Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Paul Biya And The Beauty Of Biology - What The People Of Cameroon Can't Do, Nature Will

This past week, Permanent President of Cameroon Paul Biya had himself sworn in for the seventh time as chief of that unfortunate country, which has given up any hope of one day ridding itself of his leech-like embrace of power.

He recently organised what in Africa we call an election but which anywhere else would be recognised as a charade and a fraud.

But this does seem to bother Paul Biya. He is not even fazed by the fact that his country is enmeshed in a bitter conflict that is pitting government forces against would-be separatists in the so-called Anglophone section of the country.

During his inauguration a few days ago, he did not so much as suggest that he would seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict, instead saying that the rebels would be destroyed as no government could tolerate lawlessness. He also found no reason to say a word about the almost 80 schoolchildren who had been abducted by unknown people.

In his speech he sounded feeble and spent, like someone who needed to go home, kiss his grandchildren and rest. But not this man, who will soon turn 90, and who has not indicated the least desire to call it a day.

I do not imagine for a minute that Biya has any inkling about what needs to be done to end the crises his country is facing, which are compounded by the Boko Haram scourge in some part.

But he must hold on, because he has stayed on so long that to quit now would be to court disaster, like so many other tyrants who cling to power and miss the tell-tale signals that their time is up, and by overstaying paint themselves into a corner from which they can no longer extricate themselves.
Paul Biya And The Beauty Of Biology
They must stay on by hook or by crook until death comes to deliver them.

It works out like this: By staying on, you are flouting a number of rules of engagement to which you had earlier subscribed, rules that set the limit to the number of times you were allowed to come back and say you want another bite at the cherry.

Because you have contravened such rules, some people, even in your own cabal, will oppose you, and, if you are the inflexible type, you will punish them by removing them from their plum jobs, imprisoning them, exiling them, even killing them.

Those you treat in this way may not have the power to come back as ghosts to haunt you, but other forces are likely to do their job for them. You are scared senseless because you have transgressed and are afraid someone out there is out to do you in.

That is the fate of those who forgot to quit when quitting was still possible. We all know there are leaders who stick around because they are genuinely needed.

I know of cases where such leaders were beseeched by their people either to never leave, or to come back after they had left, to fix a problem. The latest of such comebacks can be found in Malaysia in the shape of Mahathir Mohammad, who has returned when he is preparing to hit a century.

But what is Biya’s excuse, for crying out loud?
The principle of “alternance,” as the French call it, has its merit. The Americans resorted to it after they experienced the phenomenon of a president who was so popular and re-electable that he died in office, in a wheelchair, when he was already a cabbage.

It was after that that the legislators of that country decided to do term limits. Ronald Reagan could have been re-elected, and Bill Clinton, and even Barack Obama…

Our everlasting rulers make the mistake of listening to the praise singers. Even where there may be a genuine case for someone to stay on for a while, a cut-off point must be established, simply because no one is immortal, and one day the most indispensable individual will be eminently dispensable. Such is the implacable beauty of biology.

It is better to heed that beauty than to put yourself in a position where you know, though you would not admit to yourself, that your people, especially those who sing your praises the loudest, are secretly praying for you to die.
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