Dictator Paul Biya: 35 Years of Poor Governance and Failure

By Lesley Funwie

I decided a month ago to investigate what Cameroon has achieved in the past 35 years under Biya’s leadership. Inspiration for this piece came from learning that he won another term in office.

Following his positions as Secretary-General of the Presidency from 1968 to 1975 and then as Prime Minister of Cameroon from 1975 to 1982, Biya became President of Cameroon on 6 November 1982. He is currently the longest-ruling non-royal leader in Africa. Enough about Biya. We will turn our attention to what he has done in those 35 years in power.

Government Institutions in Cameroons

These include ministries, security forces, legal system, and others. I have spent most of my life in Cameroon have had interactions with most of the institutions in Cameroon. My conclusion will be that the institutions in Cameroon are terrible. But I want to go further to explain what makes them terrible.

There is no accountability in the institutions. Officials work at will and standards are based on what officials can take as bribe. All institutions in Cameroon run on bribing on corruption. The norm is to receive bribes for the task, and only do the work without bribe in exceptional cases.

Infrastructure in Cameroon

The one word is ‘POOR’. There is no infrastructure in Cameroon. Look at the schools, hospitals, and roads. Look at the quality of life that 90% of the population is living.

Political System in Cameroon

The political system is owed and run by Dictator Biya. It is a democratic government on paper and authoritarian government in reality. Biya rules by degree and not democratic decisions. He appoints government officials at will. Officials who will not oppose him.

Cameroon’s Economy

Despite all the resources in the country, Cameroon remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Setting up a business is challenging because no incentives are provided, and start-ups are killed with heavy taxes before they can grow. Corruption prevents competition because well-established business will pay government officials to destroy new entrants. An example is Vodafone. They arrived Cameroon in 2016 and left in 2017. The institutions run on bribery and corruption which has corrupted the economy.

Social Life and Human Rights

Human rights abuses in Cameroon are frequent. Lack of accountability in the government encourages official to commit atrocities and face no justice. Victims go without justice because there is no freedom of expression to tell their stories, there is no legal system to hear them, there is no economy system for them to raise enough money to bribe for justice.


The failure in the institutions is a cascading effect. It starts from the top of the government, right from the president and cascades to officials at the bottom of the structure. Every individual works to benefit themselves and no accountability amplifies the degree to which they can continue to act in acceptable, illegal ways.

I will describe Biya’s years in power as stagnate. The country has not grown but the world has grown. We use newer technology, not because we have improved but because the world has improved, and we can consuming the fruits of other countries.

Biya is terrible leader and one who will die with regret for now leading Cameroon into a better future.

By Lesley Funwie

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