The new public square in Eséka, a municipality in the Nyong and Kelle division, in the Central Region, will not be named after Ruben Um Nyobe, the Cameroonian independence leader and founder of the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC). Not for now. At least not for the time being. The senior divisional officer of Nyong and Kellé, Valeri Norbert Kuela, has rejected the municipal council's resolution from May 12th, which authorized Mayor Sylvain Tjock to name the square "Place des fêtes Ruben Um Nyobe."
In a letter leaked on the internet, the senior officer states that he cannot approve this resolution, because, per article 2, paragraph 1, of the Prime Minister’s decree from September 21, 2020, the commemoration of historical or emblematic figures who have passed away falls under the jurisdiction of the State, decentralized territorial communities, or the relevant communities.
The decree sets out the guidelines for commemorating deceased historical or emblematic figures. However, according to the senior divisional officer, Article 4 of the same decree stipulates that specific provisions may be adopted, as needed, to implement the provisions of this decree. Consequently, he claims to be unable to approve the said resolution in the absence of the specific provisions for the application of the aforementioned decree.
The decision of the Prefect has not been well-received by the Eséka municipality, even though they acknowledge that the specific provisions are not yet available. The municipal administration expressed their displeasure on their Facebook page. "It is difficult to obtain approval for the resolutions validated by the municipal council in recent times in the municipality of Eséka. A clear illustration..." wrote the administration, with the letter sent by the senior divisional officer of Nyong and Kelle attached.
According to sources close to the Mayor contacted by SBBC, the senior divisional officer has advised the municipality to send a reasonable opinion to the Minister of Arts and Culture (Minac), through the regional delegation of that ministry, to get the authorization to name the new square in Eséka after Ruben Um Nyobe. "The Mayor has always maintained that the resolution grants him the authority to act. Now, the Mayor initiates actions on the ground based on the resolution. When the municipal council authorizes the Mayor to act, it is not always well-received when obstacles are created for various reasons. The [Nyong and Kelle] division has advised us to write to the Minister of Culture, but for now, nothing has been decided," confided our sources. In the meantime, residents and visitors can still admire the statue of Ruben Um Nyobe erected at the Abbé Nicolas Ntamack intersection in the town.