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AN ASSESSMENT OF REGIONALISM AND POLITICAL POWER DISTRIBUTION IN CAMEROON

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AN ASSESSMENT OF REGIONALISM AND POLITICAL POWER DISTRIBUTION IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Cameroon, situated in the region of Central Africa, is a nation characterised by a rich tapestry of cultural, linguistic, and ethnic diversity. Following the attainment of independence from colonial domination, the country has encountered intricate challenges pertaining to governance, often intertwining with matters of regionalism and the allocation of political power. A comprehensive grasp of the socio-political environment of Cameroon necessitates a thorough comprehension of the dynamics of regionalism and its ramifications on the allocation of political power (Aabeyir & Agyare, 2020). The phenomenon of regionalism in Cameroon is firmly established due to the historical, cultural, and economic inequalities that exist among its several regions. The nation exhibits a wide range of ethnic groupings, each with distinct linguistic and cultural legacies. The historical presence of variety has resulted in the emergence of conflicts and rivalries, which are often intensified by discrepancies in the distribution of resources and development priorities across different areas. Since gaining independence, Cameroon's political system has been characterised by a centralised government structure (Barasa, Cleary & English, 2016). Nevertheless, the centralised approach has had difficulties in effectively meeting the requirements and ambitions of the many regions within the nation. According to Boone (2017), there has been a consistent demand for decentralisation and more regional autonomy in order to enhance the agency of local communities and promote a fairer allocation of resources and political authority. 

In light of this context, the objective of this study is to evaluate the correlation between regionalism and the allocation of political power in Cameroon. The objective of this study is to analyse the impact of historical, cultural, and economic variables on the geographical distribution of political power across various areas of the nation (Butsic, Baumann, Shortland, Walker & Kuemmerle, 2015). Moreover, the present research aims to examine the degree to which regionalism has influenced the formulation of policies and decision-making procedures at the domestic level. The study will use a multifaceted methodology, including perspectives from the fields of political science, sociology, history, and economics in order to provide a thorough examination (Green, 2016). The research methodology will include a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, including data analysis, case studies, and interviews with major stakeholders, including government officials, academics, and community leaders. This research aims to provide a scholarly contribution to the ongoing discussions on governance and democracy in Cameroon by examining the relationship between regionalism and political power distribution (Hanai, 2021). Moreover, its objective is to provide pragmatic perspectives for policymakers and stakeholders to formulate tactics for promoting enhanced inclusiveness, unity, and progress across the nation's many regions. The study results have the potential to provide valuable insights for the formulation of policies that seek to foster national cohesion, social equity, and sustainable progress in Cameroon. Therefore, the researcher sought to assess regionalism and political power distribution in Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The political environment in Cameroon is marked by a historical context of regionalism, ethnic heterogeneity, and disparities in power, all of which have had a substantial impact on the allocation of political authority and resources across various areas (Hathaway, 2016). Notwithstanding efforts to advance national cohesion and decentralisation, obstacles endure in resolving the problems of marginalised areas, cultivating inclusiveness in governance frameworks, and guaranteeing fair development across the nation. According to Hedström and Olivius (2020), Cameroon is geographically partitioned into 10 administrative regions, each exhibiting unique cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic characteristics. Nevertheless, there are still existing differences in development metrics, including infrastructure, education, healthcare, and access to basic services, among different areas. The Far North, North, and East areas encounter notable socio-economic difficulties, such as poverty, underdevelopment, and restricted access to opportunities, which intensify sentiments of marginalisation and dissatisfaction. The influence of ethnicity on Cameroonian politics is noteworthy, as it shapes the dynamics of political mobilisation, alliances, and power distribution (Kimengsi, 2015). The central government's concentration of power among certain ethnic groups, notably the Beti-Pahuin, has resulted in the impression of preferential treatment and marginalisation among minority ethnic populations. These circumstances have intensified tensions and disputes, eroding national unity and impeding endeavours to establish a genuinely inclusive political framework. The concentration of power in the president and major government agencies persists despite the presence of constitutional measures aimed at decentralisation. The successful implementation of decentralisation plans is hindered by the limited budgetary autonomy and administrative capability at the regional and local levels. This hampers attempts to empower local communities and meet their individual needs (Kimengsi & Bhusal, 2021). Consequently, local governance systems often exhibit deficiencies in terms of accountability, transparency, and responsiveness to the demands of the populace, hence reinforcing sentiments of estrangement and scepticism towards the government at the national level. Furthermore, the inequitable allocation of political authority and resources has played a significant role in fostering political instability and violence inside the nation of Cameroon. The emergence of separatist movements in places such as the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest may be attributed to regional frustrations that have been intensified by perceived marginalisation and injustices (Kimengsi & Bhusal, 2021). The government's reaction to these movements has been characterised by suppression, violations of human rights, and the use of military force, intensifying tensions and diminishing the chances of achieving a peaceful conclusion. Cameroon's objectives for national unity, socio-economic growth, and democratic government face considerable hurdles due to the enduring presence of regionalism and power asymmetries. The design of inclusive policies and development goals is hindered by the insufficient representation and engagement of marginalised areas in decision-making processes. According to Kimengsi and Bhusal (2021), the loss of trust between the central government and peripheral areas poses a significant challenge to the promotion of cohesiveness, stability, and progress towards shared national objectives. Given the aforementioned critical concerns, it is imperative to conduct a comprehensive examination of regionalism and the allocation of political power in Cameroon. This research is crucial for informing policy interventions, facilitating constructive conversations, and cultivating governance institutions that are inclusive. This study aims to tackle the intricacies of these difficulties by analysing their historical origins, present expressions, and consequences for the future course of the nation. This research seeks to gain insights into the factors that lead to regional inequalities and political tensions in Cameroon. The objective is to propose evidence-based policies that promote national unity, equitable development, and democratic governance in the country.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to assess regionalism and political power distribution in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

Investigate the historical background and development of regionalism in Cameroon.

Identify the disparities in political power distribution across different regions of Cameroon.

Investigate the impact of regionalism on governance and political stability

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the historical background and development of regionalism in Cameroon?

What are the disparities in political power distribution across different regions of Cameroon?

What is the impact of regionalism on governance and political stability?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Government: Regionalism can sometimes exacerbate political tensions and contribute to governance challenges such as marginalization, nepotism, and corruption. Researching the distribution of political power allows for a deeper understanding of these challenges and provides a basis for policy recommendations aimed at promoting more equitable and effective governance practices.

Informing Policy Decisions: Findings from the study can inform policymakers and stakeholders about the need for reforms in political structures and mechanisms to ensure more inclusive representation and decision-making processes. This could involve considerations such as decentralization, devolution of powers, or affirmative action measures to address regional disparities.

Contribution to Academic : Research on regionalism and political power distribution in Cameroon adds to the body of academic literature on comparative politics, African studies, and governance. It provides scholars with empirical data and analytical frameworks to deepen their understanding of political dynamics within the country and draw parallels with other contexts globally.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on  assess regionalism and political power distribution in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will investigate the historical background and development of regionalism in Cameroon, identify the disparities in political power distribution across different regions of Cameroon and investigate the impact of regionalism on governance and political stability.

1.7 Research Methodology

Research methodology deals with the different ways or methods the researcher applied in order to carry out the research as well as the instrument used for gathering the data. There are several research methodologies appropriate for answering the research questions. The type of research methodology used in this research to gather data and relevant information is the historical research and the study will adopt descriptive method of data collection. This will involve the collection of materials from secondary sources, such as books, journal articles, magazines, internet sources, international and national conference proceedings, published and unpublished articles.

1.8 Definition of terms

Regionalism: Regionalism denotes the socio-political phenomenon characterized by the division of a country into distinct geographical regions, each possessing a degree of autonomy or unique identity.

Political Power: Political power refers to the ability or authority to influence or control the decision-making processes, policies, and institutions within a political system. 

Political Landscape: The political landscape refers to the overall framework of political structures, institutions, actors, and processes within a specific country or region. 

Socio-Political Dynamics: Socio-political dynamics encompass the interactions and interplay between social and political factors within a society. 


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