FAULTING THE SELF WITH FINGER POINTING
Listening to the deluded lame duck Jammeh on freedom radio speaking to the Gambian youths spoke volume of his naivety, emotional susceptibility, moral inadequacy and intellectual immaturity. In his fruitless endeavour to halt the course of destiny, he attempts to distort, manipulate and control the minds of the Gambian youth. He alleged that Gambian youths are lazy, unwilling to come out of their shadows of false hope, and unhelpful to their parents particularly their mothers who are their financial backbone. He grudgingly lamented that the youths are complaining about the economic hardship and soaring unemployment in the country yet they are shying away from work. Jammeh in his fruitless attempt in ducking and diving away from the socio-economic and political status quo of the Gambia under him hastens to draw the youths attention to the fishing, farming, business and other trades in which foreigners are making millions from. To cap it, he cited his early days as a youth to buttress what the youths could achieve at home instead of travelling abroad. He was financially independent as a youth he claimed. As I keenly listen to his speech, I was saddened to note as he hopped from one issue to another incoherently that he was unwittingly only faulting himself with his finger pointing. Perhaps what Jammeh is ignorant of is the different socio-economic contours of his administration and that of Jawara. In order for the youths to meaningfully and productively take up artisan trade such as welding, fishing, sawing, farming, horticultural gardening and trade, the government must set in place the following prerequisites: viable economy, good roads network, industries, markets, funds, investment opportunities, security, sustainability and availability of arable land.
Yes, the Gambia waters are blessed with quality and quantitative fish. For any group of Gambian youth to reap financial returns from fishing, they must have either fishing trailers or boats, fishing nets, safety equipment, ice-plants, and processing factories for their produce. Mr President you will agree with me that it takes more than empty and cheap political marketing to get these for the youths. Moreover, they will also need financial capital to run and maintain their machinery. The Senegalese fishermen you eluded in your speech are not operating mass scale finishing as you insinuated in your speech. Most of them perish in sea due to lack of safety equipment, lack of navigation devices and unsafe boats. Their catches are also seasonal and occasional. On some good days, yes, they make a good catch while on others they come home empty handed. Most of their products such as lobsters are sold on credit to the hotels. Some of them have to struggle even harder to get their monies from these hoteliers. This goes to indicate that for that group of youth choosing to take up fishing as a career in the Gambia, need modern and reliable fishing boats which will not capsize any minute in sea. Suffice it to say in this age and time, they also require latest navigation devices which will not only direct their routes but also avail them up to the minute weather and sea condition. Furthermore, when they come with a bumper catch, they need markets to sell their products. The rest of the unsold fish will also need to be frozen or kept in cold storage. Do you have ice plants ready for the youths?
Mr President even if the youths decide to take your advice and go back to the land, is there arable lands for them? Most of the arable lands in the Kombos for instance have been stolen by you in the name of developing housing estates. The Brusubi is a clear case in point. The houses on the Brusubi were farmlands of natives of Brufut, Sukuta and the catchment villages. Have you compensated those poor and vulnerable farmers? Do I have to remind you that you have robbed them of their livelihood? The rest of the farmland is the country is infertile. Your farms are the most fertile and to add insult to injury, you force every Gambian to labour in your farms. What do Gambians who labour in your farms get it return? I can’t help thinking even if the youths had their own group farms, they will not find time to work in their own farms as you will be compelling them to work on your farms. Where will they have all seeds and seedlings for their farms? Jammeh where will they have the fertilizer, machinery and warehouses to store their products? Mr President next time before you run your mouth as a head of state, you need to think carefully that things are in place. Isn’t the Jahally-Pacharr project an eye-opener for you?
Assuming all things are up and running for the Gambian youths in the fishing and farming sectors for example how will they transport their products? Is there a good road network in the Gambia connecting the rural areas, the kombos and the provinces? Certainly not. Without good road networks to markets, towns and villages, all perishable goods will perish between their productions centres to the markets. Let us take the plight of the Gambian women in the horticulture industry for example. When they harvest their tomatoes, lettuce, cabbages and etc. find it absolutely difficult to get to the markets in Serre Kunda and Banjul per say. The reason is not only due to patchy roads but expensive fares. Needless to say, most of these products end up in waste bins.
Lack of manufacturing industries in the Gambia adds to the unfeasibility of your call for the youths to go back to the land. For instance, if there was a tomato paste factory in the Gambia, most of the tomatoes that go waste in the markets could have been made into paste. It can be consumed at home and the rest exported to outside markets. The same can be said of mangoes, oranges and bananas. In the Gambia, everything is almost imported Mr President in case you have forgotten.
The lack of personal safety and security of property also hinders economic prosperity and progress in the Gambia under your tyranny. You hijack any business that flourishes in the Gambia such that investors are now looking elsewhere. Citizens are arbitrarily arrested, detain and tortured on a daily basis Mr President. In an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity, Mr President how can the farmer till his/her farm?
Sulayman Jeng, UK