A recent decision by the Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) of Lebialem, banning the transportation of iron rods into his administrative jurisdiction may hamper Government’s development drive and the construction of houses in the Division.
Etta Mbokaya Ashu recently signed a press release banning the transportation of six millimetre and eight-millimetre iron rods into Lebialem Division till further notice.
According to the administrator, the move is to curb insecurity in the Division.
In his communiqué, the SDO instructed the defence and security forces of the Division to implement the order strictly.
The SDO’s embargo came days after security officers discovered a local plant for the fabrication of local weapons.
The plant is reportedly used by separatist fighters in the area commonly known as the Red Dragons to fabricate weapons which they use in battles against Government troops.
The embargo came at a time when military officers in the Division have suffered several attacks and have inquired numerous casualties in the hands of one of the most dreaded separatist group.
Development Projects, Construction of Houses Jeopardised
Meanwhile, the SDO’s injunction on the transportation of iron rods into the Division has put many development projects in the Division on hold.
In January this year, the Government awarded several projects to Lebialem Division worth several FCFA millions as part of the Public Investment Projects (PIP) financed by the Public Invest Budget (PIB) of 2019.
But most of these projects have not seen the light of day because of the war in the area.
The SDO’s embargo on iron rod would further compound the issue.
Again, the SDO’s ban has also jeopardised the construction of houses in the Division.
In the wake of the war, many houses and even villages have been torched, and the population is forced to be sleeping in the wild.
As Government officials preach reconciliation and the need for children to return to schools, the SDO’s decision has further scuttled the plans of all those, who wanted to start reconstructing their razed houses.
The War In Lebialem
For over three years now, the Red Dragons have made Lebialem Division ungovernable. Many Government officials have escaped out of the Division, Government offices shutdown, while security officers have been in a constant battle to subdue the armed group.
In the heat of the raging war between Government troops and the gunmen, thousands have fled out of their villages and are now seeking refuge in other Regions as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
How Governor Okalia Survived Red Dragons’ Fury
One of the high profile administrators who have tested the fury of the armed separatist group is Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai.
In one of his mission to Lebialem to commission the SDO of the Division in 2018, Governor Okalia Bilai’s convoy was ambushed by the gunmen.
The Governor only survived the attack thanks to the armoured car that was transporting him.
Many security officers in his convoy were wounded, while they were also causalities on the part of the separatists.
Elite Beg Gunmen To Disarm
As the war in Lebialem deepens, Government Ministers, especially elite of Lebialem, have appealed to their kinsmen who have picked up arms against the State to disarms, leave the bushes and return home for effective development to commence in the Division that has over the years been abandoned by Government.
One of such calls was recently made by Paul Tasong, Minister Delegate at the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development while chairing a meeting in Menji.
Despite the numerous calls, the Red Dragons have been reticent to disarm. One of the factors that have made the armed group imperious in battles against Cameroon’s elite soldiers is the topography of the Division.
Furthermore, the leader of the Red Dragons, Oliver Lekeaka, aka ‘Field Marshall’, a trained military officer, has been a thorn in the flesh of Cameroon’s elite forces.
Many political pundits are unanimous that only an inclusive dialogue and non-partisan negotiations will end the hostilities rocking the Division and the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon for almost four years.