Monday, March 31, 2014

Efforts to rebuild post-Jammeh is proud to invite retired US military officer, Abdul Savage, as guest editorialist in recognition of his service to country.  We are making this first and only exception to our policy to an extraordinary person.

 Efforts to Rebuild Post-Jammeh
By Abdul Savage

As much as we are spending time fighting the old, I respectfully submit that we must devote, equally as well, some time to plan to rebuild anew. There is an old saying along the lines like “put your money where your mouth is”, or something like that. So, I am ready, willing, able and capable to put my money where my mouth is. But, like many of us, I am not going to put my money where that money is not used for its intended purposes, or misused. Every dollar of my money is hard earned with blood, sweat and tears.

So, this is what I am proposing: I will volunteer to put $10,000 (Ten thousand Dollars), more or less as dictated, to help rebuild The Gambia. This money can be used to form a company here, legally of course, with Articles of Incorporation, and so on. We can call this company Gambia Investments Abroad (GIA), or whatever is deemed appropriate and fitting. And I will personally recommend you, Pa Nderry M’bai, and Fatou Jaw Manneh, to incorporate this company, oversee and manage this company.

The task of this company will be like a dormant mutual fund on standby, ready to invest and help rebuild the Gambia, as soon as democracy and stability are restored there. There must be safeguards as well in the Articles of Incorporation and in the company guidelines to protect investors’ funds should “things fall apart”, and or the atmosphere in the Gambia is not conducive to operate the company for the purposes it was created for.  
Now, assuming that democracy and stability are restored in the Gambia, say in the near future, say within few months, or a year or two, how do we go about rebuilding? Yes, true, we will secure and get international funding to help rebuild post-Jammeh, but wouldn’t it be prudent, wise and helpful to know that a band of Gambians, under this company, has taken the initiative to pre-empt the rebuilding efforts? Yes, it would be.

My point is this: once this company is created and headed by Pa Nderry and Fatou Jaw Manneh, they will issue stuff like shares to its “investors”, so that way we can ensure greater transparency and accountability. For example, if Abdullah Savage reports that he invested $10,000 in this company to the public, then he must be able to provide and or show share certificate(s) to substantiate that claim. And if hundred people reported $1000 each in investment in the company within a quarter, and the company in its quarterly publication discloses that it only receives $5000 in contributions, then there is a discrepancy somewhere. Accountability and transparency are the safeguards to this enterprise.

And I must quick to add that out of these company funds is where Pa Nderry and Fatou Jaw Manneh will get paid. They will not, and we do not expect them to do it, for free. This is a venture to help rebuild our country, while simultaneously all of us will continue to do whatever is it that we are doing to further our goal to liberate the Gambia. We can continue to plan, strike and all, while simultaneously we create this company.

So, NOW, since I am willing to put my money where my mouth is, I hereby invite all others, particularly such entities as NRMG, DUGA, GCC, CORDEG, and others to put their money where their mouths are. Let each one of these entities send in to Pa Nderry and Fatou Jaw Manneh, $10,000 or more, so that Pa and Fatou Jaw Manneh can create and develop such a company, poised and ready to invest to help rebuild the Gambia post-Jammeh.

We will write checks and send them to Pa Nderry, and guarantee that these checks will not bounce. Or better yet, we can Western Union or wire transfers such funds.

And so, I invite all to put our money where our mouths are, no matter how little that money is. If people are asked to contribute $10, $20 or so, here and there, why not direct those funds to rebuild the Gambia to one entity, instead of having entities all over the place seeking funds. The struggle in the Gambia and for the Gambia is not a business venture.  People like us, who are now publicly known, can go underground or stay above ground, and launch a movement or counter-attack to remove that despot from power by all and any means. 

Yes, true, many of these entities in the diaspora movement might be currently running at a loss, since they are newly created, and that they are probably yet to secure enough contributions to offset the expenses in terms of time, and resources, already put into them. And if this trend of them losing continues, we will cease to hear from them or about them.

My contention is this: you cannot take from the poor and give to the rich. But you probably can take from the rich and give to the poor. Many of us are fortunate in so many ways than most of the people we are asking to “gofund me”, with $10, $20, $50 or $100, or more or less. And some of these people are living in the Gambia with barely two meals a day, much more three meals a day.

Yes, true, it involves costs to run these entities, but why can’t these leaders take it upon themselves to foot the bill, than seek $10, $20 or more in contributions from people who are probably less fortunate than us? And at the end of the month, they probably wouldn’t even get $4000 in contributions from these people. Accountability and transparency is a crucial and vital part of any entity, be its task is to liberate a nation, or operate a business, or run a movement or manage an enterprise.

Further, I observed that many of us have already started jockeying for positions, fame and glory post-Jammeh. That is all good and well. Some are even saying others would make great permanent secretaries, heads of civil service, media personalities/moguls, and what not. True, this is all good and well, but not at the expense of Gambians suffering.
We must not set ourselves up to fail post-Jammeh. Instead of having companies disguised as entities, or movements, why not have “one true company”, to be run, managed and overseen by independent, like-minded and trust-worthy individuals? Of course, if some feel the need, we can have all these movements, but when it comes to funds to help rebuild the country all those funds must be directed to preferable one entity, instead of entities all over the place, competing for funds from people.

The day of rebuilding post-Jammeh will come. There will be lots of jockeying and all for positions. However, if we take a pre-emptive strike in the efforts to rebuild the Gambia post-Jammeh, we will be step ahead of the curve.

We all know Gambia is a consumer market. So, how do we go about rebuilding? We know Gambia has sand, in fact, plenty of it. And we know glass is made from sand. This company, post-Jammeh, will invest millions of dalasis to create and develop a glass company, using our abundant natural resources of sand. Then, you ask, where is the market for glass? We all know that, from the business point of view, sometimes we have to create the market for whatever product we intend to market, and with our some hard-word, dedication and all, we will succeed. And another aspect of this is creating job opportunity and employment, hence contributing to the livelihood of many Gambians. We will have to create jobs and opportunities. I suspect that once this glass company is created, you will be surprised to see private investments beyond what is expected.   

Glass could be produced in the form of windows, mirrors, doors, signage, and many, countless more other glass-related products that could be used in the construction industry, agriculture industry and many other industries. And as we develop this company, the products could be exported to neighboring countries. In a matter of couple years, we will have a dominant glass-making company in the Gambia. 

Also, another investment and job creation opportunity this company can invest in is the milk-production business. Milk products are derived from cows, sheep, and goats, and I do believe these animals Yaya Jammeh has stacked up for us pretty good, so post-Jammeh, why not use this by-product to rebuild?

And milk can be marketed under a brand, in tins, gallons or what not, and sold locally as well as exported to neighboring Senegal and beyond. And believe me, there is already an abundant demand and market for milk products in the Senegambia region and beyond.

So, once again, I appeal to NRMG, DUGA, CODERG, GCC, and others to send in $10,000 or more each to create a company in the form of a fund, created by Gambians for Gambians, ready to help rebuild Gambia post-Jammeh.

$10,000 or more from these entities and me, and funds from many more people or entities in a few months, would translate into millions and millions of Dalasis that would come in handy to help rebuild and develop our shattered economy, and create jobs and other opportunities for many.

Like I have always maintained, the above is my two-cent worth of observation, and so, as such, I now stand ready to take all the criticisms, accusations, insults and all, that are going and will be leveled against me.