Culled from The Post
The National Chairman of the Social Democratic Front party, SDF,Ni John Fru Ndi, has announced that he will relinquish his position as head of the party when they convene the party’s next General convention.
The Chairman made the declaration at his Soa residence in Yaounde on Thursday, February 11, 2021, during a press lunch, which brought together a cross section of journalists of the private media.
Fru Ndi explained that his decision to step aside from all party responsibilities has been fueled by his desire to completely hand over the relay baton to younger and more active party officials, who shall continue the struggle for a just society from where he left off.
He added that by July this year, he will be turning 80 years, and with the weight of age on him, it is no longer possible for him to be as active as he was in the past when he was able to tour Cameroon 21 times in his 30 years as Chairman of the SDF. A record, which he said, is yet to be beaten by any other political leader.
For this reason, the chairman said he has been brainstorming with party officials on how to reignite the flame of the party and bring it back to its glorious days of massive following before he finally retires from active politics.
In February 2018, the SDF strongman decided to step aside as the party’scandidate for presidential elections. That position was picked up by Hon. Joshua Osih, who emerged on fourth position during the October 2018 presidential election.
Woes of the Press in Cameroon
During the press lunch, the SDF Chieftain expressed concern for the challenges journalists face in the country and expressed his readiness to work together with pressmen and women for a freer,more just and more democratic society.
He posited that the SDF and the press are bedfellows in the fight for more freedom of expression and for stronger institutions in Cameroon, adding that he has always made the fight for the freedom of the press one of the strongest cornerstones of his liberation struggle.
The Chairman did not fail to condemn the persecution of journalists in the exercise of their profession through illegal arrests, imprisonment and even unlawful killings. As a way forward, Fru Ndi strongly advocated the decriminalization of press offences, as the status quo does not “give the press the needed freehand to act like the fourth estate of power that it is in regulating national behaviour through whistleblowing”.
Talking about the miserable condition of the press in Cameroon, which he blamed on “the fragile nature of the private sector economy and the meager nature of government subsidies to privately owned media,” Fru Ndi suggested that “subventions to the private media should be regulated by an act of Parliament to give itweight and force of implementation”.
Concerning the anarchy in which the press operates in Cameroon, the Chairman argued that it is borne from the way media houses are created without any clearly defined benchmarks; lack of clarity on who qualifies as a journalist; the non-respect of journalistic ethics; serious divisions among journalists and associations of journalists on the organization of their own profession; and the creation and sponsorship of some press organs by individuals in the corridors of power in order to pursue cynical agendas.
The SDF’s take on this is that the cacophony can only be resolved “through the creation of a ‘Cameroon Order of Journalists’ with full authority to check press excesses and misdemeanors in the same way as we have the Cameroon Bar Council for lawyers and the Order of Medical Doctors for medics”.
While encouraging the press to stand up strongly against fake news and conspiracy theories, and to close ranks in the struggle for a better society, John Fru Ndi enjoined the media men and women to push for the enforcement of the “Freedom of Information Act,” which he said was long adopted in Parliament, but very fewjournalists know of its existence. With the enforcement of such a legal instrument, he said the troubles of lack of access to official state information will be solved.
By GEORGE MUAM