Conspiracy theory is nothing new in international relations. We all know about the conspiracy that wanted to prevent Russia from hosting the World Cup in 2018. Western countries were strongly against Russia organizing the World Cup in retaliation for its occupation of Crimea, a territory of Ukraine in 2014. They even went as far as insinuating that Sepp Blatter was bribed by Putin to grant Russia the right to host the World Cup. Nevertheless, Russia went ahead and organized one of the best tournaments the world has ever known.
It is also true that there was some conspiracy against Cameroon to host AFCON in 2019. However, it is the flimsiest excuse one can give with regard to Cameroon being stripped of the right to host Africa's biggest tournament. Nevertheless, this mindset of Cameroonians enables us to understand how we ignore the impact of leadership in governing a country. It is often said that "leadership is the cause, everything else is the effect".
These two scenarios of Russia and Cameroon help us to understand and clearly distinguish the difference between an efficient and inefficient leader. If President Vladimir Putin was successful in organizing the World Cup and President Paul Biya by all evidence has been stripped of AFCON hosting right, it is mainly because Putin is a visionary leader, not only for himself but more importantly, Russia. A leader with a vision for his country knows fully well that he must have enemies inside and outside his country, especially if you have an ambition of being a superpower one day. In this regard, all efficient leaders naturally have a sense of anticipation and a strong determination in controlling every single detail and being a step ahead of rivals. Leaders must know how to neutralize their weaknesses and threats, and at the same time optimizing their strength and capitalizing on their opportunities.
It is well known that international relations are not a field of altruism and goodwill. It is above all the place where all actors fight for their own interests; if you are not strong or smart enough to protect your interest you will always remain losers. Every leader, especially those that have stayed longer in power are fully aware that greatness and respect in the international community are not given but are earned. Therefore, if your country is not respected in the world, worse even in the continent, that means it has not given one any reason to fear. No country has earned respect by winning football competitions. Rather, victories gives other countries more reason to envy your success. Yes, the international system is a jungle where might is right and only the fittest survive.
It is for this reason that CAF’s decision to drop Cameroon as African cup host is not only a big blow to the image of our country, but also depicts its weak leadership at the international and continental levels. President Paul Biya who has prided himself for staying longer in power because of his experience has proven to us that his experience is not really for the benefit of Cameroon. Despite, being in power for 36 long years, he has failed to secure the only African Nation’s Cup, the biggest tournament in the continent. If this is not a big disgrace for him, what else can beat that?
At the same time, this sad situation makes us to understand why this government has failed in almost all aspects (political, social and economic). Cameroon’s lackluster economic performance cannot be understood bearing in mind that it has the required natural and human resources. Clearly, it lacks an effective leader that can exploit its potentials to raise the country at least to the level of a middle-income economy. With all our natural endowment, which other nations come to exploit at the expense of the Cameroonians, it is normal that Cameroon only stagnates and is now regressing under the leadership of President Biya. The main reason for this is the absence of governance, planning, coordination, and evaluation. Traits that all leaders must have.
This situation of Cameroon cannot make any international actor respect its leadership. In fact, because of the evil nature of the international system, most powerful nations will prefer to maintain this regime because it can exploit the resources of Cameroon hitch-free.
This AFCON fiasco can also enable us to understand the Anglophone crisis and the rise of secessionist movements in the North West and South West Regions. If this situation is a threat to the territorial integrity of Cameroon with hundreds of Cameroonians both civilians and security forces losing their lives, it is just a strong evidence to demonstrate how this government has failed in preventing crisis and manage them when they arise.
As I said above, a good leader must know how to anticipate and eliminate all threats. If we have ever thought that secessionists have always been in the Anglophone regions, then every responsible leader should not give the least chance for the secessionist to win the hearts of the people. But this is just exactly what happened when the protest of Anglophone lawyers, with legitimate grievances, were brutally treated when they asked the government to respect the constitution of the country. A responsible government should have quickly brought a solution to their complaints, in order not to fuel the secessionist claims of Anglophones marginalization. This situation was the last drop that filled the cup of Anglophone grievances for decades, hence radicalizing a great number of Anglophones and ultimately leading to the humanitarian crisis we find ourselves today.
Also, just like the case of the AFCON fiasco, if we had started preparation building the necessary infrastructure from the day, we were granted the right to host the tournament, there is no doubt that at least most of the stadia would have been ready by today. In fact, a country like Cameroon which has been champion of Africa 5 times, should not have even waited to be granted hosting rights before thinking of building stadia, given that football is the only domain that has made Cameroon known worldwide.
These are just a few examples to show that this government has spent most of its time, voluntarily and involuntarily, inviting trouble to itself and being unable to manage them, but rather using crisis it created as a pretext to explain their lackluster performance.
Since most Cameroonians have been students at some point in their lives, I would like to use the example of an exam to illustrate the inefficiency of our leadership. We all know, fully well, that when public exams are set, the candidates must make it to the exam hall, if not they automatically fail. Even if the weather conditions are extremely bad or they are attacked on the way or make an accident, these candidates will fail the exam. Therefore, students whatever the difficulties they encounter on exam day must make it to the hall if not they fail, regardless of the excuse they have.
In like manner, states also need to overcome all obstacles in order to meet the objectives they have set for themselves, there are no rooms for excuses. Right now, Cameroon is unable to meet any of its objectives and it is obvious that with these current trends, it will be impossible for Cameroon to become an emerging country by 2035.
It is about time for Cameroonians to wake up and make all those who govern us to be held accountable. As the President of ACT movement, Christian Penda Ekoka often says “the world is moving at a very fast pace, but Cameroon is moving at a very slow pace”. The only factor that can explain this is that President Biya has failed to live up to the expectation of an efficient leader and what is more dramatic is that Cameroonians have not helped him because we have refused to sanction him.We also need to play our role. Cameroonians, at the end of the day, must learn to put pressure on their government in order for them to deliver. We should never forget that the people have the power and that those who govern us have been delegated authority in order to serve the interests of the commonwealth. The time to ACT must be now and not later.