Archive for September, 2008

Military Officials Boycott Conference On Corruption

September 16th, 2008 by admin

The Post (Buea)
14 September 2008
By Kini Nsom

All the 10 colonels invited to attend a conference on corruption in the Cameroonian army boycotted the opening ceremony at Azur Hotel, Yaounde on August 8.

Organised by the United States Embassy in Cameroon, the conference was aimed at reducing the incidence of corruption in the Cameroonian army. Instead, only two civilians working with the Ministry of Defence were sent to attend the conference.

The week-long seminar in collaboration with the US Defence Institute of International Legal Studies, following reports that the Cameroonian army reeks of high-level corruption.

Attention has been focused only on other sectors of the Cameroonian society. While low-ranking soldiers cried out against embezzlement by their bosses, the press looked away from them.

One journalist, Duke Atangana, who published an article condemning corruption in the military was arrested and detained for a week.Speaking at the opening of the conference, the US Ambassador to Cameroon, Janet Elizabeth Garvey, said it was necessary for corruption to be checked in the army, given that every franc of the taxpayers’ money should fully be accounted for.

She said it was incumbent on the authorities to check corruption in the army because a corrupt army would be weak and ineffective.To her, corruption diverts into private pockets funds that are allocated for the training of soldiers and the purchase of military equipment.

Garvey remarked that the conference could be part of a process by which Cameroonians, through their own efforts, would succeed in pulling this country out of the bottom ranking of the world’s most corrupt countries and into an era of better governance and greater prosperity.

The secrecy and sensitivity that necessarily shroud defence budgets, she stated, provide an opportunity for corruption and mismanagement.The diplomat said at a time that the Bakassi Peninsula has been handed back to Cameroon, the Cameroonian army shoulders enormous responsibilities and faces daunting challenges to protect the citizens.

She said Cameroon’s armed forces will not be able to accomplish their missions unless the budget of the military is properly allocated, to allow for training and maintenance, and disbursed to reach the soldiers in the field rather than fill some corrupt officials’ pockets.

Garvey quoted some soldiers as telling her that it is normal for senior officials to skim from the military budget to build themselves fancy homes or throw elaborate parties.

Said she; “they have said that it is normal for troops in the field who are risking their lives to protect the nation’s security to go without their proper food and health benefits because the money never reached them.”

The Ambassador dismissed the claim that corruption is part of Cameroon’s culture. To her, corruption is an affliction, an act of weakness, of selfishness that occurs everywhere in the world.

The difference, she remarked is that in Cameroon, corruption is life-threatening.She called on Cameroonians to put their nation ahead of themselves and think about their children and future generations.

She also urged them to risk their lives to do what they know is right; refuse to engage in corruption and blow the whistle on those who steal from the people of Cameroon.

Garvey singled out some soldiers with Cameroon armed forces for being patriotic enough to put their country ahead of their selfish interests. “Cameroon’s soldiers have volunteered to risk their lives to protect their country on the battlefield, to face guns and sneak attacks.

Now, they must show the same bravery and courage in standing up against corruption. You must take a stand, an act of courage and bravery to stem corruption in the armed services, and in so doing, to save Cameroon,” she said.

Opening the conference, the Minister Delegate in the Ministry of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Prof. Maurice Kamto, lauded the US Embassy for taking the initiative.He described corruption as the greatest crime against the people of Cameroon.

He highlighted some anti-corruption measures government has taken, saying it has the commitment and the political will to fight corruption, adding that the recent arrest and detention of some corrupt officials is a glaring testimony that government is determined to go the whole hog against the cankerworm.

Kamto said in this vein, more corrupt heads in high places will roll.For his part, John P. Mchoughin, the Regional Programme Director of the Defence Institute of the International Legal Studies in Africa, said they were determined to help Cameroon in the fight against corruption.

He said corruption exacerbates every other problem that society has because it undermines the law and misallocates resources that are meant for development.The President of the Anti-corruption Commission, Paul Tessa, MPs and some government officials attended the conference.

Cameroon PCV: Town confirms monogamy of a native son

September 7th, 2008 by admin

By Nick Sambides Jr.
Bangor Daily News, 9/6/08

MILLINOCKET, Maine–Now that the town has certified him a monogamist, Ben Clark is married to one woman and plans to stay that way, his father said Thursday.

A 29-year-old Peace Corps volunteer from Farmington, Clark exchanged vows with his bride on Saturday in the city of Bandjoun, in the West African Republic of Cameroon, thanks to the letter from Town Council Chairman Wallace Paul, Quentin Quinnie Clark said.

Written on town stationery in response to a request from Clark, Paul’s letter verified that Ben Clark had never been married, especially not to several people, and was of good character.

Polygamy is legal in Cameroon, a nation of nearly 18 million, and Cameroonian law requires grooms to declare their preference and offer proof of it from their place of birth, which in Clark’s case is Millinocket.

Quentin Clark was grateful for the help.

“We were very lucky we weren’t in New York City or someplace like that,” Clark said Thursday. “We were able to call Wally on a human scale and get what we needed done. I can imagine how difficult it would be if we had to call on a big bureaucracy so that was good. I am sure he [Ben Clark] is very happy.”

Paul, who wrote the letter with help from Town Clerk Roxanne Johnson, was happy to oblige.

“I feel that if people like Ben are what’s representing us around the world, we’re probably making a good impression,” Paul said. “I was honored by the whole thing. As I told Roxanne, true love prevails because of Millinocket.”

The Clarks look forward to meeting their new daughter-in-law. They know her to be a seamstress named Lucie Kegnie who also works as a translator for their son, an agroforestry Extension agent paid $2,700 annually by the Peace Corps.

A superintendent for SAD 58 who worked with Paul for about 15 years at the Millinocket paper mill, Quentin Clark e-mailed Paul pictures of the wedding that Paul shared with Johnson and other councilors.

He and Paul respected Cameroonian laws.

“Part of the whole Peace Corps thing is about cultural understanding and that is their culture over there,” Clark said. “Polygamy is accepted over there and you have to define it. Our practices probably look as bizarre to them as theirs do to us.”

Fluent in French, German and Fulfulde, a West African language, and having gone to Germany as an exchange student, Clark is an adventurer rather beyond the scope of his admiring parents, Clark said.

“With our generation, going to Boston was beyond imagination,” Clark said. “I think it’s a great sign of human progress where Africa isn’t too far away to be engaged in our lives.”

As the pictures show the mayor of Bandjoun to be wearing a ceremonial sash, Clark thinks it appropriate that he buy Paul something similar.

“I think in their world, Wally is the head man of his village. A lot of their issues and society over there are tribal and Wally would be their chief,” Clark said. “I am thinking of buying a nice sash for Wally for his official duties.”