Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

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

October 20, 2014
Reads :318
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 :540

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 :239

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.

 

THE GAMBIA -MISPLACED PRIORITIES

October 20, 2014
Reads :164
Author: Nfally Touray

Author: Nfally Touray

DOES HE BOTHER?

DOES HE BOTHER?

While all serious governments around the world are controlling their national spending and eliminating waste where possible, Gambia government is on ten days celebration wasting national resources that is not adding any value to livelihood of our people. How can we as a country be so proud of 20 years of one man rule with no ending in sight? We are rather calling for change than celebrating 20 years of misrule with so many missed opportunities.

Millions wasted on celebrating this unlawful event of a coup that dislodged Gambia’s democratically elected government could have better use somewhere in the economy for the benefit of the people. It would have been better value for money if funds were spent on providing improved healthcare for the people thereby bringing healthcare closer to people rather than families having to spend hours on the roads to health centres. When the population is not healthy, you don’t have a productive work force and students not learning properly to produce an educated workforce. With the Ebola outbreak in our sub region and spreading like wildfire, what is our government doing to protect Gambian people in the face of this advancing threat?

The funds could also be spent on the provision of better and affordable education for Gambian people including better library facilities in helping university students who are struggling to get the right materials for purpose of their studies. Other uses of public funds include building skills training centres for technical people the economy requires. The availability of technically competent and highly skilled workforce is a good attraction for foreign investment among other things. This will create so many employment opportunities for our young people. People will have a chance to participate in the economic activities of the country and families can easily move from the lower class to the middle and upper class.

Investment in agricultural education programs can help build the skills and capabilities of small scale farmers. Improved agricultural productivity can bring about transformational changes in the lives of our farmers. Our farmers are only growing to consume but with the right investments, small scale farmers can grow to become medium and large scale farmers with increased commercial gains.

As citizens, it is our responsibility to assert our rights in demanding that our government acts responsibly and not waste public resources. Without active citizens you can’t expect to have responsible governments. Civil society needs to speak out in order to influence the government and influencing is not the same as seeking to take power but rather the judicious use of power to do the right things for the people. Wasting millions of taxpayer money in celebrating an illegal coup that has not made our lives any better is not the solutions to our many problems.

 Nfally Touray, UK

“What Do We Do or What Should We Do – To Make A Functioning Democratic Republic?” QUERIES BURAMA DIBBA

October 20, 2014
Reads :114
BURAMA JAMMEH

BURAMA JAMMEH

JAMMEH, THE  UNRELENTING TYRANT

JAMMEH, THE UNRELENTING TYRANT

Some said the ballot box. They suggest a perfect coalition of the opposition could defeat Yahya. This is a good hope except that both Jawara and Yahya has secured at least 50 + 1% in every election.  For this approach to work we have to first remove Yahya’s grip on everything electioneering. Hence at this point coalition or no coalition is not our essential bottleneck. But the bigger problem is not just Yahya going or staying – many assumed if we remove Yahya is democracy but far from it. It may probably better for some than the current but also maybe worst for some than the current – that’s simply changing of the guard. How about we simply fight for a free, fair and equal opportunity Gambia for all at all time 

Others said lets use the courts and this is good– however this assumes there is some functionality in the system. More importantly though even if we win all the cases taking to court the broader injustice and undemocratic governmental apparatus remains in tact. Under functioning systems courts could ensure adherence to laws but not so much ensuring we’re a democracy. Both Russia and China has courts but they’re no democracy by any means.

Others said violence/coup – the outcome of such change is always something else except democracy. Look into history of forceful take overs including Gambia. But also the advocates of this approach are all or mostly living far away from Banjul. My question is – who will pick up arms or take to the streets?

The diaspora’s on the other hand continued to battle for recognition. CORDEG announced some mission statement and in the following weeks GCC came up with one. Ever since much talk about unity but not what is been done or planned to be done. The postures over we’re the umbrella body; apex organization or coordinating agency overshadowed the task at hand.

I believed all of these efforts, thoughts, arguments, debates, etc. has a vital place in our struggle. However until they follow some nature chronology, logic or practical methodology they mean nothing as stand alones, in some upside down mix or in some jumbled up mixture. The point is – of course we will need elections at some point but if we start with it – we will simply run into a cul-de-sac.

Here’s what I think is our best option to make Gambia ‘A Functioning Institutional Democracy’.

  • We need people who represent us – I called these people ‘The National Face’
  • We need to tell people what we exist/represent – the problem. This is what I called – ‘A Democracy Vision’. This is probably the most important task we have at this point. Making Yahya ‘The Problem’ is neither unifier nor asking all to rally behind one opposition candidate is a unifier. Beyond that we have to have the right problem to be able to get the free world to our aid.
  • Leverage 1 – mobilize and Organize Gambians (the whole – not just those considered opposition). Remember this is an agenda to create a democratic republic – not selecting/electing a president.
  • Leverage 2 – influence the International Community and raise funds and impose consequences for the violations our basic republican rights
  • Engagement – pursue Banjul on all aspects of our ‘Democracy Vision’ for overhauls and reforms. Involve foreign nations through their missions in Banjul on our positions (compounding leverage 2). Harness the participation of local political organization and their grassroots support base (compounding leverage 1) not to go to election but on the institution of democracy (level playing field).
  • Use of Leverage 1 & 2 as bargaining power – local gatherings and expression of solidarity with demands of change on the table. Influencing international community to hand down sanctions, travel bans, international courts, limiting/cutting budgetary supports, etc.
  • Repeat these processes over and over as needed/necessary

This I believed is our best political option. I welcome you sharing what you think is/are our best options. Continuing to vent our frustration over what Yahya or did not is not an answer. Hoping that some body exist who will do it on our behave is a fantasy. We will get support if we look for it but we have to do this ourselves. The importance of doing it ourselves is sustainability.

How to constitute ‘A National Face’ and elaborate/formulate ‘A Democracy Vision’ are very detailed subjects that we would need time and wisdom debate. As hard as it maybe look, most of these will come natural as long as focus on the fundamental purpose. Sectional interests are always distractions and will tempt to crop in if absoluteness is not exercises at every stage.

Building up ‘Political Leverage’ is an iterative process, time demanding, very politicking and costly – even the closest allies may have different interests that will have to be accounted for in order to succeed. Goodness its not impossible and very possibly once we get hold of the strategic ends it could move at an appreciable pace.

Engaging Yahya’s administration politically maybe a bite in the chin for some but is the most practical option. In addition establishing a negotiating agenda will not be quick or easy because he (Yahya) current posses all the jokers – hence he has no incentive to give up anything. We will continue to develop leverage that will at some point tilt that equation and we hope at some point Yahya will be asking our mercy (because at that point in time we will hold all or most of the jokers).

As with any proposal projecting into future, this has some built in assumption. That means not every is likely to happen as stated. Fortunately this proposal has very practical assumption that in the event of a need for adjustment there will be several other options to jump on.

Please folks come out with your best ideas so we can begin a national discussion to move forward.

“Gambia Is Not an Islamic State-Why Gambian Muslims Being Radicalized by an Animist Idol Worshiping President Jammeh?” Demands Papa Kumba Loum

October 18, 2014
Reads :436
MAULAH YAHYA NASIRU DEEN JAMMEH

MAULAH YAHYA NASIRU DEEN JAMMEH

THE DEVIL ADVOCATE FATTY

THE DEVIL ADVOCATE FATTY

Religion like tribe and race is a very sensitive topic and at the same time has a “romantic” and idealistic appeal which has invoked and continues to invoke a lot of passion and fervour among people, groups and nationalities.  There are many who believe and also want others to believe that their religion, tribe and or race are better and superior to another. Nations and people have gone to war to propagate their religion (e.g. the crusaders, jihadist) and others have died resisting being conquered and converted into another religion or version of the same religion such as the sectarian killings between Sunni, Shiite and Sufis currently taking placed in the Middle East; and between Christian sects notably the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

Religion has also been used as a unifying force to bring people of the same faith together and sharing the same ideals. Unfortunately however religion has today been increasingly used by some politicians, rulers and misguided and ambitious group of individuals to divide people for their own benefit. One only has to look at Northern Nigeria to see how Boka Haram is using the name of Islam to cause mayhem among the people of Northern Nigeria – the bombing of churches, kidnappings and the resulting revenge attacks by Christians on innocent Muslims. Similarly the Central African Republic  Christians are destroying mosques and attacking Muslims in supposed “revenge” attacks for the Muslims minority support of the former Muslim rebel government that rule the country (and oppressed Christians) albeit for a short period. The Somalian Alshabab Jihadist have also been planting bombs in churches in Kenya killing and maiming Christians who they deem as infidels. In Sudan a supposed Muslim woman who married a black Sudanese Christian man was sentenced to death for apostasy and was only released after international pressure was brought on the Khartoum Government of Bashir

Today in The Gambia, we frequently hear of pronouncements being made from many quarters daubing the country as an Islamic Muslim State and how Islam should govern our lives, how Islam is the only “complete” religion etc, etc.  But what do we really mean when we say that Gambia is an Islamic Muslim State? Perhaps we should get one thing clear to avoid confusion. Although the majority of Gambians are Muslims (about 90 % and even more according to some), The Gambia is not a Muslim/Sharia State. A State run under Sharia system is one where Sharia has been instituted as a main body of civil and criminal law. In this regard and in the avoidance of doubt and confusion, The Gambia is not governed by Sharia Islamic law and is not an Islamic State. Having said that, if someone for example is a Muslim and contacts a marriage in the Islamic tradition then that marriage is governed by Islamic law including divorce, succession/inheritance etc. But note that our criminal laws and civil laws are not governed by Islamic Sharia Law. Moreover the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia states that the Gambia is a secular state and it goes further to guarantee everyone in The Gambia the freedom to follow, join and or practice the religion of his or her choice.  So for you Muslim Jihadist and Christian Crusaders, I am sorry to shock you but our laws are clear- we are a secular state and not a Muslim or Christian State.

The Gambia has been a very “tolerant” society where the majority Muslims have lived in peace and harmony with their Christian brothers. I emphasize the word “tolerant” because it is usually construed by the majority Muslims today to mean that they are doing a “favour” out of kindness to accommodate and tolerate non-Muslims especially Christians. It should be made absolutely clear that all Gambians be it Muslims, Christians, Bahias, etc have equal rights as guaranteed under the 1977 Constitution of the Gambia. No one should be given special privileges base on religion, tribe and or ethnicity. Period Religious harmony has existed in the The Gambia for a very long time (and especially in urban Gambia which is more cosmopolitan) and it is very common for siblings within the same family to belong to different religions and for parents to have different religion to that of their children because of either marriage and or conversion to another religion other than the one they were born into. Moreover, both Muslim and Christians have been socializing and often attend each other’s ceremonies (weddings, christening, feast, parties and funerals). Christian family members have been known to contribute towards Hajj expenses of their Muslim Uncles and Aunties and Muslims have also contributed towards expenses for their Christian relatives for their pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem. This is the Gambia we know and want to preserve and not the one that has been increasingly eroded by foreign religious preachers and influences and an Animist President who plays one religion against another to suit his demented craving for divide and rule.

Although it is accepted that it is the duty of religious teachers and leaders e.g. Imams, Ustas, Pastors, Catchiest, Clergy etc to propagate their own faiths and to win converts, one should also be mindful of the way it is done. There is today a lot of incitement and provocation both overtly and covertly to encourage followers of a particular religion to  hate, criticize, castigate and demean people of other faiths. Unfortunately there is a growing trend of Gambian Muslims especially with and Islamist agenda whose main aim is to sow discord among Gambians by their words and actions to utter negative remarks and discriminate against non-Muslims. Likewise a new breed of Bible bashing Christians has emerged who perceive their own version of Christianity as the only way to eternal salvation. Unfortunately many Gambians are increasing falling prey to these forces of religious bigotry whose only agenda is to bring division amongst Gambians.

The interesting thing about religion is that we have seen people who even profess to be in the same religion killing each other based on sectarianism. Muslims are killing each other in the name of the Islamic faith. A recent example is ISIS who consider other Muslims (Shiite, Sufis and other Muslim denominations) as apostate and infidel and deserving death and decree that the  wives and daughters of these “infidels” can be violated- a common occurrence in the Middle East.  Likewise Christian seatrain killings in Northern Island with Catholics and Protestants killing each other all in the name of one and supposedly common prophet and all in the name of one God. What makes anyone to arrogantly believe that their religion and or version of their religion is the correct one? Religion is based on faith and belief and most of us are either Muslims or Christians in The Gambia because we were born into it i.e. our parents introduce us to our religion. If we were born in Asia we were likely to be Hindus or Buddhist.

Unfortunately in the Gambia today, we have an Animist President who believes in divide and rule and in fanning the flames of tribal and religious hatred.  When he suits him, he sings praises to the Christians for being honest and upright compared to their Muslim brothers. He has even repeated that there are few Christians in Gambian prisons compared to Muslims to substantiate his ludicrous claim. Needless to say the Christian minority are usually flattered and proud of themselves when such statements are made. Some even proudly say that it is they the Catholics that brought him up- mind you they have not been saying this openly these days for obvious reasons. On the other hand, Jammeh intermittently instil fear in the same Christians that he praises by his frequent ranting and threats of turning The Gambia into an Islamic Sharia Sate and making other disparaging remarks about drinking alcohol and eating pork.

Gambians should tone down on their religious fervour and concentrate more on respecting and tolerating each other, speak the truth, work hard, avoid corruption and try to be less tribalist. Most of the development aid we get comes from Christian West; most of our Medical Doctors are Cubans who are neither Muslim nor Christians. Most of our Children will rather live and study in the Christian West than live in Sharia Islamic Countries. The overtly religious rituals and rhetoric that is publicly displayed today appears to be a mere facade. Being seen and perceive by others as a practicing Muslim or Christian does not necessarily make you a good person. It is ones deeds and actions and how we treat our fellow human beings that bring us closer to Allah. Gambia would have been far ahead in terms of development if we were the “true” Muslims or Christians we portray ourselves to be. On the contrary, as we appear to step up on our religious rituals publicly, there has been an increase in the level of corruption, dishonesty, greed, untruthfulness and treachery in our so called Islamic country. Just look at what is happening around us.

I would like to end this piece with a quotation from Nelson Mandela who in my personal view has done much for black people than any religious bigot out there preaching disunity among Africans using tribe and religion. “Religion, especially belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, has always been a controversial subject that splits nations and even families. But it is always best to treat the relationship between a man and his god as a purely personal affair, a question of faith and not of logic. No one has the right to prescribe to others what they should or should not believe in.” ~ Mandela from a letter to Mrs. Deborah Opitz, written in Victor Verster Prison, Paarl , South Africa, 10 May 1989 

Gambia Lacks Elements of an Industrial Economy

October 15, 2014
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SARJO BAYANG

SARJO BAYANG

JAMMEH, THE  UNRELENTING TYRANT

JAMMEH, THE UNRELENTING TYRANT

President Jammeh must stop or be stopped from making empty promises

*Sarjo Bayang digs for evidence of any industrial policy on Gambia

All visible indicators are that poverty ranking of Gambia is on digital rise to worse scale. President Yaya Jammeh still insists 20 years of his military rule is good.  What you are about to read contains information on facts of Gambian reality that makes industrialisation nothing so readily feasible. Why the president will not surrender to let truth prevail is just amazing. Development funds provided by international agencies are not agreed on making Gambia an industrial nation. Economic infrastructure and financial environment of Gambia are not enabling enough to support industrialisation.

Above all, Gambia only has trading policies to facilitate distribution of imported goods and very small scale business undertakings. For real good reasons Gambia does not have any policy on industrialisation. Development partners are aware of the fact that without the enabling economic infrastructure and vibrant investment climate induced by healthy financial inducement there is no occasion talking about industrialisation as part of the national development agenda. In short a nation without industrial policy and just relying on donor funds for poverty reduction cannot transform into superpower by wishful thinking. If President Yaya Jammeh is not thinking that Gambians are thick heads by constantly renewing a promise of superpower nation, then something is seriously wrong with him that needs immediate attention.

How can Yaya Jammeh sleep at night after knowing that all he tells Gambians about development into superpower nation of world class economic living standard is pure deception? He only made that dream possible over 20 years by lifting himself from abject poverty to filthy rich in money and material count just because he occupies the highest seat of political power; the presidency. That is exploitation and senseless greed tinged with corruption. To let Jammeh carry on saying something even he does not believe is collective negligence on the part of every right thinking Gambian. As he strives to deceive by deliberate attempts so it must be seen right not letting him escape scrutiny with such fatal error of commission.

President Jammeh addressing school children renews his promise of making Gambia superpower  

Most recently while addressing school children during celebration speech marking 20 years military rule here is what Jammeh said:

“The past two decades were not easy-pickings for the development of our motherland. From a retrogressive nation tethering on the brink of extinction, we have created a very dynamic modern country soon to become an economic super power.”

In the absence any industrial development policy how does a country with no enhanced productive sectors manage to soon become superpower nation of world class ranking?  Evidence at hand tells the truth.

Gambia does not have industrial policy to be producer economy

The fact that Gambia government has Ministry of Trade, Industry and Economic Development does not make a good case for industrialisation. The government economic power house has since been renamed Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment. That change of name completely omitting industrial development is clear indication that such is not of immediate priority. Any talk about industrial development for Gambia will only serve to boost ego that things are good for nothing. Creating so called feel good effect in absence of the economic platform neither the engine of growth is classic demagogy and pure entertainment.

For purpose of stimulating national dialogue on realistic development agenda of Gambia, this and other topical features articles in series are meant for public digest. Selected documents for reference only serve as teasers and anyone interested to expand the scope of enquiry will find more resources to validate or dispute claims about Gambia’s readiness to become industrial economy of world class superpower status as frequently promised by President Yaya Jammeh when he talks about Vision 2020 and recently (October 2014) while addressing school children in celebrating 20 years military coup he calls revolution. Certainly this is no industrial revolution for Gambia.

By keen observation, the Ministry of Trade (formerly Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment – MOTIE) where this author once worked for Indigenous Business Advisory Services (IBAS) the trade policy under consideration has nothing on industrialisation. There must be reason for omission of Industrial Development at time of renaming this important government ministry best known to only the architects.  The reader is warned that official documents are mostly inflated with jargons and high sounding words.

Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, The Gambia Trade Policy 2011.

“Trade Promotion for Economic Development”

“The Gambia Trade Policy 2011 is a comprehensive policy document that seeks to improve the environment for trade by establishing transparent systems for exports and imports, provide trade infrastructure as well as articulate forward and backward linkages for trade facilitation.”

http://www.gafspfund.org/sites/gafspfund.org/files/Documents/Attachment%2011%20The%20Gambia%20Trade%20Policy%202011.pdf

Are development agencies truly pro poor?

Outside impressive development partnership jargons reality is far different between pronouncements and promise of what is delivered. Distribution of international finance capital is more neatly on paper than what comes to door step of the poor for actual delivery.

Good part of funds projected in annual plans and budgets end up in deep pockets of agency employees as much goes to pay for office furniture in addition to mobility costs. From travel allowance to monthly incentive packages, everything is neatly tailored to keep agency workers improve their personal conditions with increasing poverty for people in whose names all the flights and big offices are kept going on.

Industrial development for Gambia is never mentioned by donor agencies

Two big names of development agencies familiar to most Gambians are United Nations Development Programme UNDP and International Monetary Fund IMF. When you take time to examine documentation by these named agencies on Gambia, industrial development does not feature in their agenda and almost hardly comes up in agreements signed.

Of course these agencies and others like them are not responsible for development of any nation. They only respond to demands of a nation and give out only much slice as allocated to each nation.

Needs are prioritised according to their urgency. For poor country like Gambia, becoming an industrial economy can only appear on a wish list but not of immediate development priority. Food on the table, improved health conditions, and poverty reduction will be placed on higher priority ranking. These go handy with fighting diseases; making health another priority along with basic food production for survival motive.

It is therefore very much misleading for president of a poor country like Gambia to talk about industrialisation at such a pitch promising superpower world class standard of living knowing fully that is not part of any immediate development agenda. On the premises of how industrial development is not part of the agenda, reference to this IMF documentation about Gambia gives better idea.

Again the reader is warned that official documents are heavily loaded with high pitched jargons and technical expressions.

International Monetary Fund IMF Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility Policy Framework Paper, 1998-2000

“1. Until mid-1993, The Gambia had made significant progress in reducing financial imbalances, liberalizing the economy, and strengthening the basis for durable economic growth. Under the Economic Recovery Program (1985) and the Program for Sustained Development (1990), strong policies and a broad range of economic reforms were put in place, including (1) a tight fiscal policy involving improved expenditure control and a broadening of the tax base; (2) a restrictive monetary policy; (3) the strengthening of economic incentives, including the lifting of most price controls and the introduction of a market-determined exchange rate in the context of a liberalized trade and payments system; and (4) the divestiture of a number of public enterprises and the strengthening of the financial position and operations of enterprises remaining in the public domain. The implementation of these policies was supported by the international community, in particular by the International Monetary Fund with a three-year arrangement under the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) that expired in November 1991, and by the World Bank through structural and sectoral lending, including the second structural adjustment loan (SAL II), which was completed in June 1992.”

“2. Since mid-1993, however, the Gambian economy has suffered from a series of adverse shocks, an unduly expansionary fiscal stance, increasing structural weaknesses, and diminished private sector confidence. Moreover, the military change of government in July 1994 prompted the suspension of new project aid and the cancellation of budgetary assistance by most of The Gambia’s traditional donors and creditors. Real GDP fell by 3½ percent in 1994/95 (July-June) and, although the economy recovered in 1995/96, economic growth has remained low since then. At the same time, the monetary authorities maintained a tight monetary policy, thereby containing inflation and preserving a large measure of exchange rate stability.”

https://www.imf.org/external/np/pfp/gambia/gam01.htm

Gambia is not producing surplus food and relies on imported rice

Food production has seen serious decline in recent years for Gambia. According expert assessment Gambia is to be declared crop failure for agriculture this year (2014). That will leave more hungry mouths to feed from food aid.

Apart from this year Gambia has not been good at producing agricultural surplus including food production. Due to acute poverty, agricultural activity is heavily along the line of cash crops for which peanut stands out the highest in volume.

One of the reasons why many Gambian farmers choose cash crop cultivation is so that they buy other food items and daily needs from proceeds of their yearlong farming.  It does not always go well.

Farmers have no bargaining power for their crops. Profiteering traders take advantage of helpless farmers with throat-cutting price offers. During the farming season, food and other items are borrowed with hope of repaying during trade season. That leaves farmers with very little take-home pay at close of business. These farmers do not think of industrial production but live by hand-to-mouth, dawn to dusk.

No local source of industrial material

To kick-start industrial activity requires adequate supply of raw materials. Gambia does not produce such volume of raw materials for industrial processing.

There was one moment when Department of Agriculture introduced large scale cotton production. In the Southern province of Basse Upper River Division a cotton ginnery was set up for export purpose. After some years of operation, not even a word about this semi industrial unit is any longer heard of. That is perhaps the biggest industrial plant apart from peanut depots established for quality picking. Gambia does not have any textile industry apart from small weavers who spin some local cotton for homemade fabrics commonly known as “chossan” (traditional dress from woven cotton and imported thread)

Transforming Gambia into industrial nation will not be viable without adequate supply of raw material. Local sourcing will be more sustainable. Where raw materials are to be imported, cost of production will keep prices rising. For now, industrialisation is not part of Gambia’s national development agenda. Food supplies are running low and nobody talks about surplus under severe poverty conditions. Development partners know this and will not entertain government with any project proposal about industrial development. Fighting diseases and acute poverty are higher priorities as food supply runs fast. Even with imported food on stalls, cash flow is not healthy and distribution so imbalanced.

Trading in Gambia is purely by distribution

Like other poor nations around the globe what obtains for Gambia in terms of commerce and trade is all about distribution. The supplies range from used cars, second hand clothing, gadgets, foot ware, and variety of replicas.

In that distributive trading, importers make profits as local consumers spend. Not all the money generated from this distributive trade continues to be ploughed back for sustaining the Gambian economy. Capital flight takes various forms. One of the avenues is when those with no interest apart from exploiting the local economy deposit their proceeds in overseas banks.

Industrial development for Gambia is not feasible in long time from remote past to distance future. Anyone who cares to examine the economic reality and conduct proper health check of Gambia’s financial system knows far more than what can be explained in this article.

By all realistic evaluation Gambia certainly lacks elements of an industrial economy for world class status.

*Reactions to this article can reach the author; a Management Consultant for Projects, Entrepreneurship, Economy, and Independent Evaluation by email: sbayang@hotmail.com