Thursday, August 4, 2016

Laptops Gift: Students Take to The Streets With a “Thank You’’ Message to Biya

Hundreds of individuals posing as students took to the streets in Yaounde and Bamenda Wednesday in a “thank You” march in appreciation of the announced offer of some 500.000 laptops to university students in Cameroon by the head of state.

In Yaounde, the students who said they were members of the Cameroon Students Union, marched along the main boulevard in the capital city around Hilton Hotel to Postes Centrale roundabout. During the march in Yaounde just like in Bamenda, the students wielded placards expressing gratitude to Paul Biya for the “gift.”

The “Thank You’’ march in Yaounde and Bamenda comes after a similar action by students of the Institut Africain d’Informatique, IAI Cameroun, and later those of the University of Ngoundere. In Ngoundere, the students marched along the main streets and later handed their motion of support to  

In the meantime, the announced donation of some 500.000 laptops to university students has been welcomed with mixed feelings in the country. While some consider it a political stunt by the head of state ahead of the 2018 presidential election, other critics say the move is a misplaced priority to a country whose university standards leave much to be desired.

“It is our right and not a privilege. How can citizens be thanking an individual for giving them their own rights?” Timah Rene, a researcher in politics and human rights questioned rhetorically on a Facebook post Wednesday.

To Mark Bareta, social critic and blogger, the students are simply being manipulated by government authorities. He exploded: “I think it is manipulation. University students do not need laptops when the campus is not Wi-Fi-free, when they need libraries and other social amenities. The government is only baiting on these students as a tool ahead of the 2018 elections. This is not our priority. Cameroonians need quality healthcare, jobs, roads, water and electricity, good electoral and independent institutions rather than some cheap Chinese products. This generation of University students marching is a wasted generation. They are being manipulated by Minister Jacques Fame Ndongo. It is a shame,” he said.

Tapang Ivo Tanko, a Cameroonian Journalist based in the United States, argued that government could have rather donated the laptops to universities for better management, adding that students will easily sell them out upon collection.
“It’s a shame that most of these students are seemingly being manipulated to embark on such a move to thank the head of state despite the difficulties they encounter. Students will sell it once they collect the laptops. These laptops should have been handed to universities and not students. Universities can better manage them” Tapang said.

Following a contract signed Wednesday, July 27, between the government of Cameroon and the Chinese Sichuan Telecommunications Construction Engineering Co. Ltd, 500,000 portable computers (laptops) were announced to be provided free of charge to Cameroonian university students beginning this school season. Governor, Kildadi Taguiéké Boucar for onward transmission to the head of state.