I want to express my disagreement with anyone who called the Founder and CEO of Qcell group in The Gambia , Mr Muhammmed Jah an advocate or a supporter of economic patriotism. I must first confess that I did not personally know both Pa Njie Girigara and Mr Muhammmed Jah but I have extensive knowledge about Mr Pa Njie’s political activism online. Mr Njie was my former ally in the struggle to restore democracy and constitutional rule in The Gambia. We had extensive collaborative political debates on kaironews to advance United Democratic Party ( UDP ) led coalition initiative prior to the nomination of Mr Adama Barrow as coalition independent Presidential candidate. Mr Njie and I fell out when he committed political suicide to support GDC instead of the coalition in the last elections. I respect his political beliefs and I appreciate how much he has contributed to the struggle despite sometimes we had our disagreements. Mr Njie is a patriotic Gambian who has campaigned extensively in various media outlets in the fight to get rid of military dictatorship while at the time Mr Muhammmed Jah was closed business partner of Dictator Yaya Jammeh. Gambians would recall that Mr Jah made a personal donation to former Dictator Yaya Jammeh in order to maintain their cordial business relationship at the expense of Gambian people while he careless about human rights violations, lawlessness and economic exploitation of Gambian people.
Citizens who are an economic patriots ensures that they use their money or financial resources to advance national interest but not only individual family members , closed friends or business partners. An Economic nationalists or patriots cares about fundamental national issues such as freedom of expression , national economic freedom, advancement and democracy. When Dictator Jammeh was in power, fundamental civil liberties or constitutional rights were violated and our national peaceful coexistence was threatened without any intervention from Mr Muhammmed Jah who has financial capabilities to make positive differences to change the trajectory of the country. We have many Gambian businessmen, intellectuals and entrepreneurs like Mr Jah who were only interested at the time to protect their businesses and employments while ordinary citizens faced economic deprivation, poor health care system and daily constitutional violations.
Mr Jah’s recent advocacy about economic patriotism is designed as an economic and a political strategy to gain recognition from the new government and general public in order to promote and protect his personal economic advancement at the expense of ordinary citizens and small businesses. It was few months ago, Mr Jah was dinning with the most brutal dictator who embraced everything foreign at the expense of Gambian made or anything Gambian. Mr Jah’s called for support and patronization of Gambian businesses is also a publicity stunt for his business image making . Why did he not advocate for the same thing when he had an opportunity to convince Jammeh to give favorable environment for Gambian businesses to Flourish. What an economic opportunist he is . How could a man who donated luxurious vehicle as a corrupt gift to chief thief who killed his own people to remain in power , can now be talking about economic patriotism? Mr Jah is not an economic patriot by every indication rather he is a man who cares to build his business empire regardless of National interest or conditions of majority citizenry. It is noteworthy to recognize that Mr Jah has constitutional right to support any political leader or be affiliated with any political party but he is not qualified to be called an economic patriot or economic nationalist in any aspect.
It is unfair and outright favoritism to allow Mr Jah to have unequal treatment, an absolute financial and business control of Gambia’s telecommunications industry when we have other Gambians who have financial means to equally invest in this industry. There should be equal business environment or level playing field for Gambians who are interested to invest in any business sector. I am troubled and concerned when Mr Pa Njie stated that “he encouraged Mr Jah to dominate the telecommunications industry, the banking industry and all other businesses Mr Jah currently has”. Such behavior is favoritism at the expense of other citizens who are equally interested to invest in the business industries. Mr Njie could have identified or encouraged another Gambian to invest in banking or other businesses. This is what will lead to redistribution of wealth and encourages many small businesses or entrepreneurs in The Gambia. Being an economic patriot is to selflessly operate any business in level playing field in any capacity whether it is telecommunications, banking industry or other businesses. After all the government use Gambian tax payers money to create favorable environment for businesses to flourish. Therefore, Mr Jah was benefiting from the oppressed tax payers when he donated luxurious vehicle to the oppressor.
We must never allow any citizen to have absolute control of financial, economic or political environment of our country. Former Dictator Yaya Jammeh successfully entrenched military dictatorship in The Gambia because he had totally controlled our political, economic and social life . I hope the new government will create a favorable equal environment or level playing field for business investments.