Fai Yengo Francis – Outstanding, selfless service to the nation.
- Untold role played during Lake Nyos disaster
- How his zero-tolerance approach restored state authority in Adamawa
- Key role in settling inter-tribal conflicts in NW, creation of one umbrella Fons’ union
- The then Centre governor who nipped opposition coalition plan to incite unrest
- 2008 roits & tactful role played as littoral governor
- Strides in convincing Amba fighters, Boko Haram militants to drop arms
By Solomon Tembang, The Guardian Post Daily Newspaper, 11 October 2022, www.theguardianpostcameroon.com
The Biya regime has severally faced daunting challenges, some natural disasters, and sometimes well calculated moves by individuals or groups of individuals to put the regime on its knees.
Contributions towards ensuring that the system is not destabilised have often come from some quarters.
But one person who stands out as a veritable sapeur pompier of Biya regime, when it finds itself facing rage of forces against it, is Fai Yengo Francis.
In most of the duty posts Fai Yengo Francis has occupied in his rich career as an administrator, he has often employed his astute administrative savvy to circumvent challenges faced by the Biya regime and by extension the country.
Observers have been stating, and rightly so, that Fai Yengo Francis is a rare breed administrator, whose prowess in crisis management and selfless service to nation are unmatched.
Untold role played during Lake Nyos disaster.
In 1986, the world’s attention was drawn to Cameroon when in the night of August 21, 1986, “a limnic eruption” at Lake Nyos, in Menchum division of the North West region, released tons of carbon dioxide that killed 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock.
Fai Yengo Francis was then the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, of Menchum division.
After the incident happened, Fai Yengo reacted promptly by calling the attention of the authorities of the then North West Province and those in Yaounde. Like the hands-on administrator he is, Fai Yengo was among the first group of persons who left Wum the day after the unfortunate incident to Nyos to take stock, first-hand, of what had befallen the communities around the lake.
From then on, he was in constant touch with the powers that be, briefing them on the progress of relief efforts. The death toll, observers say, could have been more if Fai Yengo did not act promptly and in highly professional manner for the rescue and resettlement of survivors. His crisis management skills were put to test and he proved to be efficient even under intense pressure from hierarchy.
He is also said to have played a major and transparent role as far as the assistance to and resettlement of survivors were concerned.
Fai Yengo is also said to have briefed the many people from out of the country who trooped into Menchum division because of the Lake Nyos crisis in such a way that did not taint Cameroon image, given that the disaster had become shrouded in so much controversy.
Zero tolerance approach restored state authority in Adamawa
It was therefore no surprise that, apparently because of his tactful handling of the situation in Nyos, the Head of State, President Paul Biya, promoted Fai Yengo by appointing him governor of the then Adamawa Province. As usual, Fai Yengo did not let President Biya down in his new position as governor of Adamawa.
He took over the helm of Adamawa at the time the then province was a political hotbed with the National Union for Democracy and Progress, UNDP, of Bello Bouba Maigari, determined to rock the stability of the area. With the UNDP having a huge following in the area then, its supporters were causing Adamawa to drift towards a state of lawlessness. They were recalcitrant and disrespecting state personalities and institutions at their whims and caprices. However, due to Fai Yengo’s zero-tolerance approach, he succeeded not only to stamp his authority but in so doing restored respect for state personalities and institutions in Adamawa. Adamawa region, since then has not been the same.
Key role in settling inter-tribal conflicts in NW, creation of one umbrella Fons’ union.
After having cut his political crisis management teeth in Adamawa, President Biya thought it was time for Fai Yengo to be sent to yet another tumultuous administrative unit, North West.
On October 19, 1996, Fai Yengo was appointed governor of the then North West Province. This was at the time the North West was being rocked by an avalanche of inter-tribal crises.
Traditional rulers were also at each other’s throat, divided between the North West, Fons’ Conference NOWEFCO; led by the late Fon Doh Gah Gwanyin and North West Fons’ Association, NOWEFA; led by Fon Yakum-Ntaw of blessed memory.
The division among the Fons, it should be noted, also negatively affected many villages in terms of socioeconomic development. Nonetheless, Fai Yengo Francis, himself son of the North West region, used his administrative savvy to talk peace to the Fons. He finally convinced the bickering Fons to bury their hatchets and unite under one umbrella association. It was therefore through Fai Yengo’s tutelage that NOWEFCO and NOWEFA united to form what became known as North West Fons Union, NOWEFU, with its pioneer leader being Fon Abumbi of Bafut.
After uniting the Fons, the next task for Fai Yengo was to ensure that inter-tribal or inter-village wars or disputes in the North West became a thing of the past. This was easy to achieve because the Fons had united under one umbrella association within which they could peacefully talk among themselves and resolve such disputes amicably. This was thanks to the fact that Fai Yengo put into practice his silks in uniting the Fons and reconciling quarrelling villages.
Nipped plans by opposition coalition to incite social unrest
It was yet Fai Yengo Francis, serving then as Centre region governor, who nipped well-orchestrated plans by the opposition coalition, to incite the kind of social unrest that would have seen the Biya regime survive, only if God was Biya’s neighbour.
It should be recalled that prior to the 2004 Presidential election, top leading opposition political parties formed formidable coalition to oust President Biya from power.
The coalition members included among others the Social Democratic Front, SDF of John Fru Ndi; Cameroon Democratic Union, CDU Adamu Ndam Njoya; Front for the National Salvation of Cameroon, FNSC of Issa Tchiroma Bakary; Progressive Movement, MP of Jean-Jacques, Ekindi; Dynamique pour la Renaissance Nationale of Albert Dzongang and PAD-DEC of Jean de Dieu Momo.
Other than just seek to take over power through the ballot box, the coalition, it later emerged, was bracing up to incite an unrest intended to topple the Biya regime.
At one time when the political party leaders and their supporters came out in Yaounde for demonstration, Governor Fai Yengo acted in time and ordered that they be encircled to prevent what could have escalated into violence. This was done until the opposition members later backed down.
Nonetheless, the opposition parties continued making moves that could have plunged the capital, Yaounde, and by extension the whole country, into chaos.
But Fai Yengo, as governor of the then Centre Province, used tact and administrative shrewdness to pre-empt the impending unrest without any bloodshed. Meanwhile, because Fai Yengo’s moves had caused cracks within the opposition coalition, since observers say the intention of the opposition had some sinister undertones, it finally crashed when John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, pulled out of the coalition.
Political analysts say Fai Yengo should be given credit for having saved the Biya regime from an impending storm that could have swept it away.
2008 riots & tactful role played as Littoral governor
When the February 2008 riots sparked, Fai Yengo Francis was governor of the Littoral region. The protests began in Douala on February 25, 2008. Though it came on the heels of a strike by transport workers, who were opposing high fuel prices and poor working conditions, opposition political parties, we gathered, intended to use it to stage a protest dubbed Operation Kenya, similar to post-election riots in Kenya the previous year.
But Fai Yengo had refused to authorise a meeting of politicians that would have initiated what they had christened Operation Kenya.
The 2008 riots caused destruction of property, including the loss of hundreds of lives. However, Fai Yengo managed the situation in Littoral region with a lot of discretion and thoughtfulness.
Given that the riots sparked in Douala before spreading to other towns around the country, it could have been worse if Fai Yengo did not manage the situation professionally. If that was the case, the riots could have put the Biya regime on its knees.
It should be recalled that a mammoth crowd from Douala was already marching to Yaounde to wreak havoc, but was only stopped at Edea when Fai Yengo, using the forces of law and order at his disposal, acted swiftly. Political observers say if Governor Fai Yengo had not acted swiftly and stopped the irate crowd from entering Yaounde, the Biya regime might have since 2008 been history.
Their intention, it was said, was to arrive Yaounde, recruit more demonstrators and march straight to the Unity Palace to chase President Biya from power.
Analysts say even if they were not going to succeed in their mission, any military attempt to stop them would have been the deadliest confrontation the Biya regime ever registered
Strides in convincing Amba fighters, Boko Haram militants drop arms
Meanwhile, after of years of retirement from the public service, the Head of State, in a presidential decree, on Tuesday December 4, 2018, appointed Fai Yengo Francis as Coordinator of the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration, NDDR.
The Committee is charged with supervising and managing the disarmament, and reintegration of ex-Boko Haram fighters and armed groups in the North West and South West regions willing to lay down their arms. The committee is headquartered in Yaounde, with regional Centres in Buea, Bamenda and Mora with the possibility of creating more centres as the need arises. Managing such a strategic committee within the framework of the armed conflicts plaguing the country is a tall order and not the job for any Tom, Dick and Harry.
The fact that the Head of State picked Fai Yengo Francis for this daunting task is testimony that he has been seen to be a tried, tested and results-oriented administrator.
Political wet noses and some regime barons, noted for inciting repentant amba fighters in the DDR center in Buea, often heard saying Fai Yengo has not lived up to his billings, should be reminded of the achievements, recorded by the NDDR, with Fai Yengo on the driving seat:
Since his appointment at the helm of NDDR, ultra-modern DDR centres have been constructed in Bamenda and Tiko Living conditions centres have been improving of ex-fighters at the DDR by the day.
Thanks to continuous efforts by Fai Yengo and his team, the DDR centres in the North West, South West and Far North regions have continued receiving repentant fighters in droves. Many of the ex-fighters have learned trades and have been reintegrated into society.
More is said to be done to ensure that all repentant fighters are comfortable. There are also plans to create full-cycle schools at DDR centres to encourage ex-fighters to pursue their academic dreams. “One of our ex-fighters had Advanced Levels in Bamenda and another the Ordinary Level. One in Buea passed in eight subjects at the Ordinary Level. This reflects part of what is happening in our centres,” Fai Yengo explained in an interview with state-owned radio, CRTV, recently.
Political analysts say, judging from what Fai Yengo Francis has done, and continues to do for the Biya regime, he would have been counted among President Biya’s twelve disciples, were the Unity Palace occupant to put himself in the place of Jesus Christ.
Fai Yengo Francis, it should be recalled, is a native of Oku, Bui division of the North West region. He is of the 1980 graduating class of the National School of Administration and Magistracy, ENAM.