In 2015, Marafa Hamidou predicted the withdrawal of CAN 2019 in Cameroon
In a tribune that dates from 2015, the former secretary general of the presidency of the Republic already mentioned the withdrawal of the CAN 2019 in Cameroon. The reasons mentioned by the latter were insecurity, especially with the rise of Boko Haram.
He did not limit himself to showing the grievances of this withdrawal but also proposed the organization of this event with neighboring countries such as Chad and Nigeria.
In a difficult economic context, marked by the fall in the price of oil and exceptional military expenditure related to the fight against Boko Haram, Cameroon plans, in its draft budget laws 2016, to allocate 550 billion CFA francs (838 million euros), or 13% of its budget, to “the construction of the infrastructure necessary for the holding of the African Football Cups 2016 (female) and 2019 (men’s)”.
In particular, two new stadiums of respectively 60,000 and 50,000 seats are planned in Yaoundé and Douala for CFAF 150 billion each, the rehabilitation of the existing sports stadiums in Yaoundé, Douala, Bafoussam and Garoua (CFA 158 billion). ), the outdoor development of the stadiums of Limbé and Bafoussam (20 billion CFA francs), as well as the adaptation of road and hotel infrastructures in and around the cities concerned.
Do we want, can we, afford this expense, this investment without a future, which will mainly benefit foreign companies and which, since we seek help from China to assume it, will deepen our debt? No.
Invest in education and security
This € 838 million spent on prestige events will result in a 4.5% budget deficit. In addition, given the delay in the progress of work, it is very likely that the final bill will be increased by overtaking. For this reason alone, the expense would already be unsustainable.
But it is even more so if we consider that it is diverting public resources, already declining, from our vital and interdependent priorities of education and security in the face of repeated attacks by Boko Haram.
It is not only a question of the means to give to our brave gendarmes and soldiers, engaged in a long struggle.
The 550 billion CFA francs allocated to the two football cups represent more than the budget for education (basic education, secondary and higher education) in 2016, which will amount to 499 billion CFA francs.
Why this comparison? Education is the most effective vehicle for combating extremism. These Cameroonians, and especially these young women suicide bombers, who kill other Cameroonians in Garoua, Fotokol and elsewhere, also act out of desperation. To give them perspectives of personal realization, of dignity, of control of their destiny supposes that they enter as soon as possible to the school and leave it the best formed possible. Our military can defeat Boko Haram, but only education and employment will make it possible to overcome extremism in the long term.
Of course, the vocation of education is not limited to the security issue. It commits the future of our country on all fronts. It is for this reason that I proposed to make education compulsory until age 16.
However, primary, secondary and higher education suffers from a dramatic lack of resources. The needs are considerable, one in two Cameroonians under 18, but our infrastructure is very far from being able to respond. In primary school, there are on average 50 seats for 60 students. A gap that will quickly dig the demographics.
Sharing CAN with Neighboring Countries
What is the answer to the government’s 2016 draft budget? It aggravates the situation by reducing resources already dramatically poor. Taking into account inflation, the 2016 education budget is down 1% compared to 2015.
Should we, for all that, give up CAN and ask for its postponement, as did Morocco recently because of Ebola? No. Cameroon, which has not received the CAN since 1972, risks being deprived of it for the next twenty years. And it would also be a victory for Boko Haram. No, do not give up.
What is my proposal? Share the CAN with our neighbors and brothers in arms in the fight against Boko Haram: Nigeria and Chad.
Such sharing would imply little additional investment. In addition, they would have a long-term beneficial impact, well beyond the horizon of the two CANs.
With regard to stadiums, Cameroon could organize the women’s CAN in 2016 with facilities already undergoing rehabilitation. For the men’s CAN of 2019, the specifications require four stadia. It would be respected by relying on the equipment of our neighbors, who each have a large stadium in Abuja and N’Djamena. This would give up the construction of large stadiums in Yaoundé and Douala.
As for hotel infrastructures, those of our neighbors are already adapted to this type of event. As for the Cameroonian fleet, the solution would be to favor private investment, the vocation of the State not being, anyway, to build hotels.
The choice of reason and fraternity
In fact, the most important efforts will have to be made in transport networks to our neighbors. But this is a great opportunity! Carrying out the extension of the Cameroonian railway from Ngaoundere to N’Djamena would create jobs and open up Chad. Creating roads between Cameroon and Nigeria would be the vector of a regional integration dynamic synonymous with sustainable growth and sharing. Is it possible ? Yes. The technical files are ready. In July, in Yaoundé, the Nigerian and Cameroonian heads of state affirmed their will to connect their road networks. In addition, the benefits of these transport projects would be such that the mobilization of international donors and foreign investors will be at the rendezvous.
What would we have to gain from this sharing? All. A massive economy that will invest in education to prepare the future of our youth and in defense to equip our troops against terrorists; an acceleration and concretization of economic integration in the subregion; a striking illustration of the strength of our ties with our Nigerian and Chadian brothers in the very territory where Boko Haram is leading his campaign of death and division. Our national pride can also be expressed by this choice of reason and fraternity.