Your Excellency, this letter is an attempt to share my opinion as a piece of advice to you on among other things what I think might be helpful in dealing with this Coronavirus Pandemic wrecking havoc in the world with no definitive timeline on when it will all be over. It looks like the whole world is teetering on the edge of an abyss, with little hope of avoiding a calamitous cascade. The uncertainty in where we are heading with this virus and the gloomy predictions ahead being steadily registered in the rapid upsurge of infected people and the scary death tolls strike many people including me as a real threat to our civilization that if survived will by every indication transform our lives radically.

In that case Mr. President, it is fair to say that the world is facing a crisis that will eventually alter everything mankind has been living by in a way yet to be deciphered in its entire form and substance. What is clear however, is that it will never be business as usual again.

Indeed, no government, religion, cult or business empire had in their best meticulous plans of action ever factored the coming of this pandemic, constituting the worst existential threat to the very foundation on which their survival has always been anchored. Nothing they had placed at the apex of their priorities deserved greater attention than solving this unfamiliar pandemic first. And trust me Your Excellency, another month or so into this quagmire will impel people all over the world into questioning the usefulness of politicians, governments , economists, scientists, intellectuals, professors, barristers, religious leaders, our grand marabouts, palmistries, psychics, name it, and everything and everybody we had virtuously embraced as imperatives in our ever predictable revolving world. Meaning that with or without a solution very soon most people will be doubting the rationality in ever relying on these institutions or individuals for guidance who had seemed to have mastered the dynamics of our existence and survival in the past, present and future. The least my fortune teller paid a goat and hen to peak in my future could have done was to hint me about this upcoming calamity. I deserve to be refunded.

Anyway having no reference textbook for a magic bullet, individual nations are merely doing the best they can and relying on each other’s experience and resources to see whether things will work out; but all indicators so far assure us nothing definitive.  Certainly, we have to still recognize the uniqueness of every country’s challenge in these trying times.

A common denomination however is the determination of heads of government all over the world to assume leading role in inculcating confidence in their people, desperately looking for a dependable “messiah”.

Your government’s standard operational procedure of launching and funding expensive commissions of inquiry on matters of critical concern usually composed of mercenary or fortune seekers resembling escapism and often precipitating the squandering of valuable time and resources without results will not cut it on this one.

Simply put, Your Excellency, leading from behind on this crisis is the antithesis of the universal approach to fighting Covid-19. It is at best a dereliction of duty attributed to incompetence at its worst form.

The manner in which leaders handle this crisis will naturally be the sole determinant of their success or failures as heads of state. It should no longer be about christening the hottest and yummiest political party, adequately “Jumboed and salted” but about coming out and taking charge Mr. President.

It looks like your brother and reliable adviser is approaching it the global style and looking somewhat more serious than you; your dependence on him for literally everything for so long when it is now all about self-reliance, seems to be gradually revealing your ineffectiveness; you need to be cognizant of the uniqueness of Senegal’s challenges, like any other nation, in this crisis to its political, cultural and economic system.

Undoubtedly, the effects of the pandemic in let’s say Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast or Nigeria and the responses of each these governments comparatively reflect minimal duplication. The imperative at the global spectrum requires decisiveness.

President Mackey Sall’s declaration of a state of emergency and a dusk to dawn curfew in Senegal looks rather draconian in a nation founded and sustained on a culture characterized by endless gatherings be it for traditional, entertainment or religious purpose.  Senegal is not only shutting down night life in sleepless Dakar, but their security forces are uncompromisingly enforcing the executive order declared by President Sall. No more overcrowding for entertainment, for traditional ceremonies or even for religious gatherings. Commercial vehicles are limited to half the capacity they used to carry to avoid congestion and close contacts of passengers. Whether it is going to effectively happen in all Senegalese cities, towns and villages or not is yet to be seen. But something seemingly positive in the eyes of the Senegalese people is unfolding and giving them the confident that their leader seem to know where he is heading with them.

Compared to the Gambia, Your Excellency,. critics are beginning to wonder what you are waiting for to adopt similar tough measures and start enforcing the restriction on large public gatherings repeatedly announced by your government in the past last week but flagrantly ignored by Gambians. Whereas the Senegalese security forces are strictly enforcing the anti-prayer-congregations in mosques and even arresting defiant Imams, in the Gambia, mosques and churches are still being jam-packed with worshippers and traditional or entertainment activities still attracting larger crowds than permissible.

Your Excellency, ordinarily, your brother Mackey Sall would have guided you as he had always done over the past three years, but in this unique situation the Senegalese president is more worried about the successful outcome of his socio-economic experiment than about showing the Gambians how to fight the battle when he doesn’t even know whether he will fail or succeed in the end. If you were to ask me what I think Mackey Sall is thinking about the Gambia now I will take a wild guess that he is no longer that interested in your survival than he is on his own.

Relatively long-serving presidents like your brother is now viewing the crisis as a  serious threat to the power he holds and the wealth he already amassed.

We cannot forget the damning revelation of the Berlin, Germany-based nonprofit NGO Transparency International, illustrating how corrupt African politicians have been siphoning the continent’s wealth in excess of  50 billion dollars annually through illicit financial flow to Western banks. Furthermore, the BBC Panorama and Africa Eye report on the Frank Timis US$12 billion dubious royalty payment, a deal involving Mackey Sall’s family is still fresh in our minds. Monies made from such corruption deals are either in Western Banks or hidden in offshore non-taxable accounts managed by crooked bankers as revealed in the Panama files. All these wealths can be lost in the expected recession and depression from the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Now is the time Your Excellency, to realize that the Gambia has been nothing to Senegal but an extension of another exploitable financial opportunity. The 700 million dalasis initially paid by the European Union and now by France to the ECOMIG forces in the Gambia is mainly enjoyed by the predominant Senegalese troops rotated regularly to give chance to their colleagues at home.  The French cash flow will most likely be stopped soon along with many payments from the France to keep the Senegalese economy healthy.

When that happens Your Excellency,, I know for sure that I will be exonerated for constantly reminding Gambians over the years that these troops are not in the country for loving us and securing us against Jammeh’s wrath but for their own pockets and the agenda of Senegal to annex the country. The ECOMIG force at this moment has become the proverbial 800 pounds gorilla in the room that is more a threat our lives than otherwise. It is evident that their mandate doesn’t authorize their deployment in this ever growing new war but cannot be asked to leave either for not trusting our own troops.

I have been saying this for the past three years, worried about how ECOMIG may not be sustainable if you or President Macky Sall or both of you had to leave the political scene. Instead, it looks like a divine intervention, from the pandemic, shattering this ungodly alliance constituted on what I will continue to denounce as pure deception and false pretense.

Our security forces, the most important component in this current battle whom we must commit for the deliverance of the best job have been in the past three years given no chance to train for such eventualities but to be a target of the TRRC viciously vilifying, disgracing and demoralizing them because of the uniform they shared in common with President Jammeh. So at this time when they should be useful most, one wonders how willing or even effective they are to carry out necessary orders.

Yes Your Excellency, for three years this government has totally marginalize oiur soldiers in favor of these useless foreign forces hoping that they will be here as long as needed or even indefinitely.

This new battle against the global disease doesn’t require such hard core combatants sent to purposely police us into adhering with how the Europeans and Senegalese want the Gambia to be governed; it makes no sense to be  paying these foreigners 700 million dalasis per annum just to be intimidating us and still expecting our under paid, under equipped and under protected troops to assume frontline roles in carrying out executive directives.

Mr. President, if the French economy does tank as expected from the pandemic, along with the financial systems of most superpowers, its global impact on many African dependent nations will translate into unprecedented political and economic drawbacks.

Economists and scientist are in agreement of a projected recession and depression never seen in this world if the situation continues to escalate beyond its current incalculable shortfall.

Our president Trump is showing signs of clinical paranoia not because of his fear of losing the next elections if the pandemic persist any longer, or about the viability of Wall Street, but primarily because of the threat it poses to his billion-dollar empire founded and maintained on real estate, entertainment, hotel, tourism and airline businesses which are all seriously affected and could even end up bankrupting him into losing everything. That is why he is no longer making sense, twitting on Sunday his intention to lift the national moratorium for Americans to return to work against the advice of experts, preferring the infection and death of numerous Americans from the spreading disease than to allow the collapse of his financial kingdom.

Your Excellency, please understand that it is during crisis moments that the best or the worst is seen in leaders and based on where the scale tilts, governments are as a result voted in or out.

I wish the conditions in Senegal or the problems being encountered by your brother President Sall were the same as those in the Gambia allowing you to seek vital advice from him.

But they are not, and given that heads of state are on his own, if your “team” cannot guide you out of the woodwork, then you might as well start considering the formation of a new government with sound minds to help you rescue the nation before it is too late.

Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director General elect of the World Health Assembly, keeps on saying that the virus will soon wreck havoc in Africa because most carriers in the continent don’t know they have it due to shortages of testing instruments. It is subjected to confirmation, but there are reports that the Bangladeshi man killed in the Gambia by the disease last week was everywhere around the Bundung area and was tested negative at MRC the only available lab in the country to conduct the test. What does that tell you Mr. President? That the only testing lab in the country doesn’t always produce accurate results.

Cuba as usual is lending a helping hand to the world with their wonderful doctors ready to come to the rescue of needy nations. Gambia needs to let the WHO know that we desperately need testing devices and experts in addition to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and certainly ventilators to help us start some catching up measures. We need to know how many people are really infected in the country. The two announced to the world as the only infected is unrealistic, period.

The PPE should include adequate hazmat suits such as face masks, gloves, goggles, coveralls  and the like. They are in serious short supply all over the world, but asking will not hurt.

That is my little advice to you Your Excellency. I am sorry if the message hurts. But thanks for reading.

Samsudeen Sarr

New York City.

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