Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

THE UGLY BENEATH BEAUTY

October 25, 2014
Reads :147

BABUCARR DARBOE

BABUCARR DARBOE

“I don’t pay attention to politics…” some Gambians would excuse their irresponsibility but it”…is one of the most ignorant statements a person can make. If you allow people in your government to commit crimes in your name without questioning their actions you are just as guilty as they are,” a maxim cautions. Moreover, if you don’t take interest in politics, politics always takes interest in you. Politicians use you as their beast of burden just as President Jammeh is doing to Gambians now. For instance, when he enters into and signs loans agreement in the name of the Gambia, Gambian taxpayers pay for those loans not Jammeh. When he drags the name of the Gambia in the mud, it is Gambians who wallow in shame not only Jammeh. Concisely, the human being is a political being, love it or hate it.

Gambians are known to be a peace loving people; however, there any father who rejoices in watching a neighbour walks into his own compound and starts molesting his children and/or wife? Certainly not. Consequently, why do we opt to standby as spectators watching Jammeh continues to unleash mayhem on innocent and vulnerable citizens while we take cover under a flimsy excuse that “I am not interested in politics”. When prices of basic commodities continue to skyrocket due to high deficit and poor economic policies, will there be specific prices for the Fula or Wolof and/or the Jola? How do we ensure that there is affordable and uninterrupted supply of electricity and water for all Gambians? Don’t we want to have a say on the type and quality of education our children receive at school? Well, we cannot certainly get these by not being interested in politics.

Perhaps what those who claim not to be interested in politics think is taking an interest in politics means being anti-establishment. Being interested in politics means wanting to know how the tax you are paying is spent and on what and how and who governs you. On the contrary, it is blasphemy in the Gambia to query a government official. What is the crime doctored for such a noble stance? “Giving false information to a public official”, they would say is the felony. Very preposterous, isn’t it? Jammeh has prostituted democracy so much in the Gambia; it has evolved into two appalling cousins: “sembocracy” and “deremocracy”. Anyone who manifests the slightest sign of decency is accused of being anti-establishment. Others would argue, “You so-called activists are only talking because you are in the diaspora”. What a laughable excuse. The Halifa Sallahs are talking and directing challenging the dictatorship in the Gambia. Are they in the diaspora? I don’t think so.

The Gambia needs us to rescue her from the dictatorship. But until we are ready to take up our responsibilities and put the national interest above our individual interests the ugly will continue take refuge beneath the beauty of Gambia.

Babucarr Darboe

Chelmsford, UK

Policy Failure is Largely Responsible for Collapse of Gambia Government under Jammeh

October 25, 2014
Reads :57
SARJO BAYANG

SARJO BAYANG

*Sarjo Bayang seeks to raise the bar higher

Where systematic dispensation is lacking there human capital capability, efficiency and effectiveness can be seriously undermined. Optimal utilisation of policy instruments and good governance are key requirements for sustainable organisational development and institution building. Efficiency and effectiveness cannot be properly determined without having systems and performance measuring instruments in place to ensure maintenance of orderly dispensation. 

Dismantling the structures and abolishing systematic dispensation is the most visible evidence of failure when assessing proper governance for organisations, institutions, and businesses. This relates to the situation governance in Gambia. The same instruments become useful in measuring upkeep of standards or extent of deviation by a company’s board and also for sitting government that has responsibility over key decision making duties. Close examination of these conditions as obtains under Yaya Jammeh’s 20 years military dictatorship in Gambia focuses on critical elements that may stimulate topical public interest for further scrutiny.  

Setting performance and operational standards

Institutions and organisations preferring optimal gainful results cannot achieve their goals by leaving that to chances. It takes careful planning and serious commitment to produce best desired results. Any deviation from set standards invariably paves the way for poor performance and failing results. All operations require to be carried out by measured compliance to guidelines in accordance with standard of best practice. Deviation from standard best practice or total absence of instruments will always render failing outcomes.

Those standards and guidelines are to be agreed then put to practice. Followed properly without deviation from set standards, quality is thus maintained. One thing to remember is that quality is not always about best of anything. Quality maintenance is all about keeping to agreed standards. That can be low, high, or medium scale. An example is when manufacturers produce goods of similar nature with variation in quality for diverse user brackets. All of it depends on standard of consumers targeted for particular products and services. Compliance with set standards produces measurable anticipated results. Deviation from standards also produces undesired results.

Organisational development and institution building is no different ball game when it comes to maintenance of standards. That goes for businesses and other forms of organisations. Political establishments are meant to operate by strict upkeep of standard delivery according to agreed terms and conditions.

Holders of public office like the president and state ministers are subjected to scrutiny for ensuring they observe rules and regulations. These rules and regulations are properly documented as guidelines. Orderly dispensation of rules and regulations become known as policy and procedures. Keeping to guidelines and procedures in the way of conduct for those in public office is another way of keeping to protocol.

 In Gambia most people associate observation of protocol to designated personnel at offices of President and Vice President. The truth is that everyone in public office is bound to ensure that all protocols are observed. When protocol is flawed, it can lead to crisis in governance. Again, governance is not only about how a country is run by political parties in power. The running of organisations and institutions also has to follow general policy and procedures of governance in accordance with protocol.

These and other rules of conduct are not meant to be flawed by anyone in public office. It is wrong for someone like a country’s president talking and acting as though a wealthy person in private capacity. Even for very rich persons who established their business with other functional roles in place they let things follow standard of policy and procedures in line with best practice. Lack of observing protocol is deviation from standard of best practice on account of leading an institution. It also amounts to serious contempt by a sitting president as in the case of Yaya Jammeh while claiming to be president.

Rules and Regulations

All types of establishments where people agree to stay togehter require rules and regulations. Some rules are written while others may not be but still followed. Marriage is perhaps one of the oldest human establishments that does not always have written rules but still regulated by convention and traditional wisdom.

Marriages are agreed by affected parties and witnessed thereby. In some traditions agreed terms are written as documentary evidence of the union. Others simply pronounce it by word of mouth. The point needing to take home is that civilised society for the longest time recognised rules and regulations in dealing with each other. Those who fall outside of stipulated rules get punished in various ways.

In the political arena, dispensation of governance is bound to follow rules and regulations. These are found in the nation’s big book of rules and regulations better known as the Constitution. Political parties in power are mere custodians of the constitution having no power of making changes without consulting key stakeholders; the citizenry. When representatives of a ruling party including their leader do anything that violates the constitution, the action is punishable. That party leader is subjected to impeachment for violation of the nation’s rules and regulations.

Any time citizens feel that rules are violated by those keeping temporal custody as in the case of ruling political parties, there is lawful occasion to regulate the regulator. Remember that sitting governments don’t own the country but simply serving as temporal custodians of laws and other instruments of governance. When small, medium or large organisations get registered as legal entity those responsible for executing various roles are subjected to similar scrutiny. They can sue and be sued.

Institution Building and Organisational Development

Organisations and institutions are seen to be operating properly by complying with rules and regulations agreed by time of their formation. Governments are organisations established with various institutions performing separate functions. Their operations are regulated and further developed into what becomes policy. Observance and upkeep of policy is where procedures become handy.

This online media platform is no lesser example of an organisation with all the hallmarks of an institution. On that account, rules, regulations, policy and procedures must be upheld by providers of online media services if any of them is to be taken serious. Those who choose to operate without policy, procedures, rules and regulations have all rights to do so. The good thing about rules and regulations is that those that make them are themselves subjected to scrutiny. In others words, the regulator must be regulated just as president of a country and all law makers are bound to obey the same law for everyone else.

Policy and Procedures

Once rules and regulations are agreed, the next thing to look at is how policies are formulated and procedures put in place for due process of orderly dispensation.

Policy formulation requires the placement of operational instruments for their judicious utilisation. It also entails providing guidelines for those designated to implement those policies. On their own, policy instruments are not useful enough if they don’t fulfil the purpose of keeping the organisation,   or institution properly functioning establishment.

In practice, policy and procedures are put in place to guide the conduct of designated persons in their specified roles. Taking the example of ruling political parties, rules regulations, policy, and procedures are expected at the party level as a functioning organisation to start with.

Members of the public deserve to know the policy of a political party especially at the time of voting. Political parties without good policy while outside government will invariably not do any good when they take custodianship of entire nation.

Curious observation of how the military government of Yaya Jammeh came to power and the way everything revolves around one man reveals serious flaws suggesting the party does not go by rules and regulations. In that same manner, total absence of policy and procedures implies lawlessness is prevalent especially at level of the ruling party leadership.

It may be acceptable to party members of the ruling junta AFPRC that their leader is excused for noncompliance to rules, regulations, policy, and procedures. However, when the party assumes custodianship of Gambian constitution, rules, regulations, policy and procedures cannot be compromised without being challenged for disorderly conduct.

As matters stand, 20 years of junta party leader Yaya Jammeh misruling Gambia provides all evidence that Yaya as person in that capacity grossly abuses the seat of political power by default or by design. It was wrong for the military to delete term limit of a sitting president without due consultation of key stakeholders; the citizenry. That is the roadmap to lawless Gambia by dictates of Yaya Jammeh as military ruler grossly violating the country’s laws willy-nilly.

In passing, it has now become clear that military rule in Gambia does not respect rules, regulations, policy and procedures. There are very competent persons serving under the junta regime who know more than what this article seeks to convey. They have to be fair enough by refusing to be misled any further. One way to go about it is by vote of no confidence for those parliamentary representatives. For ministers and the administration, having to resign will be decent enough. Surely, for those who wish to keep quiet till the full weight of lawlessness, arbitrary rule and all that goes in the absence of rules, regulations, policy and procedures falls on them, they have choice for now. When it gets too late nobody can help.

 Office of the President Policy Analysis Unit is Without Policy

Under office of the president there exists what is called Policy Analysis Unit. In principle, every sector of the nation is required to have policy guidelines for execution. Many Gambians will be shocked to know that the government agency (Policy Analysis Unit) located at Office of Gambian president has no policy environment, nor the instruments for judicious implementation. Surely the unit has no policy on regulated conduct of the president. Even where any policy instruments are kept for sake of formalty (which is highly doubtful) Gambia’s sitting military ruler now seeking to be crowned is behaving about all regulation, rules, and laws.

Some of the officials of the policy Analysis Unit past and present will tell you they have no idea about any policies regarding their own operations. They also confirmed keeping a whole office in the name of policy analysis with no policy in their cupboards and nothing to analyse.

Quizzed about the largely informal conducts of current president Yaya Jammeh, nobody in the Policy Analysis Unit is able to trace any policy instruments on governance and nothing about how the president is regulated to live by the codes of conduct as policy and protocol dictate. It emerged that as the president has no instruments to rely, any occupier of the post is free to act however unlawful that may be since there are no rules, regulations, policy and procedures to refrain the occupier. In the case of Yaya Jammeh he may be in flagrant violation of rules or taking undue advantage where such rules are totally absent. Otherwise, it may be that Gambia’s good legal hands decided keeping mute about such a serious gap in governance. Is that negligence, by design or some default?

This drives further enquiry regarding how the nation’s sitting president flatly disrespects protocol so much that he claims Gambia is his personal property. In that frame of mind it is the current occupier (Yaya Jammeh) who gives vehicles to government institutions, chooses to be minister responsible for agriculture, energy sector, dictates cash flow, hiring and firing public sector employees, tells the speaker of national assembly he will be jailed for not keeping the House of Parliament clean, deciding who gets arrested, taken to court or detained without trial. The list goes.

Where the position of presidency is not subjected to rules, regulations, policy and procedures, nothing goes right in Gambia. It is at this moment that every Gambian is required to challenge occupiers of the nation’s public offices and demand that proper policies are formulated for judicious execution government deliverables.

In the past there has been something on 10 Year Educational as recalled by officials of this government department. There is no clear detail on time frames and policy formulation as in that case of education Department. From a discussion with those close to the education department what came up has more to do educational planning over number of years as opposed to education policy for various stages. Planning can only be effective when it relies on clearly formulated policies. Policies and plans may relate but one is not same as the other. Further scrutiny of the various sectors will help anyone to get better clarity about policy, procedures, rules and regulations for all arms of government along their designated deparments.

Policy as Instrument of Governance

Every government institution is bound to produce detailed policy instruments regarding their operations and how each relates to other institutions or end users. Possibly some outdated material is collecting dust in some’s cupboards.

Clearly, a nation is not sustained in the absence of policy, procedures, rules and regulations. If that is how things are done in Gambia, it tells so much about why many organisations keep failing. It is generally the case that Gambians are quick at forming groups but not so good at establishing into viable functioning organisation or institutions.

Absence of robust organisational culture and institutional orientation is largely to blame for Gambians forming groups but unable to rise to the challenges of advancing beyond formative stages.

Operating without being established is recipe for organisational failure and institutional break down that continues to plague Gambian formations; from briefcase one man NGOs to groups.

Institutional building and organisational development cannot be sustained by word of mouth. The regulators have to be regulated. Rules must be rules, meant to be obeyed. Without policy and procedures being preserved for better use, systematic dispensation is at risk of flaws.

Organisations and institutions for them to be functionally viable require policy instruments put to effective use in line with best practice standards of excellence.

Quite often, organisations compose elaborate statements called memorandum of association just to meet legal requirements for registration purpose. After getting permission to carry on, they never bother reviewing those documents. In fact, many organisations don’t operate according what they promise in the beautifully worded documentation to get registered.

President’s Disregard for Instruments of Governance, Policy and Procedures

A sitting president feeling above the law can be dangerous for the citizenry. Such is the unfortunate situation that Gambians are faced under 20 years forced military rule of Yaya Jammeh. Matters got to very serious problem situation when Yaya said over national radio and television that he owns Gambia. This goes to show how noncompliant such a person is that he will not observe any protocol, not to mention upkeep of rules, regulations, policy and procedures required for due process in governance.

By his refusal to respect Gambian laws Yaya Jammeh is seen to be most contemptuous. What makes it more serious is the fact that even the good custodians of legal instruments shy away from letting rules prevail. Court cases are determined by the extent that the president is interested. How does a president pose as example of a good farmer when the same president insists he will jail competent officials of the Agricultural Department in the frivolous claims of economic crime? What policy and procedures are being flawed by these officials more damaging than how Yaya Jammeh as president is breaking all aspects of Gambian laws (if there ever existed)? How is Jammeh richer than Gambia government and still not ripe as economic criminal? What policies are in place to permit a sitting president go into full scale commercial business? How does a sitting president claims he can cure HIV /AIDS, Ebola and other chronic health conditions; being allowed to operate private clinic for that purpose? What policies are there that the president is so bold do all that everyone know as improper conduct on the nation’s highest political seat?

When Imam Karamo Touray (of blessed memory) was dragged to court just for not paying open allegiance to the junta regime of Yaya Jammeh, justice was required to set him and all the rest free. The Presiding Magistrate then Lamin J Darbo ruled that Imam Touray be freed. He remained free to continue serving people of Brikama as respectable community leader and upright Imam.

What is stopping majority of Gambia’s legal fraternity from emulating the good work of magistrates like Lamin J Darbo by tearing down all bad laws to let justice prevail? If one person (Yaya Jammeh) refuses to respect Gambian laws and the rest of Gambians insist laws must be preserved and obeyed to the letter, he alone could not pull that heavy load of lawlessness. Those who enable Jammeh will not stay on enjoying that now or in the long run.

What is Governance all about?

Beyond the operations of political parties as keepers of regulations in ruling a nation, governance extends even further. Take any small formation as example and see how good governance fits in the equation of day to day running or beyond.

Quite often, governance is associated with political management of a state. From small, medium, and large organisations, a robust governance environment makes such difference to loose hand unstructured informal mode of operating without being established. It does not matter how long an operation spans in time stretch, without properly placed instruments of good governance, there is long way to go before being established as viably functioning entity. That goes for the many Gambian groups formed and still struggling to leap ahead. It is also the situation of many online platforms created and not getting any better established as properly constituted media service enterprise outlets.

In the case of Gambia, lack of policy, procedures, total disregards for rules and regulations especially at level of the presidency makes governance more improbable also largely unfunctional. Visible appearance of office buildings, tables, chairs, cars, and people moving in and out is not enough.

Policy, procedures, rules and regulations are intangible instruments of governance. Their absence can be felt by misconduct of those who are responsible for proper upkeep as custodian of the rules everyone must obey.

To repair so much damage caused by Yaya Jammeh and his cohorts over 20 years forced rule will first require setting the environment where these missing instruments will be housed. Then more serious work begins in having to develop the instruments of governance.

*Reactions to article can reach the author by email: sbayang@hotmail.com

A SPARK FOR THE REVOLUTION

October 25, 2014
Reads :163

 

  A      POEM     FOR      CHRISTIANA      JATTA

OUSAINOU MBENGA

OUSAINOU MBENGA

                                                      By: Ousainou Mbenga

             A SPARK FOR THE REVOLUTION

With a spark of youthful arrogance, audacity, courage

Atop a defying confidence; you jolted GRTS into disbelieve

Mouths dropped, eyes popped and hearts raced

In awe to your fed – up bravery with calculated temerity

 

For once, GRTS ceased to be the idiot’s box of vanity

Reason begins to challenge willful ignorance

 

You rekindled the forgotten cry of past generations, that

Students are the spark of the revolution!

Your courage was contagious

Not a contagion to spread disease

Rather to spread revolutionary resistance.

 

From the opposite pole of stupidity

The dishonorable guest of tyranny

Blared his trumpet of chauvinism

“I don’t debate with women”

”You have a sickness”

 

In steadfast defiance, you giggled at the put – down

Intimidation is a test for cowards and traitors

You harbor no cowardice to betray the gospel truth

Unlike the traitorous treachery of pseudo scholars

Desperate to sanitize tyrant presidents in the name of Allah

 

Unmoved by his taunts, you sparkled the sanctum of religious deceit

Even the Hijab –donned youngsters were reluctant to interrupt you

They admired your audacity to challenge opiated ideas of blind religiosity

We hope the spirit to question dogmatic ideas rubbed off on them

 

 

Never surrender your brain to religious zealots

It benefits them to let religion remain the “opium of the masses”

 

Indeed, you were a rare moment on the idiot’s box

 

Reduced to disrepute, the hustler scholar resorts to comedy

You illuminated the writing on the wall that time is up!

This monster must leave our lives of religious coexistence

No gangster – Imams or false “prophets” can snuff this SPARK

 

The unity of the SPARK and the powder keg is inevitable!

So, will all the brave women like Christiana Jatta please stand up!

 

Fatou Jaw Manneh Speaks at Oslo Freedom Forum

October 24, 2014
Reads :1093
OsloFF3

Fatou Jaw Manneh with GRACE Management Group Vice President @OsloFF

Fatou Jaw Manneh, journalist and activist was invited to  Oslo Freedom Forum 2014. The forum on defeating dictators lasted for 2 days, from  21st – 22nd October. The founder and  editor of maafanta online newspaper gave an oustanding speech on  Gambia’s Silenced Dissent in which she exposed numerous human rights violations in The Gambia. She also expounded on her arrest and long trial in 2007 by dictator Jammeh.  Below we reproduce the full speech of the journalist cum activist at Oslo Freedom Forum.

I am a refugee, currently living in Arizona, USA. I have lived in America for more than 10 years. Earlier in my life, I was a reporter in my country Gambia, once called the “smiling coast of Africa.”

In 1994, my peaceful country descended into a brutal dictatorship when Yahya Jammeh seized power through a military coup.

For 20 long years, Gambia has been defined by fear and violence. Before Jammeh, tourists would come from all over Europe to enjoy our sun, our beaches, and the welcoming smiles from Gambian citizens. But that Gambia is no more.

Now, Jammeh uses brother against uncle, mother against aunt, soldier against neighbor, community against community. He arrests, jails, tortures, and kills those who stand in his way. Today in our cities, soldiers with machine guns guard check points to instill fear, where only police used to stand to help guide traffic.

Gambian courts are filled daily by helpless families as the President brings lawsuits against them on bogus charges. Many journalists are accused of “writing false information and sedition.”Like many other exiled dissidents, I have had to risk my life to see my family. In 2007, I decided to go back to Gambia to attend my father’s funeral. I knew my dad’s passing and my possible incarceration would be more than my mother could bear. So before leaving for Gambia, I promised to visit her and my two sons in London after the funeral. But it was a year and a half before I was finally able to leave.

When I arrived in Gambia, I was greeted by some plain clothes secret service personnel at the airport. “You are Fatou Jaw Manneh??” they asked. “Yes,” I answered. “Come with us,” they said.My brother was there to pick me up. “Where are you taking her??” he asked. “We cannot tell you.” Seeing my brother agitated, I begged him to go home I really knew they had me. I was ready for the showdown. Die or live.

In my own country, here I was crammed into a white pickup truck and driving into the darkness. No one would have known that our car of plain-looking Gambian citizens was actually a team of people whose job it was to make my countrymen disappear.

On and on we drove, and then I knew – we were heading to the capital Banjul, Residence of the president.

Suddenly, we made a swift turn down a road to a secret detention center. It was enclosed by tall dusty walls and edged just along the Atlantic Ocean. I shivered as I realized that they could easily just throw me into the sea.

The young secret service agents did as they were told, keeping me up until 2 am, and ransacking my suitcases. The interrogation rooms were huge, dusty and old. They left me, in a room. I looked around and saw a broken couch and, a window with torn mosquito nets.

I heard many stories of people disappeared by way of the deadly intelligence officers, but this time it was happening to me. It was terrifying.

The thought of my mum and my sons was unbearable.I prayed inwardly and asked God to give them the strength to move on should anything happen to me. I swore to myself that I would not shed a tear for the punk president Jammeh.When death comes it comes.

I could not sleep. Mosquitos came buzzing in. To eat, I was given a half loaf of bread with boiled egg on a torn cement bag paper. I kept a pen hidden in my bra; I also had a small disposable camera tucked in the sleeves of my blouse.

I could not sleep, so I told the guards that I wanted to use the bathroom

And then…it happened.

Coming out of a very filthy scary bathroom, a guard came to me and touched me lightly on my chest. I stood there. I thought I was going to be raped. But then he called my name: Jaw. Only someone who knows me in person or is from my neighborhood would call me that name, as it is the last name of the woman I am named after! I answered. He told me he was the night guard. “I knew you very well in the village,” he said, “but you will not remember me. I went to the same primary school I know your mum; she is like an aunt to me.”

I don’t know if he is still in the country or not. So I cannot discuss what we said that first night…but this was a sign.

“God is with you,” I thought.

The fear of not seeing my sons again was toughest — but I discovered that we can surprise ourselves with what we are capable of under duress. I prayed for the best. I sensed it was going to be a very long journey, if I was ever going to see my children again.

When the morning sun came out the next day, I was happy that I was alive, not raped, not shot.

On the plane to Gambia, I had met a few people I knew, and they witnessed my arrest, so they must have gone to the media. That morning, when I was summoned into an office, someone walked in with the Foroyaa Newspaper and I saw on the front page:

“Where is Fatou Jaw Manneh?”

There it was! A headline — the voice of the voiceless.

The interrogations soon began. I was always under surveillance. They deprived me of sleep and interrogated me several times per day. They kept telling me that my writings were destroying the country. They searched my articles on the Internet and found the interview I had given to a newspaper that was fire bombed after it took my story to print. Then, they put me on trial and charged me with sedition and false information.

I was told I was a threat to national security, that the articles I wrote about the government would drive investors away. False witnesses were lined up against me. The trial continued for almost two years.

My case was so outrageous that Amnesty international, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and major press houses and human rights offices around the world came to my assistance to expose my ordeal. Foreign ambassadors kept an eye on me. And U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice even sent out a letter on my behalf.

Now I knew I would not disappear that easily! The international community was watching.

One day, finally, the verdict was read. I was convicted of sedition and writing false information against the government. I was fined 12,000 dollars – to be produced in two hours, or else I had to go to jail for four years with hard labor. I was shocked at the cruelty of it all, all for the crime of journalism.

My lawyer pleaded that I had two sons, that I had yet to finish my Master’s program in the U.S., and should be pardoned as a first- time offender. The judge refused to hear it.

Leaving the courtroom I saw a police van parked outside, and an officer approached with handcuffs. I prayed and told my lawyer I was not paying a dime. I did not have the money, and the sentence was unjust.

What I didn’t know was every family member and friend that was in that court house that day came with money. They scrambled to pay for the amount. Even the Gambia Press Union came up with 2,000 dollars. FINALLY, there was enough money – I was set free! The next day my friend’s husband whisked me off to Senegal, where I stayed for six months to get my travel papers in order. Most Gambians, after they are set free, get quickly re-arrested, and taken back to jail with no trial. I was very, very fortunate I flew to London to see my family – I will never forget the relief I saw in my sons’ eyes meeting them. From there I went back to the U.S., with the help of the Human Rights Defense Fund.

My lawyer, Lamin Jobarteh, who later became his Justice Minister is now serving a 2 years jail sentence for giving false information to government.I was lucky.

Not so lucky was journalist Deyda Hydara, who we lost to a dictator’s bullet. Chief Manneh has disappeared. The Publisher of my newspaper then the Observer, a Liberian refugee, was bundled up and sent back to Liberian warlords. Finance Minister Koro Ceesay burned down to ashes in his car. Killed 43 Ghanains, arrested almost 1000 old folks around the country, made them all to drink concoctions, it became fatal for most of them, the effect and the humiliation, killed many of them. In 2009 he executed 9 prison inmates, his Presidential convoys kill more children in the poor country than all the road accidents that happen in the country.

In December, 2004, the Jammeh government passed two new media laws. One imposed prison terms for sedition and defamation. The other made it a requirement for newspaper owners to buy expensive operating licenses, registering their homes as collateral. Complete overhaul Actually now The adjusted Information and Communication Act 2009 which was passed by the National Assembly in Banjul on July 3 – allows for a fine of D3 million (about USD$100,000) or imprisonment for fifteen years or to both fine and imprisonment – to anyone convicted of using the internet to spread false news about the Government or public officials- according to Front Page International. Deyda, a champion of the press, announced his intent to challenge these laws. Two days later, he was assassinated by an unknown gunman. Today, there are hundreds of Gambians who have been Flee, killed or disappeared. Here is a list of their names:

Defeating dictators is an arduous task. They have entire countries and billions of dollars at their disposal. They control the military and unleash it on civilians. Killings are like sport to them.

Dictators are like natural disasters to world citizens. Gambia and its citizens suffer more from our President Yahya Jammeh than we ever will suffer from fire, flood, famine, drought, or disease. So how do we defeat tyranny? First; by looking at dictators squarely in the face and exposing them. They are all bullies and cowards at heart. They fear the truth. They fear the fearless. That is why I thank all the other participants here… We all share the same story.

Many of us were persecuted for telling the truth. We all have faith and maintain courage, or we would not be here. Many others could not make it in this world. They have disappeared and or have been killed. We are the lucky ones — and now must be their voice.

We are here to speak the unspeakable, so the world will listen. All of you are super heroes. You have a good heart. You are kind people and you the best for your communities. Everyone in this room has something to offer this world. Call me anywhere, China, New Zealand, you will have my support but I also need your support and attention to this very beautiful country destroyed by a brutal dictator.

My deepest thanks to The Human Rights Foundation. The journey continues.

And Inshallah – may GOOD prevail. Thank you

Youtube Link to Fatou Jaw Manneh’s Speech :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7sPSi58ko8

“WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH ALSO GETS GOING!” SAYS SADDAM

October 20, 2014
Reads :489
LAMIN SADDAM SANYANG

LAMIN SADDAM SANYANG

To give up is acknowledging self-defeat. Furthermore, a maxim has it that a person who tries and fails is far more progressive than the one who would not try for fear of failure. Therefore, folks, I call on you to remain steadfast and never give up the struggle/resistance against the dictatorship and tyranny we are combating.  There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel besides; we are already on a winning side. The days of President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh are numbered; let no one fool you about it. He knows that we all know that he knows his days are just for a matter of time. Precisely, why he is now doing and saying things without giving them a second thought. He has lost it, period.

He keeps embarrassing himself and Gambians anytime he opens his crocodile mouth and gaffe about his ability to cure all ailments on national television and other public gatherings. To add insult to injury. He asked Dr Zakir Naik whether it is Islamic to marry a disvirgin. If he had sense, the scholar’s response punctuates him as an idiotic leader and Muslim who does not know much about Islam. Equally embarrassing is his constant bashing the British for not doing this or that for 400 years in the Gambia. Two fundamental things stand out prominently in his lashing out at the British: his lack of knowledge about global history and complete hatred for the British. Mr President, in case you do not know, the British had their own parliament house in England and their parliamentarians were all living in England at the time of colonialism. Consequently, for whom were they going to build a parliament house? Certainly not for the people they colonised, that makes no sense Mr. President. Perhaps your argument would have been valid if you said instead of  building a parliament house for a country you are colonising, give them their independent and they will develop themselves. Similarly, if you have not lost your senses Mr. President, you will not meddle your blood soiled hands in religious matters by forcing people to worship or pray whenever you want.

President Jammeh is losing his popularity very rapidly. Let me give you some classical examples why I am saying that his days are numbered:

(1)  During his 20th celebration of 22nd July anniversary 2014, the stadium was almost empty. More that the half of the people who normally attend it were not there. Gambians loses their hope on him that is why they decided to spent their time on something else important rather than go to the stadium to look at his ugly face.

(2)  Everywhere in the world he went, Gambian are running after him and shaming him and his delegation, insulting him and his delegation.

(3)  His victims who are normally terrified to the extent that they would not dare talk to their family, relatives and friend about their experiences with Mr. President are now daring the devil washing all his dirty linens in public through the online Medias in the diaspora.

(4)  The people he once trusted with his life as his right hand people are also feeding the online media houses with very detailed information about the Dictator’s dirty and shady deals.

(5)  The Jungulars who take direct orders from nobody else but Mr. President for all their brutal killings, torturing, robberies and etc are also talking and revealing his chilling atrocities.

(6)  Mr President is now aware he has no secret anymore, because anything he plans or discusses in the morning reaches us here in the afternoon. These are the things that is driving him crazy and of cause the crazy stuffs he is using.

Brothers and sisters all the hair-splitting threats he is dishing out should not move you anywhere. He is scared and desperate which explains why he is acting like that. I will finally conclude with a mandinka maxim, “ning baa dewunta aka kindirolekeh”.

By Lamin Saddam Sanyang,

The Netherland.

Pa Modou Ann for Osseo (MN) School Board

October 20, 2014
Reads :681

Pa Modou Ann

Pa Modou Ann

By Yero Jallow, Minnesota (U.S).

 

I write to endorse Pa Modou Ann for the Osseo School District Board of Minnesota (U.S), the local election of which is slated for November 4th 2014. As an acquaintance and neighbor to Ann, I am endorsing him for the Osseo School Board. I am asking all of you to give him your vote and be rest assured he can make the big difference in seeing a brighter future for our children. A power within our hands is to exercise our democratic rights in seeing representation at all levels, to which the Osseo School Board is a part of. That power is vested in our voting power, and it is a right empowered by the U.S constitution. In exercising that right, we must make wise choices, to ensure our representation will truly represent us, our future, and generations yet to be born.

 

As we brace for the local elections soon, it is worth noting the value in having a contestant like Ann for the School Board member. Just couple of weeks, I had to the opportunity to join those helping with the local campaign namely Cherno Bah, Linda Freeman, Pa Modou Ann, Joy Marsh-Stevens who is also running for the Mayoral candidature in Brooklyn Park (MN), and host of others, for a door-to-door knocking campaign, to give my support and blessing to the campaign for Joy and Ann. So far and based on updates I am receiving the campaign seems to be running very smoothly.

 

Ann started his career as a soldier in the Gambia (West Africa), making it through the many local and international trainings to the rank of a Colonel. After he moved to the U.S over a decade and half ago, he decided to pursue political science education, administration and Leadership, both at undergraduate and graduate level, earning him a Master’s Degree in Global Public Policy, Public and Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of Minnesota (USA) in St. Paul.

 

In this age of American history, we have seen Obama’s political triumph, making it to be the first black President in U.S history. It gives the U.S the much needed diversity and closes the racial and faith barriers, for the U.S was constructed on laws that wanted to respect humanity dignity based on rights and equal opportunity for all, and not any such barriers of religion, geographical origin, race, and the long list of vices.

 

As a parent, it gives me comfort, to have Ann at the decision board for what affects our children on a daily basis. Ann is equally a parent with all three Children attending the Osseo Schools.  Besides, Ann is on a mission to help practically with sincerity, to utilize his education and professional experience to help the community to better our children who are the future leaders. Such future leaders need to see inspirational figures, and one such person is Pa Modou Ann.

 

That to the best of my knowledge, I am vouching for Ann being a great character whose input at the Osseo School board will be plausible. Ann is also a law-abiding citizen who will defend any threat to national security both locally and internationally. His quest for human rights, justice, and equality wouldn’t allow him rest, until he employs his services to rescue nations in political peril, either in the hands of ruthless African dictators, or criminal rulers in many quarters of Government. As a former military veteran and a current political strategist, Pa Modou will ensure that our children’s safety, welfare, and continuity of qualitative education will be prioritized and greatly enhanced. To me, a school board member must have these qualities. Base on this knowledge of Ann, I therefore humbly endorse him for the Osseo School Board, and I ask all of you to give him your support and votes.

 

The Struggle for enlightenment, liberation, justice, equality, representation, and world peace continues!!

 

Sincerely Yours,

Yero Jallow

 

Note: The Author of the piece, Yero Jallow, resides in the U.S State of Minnesota. Yero is an activist who doubles as Gainako’s Co-editor. Yero takes hobby in poetry and science. He is also a contributor to most of Gambia’s online media. He can be reached on editor@gainako.com.

How/Why Yaya Jammeh is so Dangerous and More Troubling for Gambia

October 20, 2014
Reads :436

SARJO BAYANG

SARJO BAYANG

Extent to which Yaya Jammeh remains threat to Gambia and how damaging that is

By Sarjo Bayang

He is the lead actor and we keep record of his tracks as history unfolds. Welcome to Gambia where poor junior army ranker seized power by force of guns, nothing in his pocket. In the course of 20 years, he is first Dollar Millionaire African president. How did he do it?

First he seized power by coup in July 1994 and promised returning to barracks after two years transitional military rule. Later he resigned from the army to contest elections. By the most unfair and seriously fraudulent electoral malpractice he was declared winner of presidential elections in successive years. Then he insisted clinging on power as life president by abolishing presidential term limit from the constitution. The idea of getting crowned as king came up and rejected by Gambians before it was set for elections.

Still bent on becoming king, Jammeh wants more. He invited Dr Zakir Naik, Islamic preacher of Indian stock to mark 20 years military rule. Naik in public lecture broke news that Gambia is soon to be an Islamic state. This information many believe emanates from his host President Yaya Jammeh. Now Gambians don’t know how Jammeh as king plans ruling an Islamic Republic of Gambia. What is certain remains the fact that Jammeh already destroyed all sectors of Gambia by first dismantling political structures and systematic due process. A revisit of the damage sectors follows.

Political Damages

Yaya Jammeh jumping the long queue by staging a coup instead of forming political party in July 1994 is the most crooked passage to power imposed on Gambians especially when that turned into dictatorship nobody wants.

What makes matters worse is the fact that all structures of governance and systematic dispensation are being destroyed as Jammeh insists he will never relinquish power without bloodshed. Although the coup that accidentally landed him on highest seat of the nation’s political power was at first said to be free from violence. To that extent, the coup makers proudly called it bloodless coup.

Gambian people never wanting to accept military rule demanded quickest return to democracy. The initial agreement was for the coup makers returning to barracks after two year transition period when democratic elections would be held.

Unwilling to keep his promise of returning to barracks Yaya Jammeh along his junta colleagues cunningly settled for a change in game plan. It is worth reminding them and Gambians that as a nation that prides itself of genuine truthful people, this was betrayal of most serious nature that a group of military personnel will break all rules of decency as it later emerged as jammeh tricked his way to fulfil the wild ambition of president for life.

Jammeh and his military cohorts brought down the entire political structure and systematic dispensation only to replace it with unlawfulness. From July 1994 when the junta invaded political space of Gambia the country has never known peace.

After destroying democracy Jammeh forced down the throat of unwilling Gambians what now remains seen as most brutal dictatorship. Law and order no longer prevail. Those who claim loyalty to Jammeh are free to commit any crime without fear of punishment. On occasions as what happened when more than dozen young students were gunned down by Gambian army at command of Yaya Jammeh, perpetrators of that crime later received promotion in their ranks by Jammeh who doubles as president and Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces.

To entrench himself in power Jammeh made sure all genuine political challengers are marginalised by various tactical schemes which eventually worked. In the course of 20 years Jammeh tried to become king but slowed down after realising this did not go well for most people. He changed the entire political representation so that those voted by their constituents no longer become ministers but simply serve as Members of Parliament MP. That gives Jammeh sweeping powers to decide who become minister and other key government positions.

Not long ago, the idea of transforming himself into king after clearly failing in the job of presidency popped up again. That idea is still kicking. Current political dispensation in Gambia is one where everything is done by dictates of one man who does not respect lawfulness.

From 10 October 2014 Jammeh began 10 days celebrations marking what he calls July 1994 revolution. He invited heads of states and high profile personalities around the world. Low attendance by Gambian population during events marking Jammeh’s dream revolution is enough indication of total disapproval.

One of Jammeh’s invited guests happened to be Dr Zakir Naik, Islamic preacher from India. During what was organised as open public lectures, Dr Naik broke news to Gambians that Gambia is about to be renamed Islamic Republic to great shock and surprise of many.

No matter how many Muslims there are in Gambia, transformation to an Islamic state is a political decision that has to take into consideration other religious denominations. Declaring Gambia as Islamic state is not to be left in the loose hands a failed leader with extremist tendencies.

Protocol is seriously defied when it has to take a visiting preacher telling Gambians the country is to become Islamic state.

Over 20 years of Yaya Jammeh in control of Gambia already has serious political ramifications with devastating consequences on all other matters in public life. Below are some of the affected areas.

Economic disorder

Soon after seizing power economic interest for personal wealth building became first priority for Jammeh. All public resources are under sole control of Jammeh who does not hide his burning desire to get rich at all cost.

In 20 years Jammeh is now richer than Gambian state. He controls all public resources and directly involved in all types of business, small, medium, and large scale.

 Jammeh does not pay tax and that compels other competing businesses to close down or relocate. In the perception of Jammeh anyone who becomes president is free to take maximum advantage by control over the economy and public resources. With that Gambian economy collapsed as Jammeh’s grabbing of personal wealth transcends all political boundaries.

Financial crisis and misappropriation

Money laundering, currency counterfeit and other forms of illicit financial malpractice can be damaging to a healthy cash flow and cripple the economy over period of time. Drug cartels and arms dealers get attracted to a country where they know the president is corrupt and will go for anything. Gambia is typical example of how corruption at level of the presidency bears damaging financial impact. Huge volumes of drugs have been discovered in Gambia bound for Europe worth millions in street value. Until now there is no clear account of who owned the consignment. According to president Yaya Jammeh he was personally bribed 3 million Dollars by drug dealers in exchange for his permission to let them use Gambia as transit point.

That is not all. President Jammeh holds large stocks of raw Dollar notes and gives it out in ways resembling someone commanding a private minting plant, into massive money laundering or harvesting from drug dealing sources.

Post of Gambian presidency does not attract such a salary that the immediate holder is able to play around with so much money in brand new Dollar notes as though a magician tapping from banks.

There is no doubt that president Yaya Jammeh is into illicit money dealings but nobody dares talk about it.

To ensure that he is living clean let president Jammeh produce a clear Balance Sheet of the high office with proper details of where money is coming from, how much, and what is being spent on.  Unless Gambians can ascertain the sources and use of funds that President Jammeh plays with the country’s financial conditions will remain at very high risk of catastrophic outcomes.

Dollar Millionaire African President

Only in Jammeh’s Gambia the president holds large stock of raw cash Dollar notes and not accounted for. It was shocking for poor Gambians when information emerged that President Yaya Jammeh bought a property in America for 3.5 million Dollars. Even before and after that big purchase Jammeh has the reputation of dishing out large chunks Dollars as gift on countless occasions.

Dr Zakir Naik from India joined other invitees to mark 20th anniversary celebrations of what Jammeh referred to as a revolution. Apart from the cost of 10 days celebrations Dr Naik alone was given 1.5 million Dollars for attending Jammeh’s lavish celebrations.

It is not the first time Jammeh displayed his Dollar might in the open. Few years ago more than dozen players and supporters of Gambia’s football team were showered with 1 million Dalasi each. Money was brough in large suitcase and distributed like certification ceremony.

Jammeh is not telling Gambians the sources of his money supply but only seen with bundles of raw cash dished out like a generous wealthy man, not president of a poor nation supposed to be on payroll. Not many people in Gambia know how much the salary of presidency as that is not shown on the nation’s budget. Most certainly though, what Jammeh it is nothing is good enough to sustain Jammeh’s lavish spending spree.

What Jammeh gives out is only a fraction of his wife’s shopping budget. She is big time spender matching world class celebrity status.

At her disposal is special jet that shuttles between Gambia, Washington DC, New York, Paris and other unknown destinations. Zainab the wife of Gambian president Yaya Jammeh is of Moroccan mother and Guinean father, a cross bredd of Susu and tribal Arab. She was said to be a model until one of Jammeh’s army cohorts caught with her, extending an invitation to visit Gambia. On setting his eyes on the lanky lady, president Jammeh eventually proposed. Soon Jammeh was to divorce his Gambian wife and next in the State House came Zainab called First Lady.

It is all perfect for Jammeh to enjoy the power of choice over who to marry. There are no qualms about that. What most Gambians are worried about is the lavish spending spree of Jammeh and his wife combine. How that impacts on the Gambian economy and financial system is what concerns everyone.

Jammeh talked about transparency and accountability when he dislodged democratically elected government of Gambia. In 20 years of Jammeh’s misrule, he refuses to be accountable to Gambian electorates and tax payers. Everyone knows he is rich and that he holds large stock of Dollar notes dished out at random. Nobody knows how much money Jammeh possesses.

At first Jammeh told Gambians that he acquired his wealth from what he called “Allah’s World Bank”. Later it became clear that he discovered sources of tapping illicit money that is beyond records of Gambia’s national treasury.

For a sitting president to be so busy amassing private wealth and so lavishly spending huge chunks of raw cash without gainful occasion is nothing good for Gambia.

Wherever Jammeh gets all the money from, he is by all account filthy rich Dollar Millionaire misruling the poorest country in the West coast of Africa.

Jammeh is so busy amaasing personal weath that he does not preform duties of the presidency. He total liability and great resource risk to Gambia’s already collapsed economy amidst severe financial meltdown.

 Legal Disorder

Jammeh controls all other sectors including the legal system. There is no independence of Gambian judiciary. Yaya Jammeh is not subjected to legal scrutiny as he abuses Gambian laws by his whims and caprices. He does not pay tax or get challenged for all the illicit money making ventures.

Worse still it is Jammeh to decide who goes to jail as show of his unlimited powers. Anyone who commits crime and gets the backing of Jammeh is assured of protection.

Look at number of civil servants taken to court for what they brand them as economic crimes. What Jammeh is doing combines all forms of crime including serious economic crime. He sits there and dictating the judiciary to decide cases according to his desires.

Who is more criminal on Gambian soil than Yaya Jammeh? Someone who broke Gambian laws, dissolved the elected national assembly, and flushed the constitution as toilet-paper that person has no voice talking about decency and crime. Entire existence of Yaya Jammeh at such levels of abuse is enough crime by all consideration. Because he destroyed the legal system by help of people working in the judiciary at top level Gambians are at great mercy of very dangerous enablers.

For people in the legal fraternity of Gambia to accept serving under laws by dictates of a coup maker president that explains how serious the entire judiciary is dented.

Of course not everyone who once worked for Gambian judiciary can be branded as complying with whims and caprices of Yaya Jammeh as illegal occupier of the country’s presidency. There are good examples like Lawyer Assan Martin who stood firm grounds and earned great respect. Others prefer to mortgage their wigs just to be.

Good laws everywhere are put in place to protect life and property. Bad laws as obtains in Gambia under Yaya Jammeh’s illegal occupancy of the presidency serve the reverse purpose of harming people.

When he took up arms to dislodge an elected government what Yaya Jammeh and his military cohorts did was treason. Since that day they never prefer justice. That is how much damage illegal occupation of an important public office like the presidency has serious implications. Even if Jammeh is to stay for another 20 years, one thing he will never prefer is to permit due process of law. Everyone in the judiciary, past and present know this for a fact. Some of them enjoyed it and others still feeding on it. Gambians are seriously betrayed by the nation’s legal fraternity.

Social breakdown

Good examples of how the social fabric of Gambia has been torn apart by Yaya Jammeh can be drawn from same family a member is dismissed, arrested, detained without trial only to have a brother or sister in same family given job and state privileges.

Jammeh does this to divide and rule from family level, friendships, and the wider society. In extreme situations once a person falls apart with Jammeh everyone in society avoids dealing with you. Nobody wants getting close to you for fear that they get arrested. This has tendency to break marriages, other close family ties and friendships. In other situations, a husband is dismissed from his job and the wife promoted to higher position in another capacity. When that happens the impact is immediately felt leading to separations or marital breaks sooner or later.

Gambian social ethos preserves certain moral values. Respect to elders is one of those highly cherished social values. These values are rapidly fading away in some circles. Jammeh gives the impression that long serving elderly workers in public service are not resourceful compared to new entrants. Some jobs are not offered on basis of merit but simply done to put down hard working public servants with longevity.

It is not just at the job front that the ugly head of social decadence prevails. Hardship and economic deprivation account for more serious decline in social values. Gambia has turned into popular destination for sex tourism, flaming up social decadence further. Politics is one area where social relations continue to suffer. Gambian society is divided along political party lines. People in public sector employment are careful not to exhibit their dislike of the Jammeh regime. Others prey on those they have disputes or simply hold grudges against each other.

Some fellows in the streets with no skills or any employable profession will go about posing as secret service agents. In public transports people hardly talk to each other for fear that among them will be informers. Even good people in society could not protect their skin from being suspected as possible spy or informer. Suspicion and chronic guilt continue eating up the social fabric. Trust and confidence die out as one person is set against the other.

That is the type of Gambia Yaya Jammeh created in 20 years misrule by typical police state form and character. He could only do so by first destroying what good there was and in replacement to fill the void with whatever prevails now. All that is as result of Jammeh overstaying his unwelcome occupation of a presidency nobody invited him on.

Overstay in power

Approval rating for Yaya Jammeh to stay as president of Gambia is in the negative especially after 20 woeful years of misrule. Covering his illegal occupancy with so much wrongs count among calculated reason why Yaya Jammeh prefers to stay as life president.

All the promises of development have been failed. Loans borrowed in the name of Gambian tax payers are used up for projects without needs assessment. Bulk of public funds meant for national development end up being diverted to grow Jammeh private wealth.

By time of staging 1994 July coup what Yaya Jammeh gave as the biggest reason for dislodging an elected government was that the ruling party and president Jawara overstayed. Already 20 years since July 1994 coup, blind supporters of Jammeh are saying that because Jawara and his People’s Progressive Party PPP stayed in power for 30 years it is Jammeh’s turn and therefore he too has to stay as long as he wishes. That is the biggest contradiction for a man who declared that he only came to rectify past wrongs and according to him no other president will be allowed to stay more than two terms in office.

Interestingly Jammeh with the help of shrewd legal hands in Gambia’s judiciary butchered the constitution and completely omitted the clause on term limits of a sitting president. Adding insult to injury Jammeh told BBC that he will rule for 1 billion years.

After failing to deliver what the role of presidency demands, Jammeh has nothing to tell Gambians but turning the seat upside down and planning to be crowned king of Gambia. With latest talks about transforming Gambia into Islamic Republic Jammeh’s overstaying in power will continue costing everyone for very long time.

Stepping down so that most honest, caring, and capable persons are given chance is one thing Jammeh must do without waiting to be challenged further. Additional delays will only produce what Jammeh does not want.

Hate, Anger and Fear

While he insists staying in power Jammeh must brace up for more critical challenges. By force of tyranny Jammeh will think he already induced enough fear in Gambians that nobody dare to pick on his many faults. He may be right that a climate of fear is created sufficient to deter some people from challenging him but not all the people all the time.

Amidst the atmosphere of fear there is growing hatred for Jammeh coupled with anger brewing day by day. One would think there is more anger and hate for Jammeh than fear. Even those seen to be closer to Jammeh hate him and he knows that. It is very hard to see Jammeh happy with all the money and material possession in his name.

As he strives to keep the seat of Gambian presidency it gets hotter. Though Jammeh rules with iron fist dictatorship but he no longer enjoys without serious challenges. There is no easy ride for remainder of Jammeh’s days of forced rule whether he leaves in peace now or lastly be left in pieces any time. The damage is already done by Jammeh’s troubling and dangerously dictatorial rule.