SOBANS worldwide call for Prof Ephraim Ngwafor to quit.
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Our attention has been drawn to the fact that Prof Ephraim Ngwafor, in the capacity as SOBA National President has made some very disturbing changes to the SOBA Constitution without due process and ratification from all stakeholders. He has changed the vision of how our founding fathers, our very own distinguished Prof Victor Anomah Ngu, wanted SOBA to be constituted and run. The vision of our founding fathers is clearly stipulated in the SOBA Constitution (updated at Yaoundé this 1st day of August 1991) hereinafter referred to as the “SOBA Constitution”.
CHAPTER II: OBJECTIVES
Article 5: The objectives of the Association shall be:
- to maintain a sense of attachment to Sasse College and to reinforce the Prestige of the same;
- to provide a forum for members to meet and know each other;
- to promote the general well-being of its members;
- to enable its members to relive and perpetuate by their activities positive and beneficial experiences of their time at Sasse College;
- to preserve and promote among its members the sense of responsibility, politeness, of good behaviour and of all the gentlemanly qualities and ideals which they learnt at Sasse College;
- to be generally concerned with anything relating to the welfare, beauty, progress and development of Sasse College;
- to encourage outstanding scholarship by offering assistance to deserving students of Sasse College and by all other means possible;
- to help educate the public on the importance of a religious secondary education and to assist in the promotion of quality and mass education;
- to further promote the welfare and development of Cameroon.
CHAPTER III: MEMBERSHIP
- Article 10(1): An ordinary member who is considered no longer worthy of membership may face disciplinary actions including expulsion from the Association, pending hearing by the Convention Assembly of his Chapter, on the proposal of the Chapter Executive.
- Article 10(2): He shall have the right to a hearing by the Convention Assembly and may, to this effect, designate one or more fellow members of the Association to defend him.
- Article 10(3): The decision to expel a member shall be notified to him verbally at the Chapter Convention Assembly and confirmed in writing by a simple letter addressed to him by the President or Secretary of the Chapter.
CHAPTER IV: ORGANISATION
- Article 18(1): The Sasse Old Boys Association (SOBA) shall operate through the local or regional grouping of its members into Chapters of not less than five members each.
- Article 19: Each Chapter shall be free to define and carry on its activities as it sees fit and, to this end, to draw up and apply its own set of rules and regulations. Provide that the activities of the Chapter shall not be incompatible with the objectives of the Association and that its rules and regulations shall not be inconsistent with the terms and the spirit of the present Constitution.
SOBA under the leadership of Prof Ngwafor has turned into an alumni association where authority is concentrated in the hands of a few who act as the lawmaker, judge, jury, and executioner. We have also seen the use of government administrators, who are not Sobans, to interfere in SOBA matters. Furthermore, Sobans taking other Sobans to court on SOBA matters has become the norm.
The professor most recently became involved in SOBA UK issues. SOBA UK has been in existence for over 45 years and operating in the vision and spirit of the Constitution as set out by the founding fathers. It is currently going strong with 80+ registered members. Over the years, there have been some disagreements within the group, which have been settled amicably in the Soban spirit. What is different this time around is that Prof Ngwafor at the helm of the SOBA National Executive has been able to impose himself into what was a small dispute within the group and encouraged a small group of SOBANS to break away and form a splinter group; with the view to effect change from the outside against the same doctrine he preaches of effecting change from within. His meddling in SOBA UK affairs to dissolve a duly elected Chapter Executive team, the appointment of an electoral commission all from the splinter group, endorsement, and inauguration of the splinter group executive has further deepened the divide and caused further damage to the SOBA reputation. It is also worth mentioning that the professor’s son is a member of the splinter group. Moreover, these members have been largely unregistered with SOBA UK before the creation of the splinter group. The group also includes all those candidates who ran for executive positions in the 2014 SOBA UK elections and lost.
The present ratified SOBA Constitution (1991 version) does not give the National President of SOBA such rights to directly interfere in the affairs of a SOBA Chapter as he has done. This is unprecedented and a clear breach of the SOBA Constitution; and a misrepresentation and abuse of position. Former SOBA National Presidents have preserved and upheld the integrity and spirit of the Constitution as set out by the founding fathers.
It is rather uncanny that whilst the events in SOBA UK and SOBA General (SOBA Revival General Assembly and creation of Caretaker Committee) were unfolding; mindful of the fact that Anglophone Cameroon is going through challenging times where citizens are crying out for decentralization of authority; Prof Ngwafor has been busy amending the SOBA Constitution to arrogate himself presidential rights, through a General Council that he controls, to control the affairs of SOBA Chapters all over the world and advance his own personal agenda. The amended Constitution, which has not been ratified by all stakeholders, remains a secret document and has been used by the General Council to make decisions. Some of the unsettling constitutional changes the professor has made which only came to light following the legal case in SOBA UK include:
- Transfer of SOBA from an independent alumni body to the ownership of the Bishop without General Assembly Agreement;
- Obtained rights through the General Council to dissolve duly elected executives of any SOBA Chapter (national or international), appoint election commissioners and call for fresh elections without consultation of the Chapter General Assembly;
- The ability of the General Council to directly sanction Chapter members without the constitutional involvement of the Chapter General Assemblies. This is clearly not in line with the spirit in which our founding fathers created the Association whereby a member’s Chapter as per Article 10(1) of the SOBA Constitution carries out disciplinary actions.
- Changed Article 23(1) for the General Assembly to meet in an ordinary session from once every two years to once every three (3) years; whilst the General Council meets regularly and makes all critical decisions with no recourse to the General Assembly of members.
New sections have been added to the 2018 Constitution to specifically target SOBA UK (after learning that SOBA UK owns a trademark in the UK). This is clearly an abuse of the role of National President of SOBA and a demonstration of bad faith. Some of the new sections included in Article 14.3 of this Constitution that only came to light following misconduct accusations against the entire executive of SOBA UK are:
- Contempt of the Proprietor of St Joseph’s College Sasse, the SOBA National Council, SOBA General, SOBA President General and SOBA General Executives;
- Usage of the SOBA name, and logo for disruptive purposes;
- Slanderous and libellous statements made against the SOBA National Council, SOBA General, SOBA President General and SOBA General Executive;
- Advocating severance or complete separation from SOBA General (national chapter);
- Misrepresenting, fabricating and altering the contents of the SOBA Constitution to advance own agenda.
The bullet points above say it all; Prof Ngwafor writes his own SOBA Constitution and then stops anyone else from altering the contents that he has put in place. It is now evident that SOBA National Council, SOBA General, SOBA President General and SOBA General Executive are the supreme body and untouchable; and appear to have the monopoly of protection against slander, libel, and contempt.
The 2018 Constitution has been in use since January 2018 with no evidence of ratification by SOBA Chapters and all stakeholders. The professor claims that the amended Constitution has been endorsed by the Bishop (Source: the Sun Newspaper of 16th July 2018). Whilst the Bishop’s endorsement may be true, the SOBA Constitution does not give the Proprietor of Sasse College such authority over SOBA. As per Article 22 of the SOBA Constitution; the General Assembly shall be the supreme and final authority of the Association.
The professor and his secretary have made several claims that the 2018 Constitution was ratified on 10th March 2018 in the presence of the Bishop. However, no minutes have been circulated for such an important meeting. The SOBA General Council met on Saturday the 13th January 2018 at Our Lady of Annunciation Parish Douala where certain resolutions were passed on SOBA UK. A subsequent SOBA General Communiqué (Ref: S.G001/SOBA GC/2018) was issued on 16th January 2018 stating the outcome of the General Council meeting, which included:
- Demanding that fresh elections be conducted in the UK and effectively dissolving the entire executive team of SOBA UK;
- Setting the election rules, regulations, and format;
- Mandating the President General to nominate the election commission to supervise the elections and appoint an observer from the SOBA General Executive to participate in the supervision;
- Appointed an election commission amongst other things.
Given that the SOBA General Council meeting held on 13th January 2018 when the SOBA Constitution (1991) was the legal and binding Constitution; the resolutions that were taken based on the 2018 Constitution were null and void prior to the 10th March 2018 ratification claim. This is notwithstanding that the 2018 Constitution remains an illegal document because it has neither been supplied to Chapters nor ratified by Chapters. The General Council clearly did not have the mandate to make such a ruling on SOBA UK; therefore the elections organised by the UK splinter group had no constitutional backing. These are serious constitutional breaches by Prof. Ngwafor and his team.
We are mindful of the fact that throughout his reign as SOBA National President, the professor failed to call a General Assembly meeting in Cameroon in 4 years against Article 23(2) of the SOBA Constitution.
- Article 23 (1); The General Assembly shall meet in ordinary session once in two years on the written convocation of the National President. It may meet in extraordinary session at any time either on the written convocation of the National President or on a written motion signed by no less than one-tenth of registered members.
- Article 23 (2); Where the National President and the National Executive fail to convene the General Assembly for a period of three years or more, the Principal of Sasse College or a minimum of at least three Chapter Presidents shall summon a revival General Assembly, which shall elect a new National Executive to run the affairs of the Association.
As a result of the professor not holding a General Assembly session in 4 years, the Revival General Assembly meeting held on 4th March 2018, consisting of at least three Chapters, which voted to end his leadership. However, the professor has used his personal means, inducements, connections, the Bishop and other divisive tactics to avoid this predicament, and continues to cling on to the role of National President of SOBA. It is not surprising that he is changing the SOBA Constitution to have General Assembly session meetings just once every three (3) years. Pursuant to Article 23 of the SOBA Constitution
SOBA in Cameroon now has two factions and the professor’s approach to resolving this division, armed with the unratified 2018 Constitution, has been to ban or suspend those members who question his legitimacy pursuant to Article 23 of the SOBA Constitution; rather than sit down and find a solution in the spirit of the SOBA Constitution and for the greater good of SOBA.
We are mindful of the fact that the professor failed to give a full financial account of the 75th Anniversary celebrations. There has been no transparency, accountability nor freedom of expression from Sobans without consequences. The professor claims that full financial accounts have been provided by Emeritus National President Dr. Edmond Agbor but the Emeritus National President (for 10 years) has rebutted such claims and has declared that he only accounted for the money that was given to him which for all intent and purpose is a small fraction of the 75th anniversary funds. Therefore, the issue of providing full financial accounts for the 75th Anniversary remains outstanding.
Under his leadership, Prof Ngwafor puts the name of the Bishop in front of everything he says or does. He mentioned the Bishop thirteen (13) times in the short article in the Sun Newspaper (dated 16 July 2018) in his attempt to justify the legitimacy of his mandate. It now appears that the office of the National President and Bishop’s house are one; therefore any criticism of the National President is interpreted by him as contempt and an attack on the Bishop.
The professor in his attempt to justify his legitimacy and illegal changes to the SOBA Constitution made a statement in the Sun Newspaper that “The Bishop told me that the last Constitution was done in 1947”. It is uncanny that it is the Proprietor of Sasse College (the Bishop) who tells the SOBA National President when the last Constitution was done given that he is the commander-in-chief of SOBA, and the Bishop has no constitutional authority on SOBA matters. The first Constitution was done in Buea on 22nd March 1947 that was later revised in Buea on 30th June 1977 and subsequently updated in Yaoundé on 1st August 1991. This information is clearly written in the SOBA Constitution.
In the same interview with the Sun Newspaper (16 July 2018), the National President further made several comments that were factually incorrect. He either made those comments to intentionally mislead Soban and members of the public or his comments were simply based on hearsay.
Prof Ngwafor and his team claim that they have successfully registered both the SOBA and St Joseph’s College Sasse emblems (logos) at the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI), United Kingdom and Europe (Source: SOBA General Communiqué date 16th January 2018 - Ref: S.G001/SOBA GC/2018) but to date they have not provided trademark numbers or trademark certificates to prove the claim. This is a mystery that will unravel in time, particularly as he has opened a new offensive against the legitimate SOBA UK group who actually have trademarks.
We the undersigned signatories, therefore, call on Prof Ngwafor to quit the Office of the National President of SOBA; and for the 2018 Constitution to be withdrawn. He has
- Abused the SOBA Constitution, overstepped his constitutional rights, and illegally changed the SOBA Constitution.
- Twisted the objectives, vision, and direction of the Association.
- Worsened the issues in SOBA UK and SOBA General, and dampened the SOBA spirit across many Chapters and class groups (national and international).
Overall, Prof Ngwafor appears to have put his own personal agenda over and above that of SOBA.
Ever since the professor has been at the helm of the affairs of SOBA National Executive, the reputation of SOBA has been damaged. We want this to stop and we refuse to be bullied, induced or coerced by the professor. His position is truly untenable.
With St. Joseph ever near to guide us; We are safe whatever may betide us; From the storms and tempests he will guide us; In the hollow of his hand!
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