By Paul Njie
Despite the sudden death of the Mayor of the Buea Council, Ekema Patrick Esunge, some inhabitants of the municipality will remember him for his communal spirit, aimed at uniting the municipality which he loved dearly.
The late mayor was a fervent lover of sports, as he organised annual football tournaments in the municipality, to bring young people together. The Mayor’s Cup or Buea Council Tournament as the annual Buea Council football competition was known, involved different villages and localities which comprise the municipality.
Young Buea inhabitants played the tournament every year, to the admiration of the watching population. Many say this tournament alone was a rallying tool in the municipality.
Late Mayor Ekema Patrick was considered by some as the father of the municipality. He granted scholarships to students in his municipality at the start of every school year, organised tree lighting ceremonies which brought together inhabitants of the municipality at the council every Christmas holiday, and as a lover of culture, participated in several cultural events with his population.
Some locals say the former municipal strongman had the desire to promote local development, as he restructured markets, built new abattoirs and carried out road construction projects.
His commitment to President Paul Biya was visible in his political engagements. He fought against those he claimed wanted to destabilise the unity of Cameroon. Mayor Ekema was quoted by The Guardian Post as saying the “juju” which he used to combat Ambazonia fighters in Buea, was his “patriotism.” The former mayor’s bravery in the fight against separatist fighters earned him a title from the South region, “Nyamoto Kpwatolo.”
As the Anglophone crisis worsened with many people being internally displaced in Buea, the Buea Council through the Lord Mayor — as the late no-nonsense CPDM militant was fondly called — gave humanitarian assistance to such displaced persons.
Mayor Ekema had his shortcomings, though. He was fondly criticized for ruling the municipality with an iron fist. Critics accused him of serving President Paul Biya, instead of the people who elected him into office. His brutal fight against separatists saw him target business persons and commercial transporters in his municipality, punishing them for respecting ghost town and lockdown calls.
He punctured tyres of taxi drivers, broke business counters and kiosks, sealed shops and banned motorbike riders from operating in the municipality; the ban has spanned over a year now.
Late Mayor Ekema will certainly be remembered differently by different people in the Buea Municipality and beyond.