Nav view search

Navigation

Search

REFORMING OUR MILITARY – SOME THOUGHTS

 

The Cameroon military is now comprised of hundreds of thousands of men and women. –Overwhelmingly men--. Our military is comprised of very honorable men and women who made the patriotic choice to serve their country in uniform. They are the great citizens of our country who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Nation. We must be very thankful to all of them and their families for the great work that they do for our country. They are the best of us. And I like to take the opportunity here to salute them.

 

Having said that, since independence, our Country –thankfully-- has not had an active war with any of its neighbor. –With the exception of the periodic and sporadic skirmishes in the Bakassi area--. Thanks to our geography, we are surrounded for the most part by small countries that can’t hurt a fly let alone be of any serious threat to us. –with the exception of Nigeria to the west-- . So what is the role of this military? The constitution of Cameroon defines the role of the military as that of protecting our National sovereignty. For the last two decades, this military has been essentially used as an instrument of repression, and killing of the innocent people who come out from time to time to cry out for Freedom and justice. Cameroon has been under –an implicit and undeclared-- Marshal law -- or state of emergency—now for two decades. Our large military has really become a waste of money and man power. It has essentially become the instrument of repression, exploited by the executive branch of our Government to perpetuate its stay in power. –without accountability and consent of the people--.

Again, no disrespect for their very honorable service to our country. I salute you General ! But you have Colonels, Generals –as old as 70 plus years of age—still serving and collecting huge amount of salary doing essentially nothing. How about retirement or incentivize them to move to the private sector, so that we can make room for the younger graduate and give him too --as it was for the previous generation-- an opportunity and the privilege to serve his country ?

Retirement should not be perceived as a punishment or a fall from grace of some sort, but rather it’s a reward, a coronation of a life time’s work. And more importantly it’s the necessary transition that must occur for one generation to allow opportunity to the next. It’s the mean by which we pass the baton to our children and bestow upon them the responsibility and offer to them the opportunity to participate in their country's future. When one generation retires, it invites the next generation to become stakeholder of their country. It’s the way by which we allow the ingenuity of the new generation to be expressed in our country’s future. Retirement is essential for new ideas to take birth and materialize in any society. When the old is replaced by the new, the modern and the exuberant, society as a whole benefits from the evolutionary shift and the positive transformation that are inherent to any theory of evolution.

We must define a role for our Military in time of peace. Our military can be used very effectively for Nation building. Our Military must be mostly “Genie Militaire” or “Smart Military” used for building roads, bridges, schools, public housing, water plant and electricity plants and soccer stadiums. Our Military can be used for city improvement such as planting trees and gardens in our large cities like Douala and Yaounde, --to curb the very high temperatures seen in Cameroon today--,  irrigation project to curb the effect of Global Warming. The military can be used to organize massive vaccination and awareness campaigns against --preventable-- diseases and epidemies --that are ravaging our people in remote areas of the country--such as tetanus, cholera, typhoid, malaria and HIV Aids, instead seating and doing nothing, and just waiting to be used as an instrument of repression, fear and tyranny.

The military personnel must be removed from our streets. Law enforcement is the function of Territorial Administration and not the Armed Forces, except in times of war or when a state of emergency warrants it. The constitution of our country –as bad as it is—defines the role of the military as that to protect the territorial integrity of the country and not internal law enforcement, unless the country is in a state of emergency that must be declared by the president, which I don’t know that it’s the case. Take the military off our roads and back to barracks. Our military is comprised of hefty and healthy young men and women that we can use for nation building.

Our military can build good affordable public housing for our people, they can build roads –like a second highway linking Douala and Yaounde--, build bridges –Like a second bridge on river Wouri--, help with agriculture by converting their heavy machines into Agricultural equipment and make virgin lands available to farmers to plant food in remote areas of the country. They could work with the Ministry of health to provide for vaccination against Cholera, typhoid, Tetanus and other preventable diseases that are ravaging our people in remote areas of the country. They can help with constructions of new power plants, new water plants, irrigation projects to combat Global warming. They could help build parks, gardens and plant trees in our large cities like Douala, Yaounde to curb the increasingly high temperatures due to climate change.

Our military, in time of peace –which is the case almost all the time—can be and must be a tremendous asset in building or rebuilding our country. This has the potential to spark an economic, industrial and Agricultural revolution in our country.

But first, we have to bring some sanity to our financial and banking sectors. We must define a very strict, rigorous and accountable way of managing our country’s money. Thoughtful and strict laws must be enacted to impose a very harsh and steep penalty for mismanagement and embezzlement of our peoples’ money. Government money is the People’s money. Embezzling Government money and ship it to foreign bank accounts should simply be considered treason and carry a life or –even in the most outrageous cases—death sentence. It’s time for the African people to put an end to the disgrace and shame that has earned the black continent the number one ranking in embezzlement of public funds and corruption in the world. We must have a thoughtful process in place that simply does not allow anyone to withdraw large sums of money from Government accounts. Financial transactions must only be made electronically between banks and should never allow anyone to load a huge amount of cash in a suitcase. Electronic transactions have the advantage that they always leave an audit trail and logs that can be easily used to follow the money trail from origin to destination. Our system must make it unequivocally clear that, if you steal Government money --which is really the People’s money--, you will be tracked down, you will be caught and you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. --Including life and Death sentences--. Plain and simple. The black continent has suffered too much shame, too much disrespect, and has lost too much of its dignity because of the plight of embezzlement and Government theft. It's simply time to put an end to it. 

We can imagine such a thing as a “Civilian Engineering Military Corp”. –CEMC--. The goal of such an institution will be to train a generation of our people in nation building. Training duration must be short, say 6 months to a year maximum, where our young and strong people are taught not just how to operate a firearm, but more importantly the fundamentals of Nation Building and Engineering. Some of our conventional Military can be converted to this –semi-civilian, semi-military, semi-engineering—corp. This is the manpower that we can use to build and rebuild our country. Build schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, soccer stadiums, public parks, power plants, water plants, vaccination campaigns etc...

Several countries in the world today like Israel, Pakistan, and Egypt –just to name a few—have used their Military extensively for nation building. Even countries like France, Germany, Japan, Great Britain and the US have used the might and power of their military to rebuild after the Second World War. In fact the US is continually using its Military for nation building in places like Iraq and Afghanistan today. It’s a smart way of using Military power to the service of the Nation other than fighting a war. It’s a way of leveraging the Military’s might and power for Nation building in times of peace. This is called smart Military.

There is no reason why we can’t do this. The cost of operating a heavy Military that is seating and doing nothing is very high. We have been paying the strongest, the biggest and the healthiest of our people in Military for doing essentially nothing. They are the best that our country has to offer. Why not finally use them to do something, and something as useful as building a nation that so desperately needs to be built. This huge manpower must be leveraged upon and put to work in times of peace. It’s called Smart Military.

When we do these things, we appeal to the ingenuity, the exuberance, the imagination of our people. We summon the good spirit of our people to be a part of something greater than themselves and to learn how to put their knowledge and strength to the service of a common purpose. We begin to create a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves, a sense of a creed that transcends our tribal, ethnic and lingual divisions. We begin refine the idea of a new citizenry. The idea that we are first and foremost a people united by our common convictions and aspirations. A people dedicated to make life better for our fellow citizens. A people dedicated to leave a country to our children better than the one we found. A people committed to the cause of making the world a better place for all. When we do these things, we begin to create a sense of honor and pride for our country and our people. We begin to earn the respect --lost-- of the world. We begin to lay down the foundation for a better society, a better country and a better world. This must be the purpose of our existence on earth. Is it not ?

 

On the other hand, if we only eat, seat, dance Makossa,--Bikutsi or Bensikin-- drink beer and only keep entertaining the pleasures of the flesh and the senses, we will perpetuate the slave mentality and the dauntingly dreadful plights of misery, starvation, disease and hopelessness that we see so pervasively in the black continent today. Hopelessness that has triggered a massive exodus of the youths of the black continent to other shores, desperately seeking for a better life. If we do nothing and only wait for the White man to come and teach us what to do to govern ourselves, and how to run our own country, we are doomed to become a specie in way of irrelevance, incompetence and perhaps extinction. And the land of Africa may very well --at some point in the future-- be taken from us --by those who could make a better use of it to the benefit of Mankind-- and we will be left in the wilderness for eternity. It's time to wake up. Our survival depends on it.

Ideas like this may face steep and entrenched resistance from the advocates of the status quo and those who have benefited the most from the ignorance of the people and the inertia of the system in place. But bold and courageous ideas always do. The easiest thing to do in life is to do nothing. I understand that reforms such as these require bold leadership. It requires leaders with dedication, strong conviction and optimistic vision to future of our country. It requires leaders who can make a strong appealing and persuasive case to our people, and bring them to the understanding that it’s absolutely the right thing to do in the 21st century.

The choice is ours to make. It depends on us.

 

“Under-development is not caused by Economics alone. It is instead, a reflection of our mental and spiritual state of consciousness. And our Economic condition is just a resulting consequence thereof.” –ANST-- 

 

 

Add comment

Please opine responsibly. Be respectful of others even and especially when you disagree. Thanks,
 


Security code
Refresh