THE GAMBIAN REALITY: A WAKE-UP CALL FOR PRESIDENT JAMMEH

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BLAISE CAMPAORE

BLAISE CAMPAORE

THE OAF THAT NEVER HEEDS

THE OAF THAT NEVER HEEDS

Power is a treacherous intoxicant, once you get drunk it becomes viral and to sober from it is almost impossible. However, historical realities couple with common sense often help us read clearly the road signs and markings we trek to advert fatal accidents and regrettable lifelong mistakes. Most importantly, it equipped us to make informed choices deflating potential hazards to our own lives and that of others especially our loved ones. A wise Fula, you know the Fulas are always wise and cunning, said “No furu maondu ko eh hoore maonde fu ndata”. It literally translates a big ear grows on a big head. The Burkinabe situation brings home our very own Gambian reality.

Twenty years ago, like Campaore, you ascended to power through a military coup but unlike him you ousted a constitutional government and he 7 years your senior in power. Both of you promised your people change. A change that will usher in sustainable development characterised by accountability, transparency, probity, eradication of poverty, good health, education and above all freedom. Freedom of expression. Freedom to ask the executive how it accumulates it wealth. Freedom to repeal draconian laws that only benefit a few at the expense of the majority. Freedom to curb electoral fraud. Freedom of safety of a person. Freedom for affordable living cost. Freedom to access electricity and clean water. Freedom to employment. Freedom to be free in your own bedroom.  Did you live up to your promises? Firstly, let us examine the rise and fall of Campaore and contrast it with the Gambian reality perhaps you would learn a lesson or two Mr President.

Growing public distrust is a factor which prevails prominently in both countries. The Burkinabe got reticent with mounting failed promises with Campaore whereas Gambians take Jammeh’s illusionary promises with a pinch of salt. For example, he promised Banjulians paved streets yet year in year out they swim in muddy ponds which are even more visible than the roads markings and signs of the streets of Banjul. Furthermore, President Jammeh assured Gambians that he would electrify the whole country and build a railway connecting the provinces with the urban areas all to no avail. As if Gambians are gullible, he comes up with a coup plot every now and again just to incarceration, kill and banish more Gambians. Electricity and clear water are now more inaccessible than before. At least those who had it were assured of its regular supply.

Lack of political alternative base. Both Campaore and Jammeh have systematically scheme a political environment in which opposition parties lack the ability to create a platform to offer electorates alternative base and effect change through the ballot box.  In the Gambian reality, opposition politicians and perceived opponents are intermittently harassed, intimidated and/or falsely accused of bogus felonies and unlawfully incarcerated. Femi Peters and Amadou Sanneh are living prove of Jammeh’s political thuggery. Opposition parties particularly UDP is usually denied police permits to hold political rallies. To makes matters worse, any civil servant who is suspected as anti-established is dismissed and charged with giving false information to a public officer, economic crime, and neglect of duty or abuse of office. If any of these felonies is to hold any water is under the bridge of President Jammeh. Do I really need to give evidence in support of my claim? Well just to shut off my sceptics and his supporters, I will tender a couple exhibits. Gambians are used to hear “Do you want to go to my hotel?” and “I will send you to my hotel” from President Jammeh. An elected president threatening a state minister on a national television, if that does not equate an abuse of office, I wonder what else will signify an abuse of office. How about the tonnes of rice given to the Gambian people by Japan sold and pocketed by Jammeh? That is not an economic crime, I guess. Oh, less I forget did Justice Minister Mahoney under the directive of President Jammeh not tell UN Human Rights Council “There is no detention without trial in the Gambia”, and “Gambia supports the 72 hour law of detention, and where it exceeds; people go to court and file habeas corpus. Certainly, Mr President I bet that is not giving false information to a public officer.

Abysmal human rights records. Even china expressed her displeasure on the Gambia’s repulsive human rights record. Each of the 62 member states urged you to step up and amend your nauseating human rights records. Again this reminds me of a Wolof saying “Ku nyep tuff li nga toy”. Mr President, they all cannot be wrong. Gambian home based media houses have been turned into sports and entertainment outlets. The censorship is so sickening that Gambians are now afraid to think. Gambians continue to disappear from their cosy beds in the middle of nights. Unlawful arrests and detentions, contrary to your whitewashed human rights reports, linger unabated. The killings. What are the killings? The killings of journalists, political opponents, security personnel and other vulnerable citizens. In Burkina it is Zongo and in the Gambia it is Dayda Hydara. What do they have in common? Their only crime was been journalists investigating criminal Presidents.

A country on edge. Both countries heavily depend on foreign aid and imports for their survival to say the least, Jammeh Gilanka. Youth unemployment is an ugly sore on the foreheads of both countries. With the growing frustration and anger of both people resided growing warnings to jolt your attention to your people’ craving that they want you to go…go and go yet you remain defiant. The latest sign in the Gambia is the deadly back way to Europe route that the youth are embarking on risking their youthful lives. Will telling Europe it is payback time resolve this menacing issue Mr President? Are you refusing to acknowledge reality because you are an oaf or are you disconnected with the reality right under your very nose? What more do you hope to accomplish that you could not in 20 years of your leadership?

Mr President, I will leave you with one of my late dad’s maxims: “To sleep with anger is better than sleeping with regret”. Do not let yourself end like Campaore Gilanka.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK


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