Wednesday, June 18, 2014
More horse manure from Yaya Jammeh
This is the eighth government retreat, a period where government machinery comes to a screeching halt in the name of "rededicating themselves and taking the lead in national development." Jammeh cares less that the entire week will be wasted in Kanilai in a desperate move to repackage failed policies that he will try to sell to a citizenry that has grown restless lately due to increasing economic hardship in the face of increasing official corruption.
His opening remarks at the retreat suggest that he is conscious of the sour mood of a country he ruled with an iron fist for nearly two decades with endless promises he made that they never delivered on. His promises ranged from transforming Gambia to a middle income country - which he later upped to making Gambian the Singapore of Africa - to adopting agricultural policies that will result in rice self-sufficiency and/or food self-sufficiency, two concepts he used interchangeably depending on his idiosyncratic mood swings.
His most recent variation is that since he could not achieve rice self-sufficiency in 20 years, he's see how he can compact the time line into two years. So a couple of months ago, he unveiled his Vision 2016 -rice self-sufficiency which he later changed to Vision 2016 - food self-sufficiency a couple of days later. The cabinet members are now being told that, in fact, rice self-sufficiency is achievable not in 2016 but in 2015 instead.
Jammeh appears to be unsure as to which of these programs and time-frames is easier sold to an increasingly skeptical electorate. They have been promised so much and delivered so little in the last twenty years, they wished they resisted his rule earlier and before the dictator entrenched himself in power. It has now become a cruel joke, and a painful thing to watch when Jammeh trots out one program after another knowing full well that they are unachievable.
According to Jammeh, he's advancing the date to next year for Gambia to stop importing rice because the country is blessed with "rivers that have fresh water, lakes and waterfalls and ample arable lands, all suitable for vast agricultural activities." For someone with zero knowledge of the geography of the Gambia will leave with the impression that the country is lush with abundance of sources of water.
True, the Gambia is endowed with a river by the same name, but it has it limits as a source for irrigation purposes because if salt intrusion. And as far as we are concerned, there are no lakes, waterfalls (not that they matter that much for the subject being debated) and the entire arable land is liberally estimated by the
World Bank in 2011 at 450,000 hectares. When the elements of double-counting are isolated, the figure will obviously be less than the World Bank figure. Jammeh is fond of exaggeration with little or no respect for factual information, especially the kind that does not support his personal wishes and desires.
As always, Jammeh covered a number of unrelated subjects, a favorite ploy of his to occupy his government with issues of less consequence while he engage his inner circle in state matters whose mismanagement has landed The Gambia in its current economic predicament, no to mention the deplorable state of human rights.