Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

HELLO MR PRESIDENT: MORE GREASE ON YOUR ELBOW

October 12, 2017

Author: Tha Scribbler Bah

When last week I saw on Gambia Radio and Television Services that a youth group had been formed and named President Barrow Youth Movement for Development, I was worried and my mind went straight to the Green Youths, Yaaye Compins and other such self serving Kafoos.

Then, I heard that a statement from the Office of the President had instructed the founders of that movement to change the name. That gave me solace. They should know better, and not take us that road again. Gambians are tired of such cheap attempts to get close to our president just to get rich quick at the expense of the general public.

You see, Mr President, if someone genuinely wants you to succeed, he or she should work hard to ensure that the government’s vision for development is fulfilled. They should focus on working harder rather than just wishing to blind sight our president. Let them work with the National Youth Council.

But, Mr President, I personally think that changing the name is not enough. There should be a clear instruction on state TV to inform Gambians that political patronage and sycophancy will not be tolerated in the New Gambia.

Earlier, we saw companies and organizations buying space on newspapers to wish you happy Tobaski or something of that sort. This is pure hypocrisy. There is nothing genuine in it. If they really mean all what they are saying,  let them work hard towards the achievement of your development goals.  We have all seen what political sycophancy can do to a country.

Your government must make it known that nepotism, favouritism and other undue advantages shall no longer be allowed here. We need to change this culture of praise singing and work for our development goals.

Your decision to let these people change their name is a step in the right direction. So, I say, more grease to your elbow.

Have a Good Day Mr President….

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen

GAMBIAN DIASPORA PETITIONED IEC FOR VOTING RIGHTS

October 5, 2017

Election ballots

Gambians in the Diaspora have issued a petition urging The Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission to commence the process of enfranchising Gambians living abroad. The petition is available in the link below and consists of five points around the registration and voting process for Gambians abroad.

https://www.change.org/p/voting-rights-of-gambians-living-abroad-petition-making-it-a-reality/nftexp/ex5/control/224634011?recruiter=224634011&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=share_page&utm_content=ex5%3Acontrol

Voting Rights of Gambians Living Abroad Petition: Making it a Reality
After enduring twenty-two (22) years of dictatorship under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh, the people of the Republic of The Gambia voted for a new president, President Adama Barrow, to lead the nation-rebuilding process of the New Gambia. Gambians living abroad played a key role in the struggle for justice and good governance that culminated in the formation of a coalition of seven political parties, which contested and won the presidential election that brought an end to Jammeh’s rule on 1st December 2016.

Although the right of every Gambian, resident at home or abroad, to vote in general elections is guaranteed in the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia, the government under former President Jammeh failed to demonstrate the commitment and support that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) required to discharge its mandate to register Gambians living abroad to vote, as prescribed under Section 11 of the Elections Act of The Republic of The Gambia. As a result, a large number of Gambians living abroad have been disenfranchised and denied the right to fully participate in the affairs of their country. The Gambia has now entered a new challenging phase, which all well-meaning Gambians, friends of The Gambia and the country’s development partners hope will set the foundation for a truly democratic country that fully subscribes to the universally accepted principles of good governance and transparency, to deliver peace and prosperity to the people of The Gambia. In this regard, the enfranchisement of Gambians living abroad is not only a right but a necessity for the consolidation of the democratic gains of the New Gambia. Like our Senegalese counterparts, Gambians living abroad should be allowed, without undue burden, to take part in elections at home.

Our Demands
We the undersigned respectfully demand of the IEC of The Republic of The Gambia to discharge, with absolute urgency, its constitutional duty to register Gambians living abroad to take part in the upcoming constitutional referendum and subsequent elections, in accordance with the Constitution and Section 11 of the Elections Act of The Gambia. Specifically:
1. We ask the IEC to announce a timeline for the registration of Gambians living abroad;
2. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out the registration process for Gambians living abroad;
3. We ask the IEC to announce the registration centres abroad, where Gambians living abroad shall be registered;
4. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out what documents Gambians living abroad would need in order to be registered to vote; and
5. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out how Gambians living abroad shall vote in elections and how votes cast outside the country shall be counted.

GAMBIA POLITICO – ONE GAMBIA ONE TRIBE!

September 19, 2017

Author: Yanks Dabo

By Yanks Dabo

Do not get angry against or hate the tribe of the bigot, who attacked your tribe. For he does not speak for his tribe, but speaks only for his rotten persona!

So measure your response appropriately; in order that you don’t attack all of his tribe – some of whom may have more love for you and your tribe than him and their tribe. And do not follow him into the error of misrepresenting yourself, as the spokesperson of your tribe.

Simply because none among the many of us -Gambian Facebookers and Social Media goons – have ever been nominated or selected or elected spokespersons of any one tribe of The Gambia. So none of us speak for any one tribe, as a whole!

So direct your polemics at the pretender bigot and expose him for who he is, which is him being a bigot without any trait of the tribe or tribes he pretends to be defending!

But whilst responding, take solace in the following wisdom: appreciate that, we were born into our tribes and not the other way round. They existed before anyone of us and will be here after us!

Therefore none of the Gambian tribes’ existence depend on anyone’s representation, protection or defence on Facebook or social media. They will not extinct because of anyone’s insolence attacks on Facebook! Neither will any of the Facebook insolence, affect every member of anyone tribe of The Gambia.

So have no fear of their tribalism and understand that none of the Gambian tribes are at risk of an existential threat of extinction from Facebook bigots and insolents.

Those who lack the discipline to the extent of resorting to insolence or vitriols against other tribes; should be shunned or blocked – one important tool inserted on Facebook – in order to deprive them of that space and time, they crave for to spew their garbage against our tribes.

We should not allow them to drag us into the mud of the back and forth, to misrepresent the banter into tribal warfare. When it is a battle between two or few nonentities of our Gambian tribes.

So let’s not pretend or be fooled that we can represent or speak for everyone of our Gambian tribes. The only person chosen to do that and to lead all of our tribes in The Gambia; is the President of The Gambia: President Adama Barrow. He speaks for all of them and not any of us on Facebook!

HELLO MR PRESIDENT…HAS GPA DECIDED?

September 19, 2017

Author: Tha Scribbler Bah

Development is like a chain. Every link is important; and when one link is weak, it weakens the entire chain. If there is one broken link in the chain, it will have a domino effect which will end up causing a lot of unpleasant consequences.

The difficulties of the National Water and Electricity Company [NAWEC] is causing a lot of trouble for many sectors. Take for instance the Gambia Ports Authority. The problem of NAWEC has actually compounded the ineptitude of Gambia Ports Authority. People are being told at the Ferry Terminal in Banjul that there is no electricity; and as such, they cannot issue tickets. How inept!

The amount of money that GPA is collecting every single day – both from passengers and vehicles – is such that they can certainly have a standby generator, knowing that NAWEC are erratic. It is indeed very inconvenient for people to board the ferry from Banjul and are expected to buy the ticket in Barra.

The number of people who will be at that side trying to buy tickets alone will be overwhelming. If the people who will come from Banjul are also to buy the tickets from there, one can imagine how congested that place will be.

Some of these things are simply a question of prioritizing the priorities. Why can’t GPA buy standby generators for emergencies like this. I think these people can – should – do better. The ferry crossing points are great revenue generators for government and thus, every effort must be made to ensure quality service delivery. The citizens of this country deserve better.

I also know that the other crossing points at Farafenni and other parts of the country are nothing to write home about. Passengers suffer immeasurably at these crossing points.  Public servants must understand that we deserve better. If there weren’t passengers, they’d have had to pack up and go home. It is high time we started putting measures in place which will ensure that whoever does not deliver is removed and replaced. Appointments must be based on merit and nothing else. We certainly have competent people who can deliver.

Mr President, we have given you the mandate to manage the affairs of our nation, and as such, anyone who does not deliver can be removed. You are not under any obligation to appoint or retain anyone if s/he does not deliver.

Do something about Gambia Ports Authority ASAP!

Have a Good Day Mr President….

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen

WHAT THE BARROW GOVERNMENT IS DOING WRONG

September 18, 2017

PRESIDENT BARROW

It is said “unreasonable demands often breathe bile into impotent rage, which soon turns rancid and bitter”. Thus, making one conclude that one is swimming against tempestuous waves of conspiracy. Anyone that defy your standpoint becomes a sellout. Unfortunately, being antiestablishment in new Gambian has become a swag-whether it is rooted on reasonable or unreasonable intent and purpose. On the other hand, celebrating the new government’s gains boxed as opportunistic. Honesty, however, instils no matter one’s proposition one must align himself or herself with factual truth even if it tests your person. Same is legit in holding a government accountable.

Dictatorship has been laid to rest with our concerted effort and desire to have a voice in how we are governed and by who. The Barrow leadership is everything that Jammeh never was. Does that make it perfect? Certainly not. Therefore, to help it perfect its imperfections, we must reasonably hold it to account by pointing out its omissions and substantiating our objection with corrective alternatives. For instance, even Foday Jawla who lays his life for the leadership without a second thought agrees it is fitting to replace the Jammeh cronies still on taxpayers’ cheques. In a nutshell, regime change must be complimented by systematic unfolding of system change. Without a complete system change desk on both institutional and practice changes the leadership efforts to achieve its goals will remain elusive. Evidence to my claim is plastered vividly on the ongoing commission of enquiry into Goloh Ajumah’s financial undercurrents. Goloh Ajumah was assisted to loot us by some public and private sector Gambians without any physical coercion. None so far has told the commission that s/he was physically forced to assist in the looting even after Goloh Ajumah left the country. If such person remains in the system, what guarantees do the Barrow leadership has to assure us that s/he will not continue to milk our national coffers?

The other area that the leadership needs to heavily invest in is cutting on unnecessary government expenditures. According to what they are telling us, they inherited empty coffers from Goloh yet some of them fly more than birds in the air. The huge entourage that travels with the leadership on government expenses must be scaled down to save us some Bututs. Fatou Camara has equally highlighted that GG vehicles frequent our streets far more than the cabbies. Such vehicles don’t run on water and what even makes it worse is great proportion of those journeys are not official. I still recollect Balfour Ankomah’s article “A Stranger in Banjul” published in New African Magazine many moons ago. He could not hide his dismay on how the Jawara leadership comfortably watched appalling state of Banjul given its size without much ado.

A similar grey area that needs fixing by the Barrow leadership is setting its priorities right. A classic example is the Tourism Ministry. What kind of Tourism is Hon Bah selling to the Chinese? Please don’t tell me it is health or conference Tourism. Can any sane Gambian foresee Chinese coming as tourists to Banjul? Added up to this is the unreasonable relocation of the Ministry of Interior. One could have understood if the Ministry was under potential threat at its former location or the whole of the quadrangle. Then it would have been advisable to disperse the ministries to avert one major attack on all of them given their proximity. Since Gambia is not expose to any targeted potential terror threat what is the logic and financial gain of relocating the Ministry?

Sulayman Jeng
Birmingham, UK

GAMBIA MEDICAL TOURISM: A BLESSING IN DISGUISE

September 17, 2017

Ousainou Darboe, President Barrow and Chinese diplomat. Photo credit: Mantankara Konko

Gambian President Adama Barrow announced earlier this week that his government has entered into an agreement with Israeli company International Medical Services to build a €220 Million state of the art hospital in The Gambia. At this stage little is known about the agreement, however, it appears as though this is the type of investment that the country needs. Currently, many Gambians travel abroad for health services. According to IMS President Ovadia Yardena, her group is committed to promoting health tourism in The Gambia and will build a modern 350-bed hospital. Ms. Yardena has a good relationship with the Government of Equatorial Guinea.

On the IMS official website, it highlights their “long-standing activity” with the people of Equatorial Guinea. This led to the appointment of Ms. Yardena as an Honorary Consul of Equatorial Guinea for Israel. Equatorial Guinea is currently the country of refuge for former Dictator Yahya Jammeh and their President is one of the longest-serving Dictators in West Africa having taken power since 1979. This may be irrelevant to the subject matter but the involvement of an Israeli medical company IMS in The Gambia requires significant attention, especially from Gambian health professionals.

Medical tourism is when foreign nationals travel to other countries for cheaper, quality health services. These services range from cosmetic surgeries, low-cost dental services, and organ transplantation. These services are primarily provided by the private sector and payments are mostly out of pocket. Private healthcare providers have little incentive to consider population-wide based services, however, the general public must be served through public health interventions focused on the health needs of the entire population or population groups. Individual healthcare, population health, and public policy decisions must, therefore, be premised on best available evidence to avoid poor and inappropriate interventions. This article aims to highlight the pros and cons of health tourism and the involvement of Israel in this booming industry.

Pros of Medical Tourism
There are significant benefits in favor of medical tourism in The Gambia. Patients traveling to Gambia for treatment helps to clear backlogs in sending countries and eases pressure on the demand for health services in sending countries. New health services will now be available to Gambians that can afford it. Previously such services would have to be accessed abroad.

For receiving countries, it will create a new stream of revenue via private-public partnerships and helps to stimulate trickle-down economics by increasing the inward flow of foreign currency. The delivery of construction services for the €220 Million hospital will have a positive impact on the local economy especially if Gambian businesses can feature prominently in construction projects. Revenue generated can be used to improve public health services for the greater population.

Another advantage of health tourism is the importation of new medical technology. The presence of a state of the art hospital can help to provide best practice benchmarking for local health services. A state of the art medical facility will also attract the latest medical technology to The Gambia which could benefit the University and public health delivery.

A thriving health tourism industry will require experts to manage and run daily operations of the hospital. Although this is a private venture Gambian medical experts working abroad could be lured back home, thereby reversing the brain drain of the country’s medical professionals.

Cons of Medical Tourism
In receiving countries, medical tourism contributes to the creation of dual health delivery system, one for rich foreigners and one for poor locals. It leads also to draining of public sector funds and implementation of policies biased to commercial medicine. There are many risks around health tourism such as no congruent treatment and continuity and patient follow-ups. It opens up the possibility of illicit medical practices like illegal organ trade. There are many advantages and disadvantages but the most serious concern is that medical tourism encourages illicit organ trade in poor countries.

According to the WHO’s Veronica Riemer, “while most countries in the developed world have a legal system of oversight for organ transplantation, the fact remains that demand far outstrips supply. As a result, a black market has arisen in many poorer countries enabling those who can afford to buy organs to exploit those who are desperate enough to sell them. Sometimes, people travel to other countries specifically to buy organs they can’t find at home.”

The Royal Society of Medicine highlights the “many risks accompany the inclusion of organ transplant packages among the medical procedures sold to international patients. These dangers are magnified in countries where kidneys are purchased in underground economies or black markets. In these settings, promoting organ transplant packages to international patients’ risks escalating the number of kidneys purchased from poor citizens. Growing demand for transplants prompts organ brokers to increase the number of kidneys bought from impoverished individuals and sold to international patients.”
According to the Royal Society of Medicine study, in the Philippines, poor organ donors sell their kidneys for as little as $2,000. Proponents of commercial organ transplantation argue that poor individuals should be allowed to profit from selling a kidney. However, several studies indicate that the money poor individuals expect to obtain from selling a kidney goes to debt collectors.

Israeli Connection
In 2014 the New York Times published a report headlined “Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica”. The demand for organ transplants is on the rise and this demand will follow hospitals that offer cheap organ transplantation. Many organ transplant experts and journalists highlight that Israel contributes significantly towards the highest receivers of organ transplants. They also have a thriving organ brokerage business with networks across the globe.
According to “a Times analysis of major trafficking cases since 2000 suggests that Israelis have played a disproportionate role. That is in part because of religious strictures regarding death and desecration that have kept deceased donation rates so low that some patients feel they must turn elsewhere. “When someone needs an organ transplant, they’ll do everything in their power,” said Meir Broder, a top legal adviser to Israel’s Ministry of Health.”

In South Africa, the Guardian reports that “Netcare, which also runs hospitals in Britain, took part in an international scam that allegedly saw poor Brazilians and Romanians paid $6,000 (£3,840) for their kidneys to be transplanted to wealthy Israelis.” It’s reported that kidneys “were initially sourced from Israeli citizens, but later Romanian and Brazilian citizens were recruited as their kidneys were obtainable at much lower cost than those of the Israeli suppliers.” This took place in “South Africa’s biggest private hospital group” which admitted to “receiving R3.8m (£342,000) from an illegal organ trafficking scam that included the removal of kidneys from five children.”

Conclusion
Although there is no reason to assume that IMS has or will conduct organ transplantation in The Gambia, significant evidence indicates a heavy Israeli presence in the illegal organ trade. The Gambia has a youthful population and an unemployment problem. This makes them an easy target for organ hunters who usually target young healthy people. It’s not uncommon to read of migrants exploited for their organs. According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “selling purchased organs to medical tourists, organ transplant facilities and transplant procedures should be excluded from medical tourism initiatives. Including organ transplants among the procedures marketed to international patients risks undermining health equity and reducing the number of citizens who have access to organ transplantation.” Countries like Israel that conduct organ transplant have strict rules incorporated in their Organ Transplant Act. This helps to regularise the activities of organ transplant and deters illegal black market activities.

Could it be that the Government, Health and Tourism Ministry, in particular, are not aware of the pros and cons of health tourism? A thorough review of the impact could help the executive make an informed decision for The Gambian people. Health tourism should not be promoted to the disadvantage of public health services. It is possible to strike a balance, however, the dangers of exploitation and the health impact it can have on poor people who donate their organs due to financial constraints can be significant and poses a moral and ethical problem.

Most countries that practice organ transplantation only permit altruistic organ donations and ban commercial donations. This often leads to a black market prompting experts to recommend legislating and regulating commercial organ donations to eliminate the black market. What is certain is that the Gambia will need the right legislation and vigilant monitoring if organ transplantation will be permitted. For The Gambia to make this public-private venture a success, commercial organ transplantation should be excluded from health tourism packages. The government will also need to designate revenue generated from this venture toward improving the delivery of public health services.

Even with rigorous monitoring and the right legislation, there are concerns raised by the Guardian that Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent. This does not give confidence that Israeli Investors will play by the rules. After all, a €220 Million investment will be expected to generate significant profit.

By Yusef  Taylor, @FlexDan-YT

COMMONWEALTH ASSESSMENT TEAM MEETS PRESIDENT BARROW

September 8, 2017

REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
PRIVATE Office of The President
State House
Banjul
THE GAMBIA _____________________________________________________________________________

PR/C/220/(ABS)

Media Advisory

Commonwealth assessment team meets President Barrow

Fajara, 8 September 2017 – President Adama Barrow today received a team of officials from the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. The officials had been in The Gambia for a week-long assessment mission, which could soon lead to the country’s full return to the Commonwealth.

President Barrow expressed his pleasure at receiving the Commonwealth assessment team, and thanked them for their mission. He said it was easy for The Gambia to re-apply for membership of The Commonwealth because of the deep-seated feeling by Gambians that they had never really left the Commonwealth family. He described the unilateral decision to withdraw the country from the organisation in 2013 as unfortunate and uncalled for, stressing that The Gambia never wanted to leave. He said: “Nobody wants to be isolated. We want to be part of all international bodies. This was one man’s decision, and not something that was put to all Gambians. If it had been a referendum, the decision would never have been taken.”

The President stressed that The Gambia wished to be fast-tracked to full membership of the Commonwealth once again. He said it was inconceivable for Gambians to remain outside the Commonwealth when other nations wanted to join. The people of The Gambia, he emphasized, had taken a decision in December 2016 about the direction of their future as a new democracy and a new Gambia.

“We are careful and are calculating our steps so that we do not make mistakes,” President Barrow explained. “We believe in the principle of democracy and are positive about our future. Gambians are looking forward to our return to the Commonwealth. So the message is full membership as soon as possible. We are confident that your fact-finding mission will have provided you with all the information that you need, and we hope that the report will be positive, because The Gambia is back.”

Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Karen McKenzie thanked President Barrow for the team’s warm welcome in The Gambia, and for the government’s logistical support for a week of very productive meetings with stakeholders.

Ms McKenzie said The Gambia’s membership in the Commonwealth over the years had been beneficial, and provided technical assistance to the country. She explained that the Commonwealth Secretariat would now make an assessment of how well The Gambia met membership prerequisites, and this would form part of the Commonwealth Secretary General’s consultation with member states.

The formal process, thereafter, will entail the Government of The Gambia being invited to submit a formal request to rejoin the Commonwealth. That formal expression of interest would then be considered by the members.

Other members of the Commonwealth Secretariat team with Ms McKenzie were: Dr Roger Koranteng, Head of Public Sector Governance; Ms Marie-Pierre Olivier, Legal Policy Advisor, Rule of Law; and Ms Lindiwe Maleleka, Political Officer, Africa in the Secretariat’s Political Division. The team was accompanied by Ms Saffie Sankareh, Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad.

End

Contact:

Amie Bojang-Sissoho
Director of Press & Public Relations
Office of the President, State House, Banjul
Email:absissoho@op.gov.gm
dpprop2017@gmail.com