Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

GAMBIA: CHUCKING THE WOLF WITH A COALITION GOVERNMENT: STRATAGEMS OF THE THIRD REPUBLIC

May 25, 2017

Author: Edrissa Ken-Joof

By Edrissa Ken-Joof

1.The Political Economy of Successful Reform

A key constituent of the political success of a state is the attainment of a liberal economy and this economic advantage could only be possible through an economic and political reform. In a political context, the attainment of such a successful economic amelioration is always difficult and sometimes heartbreaking. Precisely, for the reformer, reform will always come with a cost, including accruing gray hairs, but this must be addressed with boldness, perseverance, and tactfulness. A point worthy to note is that reform is not a subject of entirely effacing a system, but adding to that system. Though change is fundamental to political success, the progress, however, goes with some hindering factors, and these, I belief, the new leadership must honestly face.

One possible hindrance is a difference in political ideologies of contending politicians or actors. The mending would mainly call for a shift in the perspectives of an already existing ideology (ideologies), which could possibly pose a challenge to the reformer. A major reason is that there will be opposition to this adjustment in ideology (ideologies) by a conservative group; and for the reform to be successful, the gap of misunderstanding between the contending entities must be filled. To be precise, the various political contenders must be willing to sacrifice parts or a part of their tenets for the benefit of the state and not for their individual (political party) boon.

However, a challenging question is, how could this gap be filled especially within a coalition government? The latter is the very nature of the Third Republic…a coalition government led by a ‘blurry’, independent president. How could a concoction of different political ideologies be fully married in order to yield the best days of the country, which according to the President, “are yet to come”? Moreover, as we usher our energies to attain the best days, I would like the leadership of the Third Republic to remember and abide by their very promise to the electorates and the Gambians at large: that the “Coalition 2016 Government will usher The Gambia into a new dawn of democracy, peace, freedom, and prosperity. By investing our time and resources in rebuilding our nation, The Gambia can once again be declared the smiling coast of Africa”.

In order to fill the gaps, the principal reformer (herein, the Government of The Gambia) must be bold enough to take a radical action, which even includes the very decision of making that reform. The whole idea of the modification must be clearly outlined and explained to all the stakeholders to clear the dust surrounding it. The emphasis, to this regard, must be in the interest of the state as primary to any other interest. Thus, political parties must be willing to surrender conflicting political ideologies for the interest of the state, which they are representing. In terms of the reformation, it must be gradually implemented and should have some flexibility, especially where it fails to work well.

A second factor that can possibly affect a reform is patronage. In a system where politicians compensate the votes of electorates, the donations of political donors during campaigns, etc. with jobs in the civil service and state-owned enterprises, or exemptions from fees and taxes and subsidized credits, it will be very difficult but not impossible to change such a system. Unless a leadership takes to a change in direction through a reform, corruption will only be the order of the day, thus a difficulty of attaining economic leeway for the state. I am not concluding or refuting that this is the case in the Third Republic, but by the very nature of how certain appointments were made in the previous republics, history could spur a pundit to question the perspicuity of some appointments in the current Republic. To this, a wise word for the president of the Third Republic is that he should be one of the connoisseurs of the reform process as per the dictates of the Constitution of The Gambia. He should be mindful of his principal duty as he “shall uphold and defend this Constitution as the supreme law of The Gambia”. Like all sages, I belief that any person who should enter the civil or public service in any capacity should do so in line with either Chapter 2, Section 1 of the General Orders for the Public Service of the Gambia or as per the exceptions listed in the Constitution of The Gambia. A lack of proper handing-over of power marred by the past political impasse or any other factor should not be an excuse to or warrant any illegal appointment into the civil service or any public office.

A third factor that could retard the progress of a reform could be a lack of political support in the party or government. This is usually the case if the party or government opting for a reform lacks enough representatives at the legislature. In the context of the Third Republic of The Gambia, the nature of the Coalition Government and the outcome of the 2017 National Assembly elections put at stake the ability of the Barrow-led government to gain eminent political support for the reforms.

Let us look at the both, in order to understand the complexities. The first is the candidacy of The Gambia Coalition 2016. It was a coalition of seven political parties and one independent candidate created to field and support a unity candidate for the Gambian opposition in the 2016 presidential election. The coalition selected the then chairperson of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Adama Barrow as their candidate. Thus, he officially left the UDP to allow him to run as an independent candidate, and he won the presidential election. With Barrow in power, one might ask his actual loyalty especially in terms of his political ideologies (if he has any at all by virtue of his candidacy). For the sake of the state, I have no doubt that he might and is expected by the coalition members and the general populace to lean to the ideals of the coalition. However, to the UDP supporters, members of the former ruling APRC party, and some political pundits, he is still a UDP member, hence, a UDP President. Thus, whom should Barrow actually referee? This is left to the readers and the government of the Third Republic to answer.

The second complexity is the composite of the National Assembly and the factors that led to such a composition. The parties awarded seats in the National Assembly are as follows: UDP (31), GDC (5), APRC (5), PDOIS (4), NRP (5), PPP (2) and Independent (1). However, as a coalition government, most of the people expected the coalition government to have its candidates for the past National Assembly election, which could not materialize due to some disagreements within the coalition members, and each party finally went its way. Did we, as Gambians asked ourselves of the following: If the parties to the coalition government agreed to their former decision and had their candidates, would they have contested as independent candidates like the candidacy of Adama Barrow or what? If they contested as independent candidates and in the event of a collapse of the coalition membership, how would each National Assembly member of the defunct coalition government identify him/herself and would such an identification be fair to the electorates who awarded them such seats?

As per the discussed complexities in the previous paragraphs, where does the coalition President lean in order to garner the needed support for the aspired reformations? To tackle such a case, the leadership, I belief, should be in the position to furnish the actors with the relevant information regarding the need for that change or reform. The masses, in this case, should not be left in limbo. The politicians of the Third Republic should know that they owe much to the Gambians than to their individual parties.

Another factor could be the influence of bureaucracy in a governance system. Naturally, human beings are not normally ready to accept sudden change in status, especially if the change is perceived as negative. In order to maintain jobs or to continue enjoying easy life or the pleasure of exercising bureaucratic powers, public administrators are normally resistant to such changes. To curb such, reformers need to take a firm stance to see that their reform policies work in that respect, else, it could lead them to failure.

In conclusion, both economic and political reforms, being it in an autocratic or democratic politics, must always be tackled with a boldface and smart decision-making processes. Without such approach, the cost will always be high and the pain to be inflicted on the reformer and the citizens will be tremendous. This is so because it could even cost the life of the party or government opting for such a reform.

(To be continued)

 

About the author:

is a PhD candidate of  Management at Yuan Ze University, College of Management, Taiwan. He has an MA. in International Affairs and Security Management from Ming Chuan University, Taiwan and a BSc. in Political Science and English from University of The Gambia.

GAMBIA: COURT ORDERS FREEZING OF ASSETS BELONGING TO FORMER PRESIDENT JAMMEH

May 22, 2017

Attorney General and Justice Minister , Ba Tambedou

The Attorney General and minister of Justice Mr. Ba Tambedu has unveiled at a press conference in Banjul that a court order is given for the freezing of assets purportedly belonging to former president Jammeh. According to minister Tambedou the freezing order affects the known properties held in the personal name of the former president or directly associated with him which includes  131 landed properties, 88 different bank accounts, 14 companies and number of livestock. The minister also urged anyone who has knowledge about  properties of the former president to make it known to the authorities. When asked by Journalist Sainey M.K Mareneh on whether the court order covers both properties in and out of the Gambia the minister responded in the negative by buttressing that the order is not interterritorial but only for properties within the jurisdiction of the Gambia. The former president of the Gambia has ruled the country like his personal property with no accountability or whatsoever. His involvement in all kinds of business is an open secret from sand mining to selling school uniforms and bread and many other businesses. Soldiers who were paid by the taxpayers’ were the ones managing his numerous farms across the country.

Many people have hailed the decision to freeze Jammeh’s assets but others queried that freezing of assets should not be limited to only the former president but should be extended to his former close aides and business partners as well. Mr. Tambedou hinted on plans to set up a commission that would properly look into the assets of the former president and to recover every butut that was lost by the country as a result of actions of the former president or his close aides. The minister also unveiled the appointment of a public prosecutor lawyer Antuman Gaye to the NIA 9 case who are being tried at the high court in Banjul for the murder of Solo Sandeng and others. Mr. Tambedou lamented on the lack of capacity being the reason behind the slow pace at which  his ministry is moving in addressing the issues at hand but he however indicated that help in building up capacity  is gradually coming from within and outside the country.

 

Written by L.Nyassi, Oslo

GAMBIA: JAINABA BAH APPOINTED AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA

May 20, 2017

Jainaba Bah newly appointed Gambia Ambassador to Russia

The wife of Gambia’s former envoy to Ethiopia Mr. M.Sarjo Jallow, Jainaba Bah has been appointed by President Barrow as Ambassador to Russia this paper can confirm. Jainaba who is based in Sweden has been very vocal against the former regime of President Jammeh and has been very instrumental in raising funds for the coalition in the run-up to 2016 elections that ushered in the current regime change. Despite her political difference with her husband who was serving under Jammeh she did not waver in campaigning against the heavy handedness of the former regime. Madame Jainaba Bah has been a revolutionist all her life from the era of the former president Jawara’s PPP regime when she was a MOJA -G militant and encountered all kinds of tortures by the then state spy agency NSS to the regime of Yaya Jammeh. Jainaba studied and worked in Sweden in a good chunk of her life. She was part of the team that organized the Stockholm-dialogue meeting in 2013 that was attended by Gambians in Scandinavia, Europe, and U.S.A to brainstorm on the way forward for Gambia. She also served briefly as a representative at the Committee for the restoration of democracy in the Gambia(CORDEG) an organization that was set up after the Raleigh diaspora conference. It was after the Fass Njaga Choi standoff of April 2015 between the UDP Caravan and state security personnel that she threw her weight behind UDP by becoming a member.

Many see the appointment of Jainaba Bah as a welcomed move and the appointment has been hailed by some on social media. Abdoulie Manneh a Gambian residing in Russia wrote on his facebook page when he got news of the appointment of Jainaba Bah as follows; “I can’t wait for the arrival of the newly appointed Gambian ambassador to Russia Jainaba Bah, it makes life a lot easier if you have your country’s embassy in the foreign country you reside in”. Ndey Jobarteh a close friend and fellow activist to Jainaba in reacting to the appointment wrote; ” She is one woman I look up to, her resilience, consistency, faith and commitment to justice and rights is inspiring. Jainaba did not end there, she showed us that we can be married and have a different political standpoint and position, yet live together. She has proven that no one can come between rights and justice, no matter what it takes one has to stand on the side of justice and rights. I salute and celebrate this phenomenal woman who kept inspiring me!! I celebrate her for her bravery and faith in Justice. I celebrate her for her fighting spirit! I celebrate her for her big heart and love she has for everyone!”. Congratulations to Jainaba on her appointment as Ambassador to Russia, looking at her track record of standing up for the collective good of our people we are hopeful that she would not betray wishes and aspirations of the heroic people of the Gambia. Good luck sister.

 

 

Written by L.Nyassi, Oslo

DESIGNING A NEW PARADIGM FOR THE NEW GAMBIA PART B

May 17, 2017

Rural Conakry Photo credit: Cherno Baba Jallow

By Saul Saidykhan

When I was a youngster, I read something the Great Mwalimu Nyerere said that has stuck with me ever since. It is a simple statement, but it’s very profound: “The Musungu (Europeans) go back and forth to the moon, but we cannot even go to our villages!” Recently, one of my Facebook friends, Cherno Baba Jallow, -himself one of our brightest stars, posted some photos from location while on a pilgrimage to his ancestral home in rural Guinea Conakry. In some of the photos, we see bountiful fruits that would go to waste for two reasons – lack of labor to harvest the fruits, and motorable roads to transport the produce to the market.

Less than a week ago, on a GRTS newscast, I saw village women from Nuimi complaining about how much of their bumper harvest of perishable vegetables like onions is going to waste for lack of storage and means of transport to market. Consequently, they’re left with no option, but to surrender their produce to predator middlemen at give-away prices. Yet, in a matter of only few months, Gambians will be importing onions and similar vegetable products from Europe at exorbitant prices. Seriously! How hard is it to build modern silos to store farm and garden products around the country? Or process the produce into condiment in more durable forms. We had a leader who for two decades threw millions at praise singers and kept bragging about how he has developed the country. Yet, this is still our collective reality. I can’t help but wonder why we are so unimaginative.

 Close to forty years apart, The Great Mwalimu’s quip and Cherno Baba’s photos combine- unwittingly, in many ways to tell the post-colonial African story: a continent that continuously squanders its most precious gifts (both human and natural,) only to turn around and cry for outside help. We train only a minority of our youth to High School level, and then abandon most of these youths to fend for themselves while Western concerns openly poach the best and brightest among them to serve their commercial and other interests. In the last sixty years, the successful African is often portrayed as one who has finished high school in Africa, attended university in the West or “polished” his/her African university education in the West, and works as a professional in the West – no matter how unfulfilled he or she may feel personally. I know from first-hand experience, being an adequately paid African professional in the West is very different from being fulfilled. As long as this remains African reality, we’ll continue to be in trouble.

 In the case of The Gambia especially, we have now seen two models of development in the past fifty-two years. We can learn a lot from both in our bid to chart a new beginning in this Third Republic. Until 1984 or thereabout, the PPP government invested heavily in the Public Works Department (PWD) equipping each Divisional Headquarter (Brikama, Mansakonko, Kerewan, George Town, and Basse) with construction machinery like Graders, Excavators, Backhoe Loaders, Multi-terrain Loaders, Compactors, and Highway Trucks. The PWD of every Division (now Region) of The Gambia had a permanent Civil Engineering team that built public infrastructure (public buildings, roads, culverts, drainages,) and maintained them all on an ongoing basis. The PWDs also had an Auto-Mechanics team that repaired and maintained government vehicles, plus a section that oversaw supplying petrol to government; and a Carpentry section that made furniture for government. Given its size, government could import things – from cement to steel, to spare parts, timber, plywood, and other development materials cheaper than private entities. That was the good news.

 The unwelcome news, which will be no surprise to any honest Gambian or astute observer of Gambians is, the very set-up of PWD was a recipe for disaster. The Checks or Management Controls put in place at the PWDs as far as access to, and use of public resources are concern were jokes. The truth is, to this day, the predominant Gambian mentality is this: “what belongs to the public doesn’t belong to anyone, therefore whoever is entrusted with public property can do whatever he/she wants with it.” Case in point; very few Gambians are willing to acknowledge that 9 out of 10 of those Yahya Jammeh accused of theft are probably guilty going by circumstantial evidence. Many argue forcefully that Jammeh lacks the moral authority to prosecute anyone for theft. There’s nothing to disagree with in that argument. However, the fact that Jammeh is a bigger thief is irrelevant if one genuinely cares about the national interest. Yaya Jammeh waking up and stealing a million US Dollars from Gambians daily gives not a license to any other Gambian to also steal from a people already abused enough. Yet in the current environment we’re in, there seems to be a presumption that everyone Jammeh locked up for or accused of Economic Crimes is innocent. This is NOT the case. We need to stop confusing trees for the forest. Otherwise, we’ll continue to be taken for a ride by con artists and leeches of all sorts. In the era of the PWD, from cement, to steel, to timber-plywood, to fuel and spare parts, someone was always pilfering from the PWD. Over time, that ceaseless theft took its toll imposing an unsustainable financial burden on the state that ultimately forced the PPP government to scrap that valuable institution based on World Bank-imposed conditions. And PWD had a wonderful impact on bridging the gap among Gambians and bringing people together.

 For instance, Jarra Soma owes its prominence almost entirely to the PWD’s siting in Mansakonko. Prior to the PWD, Soma was just a tiny four-compound village (Jarjuseys, Darbos, Saidy-Bahs and Sannehs) at the crossroads of Lower Gambia-Upper Gambia and Northern Senegal-Southern Senegal. Everyone else was drawn to Soma by Mansakonko. In 2007, I met some northern Senegalese living in Soma who are more Jarra than I am. Some PPP government para-statals also had active seasonal hubs in places like Kuntaur, Jakali-Pacharr, and Tendaba that saw bee-hive activity due to seasonal employment opportunities. In essence, the PPP had Divisional Headquarters, and several employment nodes around the country.

 The Yahya Jammeh model of development is harder to discern because of his tendency to personalize things. This made his policies haphazard and hard to make any sense of. While Jammeh has opened southern Kombo by building a major trunk road near the Atlantic (the so-called Coastal Road) that loops around the main towns and villages in the area, the opacity of the process and his personal involvement cast a long pall over the project. Ditto for the other major road projects he undertook. And beyond the urban Kombo areas, except for the single road arteries on either side of the River Gambia, the four hospital shells, and about ten post- elementary schools he built, Jammeh seemed to have completely confused rural Gambia for his home village of Kanilai. While storey buildings were going up in Kanilai at public expense, everywhere else in rural Gambia were signs of retrogression. In the run-up to the 2001 elections, with his approval, his erstwhile right hand man, the late Baba Jobe bought a multi-million-dollar brown new heavy-duty electric generator that the two installed in Mansakonko to supply W. Jarra electricity. It was a big PR coup for them at the time against some of us who were trying to undermine them. However, shortly after he arrested Baba Jobe, he sent soldiers to move the generator to Kanilai. Since then, W. Jarra has not had its independent electric supply. Instead, the area has been getting its electricity supply from Farafenni in the North Bank.  

 Worse, from Social Security & Housing Finance Corporation funds, to Gamtel, Gamcel, GRA, and GPA, Jammeh has probably spent billions of Dalasi of the Gambian peoples’ money on upgrading his native village.Making matters worse, extra billions have been siphoned from Gambian public coffers by his senior government and military officials through a daring Fuel Coupon Redemption program that has been going on briskly until recently. The coupons are transferable, non-unique, non-serialized Cash-equivalents that holders can trade for fuel at private petrol stations. The petrol stations redeem the coupons from government. All that is required for payment is presentation at the appropriate government redemption office. Brave crooks simply made photocopies of the coupons and sold them for cash. Many people in government were aware of the scam and the racket behind it. Yet this scam went on for years. It is one of the most brazen cases of daylight robbery I’ve ever heard of in the public sector. Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh has Auditors looking into the damage in this and other Income and Expenditure areas of the Jammeh era. If I were to bet conservatively, I’d say the damage will be in the tens of billions of Dalasi!

 The irony is it’s very easy to eliminate leakages like this fuel scam with a combo of simple Professional Standard Controls and readily available technology like Debit Card-like plastic instruments with unique features that leave an AUDIT TRAIL as the Ghanaians, Senegalese, and Kenyans are doing. It’s simply insane for any serious contemporary government to hand its employees transferable, non-unique, Cash-equivalent fuel Coupons. It’s beyond stupid!

 Given the two models, my suggestion would be to take the PPP Model but to twitch it by adding several more Magnet towns like I suggested in part A. However, instead of going back to the ancien PWDs, I’d advise government to search, identity, and help form, sponsor and promote, and equip a local engineering company in EVERY Region of The Gambia that The Gambia government will use as its main infrastructure development partner in that part of the country. These partner companies will be deliberately designed to be ultimately WHOLLY OWNED by Gambian citizens. Government’s role at the beginning would be to bankroll or guarantee the initial investment, and to superintend their operations to safeguard the public interest, and to regulate the companies to ensure their compliance with requisite laws in terms of employment. Once the companies are on firm footing, and government recovers its investment, government would pull back and let them be. The Gambia government should strive to ensure that every Region of The Gambia has at least one permanent construction company that can cater to the public infrastructure needs of the Region. This way, youth around The Gambia could be trained and engaged continuously in all facets of national infrastructural development. An added advantage of this idea is, all Regions of the country will feel a sense of ownership in the Gambian Enterprise as making employment opportunities available at local level in every Region of the country will make every part of the country feel like important Primary Stakeholders in the scheme of things.

 With this goal in mind, Foreign Secretary Darbo should embark on a mission to aggressively lobby the European countries now host to thousands of mostly unskilled Gambian youth to help us train them in areas like road-building, housing construction, cable installation, solar installation, masonry, carpentry, welding, plumbing, refrigeration, air-conditioning, auto-mechanics, electrical engineering, agro-processing, cosmetics & personal care, and New Technology areas. Unlike the traditional professions, all these are “academic light” occupations that take less than three years to complete or become proficient at. The youth are already in Europe anyway, and currently The Gambia lacks the capacity to train them in these sorely-needed skills area for national development. On their return, these youths could easily help sustain the Regional infrastructure companies envisioned.

 The alternative would be for The Gambia to take a huge foreign loan, and award contracts to the “best bidder” regardless of the social agenda of the government. Or worse, to do what many of our people on the continent – DRC, Angola, and Zambia have done. (In the DRC, the government signed a contract amounting to 2 Billion dollars’ worth of infrastructure development with the Chinese in exchange for 22 Billion dollars’ worth of mineral resources! Yet, even this outrageous imbalance doesn’t tell the full story because many experts believe the Chinese are getting close to 30 Billion dollars’ worth of resources in exchange for their 2 billion. Angola’s is just as bad. We really seem to specialize in doing dumb things in Africa. The Gambia shouldn’t follow such path.

 My advice to the current government is to pursue an aggressive local talent development regime (as suggested) by taking a page from-  ironically, the Chinese. See, less than sixty years ago, the Chinese were themselves not only a laughing stock in the West, they weren’t respected much in the East either. The Japanese, who conquered and overshadowed them for long, treated them with contempt, and regarded their country as nothing more than one giant whorehouse. Well, no one is laughing at them anymore. The moral here? We Africans need to do what the Chinese did to change our condition instead of inviting them to come and take our jobs and resources as if we are a brain-dead people. All we lack are knowledge and skills. With discipline and proper leadership, we can change this.

 As such, the Barrow administration should re-double efforts to train enough Gambians to shoulder the task of the heavy-lifting needed in terms of building up Gambian civil infrastructure, skill-acquisition, and education.

 We shall look at how following such advice will impact the Gambian economy and the Economics of such an environment in the next segment…

BUILDING THE GAMBIA: STOP THE CHINESE COMPANY DESTROYING OUR FUTURE IN GAMBIA

May 17, 2017

 Hazardous waste disposal into the Atlantic ocean by Chinese Company

By Madi Jobarteh

A severe national security threat is unfolding in Gunjur, the hometown of the Majority Leader Kebba K Barrow. There is a Chinese company engaged in fishmeal production, which dumps its waste and dead fish along the coastline and neighboring communities. The factory releases intense bad odour making people sick as well as destroying our fish reserves and polluting the waters. This is a direct threat to the lives and livelihoods of the people of Gunjur, Kombo and the Gambia as a whole. Yet this company called Golden Leaf Factory continues to operate unchecked by the Government since last year until today, four months into the administration of Adama Barrow. Why?

Two Chinese, Robin and Jojo run the factory without any Gambian partners and under no check by any authority. They produce fishmeal or fish oil, which is made out of fish and used to feed poultry, pigs and other farmed fish. According to FAO fishmeal production is a major contributor to over-fishing and prevents fish from replenishing themselves thereby causing the collapse of local fisheries. This is because the fish used for fishmeal are small fishes like the ones our fishermen catch in Gunjur, Kartong, Tanji, Bakau or Banjul. After almost depleting their fish resources in China, now Chinese fishmeal companies have turned to West Africa and South America causing havoc in countries like Senegal, Chile and Peru. Experts have noted that fishmeal is a source of terrible environmental damage and human suffering.

So far Golden Leaf Factory is engaged in over-fishing in Gunjur and Kartong and destroying the coastline as well as the Bolongfehyoto wildlife reserve. The bad and dangerous odour the factory releases into the community is unbearable. Experts have noted that the factory right now threatens the productivity of sea grass, which marine turtles feed on. They also threaten the mangrove ecosystem because of the chemical waste they dump. This factory is therefore a threat to tourism and the economy of the Gambia. What is even more disheartening is that the fish they catch is not used for human consumption. Rather they use it to make fishmeal for animals all the way in China! But they are ready to destroy our lives all the way in the Gambia.

Who gave this company license to operate in the Gambia in the first place? Was there any social and environmental impact assessments done before they were awarded the license? Why would the responsible and relevant agencies of the government sit down to allow such abuse of the lives and future of the Gambia to take place with impunity?

Where is the National Assembly, the Ministries of Fisheries and Water Resources, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Tourism, the NEA, NDMA, GIEPA and GTB and indeed the Police? All these agencies have a direct responsibility and stake in any activity that negatively impacts on the lives, livelihoods and future of the Gambia. Yet they all sit there watching a foreign company plunder our lives and livelihoods for free! What about GCCI? Are they not aware of this practice by this company and what actions have they taken to ensure decent and responsible practices by businesses in the country?

I therefore call on the Speaker of the National Assembly Mariam Denton and her deputy Momodou Sanneh and the Majority Leader Kebba K Barrow and the Monitory Leader Samba Jallow and indeed all National Assembly Members to institute a parliamentary enquiry into this matter. Failure to do so, the National Assembly would be failing in their sacred duty to the Gambia. This matter is 100% within the powers and authority of the National Assembly to address and they must address it now. Golden Leaf Factory is destroying our lives and livelihoods with impunity!

I call on Chief Servant Adama Barrow to demand his relevant ministries and state agencies to act on this matter with urgency. The ocean is a major source of life and livelihood for the communities of Kombo and the Gambia as a whole. Tourism alone account for 21.9% of our GDP and providing 18.8% of jobs in the country hence the ocean is a precious product of this industry that must be protected. Thus any threat to the ocean affects thousands of Gambians for employment and for food. Why therefore would this company be given license to damage our future and lives with impunity?

The Gambia Government and indeed all African governments must be wary of Chinese companies. This is because the Chinese have proven to the world and Africa in particular that they do not care about human rights, human life and human health in their quest to greedily consume resources around the world. Chinese companies have engaged in unscrupulous and dangerous business practices even in China, how about in faraway tiny Gambia? China has a population of 1.3 billion people and a land size of 9.5 million square kilometers. The Gambia has a population of only 2 million and a land size of 11 thousand square kilometers. Hence what China can afford and waste the Gambia cannot afford that. Therefore we must not allow any foreign company especially from China to come to the Gambia to damage the lives and future of our people. If this is what GIEPA considers to be foreign investment then they are dangerously mistaken!

Whichever government agency gave license to this company must be exposed and held to account. It is clear that they have failed to do an impact assessment or merely ignored the results of such assessment if they did. Secondly this agency has failed to monitor this Chinese company in order to protect the vital interests of the Gambia. This company must not have been allowed to operate in the country at all. They must be closed down! Now.

I therefore call on all Gambians to rise up against this Chinese company and put pressure on the government to expose the truth about the license, the kind of business, the operations and management of this company. What has the Gambia benefited from them? How much money are they making in the Gambia? What damages have done so far? We need to know these issues and make sure they repair all the damages they caused and then close them down. Golden Leaf Factory poses a clear and direct threat to national security.

Gambian journalists should rush down to Gunjur and Kartong and report to us on matters that directly affect our lives. News is not only in Banjul and Serre Kunda. How come such a dangerous environmental, social and economic disaster is taking place in Gunjur since last year yet our journalists could not give it the publicity it deserves! Wake up Gambian Journalists!

Rise up Gambians and do not let our country to continue as usual since Independence. We deserve a better Gambia. We deserve better leadership and good government that is open, efficient and responsive to our needs, in the present and in the future.

#CloseDownGoldenLeafFactory

God Bless The Gambia.

HALIFA SALLAH’S THREE YEARS PRESIDENTIAL TERM FIXATION

April 14, 2017

Is either the constitutional term of 5 years or Halifa Sallah’s term of 3 years!

Hon. Halifa Sallah and his media Cheer-Leaders (mainly US-based Pa Nderry Mbai and his Freedomnewspaper) continue to distract Gambians and Friends of The Gambia from the urgent tasks of nation-building and peace-building that faces post-Jammeh Gambia.

On the issue of “Barrow’s 3-Year Mandate” it has been said that Halifa Sallah is in “TOTALLY IN DENIAL”. I Agree.

And, I would add, Halifa is also being utterly HYPOCRITICAL for a man who has made “Constitution, Constitution, Constitution” his MANTRA over the last 30 years.

So, let us state it concisely and clearly for Hon Halifa Sallah:

  1. The “3-Year Presidential Mandate” was a private contract between parties who have now fallen out and disengaged on the just concluded NAM elections issue. The reasons why the Coalition contract between the parties fell apart is a private matter between the parties. The public were never a party to that private contract – nor did the public validate that contract through a referendum as required by the constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.
  1. Section 63(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia states that “the term of office of an elected president shall … be for a term of five years”.

This raises the following questions:

1.Why should Halifa sign a 3-year Presidential term agreement that he, Halifa himself, now ACKNOWLEDGES as being Unconstitutional? Halifa never misses an opportunity to chide anyone for even the most minor infringement of the Constitution. Halifa should now take his own medicine – and chide himself (and stop fanning political bickering just to try and convince the public that he was the good guy and the others were the bad guys. As with Mel-B here in London this week, the marriage is dead and the washing of dirty linen in public is unedifying. Just accept that the marriage is dead – and move on!). What is more, Halifa is flogging a dead horse on the “Coalition” issue – because the public have already decided by voting 4 seats (7%) for PDOIS – and 31 seats (58%) for UDP.

2. Why should the Barrow government embark on a fundamental constitutional change – and the required referendum – just to shorten this President’s term to three years when the Barrow government feels that there are more important matters of nation building to attend to in the next five years?

3.Why should Lawyer Darboe’s UDP waste valuable time on a “3-year Presidential term” amendment that needs an expensive and time-consuming nationwide referendum when there is so much work to be done?

4.What about after the 3-years? Will Gambians have to amend the Constitution again to return to a 5-year presidential term – and have a referendum again to approve that 5-year amendment?

THE UDP, PRESIDENT BARROW AND MOST GAMBIANS HAVE MOVED ONTO MORE IMPORTANT MATTERS OF CONCERN TO THE MAJORITY OF GAMBIANS – MATTERS SUCH AS HOW TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE FOR THEIR FAMILIES.

As in the children’s story of “The Boy Who Always Cried ‘WOLF’”, Halifa Sallah and Pa Nderry Mbai run the risk of being ignored – when they do actually sometimes have important messages. But I suppose they are BOTH PROFESSIONAL “WOLF-CRIERS” and will continue to do so!

Long Live Freedom of Speech!

(But not for my opponents, as Halifa’s FOROYAA would have it. In 25 years of reading Gambian media, I have never read a PDOIS/HALIFA-contradicting opinion in FOROYAA. Please correct me if I am wrong).

Dida Halake,

Notting Hill,

London, UK.

APRC CRIMES: FONI – THE WORST VICTIM OF YAYA JAMMEH

April 4, 2017

Forensic experts exhuming remains of Jammeh’s victims in the bushes of Foni

By Madi Jobarteh

Yes Yaya Jammeh is from Kanilai, which is in Foni, yet in his 22 years of misrule the region that suffered the most happened to be Foni. Despite the fact that Yaya Jammeh and APRC had enjoyed 100% support from Foni where their parliamentary candidates consistently go unopposed, yet Yaya Jammeh paid them back with so much misery and pain that it will take forever to heal that wound. There is not a crime on earth that Yaya Jammeh had not committed against the land and people of Foni. He spared no one: the old, the young, men, women, community leaders not to mention the professionals of this proud and hard working region of the Gambia. Rather he tortured and killed his own people while stealing their lands as if he was not a son of Foni!

Probably the most outrageous crime that Yaya Jammeh inflicted on our people in Foni was to label them as witches and then deploy scores of soldiers and Green Boys with witchdoctors imported from Guinea to go to village after village to arrest old men and women. Reports have indicated that up to one thousand people were arrested in 2009 just because Yaya Jammeh stupidly thought witches killed her aunt. Thus, just for the sake of her aunt alone, he ravaged a whole region of the country, humiliating them in such a manner that surpassed even the colonialists. Yet until today you have some people in Foni who want to give their lives for Yaya Jammeh.

When Yaya Jammeh arrested these old men and women, the Green Boys and soldiers forced them to drink concoctions, which caused severe sickness and death among the victims. One witness narrated that in Sintet alone 300 old men and women were arrested and taken to Kanilai to be humiliated and beaten. Because of this onslaught, hundreds of community elders used to flee their houses as early as 5am to go into the bush to hide for the whole day until at night to return home. Can you imagine an old man or woman of 60, 70 or 80 years going to hide in the bush just because their own son, who is the president accused them of being witches and hunting them like slaves? This is what Yaya Jammeh did to our elders in Foni. Yet there are still Foni youths who shout until today “Yaya Jammeh for Life.”

Even when Halifa Sallah stood up as the lone voice to find out about this matter in order to ensure that justice is delivered, Yaya Jammeh responded to him with an arrest and detention. Yet Yankuba Colley and Seedy Njie have the audacity to tell us that Yaya Jammeh deserves respect. Do Yankuba Colley and Seedy Njie have any respect for Foni elders who were humiliated, beaten and killed by small boys under the orders of Yaya Jammeh? Is Yankuba Colley or Seedy Njie and their APRC supporters telling us that they have not seen that injustice yet they still stand for Yaya Jammeh? What values or God do these people believe?

Even before this despicable atrocity, Yaya Jammeh had been tormenting Foni by blatantly stealing their lands. In his 22 years, Foni is the region, which suffered the most in Yaya Jammeh’s land grabbing spree. No region has lost more lands to Yaya Jammeh than Foni. The number of community lands he stole in Foni is uncountable.

Foni did not only lose lands but they also lost numerous lives in the process of defending their lands from Yaya Jammeh. For example when Yaya Jammeh wanted to take lands in the village of Karunorr in Foni Kansala in 2012 the villagers resisted. The two most defiant villagers were the brothers, Wuyeh and Enor Colley. In response Yaya Jammeh deployed armed soldiers to forcefully pick up these brothers to be beaten up and butchered to death in the bushes. Until today there families have not seen them,

One gets even more shocked when you see the list of victims of Yaya Jammeh in Foni some of who are in fact his own family members such as Marcie Jammeh and Haruna Jammeh who disappeared since 2005. We can all recall the names of Buba Sanyang, Ndongo Mboob, Modou Lamin Nyassi and Jasarja Kujabi all of who disappeared mysteriously on the orders to Yaya Jammeh. It is clear that these people were killed.

Other sons and daughters of Foni who were also humiliated, incarcerated and tortured included the former CDS Lang Tombong Tamba, former IGP Essa Badgie, former DG NIA Lamin Bo Badgie, former IGP Benjamin Jammeh and for Solicitor General Pa Harry Jammeh among many other former ministers and civil servants as well as former associates such as Aziz Tamba as well as his own cousin Pa Bojang. The list goes on…

Hence if one simply goes through the track record of Yaya Jammeh in Foni, it becomes quite clear that the region that has suffered the most under the APRC is Foni. Yaya Jammeh has inflicted so much fear and disunity in Foni to the point that this region was locked down for 22 years. Yes, he has provided electricity in many villages with streetlights and built a hospital in Bwiam and illegally named it after his father. But the fact is that the people of Foni were the most oppressed and exploited region of the Gambia under Yaya Jammeh. One can notice that by the fact that no one in Foni was allowed or bold enough to stand against Yaya Jammeh. Everyone as subdued and this was why APRC remained unopposed all the time.

Yaya Jammeh was able to unleash so much harm on the people of Foni simply because he had the full support of APRC NAMs and Cabinet ministers. APRC NAMs were witnesses to the atrocities and land grabbings of Yaya Jammeh in Foni yet they did not just keep quiet about it but in fact they went ahead to mobilize the people of Foni to work on those stolen lands like slaves.

If you are from Foni, the APRC is the only party you should avoid. If you are a good son and daughter of Foni, Yaya Jammeh is the only person you must avoid. He is a disgrace to the noble and dignified people of Foni. Any decent son or daughter of Foni who claims to be a self-respecting and patriotic citizen cannot entertain anything about APRC and Yaya Jammeh. He represents humiliation and misery for Foni and the Gambia as a whole.

I hereby call on the voters of Foni therefore to give APRC Zero Votes in the April 6 election. I therefore wish to launch the campaign ‘APRC Zero Votes In Foni’ to start today. Let us raise the awareness of the masses of Foni to liberate them from the despicable Yaya Jammeh Mentality to realize that supporting APRC is their humiliation and destruction. Yaya Jammeh never represented the best of Foni. He is the worst to have happened to Foni.

If the Mandinka felt offended by Yaya Jammeh it is clear that he has offended the Jola equally or even more. Wait until you see what he also did to the Wolof, Sarahuleh or Fula, etc. What about the Muslims or the Christians? Coming soon…

Forward with ‘APRC Zero Votes In Foni’ Campaign!

God Bless The Gambia.