Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

FROM EXILE WITH LOVE

January 22, 2017

By Baba Galleh Jallow

As I watched Yahya Jammeh get off of Gambian soil and step into the plane that carried him into exile, I felt heaviness in my chest and tears pouring uncontrollably down my face. No, they were not tears of joy at the fact that the tyrant who forced me and many other innocent Gambians into exile was himself now being forced into exile. Indeed, I cannot pretend to know why the tears poured out of my eyes and kept doing so for so long. Perhaps it was my sense of the tragic nature of human life; perhaps it was the reaffirmation of my conviction that those who make other people’s lives miserable must in the end become miserable themselves – that we indeed do reap what we sow, as Jammeh is now destined to do for the rest of his life. Perhaps it was because finally, the giant rock of injustice we have been striking for so long has finally crumbled into dust and our dear little country has been given another lease on life.

Exile has been described as the desert of the spirit. From day to day, the exiled person longs to return to home, to walk on the earth of his birth, to see the familiar scenes of his home, to visit the places he frequented as a child, to meet old friends and relatives and to revel in the sweetness of being surrounded by his own people, people who appreciate him as a person and who do not define him by the color of his skin. The exiled person watches from afar as his parents succumb to the hand of death and he is not able to go home to witness their burial or to visit their final resting places. He thinks of the longing in the eyes of his mother or his father as they lay on their death beds, wishing they could see their child one last time and knowing how futile that wish was. The exile’s siblings and friends and relatives pass away and he feels chained to his spot of exile. The parents of dear friends and neighbors – kind elderly men and women who treated him like their own children in his childhood days pass away and he is not able to go commiserate with their families. Day after day, he hears of people passing away, some distant relatives, some dear childhood friends, some school mates or respected neighbors and he is unable to attend their funerals or visit their families. The pain of longing for home grows deeper by the day as the years pass by and he remains stuck in a foreign land. Once in a while, he dreams of home only to wake up and realize that he is so far away from home and cannot go home because of a tyrannical regime that has claimed ownership of his country and denies him the right to live and work in his own motherland.

Exile is an intolerable condition and one tolerates exile just because one has to. For some of us, exile was made reasonably tolerable by the fact that we remained perpetually connected to home. We refused to take our eyes off the reason for our exile and persistently hammered away at the foundation of the evil that was the regime of Yahya Jammeh. We insisted on spiritually and emotionally living at home and having our say in the affairs of our country – the say which Yahya Jammeh sought but failed to deny us. We insisted on our freedom to participate in the discourse on the future and destiny of our dear country that Yahya Jammeh sought but failed to deny us. We insisted that tyrannical regimes like Yahya Jammeh’s could force us into exile, but they could never force us to remain silent and therefore be accessories to the ritual political murder of our country that he repeatedly committed through his unbridled and mindless despotism. For us, going physically into exile did not translate into going mentally into exile. While we physically lived in a faraway and often hostile land, our hearts and minds spent every single day and night, every minute and hour on the soils of our dear Smiling Coast, tending to the wounds that the Jammeh regime continuously inflicted on our dear motherland. Silence was never an option for us and hesitation or compromise on matters of truth and justice as far as they affected the future and destiny of our country was never an option. We were determined to keep calling Yahya Jammeh out and vigorously chipping away at the seemingly stout trunk of despotism he represented until it collapsed under its own weight of blunders, crimes and sins against humanity and against itself. We were encouraged by the firm knowledge that while despotism often thinks of itself as indomitable and invincible, it is always engaged in a process of perpetual self-destruction that will eventually claim its life. Yahya Jammeh’s tragic fate is living testimony and a reaffirmation of this natural truth. Perhaps the tears flowed down our eyes at the beauty of the truth of natural justice manifesting right before us.

People go into exile for reasons that may often be broadly categorized as either right or wrong reasons. Those who go into exile because of their insistence on respect for natural justice and the sanctity of human dignity go into exile for the right reasons. Those who go into exile because of their disrespect for natural justice and their trampling on the sanctity of human dignity go into exile for the wrong reasons. Yahya Jammeh belongs to the latter category. He is not going into exile because he was a victim of injustice but because he was a perpetrator of injustice. He is not going into exile because he had seen the light of reason but because he had seen and feared a real threat of physical annihilation by a force greater than himself. Yet, unlike people who go into exile for the right reasons, Yahya Jammeh cannot remain connected in any positive way to his homeland. He cannot advocate for respect for natural justice because it was his disrespect for natural justice that landed him in exile. He cannot advocate for respect for human dignity because it was his disrespect for human dignity that landed him in exile. His exile will be much more painful than ours because he has no cause to fight for on behalf of the country and the people he has bullied and terrorized for 22 years. He can wallow in the laps of luxury, but he will never be able to stop or get any relief from the painful pangs of homesickness that all exiles suffer from day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year. His exile will be a much hotter and drier desert for his spirit than those who were forced into exile for the right reasons and who therefore hope to return home someday.

Exile is a strange form of prison. It is a prison that allows you to go anywhere you want but the place you most want to go – home. It is a prison that allows you to walk on any soil you want but the soil you most want to walk on – your home soil. It is a prison that allows you to touch anything you want but the thing you most want to touch – your home. It is a prison that allows you to see anything you want but the thing you most want to see – your home. And so the exile finds himself in the paradoxical situation of being at once a free person and a prisoner of sorts. But exile may be tolerable if you are an inmate in its strange prison for the right reasons – for standing up against despotism and injustice. If, as in Yahya Jammeh’s case you are an exile for the wrong reasons, for perpetuating despotism and injustice, for trampling upon the lives and dignities of innocent human beings, this strange prison will prove much more excruciatingly painful. For while those exiled for the right reasons may entertain and be nurtured by the hope of walking on their home soil again if they live long enough, those exiled for the wrong reasons may hardly dare to hope for such an eventuality.

And so as the despotic regime that forced some of us into exile finally drops into the dustbin of historical infamy where it will be forever consigned, we can only say to our dear little homeland that we have never really left you. Our hearts and minds have always been with you, our spirits have always slept in your tender arms and our energies have always been directed at liberating and protecting you from the clutches of a malignant dictatorship that is now history. And so we send you dear Mother Gambia, our true and unconditional love from exile. We pray that God grants us the opportunity to see you soon and to grant us the strength, wisdom and capacity to continue loving and serving you to the best of our abilities, however human, however limited. God bless you Mother Gambia, the Smiling Coast of West Africa.

WELCOME TO MY WORLD YAYA JAMMEH

January 22, 2017

EX-PRESIDENT JAMMEH

14 years ago, I left my country as one of the youngest commanding officers of the Gambia Police Force to seek protection in the United Kingdom owing to political duress of your autocratic reign. What was my crime? I was branded ‘stubborn and living ahead of my time’. Perhaps, I was but the truth is I refused to join the club of the status quo for which I paid with 14 years of nightmarish agony and heart-breaking nostalgia. My learned and seasoned brother- E. G. Sankareh, Raleigh, NC, USA-observed: “The greatest of all ironies for me and the most poignant moment in my life perhaps, is that the despot who prevented me from returning to my birthplace for almost 22 years is today, an exile himself. Unlike me and my colleagues “subversives” as he labelled us, Yaya Jammeh will remain an exile forever and probably, very soon, a captive and prisoner of his own acts”. Very freshening indeed. But it neither measures up nor effaces the agony, trauma and endless sleepless nights with unsurmountable anxiety of waiting for a decision on your asylum claim. The nagging fear of been refused and deported. The embarrassment of been perceived as an economic migrant. The stigma of being a refugee. Worst of all is the lacerating pain of separation from your love ones, wife and children.

Dr Baba G Jallow also has this to say, “Indeed, I cannot pretend to know why the tears poured out of my eyes and kept doing so for so long. Perhaps it was my sense of the tragic nature of human life; perhaps it was the reaffirmation of my conviction that those who make other people’s lives miserable must in the end become miserable themselves – that we indeed do reap what we sow, as Jammeh is now destined to do for the rest of his life. Perhaps it was because finally, the giant rock of injustice we have been striking for so long has finally crumbled into dust and our dear little country has been given another lease on life.

 People go into exile for reasons that may often be broadly categorized as either right or wrong reasons. Those who go into exile because of their insistence on respect for natural justice and the sanctity of human dignity go into exile for the right reasons. Those who go into exile because of their disrespect for natural justice and their trampling on the sanctity of human dignity go into exile for the wrong reasons. Yahya Jammeh belongs to the latter category. He is not going into exile because he was a victim of injustice but because he was a perpetrator of injustice. He is not going into exile because he had seen the light of reason but because he had seen and feared a real threat of physical annihilation by a force greater than himself. Yet, unlike people who go into exile for the right reasons, Yahya Jammeh cannot remain connected in any positive way to his homeland. He cannot advocate for respect for natural justice because it was his disrespect for natural justice that landed him in exile. He cannot advocate for respect for human dignity because it was his disrespect for human dignity that landed him in exile. His exile will be much more painful than ours because he has no cause to fight for on behalf of the country and the people he has bullied and terrorized for 22 years. He can wallow in the laps of luxury, but he will never be able to stop or get any relief from the painful pangs of homesickness that all exiles suffer from day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year. His exile will be a much hotter and drier desert for his spirit than those who were forced into exile for the right reasons and who therefore hope to return home someday”.

Waking up from perhaps his longest night, if he had any sleep at all, Jammeh will swallow his first dose of exile. As reality gradually dawns on him and the consequences of a once vain dictator set in, Jammeh will appreciate nothing is more gratifying than being discipline, compassionate, humble, tolerant and honest. You told the press that you now know who your true friends are. Awesome. I guess you are a bit hasty. Wait until your ill-gotten wealth runs out then you will know who your true friends really are. But until then be my guest Jallow Kanilai. Ops, my bad, I meant to say Jallow Conakry. Very soon when all the dust of uncertainty and insecurity finds a resting place, I will be home. When are you coming Jallow Conakry?

Do I have any regrets for living in exile? Certainly, not. My living in exile has helped in crushing down a vicious dictator. If I have to do it again, I will pleasantly start all over again. But dictatorship isn’t trendy anymore and Gambians have decided to be commanders of their destiny. Welcome to the world of exile Jammeh. One more thing, please keep your filthy hands of the charming young Guinean light skin girls.

Sulayman Jeng,

Birmingham, UK

THANK YOU YAYA JAMMEH

January 21, 2017

Former President Jammeh

It has been a long, emotional, painful, outrageous, repressive and regrettable 22 years of despotic rule. You killed, banished, incarcerated, maimed and exiled many Gambians with disdainful impunity. Your last two weeks in office, which resonated infinite period, is most gruesome of all your omissions in office. It witnessed mass exodus of helpless Gambians across into Senegalese border, a bloodcurdling state of fear and uncertainty, uncultured abuse of constitutional dictates, traumatic psychological and mental torture, state of helplessness and immeasurable frustration. Despite all your evil intents for us, you have only succeeded in making us strong, united and determined to jealously preserve and guard our freedom. Correspondingly, even though it was not your aspiration, your malevolent actions have helped in making every Gambian take keen interest in our political affairs and become commanders of our own destiny. Albeit many were in denial regarding your underworld shady operations, your last week in office divulged your true nature.

Equivalently, you have proven more than ever before to all and sundry that you are not trustworthy, you are callous, you are selfish, you are arrogant and indiscipline. This is demonstrated palpably by Umaru Fofana of the BBC postulation, “The morning after the night before, I wonder what’s playing on Yahya Jammeh’s mind-as he prepares to leave not only power and the unbridled access to wealth and control, but also his homeland. Probably his longest ever night”. As the dust of new Gambia is settling down, let us draw few lessons from our enlightening experience with Monster Jammeh.

As a starter, all political detainees must be freed with immediate effect. Create rehabilitation programmes for them to refit into everyday life. Provide them with proper counselling, medical and social care. This must be followed by the commissioning of truth, peace and reconciliation commission to put under the microscope Jammeh’s 22 years of omissions. While the commission is sitting, the security services must be revamped. All efforts must be taken to transform the security services into professional, independent and productive services. It will require retraining, expanding, reforming and retiring. Since our only close contact with war is peace-keeping missions, each of the technical units of all the services must be nurtured and readied for generating revenue both for central government and their services. On the day of President Barrow’s return to Banjul, all Gambian armed officer and other ranks on Guard of Honour welcoming him at the airport must be disarmed. Until the personal security and safety of President Barrow is established beyond doubt, a carefully selected officers and other ranks from the Gambian security services must be entrusted with his protection. The NIA. Yes, the notorious NIA. It will be irresponsible and illogical to disband it completely. What it needs is getting rid of its administrative leadership and any agent who participated in unlawful omission of duty. Restructure it, retrain all its agents and redefine their duties and responsibilities. Take all policing powers from it and let it operate as a professional intelligent agency. The Police Force also needs touching up and restructuring. An independent body should also be set up to police all the security services particularly the police force. The powers to appoint and dismiss the Inspector General of Police should be vested on PMO with the approval of the independent body policing the police. That way, the police will be independent from the executive and execute its duties and responsibilities without political duress.

Respectively, the Civil Service also needs a dose of face-lift. There are still some elements within it that still owe allegiance to Jammeh. The continued presence of such persons within the Civil Service will only subterfuge efforts of the rainbow government in picking up the broken pieces of the economy. Salaries, social and pension welfare of civil servants must be reviewed and updated to commensurate current economic realities and standards of living in the Gambia. This will help to curb corruption and irresponsibility. Proper time keeping and responsible management of public properties should also be put in place. For instance, reporting on duty on time, clocking in and out of duty, set breaks times, sick leave/pay and use of official telephones etc. Cultivate a committed and loyal work turnover.

Most importantly, setting up a 2 term limit for the presidency. Once that is entrenched in the constitution and can only be reversed by a referendum, we will safe any president from overstaying his or her welcome. Well, for the national assembly now we all know the consequences of having and ill-informed, ill-educated and a rubber-stamp NAMs. The next batch of NAMs must at least badged Grade 12 certificate and good result.

GRTS I will recommend to be managed by Fatou Camara. As well as the director of GRTS, she should be the Press Secretary to President Barrow. Apart from her fountain experience in the media, she can transform GRTS to a financially viable and world class media house. Take a close look at her Fatu Networks and you will understand my point. As a Press Secretary to President Barrow, she will do an excellent work in projecting his PR and relationship with the press both home and abroad. Even as the Minister of Information and Communication the iron lady will not disappoint. She is committed, experienced, focus and loyal.

Finally, until our paths cross again Jammeh, thank you for helping us love freedom more than life.

Sulayman Jeng Birmingham, UK

GAMBIA: INAUGURAL SPEECH OF ADAMA BARROW PRESIDENT OF THE 3RD REPUBLIC

January 20, 2017

President Adama Barrow taking oath of Office at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar

Fellow Gambians and friends of The Gambia, I am humbled to stand before you to address the whole world on this historic occasion. This is a day no Gambian will ever forget in one’s life time. This is the first time since The Gambia became Independent in 1965 that Gambians have  change their government through the ballot box.

I must take this opportunity to thank the entire electorate of the Gambia and Gambians in the Diaspora for making this day possible.

I thank the entire campaign team of Coalition 2016 and the stakeholders for putting aside their political differences to unite us for the national interest.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to register special appreciation to Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and the Chairperson of Authority of Heads of States of ECOWAS, for her personal commitment and tireless efforts towards resolving the political crises in The Gambia. The same sentiment goes to H .E Muhammadou Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and H.E John Draman Mahama, former President of Ghana.

I must also express profound gratitude to ECOWAS, AU, the Security Council of the United Nations and all friendly nations who stood by us during our time of greatest need.

I wish to thank His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and his government for their hosting and hospitality accorded me and my delegation at the request  of  the ECOWAS Chair.  This is what it means to be part of a Community of Democratic Nations.

Exceptional circumstance has compelled me to be sworn  here today and does not permit all those who made this day possible to be present.

It was later realised that the loser of the Election may not fulfill the mandate of a caretaker government and facilitate a proper Inauguration with the full support of all state Agencies.

In fact, two days before the term of office of the incumbent expires a State of Emergency was declared. However, the Constitution of the Gambia does not permit any law maker to deprive a citizen of a right that is already acquired. My right as a winner to be sworn in and assume the Office of President is constitutionally guaranteed and irreversible.

I hereby make a special appeal to ECOWAS, AU and the U.N particularly the Security Council to support  the Government and people of The Gambia in enforcing their will,  restore their sovereignty and constitutional legitimacy.

I therefore call on all civilian and military Personnel of the state to support my Presidency since it is built on a Constitutional foundation.  They are assured that they will not be subjected to any injustice and discrimination but would be provided with better working conditions and terms of service.

This is a victory of the Gambian Nation. Our National flag will now fly high among those of the most Democratic Nations of the world. The capacity to effect change through the ballot box has proven that power belongs to the people in the Gambia.

Violent change is banished forever from the political life of our country. All Gambians are therefore winners. There is no loser in the Gambian Election. It is a fact that we contest Elections on the basis of political diversity but we build Nations on the basis of National Unity. We are here assembled as One Gambia, One Nation, and One People.

Throughout our campaign we promised to unify our diverse people so that each would take ownership of the country, irrespective of ethnic origin, religion, gender or any other differences. Today, most Gambians are united in-order to give Gambia a new start.

Hence, as of today, I am the President of all Gambians regardless of whether you voted for me or not.

We could now become the architects of a Democratic Republic that is built on the pillars of Good Governance, Rule of Law and Respect for Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

My government will implement  comprehensive reforms.  These include constitutional, institutional  and legal reforms to expand  the democratic  gains we have made.

Your Excellencies, Honourable Guests, fellow Gambians, I belong to the generation of children who were born in 1965 when The Gambia became Independent. I believe in the wise saying that “to whom much is given, much is expected”.

I established a Think Tank, The Agency for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development (ASSED). This will bring experts on board to share their knowledge and skills in order to put in place an inclusive development  agenda. Your Excellencies, honourable guests and fellow Gambians, I would like to conclude by saying that men and women of this nation joined hands to effect a change that was in the making for many decades.

This is a change that should bring liberty and prosperity to everyone and not to be discriminated on the basis of gender, religion or ethnic origin. We are now determined to build a Gambia where merit and what you know counts more than who you know.

As the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, I call on all personnel of the armed forces and other security agencies to remain loyal to the constitution and to the Republic.

I command the Chief of Defense Staff, and other officers of the high command to demonstrate their loyalty to me as their commander-in-chief, without any delay. I command all members of the armed forces to remain in their barracks. Those found wanting or in possession of fire arms without my order, shall be considered rebels.

Gambia is our homeland! It demands our love and loyalty. Let us all pledge our firm allegiance to be ever true to our mother land The Gambia.

Long Live The Republic

Long Live the United People of The Gambia.

Forward Ever! Backward Never!

SEMINAR ON THE POLITICAL IMPASSE IN GAMBIA HELD IN OSLO

January 8, 2017

Participants pose during reading of  the statement

Participants at the seminar

Under the auspices of Norwegian Council for Africa, Os-Norway Gambia Affairs Group and Africa Center for Information and Development, Gambians and friends of the Gambia flocked to a seminar on the political situation in the Gambia on Friday evening  January 6th 2017. The theme of the seminar was diplomacy or military intervention. It was an interactive seminar that started with presentation from two panelists; Mr. Bakary B. Darboe former vice president of the Gambia and Ms. Tone Sommerfelt a researcher at FAFO who spent some years in Gambia on research work. Before the seminar kick started the Imam of the Gambian community in Oslo Ebrahima Saidy led the participants in prayers. After the deliberations of the panelists the floor was opened by the moderator Betty Marong for contributions from the audience and the contributions were in the form of comments and questions.

Mr. Darboe in his presentation said diplomacy is the preferred option but unfortunately we haven’t got a break through yet and there is time constraint. He went on to buttress that although the presidents in the sub-region continue to engage with the incumbent, fear and uncertainty hovers over Gambia. He said there are unfortunate signs of the military taking up positions around the country and unhealthy statements coming from Jammeh and the CDS of the army on the radio and television. Commenting on the military option Mr Darboe said ECOWAS will ensure all means necessary to make sure that Jammeh leaves because they have made a commitment to it.  He lamented that letting the current situation to continue is also risky. Citing the collateral damage of military intervention the former vice president said the option is a dilemma and adding that the discussion should not be limited to only these two options , other options need to be explored like economic blockade. Such an option can severely affect a small country like the Gambia but wonders if this option will do the trick for us.  Another option he highlighted is what he calls the people’s power stating that the high spirit of the populace should not be left to die as it could be tapped in the form of civil disobedience.

Ms. Tone Sommerfelt on her part in lamenting on diplomacy said keeping this route is crucial and put emphasis on domestic diplomacy. She said we should focus on reminding government officials and civil servants including military officials on their responsibilities. She also said people should be critical of information coming out like Jammeh scouting for mercenaries who are former rebels from the sub- region because such news may just be propaganda tactics to scare the people. What Jammeh does is crucial he will not win a military war but can create havoc and as such it is important that he accepts to step down, to avoid any bloodshed she charged. Commenting on the military option she said there is no doubt in the willingness of ECOWAS to intervene. Talking about the role of Senegal the FAFO researcher Ms. Sommerfelt said the fact that Senegal will lead if there is any intervention is good in the sense that Senegalese soldiers are more disciplined compared to others in the sub-region. When she was asked about the role of Norway in this political impasse she said Norway has very little interest in Gambia and it is only few of them who are trying to bring Gambia in the news but they would continue to engage the authorities on Gambia matters.

The seminar was well attended with some people coming all the way from neighboring country Sweden, mainly Gambians. There was a man from Cameroon and a lady from South Africa who also contributed in the discussions.  Some Norwegians also graced the seminar and there have been very healthy exchange of ideas from both the audience and the panelists. There was a consensus that all diplomatic avenues should be exploited so that the impasse is resolved in a peaceful manner and that military intervention should only be a last resort and many were in favor of Senegal leading that intervention for the simple reason that they speak the same languages and share the same cultures with Gambians.

At the end of the seminar all participants rose up to read the national anthem of the Gambia and statement issued by Oslo-Norway Gambia Affairs Group was read out while everyone stood shoulder to shoulder and listened to it. Below is the statement that was issued by the Oslo-Norway Gambia Affairs Group:

Statement of Oslo-Norway Gambia Affairs Group on the Political Impasse in the Gambia

Date: January 6th 2017

Fellow citizens and friends of the Gambia the Oslo-Norway Gambia Affairs Group would like to affirm our solidarity with the historic decision taken by the heroic people of the Gambia on December 1st 2016. On the spot counting of election results without the least doubt gave victory to Adama Barrow leader of the opposition coalition. We therefore urge the incumbent to respect the will of the Gambian people and initiate without delay the process of gracefully handing over power to president –elect Barrow on January 19th 2017. The current political impasse of our country is not without a formula to resolve it. The formula lies in the supreme law of our country. It is clearly spelt out in the constitution on how to handle election results grievances.

The fact that the incumbent has filed a petition at the Supreme Court should not in any way obstruct the handing over of power to President-elect Barrow. Gambia has already decided and the decision to avoid bloodshed on our peace loving country now rests squarely on the shoulders of the incumbent. If he gracefully decides to hand over the mantle of leadership of our country to president-elect Barrow any potential bloodbath would be averted. If on the other hand he decides to cling on to power one second after the 18th of January he automatically becomes a rebel leader and would be resisted from all quarters of our country. The ordinary Gambian people on the ground fought tirelessly to secure the historic election results and they would give everything to defend it to the end. No amount of intimidation would deter them from this magnificent march to victory.

The opposition coalition urged the victorious people of the Gambia to exercise maximum restraint and law abiding in response to all forms of provocations orchestrated by the outgoing president and his team. We therefore hope that it is a move to confirm that they are a government in the waiting and in control of the situation and come January 19th the mandate of the people would be adhered to. We support them for vehemently condemning the recent arrests in connection to “Gambia has decided” t-shirts. Their swift response has led to the release of those detained by the country’s spy agency. The incumbent keeps touting for respect of the constitution however we are all aware that if there is any violator of the constitution it is the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh himself. He has deliberately violated the constitution in many instances; from filing a petition more than ten days after the announcement of election results to requesting a not constituted supreme court to annul election results and declare the incumbent winner of December 1st elections. We want to make it very clear that we don’t want bloodshed in our country but we would not rest unless and until the incumbent hands over power to president elect Adama Barrow.

WHO IS JAMMEH FOOLING AT #GAMBIA HAS DECIDED?

January 3, 2017

 

The Dictator

My literature teacher once confided that “the whole world is a stage where some of us become performers while others settle as an audience”. History, on the other hand, discerns us under three distinct reputes: makers, observers and destroyers. Yesterday I had a briefed but refreshing chat with Lt Lamin Gano on Facebook on the current political impasse which led us to talk about our security services and their role in the impasse.

Sulayman Jeng: There should be no renegotiation with the devil. He had the opportunity and blew it up and now he is threatening us. Since he has chosen a fight let us fight. Whoever dies so be it. The heroes will be celebrated and families compensated. But Jammeh will leave by force period. Gano Lamin: Oga Sulayman Jeng sticks and stones are not compatible with guns and bullets. That will not be a fight but a massacre. Sulayman Jeng: Don’t worry only two drones will be dropped, one at state house and the other in Kanilai and that will be enough to flush this oaf for good. Gano Lamin: Come on Oga!!!! You know and I know that drones are not used to fight for democracy, human rights and good governance. If that was the case, then the Saudi Monarch would have been history decades ago. Sulayman Jeng: The geographical position and features of the Gambia only avail a street to street fight which will lead to more civilian casualties. But targeted air raids will do the magic before sending foot soldiers to consolidate the finished job. Gano Lamin: Sulayman Jeng ECOWAS has no mandate to use military force to enforce democracy/election results. All the cases of military intervention in Africa only came about during an active conflict; never before. Sulayman Jeng: Ok let see what happens next my learned friend. Gano Lamin: But let’s assume that there is indeed a military intervention and Jammeh is booted out. How do you think the Coalition Government will be able to govern and implement their manifesto under an environment of mistrust and animosity with the security forces? How would you sleep in peace when the dog stationed outside to protect you is bitter/angry with you? Sulayman Jeng: Flush out all the bad elements within the security service. Retrain the remaining good ones. Give them opportunities to develop not only their persons but the services themselves. Let us say for instance, the mechanics on the service to be given all government mechanical contracts. All funds generated from such ventures be divided in half, one goes back to central gov and the other retain to buy new equipment and to fund further training of the unit. Builders the same. Within a five year period they will not only be professional but independent and capable to complete with the civil and private sector for contracts. How does that sound my good friend? Gano Lamin: “Flush out”. That literally made me cringe!!! Bro, we have a working population of less than 1 million and the Gambia is one of the least developed countries in the world. We need each and every person and all hands on deck to develop and forge ahead bro. So we should be using terms like expansion, upgrading, all-inclusiveness, development etc instead of flush, get rid of, eliminate etc. We should be thinking of commissions of reform, progress etc instead of commissions of justice or inquiries…. Sulayman Jeng: You cannot upgrade a rotten element, but expand what can be productive. Let us be honest comrade. An armed soldier who does not know the potent of what he carries in his hand and prefers to defend the selfish ego of an individual against the territorial integrity of his country and the freedom of the majority, tell me how can you upgrade or include that soldier in national development? Gano Lamin: Sulayman Jeng I will respond to this with a complete blog. Give me a few hours in shaa Allah. Sulayman Jeng: Thanks my learned friend

Albeit few gallant soldiers lost their all in quests to dislodge the world most heinous dictator of all times, the Gambia Security Services more especially the GNA and NIA continued to dismay Gambians with their unwitting commitment in not only abetting Monster Jammeh but their futile attempt in resuscitating his dead regime. It is not an embellishment to vehemently conclude the current Gambian political impasse which may inevitably turn nasty is the GNA’s darling baby. Could I be possibly wrong? Before you decide, allow me to present you my case.

Immediately trekking on the footprint of Jammeh’s concession is the security chiefs’ pledge of support to President-elect Barrow on GRTS. Even Judas-Mayor Colley-lent his voice in reiterating national peace, stability and unity outweighs personal goals. Then the most anticipated happened like a miscarriage of a most desired pregnancy. Jammeh rejected the results he barely accept a week earlier. Gambians stood by their decision which was complimented by universal condemnation of Jammeh’s chancy U-turn. Civil servants, students, diplomats, religious leaders and even some APRC militants pleaded with him to step down when his mandates expires on 18 January 2017 except the security services. CDS Badge rashly turned himself into a clown of the year by owlishly saying his salary is paid by Jammeh instead of Gambian tax payers. Like his Lord Commander-in-Chief, he fans the flames of war by dishonouring his pledge to the Coalition and President-elect Barrow. All this hullabaloo could not have been averted if the Security Chiefs had lend a hand to the voice of reason calling on Jammeh to step down when his term expires. Jammeh would not have been ranting and courting external military intervention. Perhaps, if you had made it clear to him that you will not die for him, he would have listened to the voice of reason. But you opted to give him false hopes while fully conscious that when the canon begin to sing, none of you will be out to dance with him. And two months from now, most of you will be beating yourself forever for not standing tall with #Gambia Has Decided. However, I take solace in the truism: Nothing good comes easy. To this Martin Luther King Jr has reassured Gambians that “We will overcome and you will reap what you sow”. Your preposterous attempt to delay the inevitability will only result in your disgraceful end.

For those particularly in the NIA currently conducting unlawful arrests of law abiding citizens, you are marring your future. All of you will be held accountable for your actions. The monster whose sorry ass you trying to cover is now on the run. You know that I track Jammeh’s every move. Presently, you advised him to switch off his satellite phone to avoid being traced in the event of an air strike by the ECOWAS military intervention. You sent GNA personnel to Jammeh Kunda as a deflection so that Bakau residents will think Jammeh was there. Well, your manoeuvre worked but for the hasty unprofessional. Jammeh and his militia led by Suwanding Camara are shuttling between Cape House and Gunjur. The botanical gardens he has chosen as a terrain and cover when there is a ground assault. The support weapons that are transferred at Cape House will avail all of you nothing but disgraceful end. In the cover of darkness you sneak him back to State House via the Gate adjacent the RVTH. Keep changing phone numbers hoping that will cover your shaky indelible footprints. You can take this to the bookies, we will dig out Jammeh from a hole like a rodent in broad daylight. And guess what? Media from the whole world will be there to shoot the block buster movie of the century. That moment. Chei that moment. Then the hunt for the traitors will begin. Run. Yes run as far as you can go but you will not escape. To safe us the show down, arrest and handover Jammeh to the police before it gets late for you.

Jammeh, gallant men don’t play hide and seek. If you aren’t a coward why you running like a fugitive? “I am ready to defence our sovereignty to the last” my foot. Who are you fooling? Certainly not me. Yes not me because like the proverbial ostrich, your sorry ass is in the open and I looking into your where sun never shines.

Sulayman Jeng, Birmingham, UK

AJI YAM SECKA GRABS THE POINT’S SHE-SHE-SHE WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2016

January 3, 2017

Aji Yam Secka

She fought, lived and won the struggle against the incumbent, when her party leader was put behind bars as the country prepared for December 1 presidential polls.

I have heard of this lioness from Banjul, well before I got the chance to meet her at the High Court in Banjul and the Mansakonko High Court in Lower River Region.

Some people have nick names, and sometimes I have to question it because they do not live up to expectations.

But this woman was unbreakable in the face of difficult times. She is indeed is a lioness, and that is why there cannot be any other woman more qualified who deserves to be awarded SHE-SHE-SHE’s Woman of the Year 2016 accolade.

As we are preparing to bid farewell to 2016, a year of victory, history, happiness and great achievements in the lives of every Gambian, SHE-SHE-SHE wishes to thank its esteem and loyal readers for making the column their favourite, and looks forward to many more happy and great moments ahead in 2017.

As part of this farewell, I bring forward to you the SHE-SHE-SHE woman of the Year 2016.

Since I took over this column, various women have been the given award by this column, due to their outstanding role in our society, year after year.

This time, our Woman of the Year 2016 is an ordinary, simple, humble, yet brilliant, smart, intelligent fighter who never gave up, despite threats, torture and incarceration.

She is Aji Yam Secka, the lioness herself. She is the deputy party leader of United Democratic Party (UDP).

I first met her at the High Court in Banjul when Darboe and Co were taken to court on various charges, at a time when UDP like any other political party should be preparing for the December 1 presidential polls.

She is a woman and a deputy party leader, who was also acting party leader when her party leader Darboe was put behind bars for demanding the release of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, dead or alive, along with other Westfield protesters.

As a woman, it is natural that some men may think that during this trying times she would be weakened, but she proved them wrong, and held on to her strength, tightened her belt and lead the entire UDP family to every court sitting, from Banjul High Court to Mansakonko High Court in LRR.

This was the woman that coordinated the affairs of UDP, and made it even stronger in the absence of the party leader.

She is a fighter, and even when some of the supporters are not allowed in court, this woman would never lose focus because she is a fighter, and as a fighter she refused to be distracted.

She is also a diplomat, and that is why she only knew how to deal with rumours surrounding her party, the UDP.

“I wish to register my greetings to the courageous family members of the victims of 14 and 16 April and of 9 May 2016, who are present or could not be with us,” she said in one of her statements during the case.

She is the deputy party leader for all, and this she manifested during the trials involving her party members and supporters.

It is very difficult for one who does not know her, as being the deputy party leader, to spot her out in the midst of other people in court; because she is the type that maintained a low profile, and the type who does not possess the attitude of “maa fi cess” (I’m the one in charge). Aji Yam Secka was thus perfect woman for the role.

She is a veteran politician, and a woman of substance. She is a powerful writer, and that is why whenever she responds to any rumour about her party in a statement format, the message is always well consumed without an iota of doubt.

Indeed, she is a lioness and a fighter. She alone brought together all the families of those UDP supporters behind bars, under one umbrella, and gave them the emotional support that they needed throughout the trial; and never for once let them go astray as she fought her diplomatic and heroic fight in the political arena.

“Whilst we were busy on the court cases, and to see that our people are free from illegal state abduction, the APRC government has also been busy bullying and intimidating our supporters in different parts of the country so that they can abandon the UDP.

“Some people have also used that as an opportunity going around the country telling people that the UDP is dead; that they should abandon the UDP, and many other unfounded stories. This has created confusion across the country among our supporters, we were told. There is no iota of truth in that,” she said.

This is one such powerful quotation from a statement she wrote.

Aji Yam Secka is not just the Woman of 2016, but she is the woman for all generations and all times, because she survived threatening political situations that many will think a woman is not fit for.

This was not just the woman who gave emotional support to the victims or survivors of April, 14, 16 and of 9 May, 2016, but whenever she and her team visited them, they are given both money and foodstuff for their upkeep; thus, keeping their struggle spirits alive.

“You all know that since 1996 Yahya Jammeh has been targeting the UDP to either deregister us or to render us ineffective. This is because we are his biggest problem. He saw the events of April 14 and 16 as an opportunity to clamp down on the UDP,” she said.

How many women will stand up to an incumbent with such powerful words in the 21st century, if not for a woman like Aji Yam Secka who is a daring female politician?

The “Calabash and Broom Revolution” all started at the high court under her leadership, and it worked well. Many a time, we have seen that in most of organizations, the moment the leader is absent for any reason, the organization fails to function; but I’m sure the supporters of UDP will agree with me that the party became even stronger and better with Aji Yam leading and acting on behalf of Darboe.

She designed the political game, mobilized the grassroots UDP supporters, and embarked on house-to-house, one-on-one, regional and nationwide rallies and preached the words and wisdom of Ousainou Darboe, as well as make UDP supporters believe in its leadership and fuelled their determination to vote out the incumbent; and she succeed and became the political game changer.

“From the start, we have seen how the state investigators cooked up evidence against our people. We have seen how the government lawyers brought in so-called witnesses to lie in court.

“We have seen how the judges compromised themselves by ignoring all ethical standards for a free and fair trial, by not even allowing our lawyers to have a private confidential discussion with our people.

“We have seen how the security forces have been mishandling our people who were going to the courts. We have seen how the authorities at Mile II were even denying home cooked food to our people.

“There are many other injustices that we can continue to talk about. The UDP will continue to say that the trials and the subsequent verdicts that put our great leader and his co-accused persons, as well as our other supporters to prison, were just a farce and travesty of justice.”

I can recall and quote every statement released by her, and fill all the pages of my column with it and still there will be more, because she is the fearless female fighter of her time.

She stands firm on her ground, and was not even shaken a bit by any doings of the state and security officials during the trials.

So I begin with the secret behind that bravery, that I admire every time I set my eyes on her.

When I last met her at the high court after the December 1 victory, where Darboe and other political prisoners were released, she said: “We will feed them and take them to the best doctors for treatment.”

I keep thinking and wondering what if she is selected as the Vice President of the new Government, side by side with president-elect Adama Barrow; because if that happens she will survive, live and win every struggle and challenge that comes her way, just like the way she fought, and lived to win the struggle against the incumbent.

My dear Aunty Aji Yam Secka, you are indeed the Woman of the Year 2016 and even more. As a young lady, I keep wondering how you do it; and, if you are reading this, I hope our paths will cross again one-on-one, and you will share with me and my readership the secret behind your bravery.

SHE-SHE-SHE wishes everyone a happy and prosperous New Year in advance, and hopes that in 2017 a lot of interesting stories about women, girls and children will be heard and told in this column.

Source: The Point Newspaper Gambia