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10/10/2018 - 19:49
L'Année 2010 de Paul Biya - Biya’s Bamenda Visit : Preparations Move to Higher Gear
Biya’s Bamenda Visit
Biya’s Bamenda Visit - Preparations Move to Higher Gear
Simon Meyanga

Arrangements have been made, the dust has settled, and all is now set for celebrations marking the 50th Anniversary of the Armed Forces in Bamenda come November 29 – 30, 2010.

There is no mistaking the readiness of the North West Region to receive the Head of State, President Paul Biya, who is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces for the 50th Anniversary of the independence of the Cameroon army. For over 10 months now sincethe announcement that Bamenda was to host what city watchers have called the ‘summit of summit’ events in the history of Cameroon.

With the announcement of dates for the Anniversary celebrations, Bamenda has been tuned full blast and there seem to be no dull moment in the city. This visit, which like the one in 1983 is the President’s first official visit to the newly created regions, has set Bamenda in a class of its own in terms of modernization and infrastructural development.  The civil engineering corps of the military has not been at rest, especially at the Bamenda international Airport which is going to host the military event. A huge Grand Stand has been constructed at the Airport. Apart from that, numerous exhibition stands have been erected so the military can showcase the know how of over 50 years. There are stands for both the hardware and software in the military. Picture exhibitions of how far the military has gone in 50 years shall be a high point on agenda. A more interesting event w would be the display of where the Cameroon military goes from now, 50 years after.

After successfully defending Cameroon;s territorial integrity with Bakassi as a case in point, the military is today poised on taking new assignments , that of nation-building. Fortunately, the civil engineering corps  of the military has already given the signal with the level of demonstrable technical know how in the projects they have already carried out in Bakassi, Limbe and today, Bamenda.
A major renovation work being carried out today by the military is the construction of an ultra modern Grandstand at the Bamenda Commercial avenue for civilian activities. The 77 by 16 metres modern edifice is supervised by military engineers and upon completion, would be second only to the one at the 20th May Boulevard in Yaounde. The visit of the Head of State has also engineered the construction of a military rest house at the Bamenda Upstation military base. The modern hotel though not likey to be completed when the President arrives, is a fallout of the visit and done by military engineering corps. Away from that, serious renovations have been done at the Bamenda Presidential Palace at Up station, a signal that President Paul Biya and family would feel more at home in Bamenda. Renovations have also been done to the Bamenda Congress Hall that has never been renovated since construction in 1985, a signal that the Presidential family would be guest at a
gala planned for that hall on the 29th. Monuments have been erected both at the entrance to Bamenda city and Upstation military base.

As the city is getting a swift transformation into an eldorado, city dwellers say Biya’s visit is simply a homecoming. Not without reason. While visiting in 1985 for the CNU/CPDM congress, President Biya had this to say: ‘Here I am once more in Bamenda. And how good it is to be home again. In fact as you know, the Head of State is at home everywhere in Cameroon. But for me, outside Yaounde, Bamenda has become a special home...But in my new capacity as ;Fon of Fons’ of all North West, I take great pleasure and pride in welcoming you to this province.’ It is with this in view that the Head of State has, in preparation for his home coming, ordered a total transformation of his city, Bamenda.

Major Developments
Government spending on infrastructural development in Bamenda city since the announcement of this event reached an all time high of more than 50 billion in just few months. The road network has been completely redone and work is still going on, on other major axis. The road from Bamenda International Airport has been widened. The Foncha Street stretch through Mulang to Ntarikon is also receiving a new face lift. To show government’s interest in the improvement of living conditions of all Cameroonians irrespective of their political leanings, the road to SDF Chairman, Fru Ndi’s Ntarikon residence, has just been tarred. Roads within the Bamenda city are all receiving big time attention. Mention should be made of the congress Hall access and Fon’s street. Though work on the double carriage way from Bamenda Up-station through Njah to Mile 2 Nkwen, is still going on, a new contract has been awarded for the tarring of another access road to Bamenda from Mile 8 Akum through Alahtening and Bali. The famously famous Ngen Junction Round About has been done. Above all, Bamenda’s Commercial Avenue and City Chemist have been beautifully designed and embellished with flowers. The buildup to the Presidential Visit has been momentous.

Airport modernization has also been a high point on the agenda of the organizing committee. Not only the Bamenda Airport where the events would take place but also the Bali Airport has been relooked. In view of the number of flights that Bamenda would receive, even the Baffoussam Airport is on agenda.

Lodging arrangements
The sub committees in charge of both military and civilian receptions have been putting in the extra hour and the extra mile to see to it that the multitude that comes to Bamenda be lodged. With about 20 hotels identified in town ranging from class 1- 4, before a number of unclassified, the sub committee is sure to lodge everybody. About 800 standard rooms have been identified and reserved for the event. According to the Regional Delegate for Tourism, Mr. Pezumbia Philip, the committee has gone beyond Bamenda city to neighbouring towns like Ndop in Ngoketunjia Division, Mbouda, Dshang and Bafoussam in the West Region. Currently, the committee is identifying individuals who can hire out their self – Content apartments to government for the event. Bamenda residents, well noted for their legendary hospitality, have been urged to accommodate friends, relations and any visitors they would want. Elites in Momo Division too are ready to host some guests in
Mbengwi. Prominent elite of Donga Mantung, Dr. Nick Ngwanyam has offered his St. Louis premises to host the more than 2000 people coming from that far end. North West elites in Yaoundé are mobilizing resources to cater for the interest of CPDM militants who come from far and near. North West Governor, Abakar Ahamat has opined that even classrooms would be used to host some of the military men.
Catering services in the city have been mobilized and the feeding committee is putting all hands on deck to see that there’s no shortage of food. Neighbouring villages are also trying to cash in by setting up more state-of-the-art restaurants and commercial centers. The results would be that Bamenda becomes what happens when commercial forces gain the upper hand.

General Mobilization
As stated in earlier reports, competition is razor sharp in terms of mobilization now that the date is known. While each Division tries to outdistance the other in terms of mobilizing militants for the CPDM, the opposition too is not at rest. Even the SDF that was once hostile to the visit is not only praying that its chairman offers Biya breakfast, but also wants to outnumber the CPDM in terms of mobilization. In the process, North West elites in Yaoundé led by H.E Philemon Yang have offered 8000 pieces of CPDM uniforms to militants in the North West. Atanga Nji Paul, Mezam I Section President has drafted more than 30 tailors and seamstress to freely sew the uniforms for militants. A lot is unfolding in other Divisions even as mobilization strategies remain a guarded secret. Yet, Yaoundé elites of North West extraction are leaving no stone unturned in order to underwrite the bulk of expenses for CPDM militants officially accredited to the event. The
Prime minister sees the organization of the event without support to militants a little too much like doing trapeze without a safety net. The resource mobilization strategy has been seen by many industry professionals as a showcase of fundraising innovation and inspiration as more than 100 million has been raised for militants.

The health subcommittee, headed by the Regional Delegate for Health, has not been idle yet. About 100 Red Cross members have been mobilized and given special training. More ambulances have been requested and about 18.000 litres of bottled water have received in Bamenda.

The cultural committee proposes a public show at the Bamenda municipal stadium on the 28th of November and a one week cultural village showcasing North West culture. A cultural evening has been planned for the 29th with musicians from all over Cameroon as well as traditional dance groups. The Regional Delegate for culture, Chuinteu Ernest, says all is set as far as animation before, during, and after the event is concerned. The Regional Delegate for Communication on his part proposes a magazine to show case and market the tourist potentials of the North West. A Press Centre is being set up at the Bamenda City Council Library with all what a modern multimedia centre entails. Giant screens are also earmarked for critical spots around the city centre.

Security
North West Governor, Abakar Ahamat, has an approving vignette on security in the Region as minute details have been taken care of. More security operatives have been drafted in as there is need for a hitch free event. Even the Administrative Quarters at UpStation make it an ideal peephole into the rest of city. Talking to the Governor on Bamenda’s State-of-preparedness to receive the President, the composed Abakar pinches his lower lip between thumb and fore finger and present a picture that glints like sunshine on surf. “Every thing is ready. The population is just waiting for their father. All details are taken care of.”  Even the population is more than ready to see that all is well security wise. Since last Friday’s announcement, they are ready to challenge anyone who is not hot about the visit. The city’s story has been braided with hope and need and expectation. They now say the event is a chance for them to get a good share of life.

As Bamendians await D-day, talk here is more about the prestige attention and every thing that flows out of that. The cards are faced up on the table on that. Over and above, the people see the intangible value of being trust on national stage. Advocates are quick to point at the multiplier effect of the visit. The opportunity to raise the city’s profile in the global community is justification for one of the most ambitious construction programmes the city has ever seen. Bamenda now has a bulldog’s sense of itself. The three Sub Divisional Councils that make up the city have over the years been rubbing against each other as villages in the fight for some taste of prosperity and civic pride. The tight packaging of these communities had given the residents a chafed, factious edge. But with the latest events, all is decidedly changed for the better.

Preparations Move to Higher Gear