what our people, your people are crying out for.

So, we are all in agreement that our Government must transition or to the least, it must be reformed. At the heart of the debate is the question how can we make our Government more efficient ? What are the needed structural and systemic changes to Government, to make it become a partner or an ally of the people, and not an adversary or an enemy of the governed ?

We, the people of Cameroon must begin to articulate answers to these questions not just in political parties, but also to all informed segments of the population. We must engage in the debate. We must become stake holders of the future of our own country. We must learn to stand up and fight for what we believe is right and just. For if we don’t, we will be caused to stumble by the wrongs of others. If we as a people fail to come together to define and articulate the essential attributes of the Government we aspire, the colonial Master will step in and do it for us, and we surely will not appreciate the end result. We must learn to govern ourselves and find the most effective and efficient way to do so, lest someone else does it for us, and we be left whining and complaining about the Whiteman as we do today, even some 60 years after independence.

So we seek a Government with the attributes that aligns with the our convictions and aspiration as a people. A Government whose sole purpose of existence, and whose quintessential role is to protect, to serve and to be responsive to the needs and the demands of its people. When we come together as a people, with the correct vision and leadership, we surely can design and build such a Government.

Next we talk about how to reform our Government to make it more efficient, more lenient, more friendly, and more inclined to the service of its people.

 

"The sole purpose for a Government to exist, the quintessential role of Government is to protect and serve its citizens. It must be sensitive, empathetic and responsive to the needs and demands of its people."—ANST---

 

"We the Africans have not been engaged –enough-- in debating and developing new ideas to reform our Government –to our liking--, so as to make it more sensitive, more empathetic, and more responsive to the needs and demands of our people. It’s really what a Government of the people --for the people-- is supposed to be about." ---ANST---

 

We must learn to stand up and fight for what we believe is right and just. For if we don’t, we will be caused to stumble by the wrongs of others. –ANST--

 

 “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” -- Thomas Jefferson--

 

 

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