LETTER TO GAMBIAN YOUTHS
RE: DEAR MA YOUTHS, PLEASE GIVE PEACE ANOTHER CHANCE, WHERE DO WE GO IF……?
PART ONE (1)
Good morning comrades! Three years JOTNA, (3-YRS-JOTNA) is a lofty agenda and platform and deserved to be listened to and debated. The cause should also be given a fair hearing by all actors and parties. Kudos to the Gambia Government for granting them bail and subsequently ending all legal wrangling against the demonstrators. That was maturity and commonsense. However, we must be cognizant of the facts that our total collection of facts, opinions, resources and propagandas in this 3-YRS-JOTNA is NOT EQUAL to our collective rights as Gambians backed by the Constitution of the land which is the supreme embodiment of all laws in The Gambia. We all voted and voted in a Coalition Government led by President Barrow into power. At that material point in time then we did what was constitutional despite all the war mongering by Jammeh and his enablers. Our votes spoke and we all lived in peace and Jammeh went into exile and these was peace ever after. Our votes and by extension the Constitution of The Gambia gave President Barrow the mandate to serve a mandate of 5 years. That is point of law and indeed constitutional!
Mathematically speaking, Jammeh was defeated by less than 25,000 votes and Hon. Mamma Kandeh was the Kingmaker and he remains to this day! We have to be careful about the issue before us and if anybody wants to use the 3-YRS-JOTNA to demonstrate, bring about a State of Emergency, burn, loot or at worse still to stage a coup and it will be very unfair and illegal to the rest of the remaining 68% Gambians who are not a party to that agenda. Do not ask me about the genesis of my percentages, I am a Chartered Accountant! Please give peace a chance and wait as you are not holding an egg. Patience is a virtue although it sometimes tortures and we owe it to this great country of ours. Gambia is at a cross road and now is the hour for every Gambians to see country over ambition, position or privilege. We must work harder both the governors and the governed to preserve the peace and consolidate the gains of our new found freedom in our match to build a better country.
The Gambia and all Gambians home and abroad have a great duty of care to give peace yet another chance yet again. We did it for Jammeh and we won and we can do the same for Barrow and yet again win. The gains of our victories will be translated into tangible development, the rule of law and peace for our kin and kindred as per our religious teachings, beliefs and cultural norms. If not for anything, let us give peace a chance for our lovely children who looked up to us for sustenance and leadership in a world that they are inexperience to live? If we are to do justice to the present administration we must look at both sides and I intend to do mine in the following adjoining lines. There are many things going wrong in present day Gambia but also there are many things going right too. Before we delve into that I would suggest you go back to your history books and read ‘men and power’. Since the dawn of the 21st. century and you will agree with me that ……..after the fall of any dictatorship or dictator be it military or monarch it will take on average three to four successive governments before things normalize……
The Gambia has a great chance to be an exception but only if we keep the peace and engage each other in healthy debates as to the way forward? The only way we save this country and preserve it for our children is by learning from the mistakes of others and not from our own mistakes. In the Post-Jammeh Gambia and under the leadership of President Adama Barrow we have been blessed with free speech. This is very healthy and we need it as the Press serves as the Fourth Arm of Government and holds public officials to account. We have also seen the emergence of new TV stations. We have also witnessed the ease of relation with our neighbours and the border tensions have disappeared with Jammeh. We have also seen the threat of arrests and disappearances gone with the wind. We have seen lesser and lesser roadblocks and ‘Jay-DOLLEH’ syndrome in our societies. We also witnessed a slide growth in tourist numbers. The rampant sackings of civil servants have equally gone. The free holidays have been curtailed. The streets have become cleaner despite not holding end of months last Saturday ‘Set-Setals’. On the negative and dark side of Post Jammeh Gambia we have seen no jobs being created.
Equally the cost of living is still where Jammeh left off and my humble friend rice is still pegged at GMD1200 despite the present regime’s throwing on millions to wade off taxes on rice. A matter that still deserved to be investigated. The recycling of key Jammeh enablers into top jobs is also a red card to our new democracy! The increased cost of State House budget lines especially on travels and per diems is a concern! The Groundnut Trade season is still where Jammeh left it! The Back-Way-Boys Funds from the EU and other Bodies are not disbursed! Most of it might have already been expensed while we are limbo! The youths are very idle as seen during the Ousman Darboe melee and rampage characterized by gangster style rule and indiscipline. Those pictures are still giving me sleepless nights and are we really and truly watching those videos and see what our boys are capable of doing negativism and in lawlessness? The sad aspect of the whole melee the youths do not even know the implications of their actions.
The Commission Style ‘raba-raba’ announced by the Minister of Interior is not the solution but a panic button reaction. Many commissions came and went and still the situations persist. You need to engage the youths! You need a distraction and get the youths occupied in well paid jobs and not these musical chairs commissions. The saddest aspect of the whole Commission thing and thing is the monies wasted and spent on them without thought that we are a very poor country and those funds could be utilized better in more pressing budget lines. This commission, that commission, this panel and that panel is duplication of roles and responsibilities and indeed very sad. When will the educated class refrain from misleading the masses? I must laud the TRRC for the revelations and establishing the facts of the past but I will encourage them to manage and control the sensitive information more and put more emphasis on Reparations?
The youths want assurances, they need jobs, they need a strong leadership, they need justice, they need opportunities, they need hereafter school engagements, they need scholarships, they need love and above all care and understanding. We must reach out to the youths and sadly all the funds available are not allocated and not disbursed and they are not implemented. The President and the presidency must be informed that it is not sinking. The trickling down effects are not felt or seen with all the millions earmarked for youth and youth enterprise and maybe a few and handful of youths are milking the pots at the detriment of the nation. The fertilizer is not disbursed and if so it is not well communicated and is not equally reaching the youths of the ‘Hakalang Belt’, the Wullis, the Samis and Nianis to mention but a few areas in The Gambia. The pseudo technocrats around our ministries and State House must understand that they not doing it for Barrow or Busenty but for themselves and also as service to country. These funds they sit on are meant for Gambians in whose name they have been solicited. There should be rapid disbursement of these monies with minimum requirements and a workable checklist to enable the average Gambians to access them. Go and see the good works that FASDEP is doing around the country and emulate for once.
There are lofty projects in all ministries and other organizations but they have virtually turned all those projects into family owned enterprises. The Gambian educated class is very naïve and corrupt in implementing projects and the TOR that we set for attainment from the word APPROVED. Please do us a favour and do not tear the country into pieces to feed your never satisfying appetite for illicit money and wealth. You lot have proven since independence and transformation to nationhood that your pens and signatures are just for SELF ENRICHMENT AND EMBEZZLEMENT. Time is up to turn a new page and those days should be a thing of the past and please do not try to muzzle the press despite so far so good or keep some of us silent for speaking out against graft, injustice and abnormal and unethical behaviours. Whistleblowers are an asset to every decent nation and The Gambia must not be an exception! In conclusion on PART ONE of this write up and looking at still the dark side of Post Jammeh Gambia as we live in it today, we have seen an inherent risk as prevailed to us in figments of an emerging New Middle Class forming. These are Chartered Accountants, lawyers and Permanents Secretaries, Ministers, Police Top Commanders, Area Councilors, etc and some in the inner circles of the presidency forming clubs and cabals at the detriment of the masses and this is a direct affront to reasons that brought about the 1994 Coup.
It seems Gambians do not want to learn from the TRRC’s lessons and revelations. We have also seen the proliferation of too many Commissions of enquiry whose final reports are either not seen or misleading and one classical example is The SSHFC SAGA where the reigning Managing Director was indicted beyond all reasonable doubts by the Office of the Ombudsman through the Ombudsman Report of October 2018 on SSHFC and yet men of power, influence and political capital decided to do the unethical thing and entrenched him in office. Where on the face of the civilize world will you see a public servant caught stealing and engaged in other office malpractices be left in his position? Victimizing the innocent have never been a recipe of calm and orderliness and long after the saga is gone, the decision maker will never rest as it is only the truth that is durable. The issue is not the saga but what lessons, messages and signals are we sending to our international development partners and to the wider Gambian society here and abroad? What are also the impacts and ramifications to Gambia’s corporate governance?