Sunday, June 22, 2014

European Union funds for GPU blocked by Jammeh

The fight for access to European Union funds by the cash-strapped regime of Yaya Jammeh is not only limited to the agriculture sector.

The Gambia media is also a target of the regime, a problem, our sources suggest has been simmering since last November over access to the € 800,000 provided by the European Union to the Gambia Press Union.

The project is to increase capacity at the GPU with a training component that The University of The Gambia hopes to benefit from by training journalists.  Anxious to access EU funds, UTG has proceeded with its announcement for its Fall classes and inviting students to apply despite having "neither a complete curriculum nor ready staff" to teach journalism courses, according to our source.

The EU is adopting the same approach as it did in the agriculture sector by utilizing the services of specialized United Nation Agencies.  The EU, in this case, selected UNESCO, (Dakar Office) to implement the project. But the agency cannot get started without an Agreement with Government, similar to the one EU, FAO and WFP signed with the regime in 2013.

UNESCO, Dakar office headed by former Education Minister under Jammeh seemed unable still to get his former boss to instruct the Ministry of Education or the appropriate Ministry to sign the Agreement.  The government representatives are always "unavailable' to sign the € 800,000 project until, presumably, government signs a separate Agreement with the GPU to allow government access to the EU funds.

It is no surprise that Jammeh is threatening to interrupt implementation of the MDG 1c Project because he cannot get his hands in the till.  So he'll try to gain access in the EU-UNESCO project even though the amounts are small compared to the € 7.6 million the EU plans to invest in the food security projects.  But a regime struggling to pay salaries, every penny matters.

What is at stake for the GPU is not only denial of much needed funds to train journalists (not necessarily through UTG) but the withdrawal of the National Training Authority's accreditation of GPU's highly acclaimed Diploma course.

Correction and an apology:  In our earlier version of this blog, we had a sentence that mentioned that the owner of the premises occupied by GPU was the Chancellor of the University of The Gambia.  We actual owner happens to be Mr. Mustapha A.B.Kah, the former Auditor General in the Jawara government.  We apologize to Vice Chancellor Muhammadou M. O. Kah for the error.