Saturday, July 19, 2014

The arrogance in Mr. Jatta's statement

To refer to diaspora Gambians as "you people" is insulting because the phrase connotes disrespect.  Mr. Jatta further exposes his distraught with the Gambian diaspora by referring to them as lacking in awareness of what is going on in The Gambia.

In a one-on-one interview with Nynacho Sanneh in Sweden, the former PDOIS parliamentarian from Wuli-West said, in responding to a question or statement about the disunity among the opposition, that "you ( meaning diaspora Gambians) like talking loud on roof tops on matters that you know very little about."

To claim that there is no disunity among political parties in the Gambia is stretching the truth beyond its breaking point.   The Honorable gentleman from Wuli is the one who's out of the loop despite his permanent presence on the ground.

To write off Gambians because they have been away from The Gambia for dozens of years when they are the very ones whose remittances are keeping the economy viable enough for Mr. Jatta to remain equally viable, financially.  The brazen attitude and arrogance displayed towards the interviewer who was trying to get the Gambian politician to respond to questions from concerned Gambians.  Seedi Jatta was having none of it - a nauseating display of arrogance from one of the opposition leaders that many revere.  His attitude is right smack of Yaya Jammeh who thinks he's got all the answers to Gambia's problems.

The diaspora is very relevant to any future political transformation, and the diaspora must be engaged by the opposition, and to say "they don't understand anything" referring to diaspora Gambians is insulting.   It is insulting to those who have toiled to collect their meager sums to contribute towards the opposition's activities in and outside the Gambia.  They deserve better treatment than being chastised in the manner on display from a very arrogant Mr. Jatta.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

SeneGambia Federation: Has Jammeh made the case?

Could it be that Yaya Jammeh is succeeding where the United Nations had failed in the early 1960's, and Kukoi Samba Sagnia's failed 1981 coup d'etat making it possible (if not inevitable), the political union between The Gambia and Senegal.

The Gambia's viability as a sovereign state has always been suspect  because of its small size and poor resource endowment.  As a result, the United Nations, prompted by the United Kingdom, studied and eventually concluded that The Gambia's economic and security viability at Independence can only be assured by federating with Senegal.

The political leadership of the People's Progressive Party rejected the idea and so did many Gambian politicians.  There were a few exception, including I.M Garba-Jahumpa who entertained the idea of some form of a political association between the two states, a position influenced by and consistent with his Nkrumaist/Panafrican greed.

At Independence in 1965 to 1970 when The Gambia graduated from its grant-in-aid state status from Britain,  the political leadership's main preoccupation had been to prove to the rest of the world that the smallest independent country in Africa could be, and is viable as a state when the national budget was being financed by internally-generated resources from taxes and excise.  Loans and grants from the World Bank and similar financial institutions became the primary sources of loans on concessionary terms that kept those who still questioned the country's viability at bay, at least until Kukoi struck in the 1981 coup which saw the destruction of both lives and economic infrastructure.  Business confidence was shattered.

Many of us have argued that The Gambia never fully recovered from the 81 coup d'etat, even though significant gains were made from the period of the Economic Recovery Program (ERP) period in 1985/86 to the period commonly referred to as the program for Sustained Development (PSD) period in 1992 until the Jammeh-led coup d'etat in 1994.  It must be noted that former was a World Bank/IMF-lead effort and the latter was a home-grown effort led by Gambians.

The Confederation between Senegal and The Gambia came about as a result of the 1981 coup d'etat, therefore borne out of security necessity and not economic, political, social and cultural necessities.  It is interesting that in spite of the damage done by the 1981 coup, the ERP was able to restore the economy to a level strong enough to compete toe-to-toe with our bigger neighbor.  In fact, the Gambian economy was better managed and far more efficient that Senegal's.  We became the "supermarket of the sub-region" because of better set of policies brought about by the liberalization of the economy.  The Banjul port became more efficient than the bigger Port Autonome de Dakar.

All of the comparative advantages built were lost during the 20 year dictatorship under Jammeh.  The institutions that were built and straightened under the Jawara regime have either been destroyed completely or sufficiently weakened to render The Gambia a sitting duck, unable to fend off any predatory or external threat, on the security side.  The security threat by rogue elements is a real threat now (as opposed to the Jawara era) because of the belligerent and high-risk foreign policy of a regime that toys with Hezbollah and other terror groups in the sub-region.  It warrants the concern of Gambian politicians.

On the economic front, Gambia's viability is threatened by its inability to compete with Senegal because of an economy that continues to be mismanaged by a group of incompetent supporters of the dictatorship.  The country has been emptied of its youthful population who have decided to vote with their feet to Europe in search of fortune and freedom, two commodities that are lacking in Jammeh's Gambia where the economy is contracting, thus cannot provide the much needed jobs for a growing and youthful population, and the State is becoming increasingly militarized.

Even tourists are fleeing the country because of the heavy presence of the military is tourist resorts and access to public beaches has been restricted to exclude ordinary Gambians, especially the young.  Not to be outdone, highly trained young Gambians have abandoned Gambia for their new homes in London, Paris, Geneva, New York and across the globe.  They will never come back to work for pittance in a highly insecure and hostile environment.  They may come to visit grandma and grandpa and few relatives still in the Gambia.  This is the reality and we can thank Yaya Jammeh.

The next government to succeed Jammeh will inherit an extremely weak, and essentially dysfunctional and bankrupt State.  Regardless of the type of a succession hand Gambians will be dealt, the policy toolbox must include the option of a more formal and comprehensive association with Senegal which must be put before the people in the form of a referendum.  Whether Gambians realize it or not, Jammeh is making a strong case for this scenario to be a very viable option.  We know the issue is a very emotional one, and thus prone to irrational thinking but Gambians must consider an association with Senegal as part of the debate.

A frank and open debate of the issue is necessary.  But to do so successfully, he must check our parochialism (some would say patriotism) at the door and look at the raw and hard facts.  Will the association be beneficial (economic, political, social, cultural) to Senegal, and thus entertained, and even encouraged?  It can no longer be business as usual.

Solicitation :  Gambia has lost one of its most illustrious sons in Hon. Buba Michael Baldeh, former Minister of Youth and Sports in the Jawara government.  He passed away recently in Dakar and was buried in Madina Gounass in eastern Senegal after the Gambian dictator refused entry of the body to be buried in Hon. Baldeh's home town of Basse Mansajang.  He left behind large family that will need the support of all well wishers.  If you are in a position to help financially, please do so here, Thank you

Friday, July 11, 2014

"I know I am not God" says the Gambian dictator

Faced with a growing chorus of dissent within and outside The Gambia against his dictatorial regime, Yaya Jammeh used the swearing in ceremony of his umpteenth Secretary General of the Gambian Civil Service to assure Gambians that he's not God, when we all thought that he was because of his all omnipotent and all omnipresent behavior that characterizes his twenty-year reign of terror.

Since he fired Momodou Sabally from the position, Jammeh has been trying desperately to shift all of the blame of Sabally's disastrous tenure on anyone but Yaya Jammeh.  After all, it was he who hired a young, inexperienced and untested person, to not only run a degraded and demoralized civil service, but to also act as Minister for Presidential Affairs.

To make matters worse, he appointed the young man Secretary General of the ruling political party, and then urged him to go before national television, in the age of You Tube, to utter disparaging remarks against the Mandinkas, the largest single tribal grouping to which the poor fellow belongs.  Sabally's verbal assault was extended to include vile and historically inaccurate anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist tirade against two of Gambia's closest and most reliable allies - United Kingdom and United States.  I am not in the young man's head but I bet you he'd love to have that bizarre and embarrassingly juvenile YouTube video back.

The poor schmuck was obviously acting on instructions, and his anti-Madinka and anti-Western speech was most likely pre-approved by Jammeh.  Unfortunately, that's not good enough an excuse, so Jammeh is out to send his former SG to the gallows by suggesting that " he (Jammeh) would not appoint anybody (read his former Secretary General) to trample on others".   He proceeded to say " I do not do so because I know I am not God."

It must have felt like a baptism of fire to the new inductees into the weird and indescribable world of Yaya Jammeh where he will claim not to be God but where every action indicates the opposite.  It is a world where he will act or instruct you to act, but you will be blamed, regardless.   Sabally is finding out the hard way.  Abuse of office charges, among a host of other likely charges will be brought against him.  That is the style and modus operandi of Jammeh who has just assured Gambians that he is not God.  "Well, that's a start.  Is he human, though? asks a keen follower of Jammeh and developments in The Gambia.  

BRG drops Jammeh, spends over $2.5 million since 1995

BRG Government Affairs LLC a lobbying firm in Washington DC has terminated its contract with the regime of Yaya Jammeh, according to filings of the firm with the United States department of Justice.

The dictatorship has come under tremendous pressure from opposition groups abroad about his lobby contracts with firms in Washington DC.

The irony is the most anti-American regime in Africa depends on American lobbyists to help him spruce up his battered image - an image that is irreparable.

It could be recalled that this blog ran a couple of posts on the subject matter last year regarding this lobbying contract.  Our BRG Government Affairs LLC blog posts were to draw attention to the fact that such a reputable firm where a former Republican Governor of Mississippi is a partner risks its reputation by lobbying for a notorious dictator with a prolific record of human right abuses, especially when his reputation has already been mortally damaged.

DUGA, a Washington-based civic group made up of Gambians exiles and non-exiles alike also staged a protest in front of the corporate offices of BRG to draw attention to the lobbying contract.

BRG filings suggest that the contract was terminated on 31 December 2013 after paying $405,000.  Jammeh was invoiced an additional $45,000 to cover 9 months of of what appears to be for expenses.  Whether this amount has been paid is unknown, but going by Yaya Jammeh's track record, this amount is probably still outstanding, and will be recovered only through court action.  Yaya Jammeh is a bad customer, period.

The Department of Justice's report show that since Jammeh seized power in July 1994, he has signed seven separate contracts with four different lobbying firms.  Three of those lobbying contracts were with Washington World Group Ltd. the first of which was an 8-week binding contract for the sum of $22, 250 signed in April 1995.  Subsequently, two other contracts were signed in successive years in the amount of
$180,000 and $300,000 which terminated in December 1999.

In September 2001, Jammeh signed a new lobby contract with EAW Group Inc.valued at $500,000.  This particular contract ended acrimoniously which ended in the Washington DC courts before Jammeh found another flamboyant lobbyist in the name of Richard T. Hines, a former South Carolina State Senator who always introduced himself as Senator Hines from South Carolina to leave the impression that he's a Federal Senator, a completely different job.  The two signed a contract for $300,000.

This lobbying contract and Mr. Hine's visit to Banjul after contract signing found me at the Foreign Ministry.  I received a call one morning from the then Chief of Protocol asking me whether I have one Senator Hines with me, and when it became obvious that I had no idea of the existence of a Senator Hines much less a visit, the COP quickly dropped the line without warning.

The discourteous behavior of the Chief of Protocol immediately made me suspicious, prompting me to call the American Ambassador to inquire about a Senator Hines of South Carolina on a visit to Banjul.  He replied 'there's no US Senator Hines from South Carolina'.  In fact, there was no US Senator on a visit to The Gambia.

Years later, I reminded my Ambassador friend of the episode.  He just shook his head with a smile. Working for Jammeh can be risky business.  Everybody is at risk, even Ambassadors.  Even though neither of us were supposed to know about Hines's trip or meet him, I was lucky to have met up with Mr. Hines at the airport lounge when both were travelling out of Banjul.  He introduced himself to me as Mr. Hines and we proceeded to have an engaging conversation.

The last firm (prior to BRG) to have signed and subsequent terminated the contract was with JWI which was also terminated. The entire value of lobbying contract Jammeh has signed with Washington DC/American firms totals $2,587,250.

Reputable American firms have finally gotten the hang of it.  They now know how terrible Jammeh is and will not risk tarnishing their reputation for dealing with the most prolific abuser of human rights in Africa.  Good riddance.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What a bunch of hypocrites

Momodou Lamin Touray and a bundle of cash.  SHAME SHAME
Hon. Buba Baldeh, former Minister of Youth and Sports in the Jawara regime who also served as youth mobilizer in Jammeh's political party (APRC) and Managing Director of Jammeh's privately held newspaper, The Daily Observer, died in Dakar.  The former Minister was in exile in the Senegalese capital where he was active in opposing the dictatorship in Banjul.

The Senegalese government and relatives of Hon. Buba Baldeh provided all the necessary measures and support befitting a man of his caliber and service to The Gambia and the sub-region.  Local Senegalese dignitaries joined family and friends of the former Minister to accompany the body to his native town of Basse Mansajang for burial.

While he was under treatment, he felt the need to express his wish to be buried in Mansajang.  His second option was to be interred in Medina Gounnass in Senegal in case the dictator denies him his right to be buried in his own country.  Jammeh has denied the family and friends of Kukoi Samba Sagnia, the leader of the 1981 coup d'etat similar wish, and Buba Baldeh witness the denial which suggested that he may encounter similar fate.  Was he so right in life as he is in death.

The refusal to allow safe passage of the body of a son of The Gambia by a non-Gambian like Yaya Jamus Junkung Jammeh is one more slap in the face of Gambians by someone whose origins are still as fuzzy as a peach.  According to reports, local politicians in Hon. Baldeh's hometown who falsely promised to have sought and were granted permission for the body to be allowed into the country were suddenly unavailable to provide answers as to why entry was denied.

The Commissioner of the Division and the local MP, Nettie Baldeh, who happens to be a close relative to the deceased, obviously were lying because they have no access to the dictator.  If his Ministers, including the Foreign Minister, do not have access to him, neither his phone number, we do not think that a lowly Commissioner (in Jammeh's world) and a member of one of the most ridiculously insignificant and powerless Parliament on earth will have access to Yaya Jammeh. 

The hypocrisy that permeates Gambian society is not limited to public servants but has seeped through the cracks infecting the Muslim community and the Supreme Islamic Council and its Associate Mullahs.  These people are not only hypocrites but they are among the most corrupt in Gambian society.  Their propensity to come to the defense of Yaya Jammeh is beyond belief.  It was only last week that we were being lectured by the head of the Islamic Council about how we, as Muslims, should love Yaya Jammeh.  While another Mullah preached about the virtue of submitting to the will of the dictatorship, and actually justifying the killing of opponents of political leaders. 

Our question to the Chief Mullah, President of Supreme Islamic Council is does Yaya Jammeh have the divine power to deny the relatives and friends of Hon. Buba Baldeh the right to bury their husband, father, grand-father, uncle, friend and colleague in his native Mansajang.

We want Momodou Lamin Touray of the SIC to tell Gambians what the Kuran says about Jammeh's action.  Let him return to The Standard newspaper to respond to the thousands of family and friends of Hon. Buba Baldeh about the vile actions of Jammeh relating his treatment of one of the most illustrious sons of not only Basse Mansajang but of the Gambia.         

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Jammeh's criminal enterprise includes trading in sex

Recent chilling revelations about the Jammeh regime are further confirmation that he is operating a criminal enterprise that preys on under-aged girls, and on other vulnerable women who are lured by promise of jobs in either the protocol department of the Foreign Ministry or as 'secret agents'.

Sadly, the sex ring is operated and overseen from State House by the Head of the Civil Service, thus immunizing the operation from public scrutinizing and from the easy reach of the international community's prying eyes.

The Daily Observer, the official mouthpiece of the dictatorship, appears to be the recruitment agency of the ring  through advertisements of 'vacancies' within State House.  The peculiar nature of the ads raises eyebrows because it requires applicants to be aged 13 and above who must attach two passport-sized and two full length photos as if they are applying for a modelling job.  These young women are of school-going age who are being encouraged to drop out of school to venture into the unknown by a person who claims to be the champion and the protector of Gambian women - Yaya Jammeh.

The young girls who meet the test are sent to Jammeh's home village of Kanilai where they are housed in bungalows where they act as sex slaves.  The pattern of behavior where girls and women are used as sex slaves can be found within the security elements of the regime.  These vulnerable members of society have been known to have been kidnapped by rogue soldier and sexually abused.  Jammeh set the pattern and standards which are emulated by his soldiers.  It is an acceptable if not a required behavior among them.

Under-aged and young women are the silent victims of heinous crimes perpetrated by an equally brutal that uses rape as an instrument of suppression.  The dangers posed by the regime of Yaya Jammeh is not only limited to The Gambia but has other regional security ramifications which we will be addressing separation. Meanwhile, every effort must be exerted to remove this illegitimate and criminal government from power,

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gambian youth as economic migrant

African economic migrants walking along a Libyan desert road
One of the most painful legacies that the Jammeh regime will be the emptying of The Gambia of its youthful population.  It pains me to say that a disproportionate number are of these economic and human rights migrants are non-Jolas.  We cannot discuss the Jammeh regime without talking about tribalism as an instrument of suppression by playing one tribe against another.  

At this point of this narration, it is tempting to say it is to be expected because Mandinka and Fulas, in particular, form the largest chunk of the country's population, thus should form a majority in many categories which is generally true, but only to a point.  The social status categories like high-paying jobs in the public service, scholarship awards and membership to statutory Boards paint a different picture.  The trend is scary, and more so when the qualifications and experience do not seem to be correlated with the numbers of the one of the smallest and least educated of one section of our population. 

It is important to note at this point that our faith in the Gambian people is unshakable.  Many politicians of past years who tried using tribe as a divisive tool have failed, and Jammeh will fail also.

The Daily Observer warned us this morning of the scourge of economic migration and the risk involved in venturing in small boats and canoes on their journey to Europe via Italy - a journey that usually end up in tragedy.  The regime's official mouth piece, blames the youth's lack of "strong commitment" to the Motherland, implying that these young men and women are more committed to their respective families. 

After all, these economic migrants are making the trip because "they are pursuing work in foreign countries in order to support themselves and their families" according to the Daily Observer. 

Boat full of African migrants
Nothing from our friends at the Daily Observer about the causes of this frantic pace of adventurism into the unknown at extraordinary risks.  Could it be that the regime’s inability to make it attractive for these young people to stay at home?  Unemployment is high and getting higher, while the lucky few to be employed have seen that wages stagnate, eroding their purchasing power to a level that cannot sustain life.  Yet they see their Great Leader ride around town in a Rolls Royce.  The insensitivity and the tone deafness of this regime is bordering on insanity.

The Daily Observer continues to blame the young men and women for not investing locally the money they pay for the dangerous trip, which assumes that there is free entry and exit in an economy that is directed by one man - Yaya Jammeh.  How many houses built by Gambian retirees and those living in Europe have been bulldozed by Yaya Jammeh, and their land seized without due process?  Why are businessmen/women fleeing Gambia for friendlier and safer destinations for their investments; these include Jammeh closest business partners. 

The Gambian economy is contracting because of its mismanagement, and the contraction will continue.  In fact, the economy is headed for a complete collapse.  The young men and women venturing out at seas see the bleak future, and they are voting with their feet, and they see it worth the risk.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"He is an animal", says a former sex slave of Jammeh

I listened to a 'Freedom' newspaper partial audio recording, purportedly of a young woman who claims to have been a sex slave of Yaya Jammeh for six months.  Although the audio is not of excellent quality, it is good enough for one to hear her story and also to discern the young woman's desperation and helplessness.
We believe the tape to be authentic and her story real.  We will not use her name nor the name of any other victim or their relatives. The focus is on Jammeh the rapist, Jammeh the pedophile, and the atrocities he continues to commit against a highly vulnerable population.

The victim appears to have resigned her fate, and the will to live because of the trauma she and two other young women went through over a six month period, its aftermath and subsequent fallout.  There are probably hundreds if not thousands of other victims suffering silently in The Gambia and abroad.

The young lady's ordeal started, according to her, when she responded to an ad in the Daily Observer, a paper belonging to the dictator, about a job vacancy.   She was told the job was in Kanilai, Jammeh's home village.  Once in Kanilai, she was ushered into a bungalow.  She was about 16 or 17 at the time.  There were two other young girls in what could only be characterized as a holding pen, given Jammeh's animal behavior described by this young lady.

During her first day of what she thought was a regular job, Jammeh visited her, gave her her job title and description which is essentially to act as "comfort woman" to satisfy his insatiable and animalistic sexual desires. When the young woman, who was a virgin at the time, pleaded with Jammeh.  Instead of reaching deep into his conscience - he has none, we know - to spare the young lady, he decided to threaten her with death by brandishing a pistol which he wave at her face.  When the young girl asked 'why are you destroying my life'? Jammeh's response was "shut up".  After all, he owns Gambia.

The young woman was a prisoner in this bungalow for six months.  Her cell phone was taken away.  She was allowed access to a phone to speak to her parents on limited time basis and in the presence of military personnel.  This is kidnapping and false imprisonment.

The young lady finally succumbed, and for the ensuing six months became a sex tool or conform girl of Yaya Jammeh.  She was not alone.  Remember, there were two others, one of whom died and was buried in Kanilai.  Whether she was murdered by Jammeh for refusing to succumb is unclear from the audio tape. What is evident is that Jammeh used the death of the other young woman to scare his other victims into submission.

What transpired in those Kanilai bungalows, as narrated by the victim, is too gruesomely graphic to describe in these pages.  But when the young woman was finally released, and she told her father - a retired teacher -what Yaya Jammeh did to her in six months, her father suffered a heart attack on the spot.  It is not clear, from the portions of the audio that was streamed on Freedom online radio, whether the father died immediately from the heart attacked.  What matters is that he died of a heart attack resulting from the gruesome ordeal his young promising daughter - she completed Fifth Form at 17 - narrated, and knowing that he, like the rest of Gambia, he has no legal recourse in this God forsaken place called Gambia.

We have known for a long time that Jammeh is a sex pervert.  We learned few weeks ago that Jammeh is also a pedophile involving an eight year old girl who had to be repatriated to Mauritania by his first wife, Tutie Fall, who was aunt to the young victim who should be in her mid to late 20s.  What we didn't know is that he also had the despicable capacity to kidnap under-age girls, hold them against their will for his sexual gratification.  These girls suffered the same kind of unimaginable indignities at the hands of Jammeh as the 'comfort women' who were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army.

This young and courageous lady's started around November 2011 and lasted til May 2012.  After she was kicked out of her Kanilai prison bungalow, she was released to her Brikama home, still a prisoner.  Black tinted-glassed vehicles are parked outside her compound, monitoring her every move.  She's scared to leave her compound for fear of her life.  This situation cannot be allowed to continue.  The young lady, her mother and her immediate family must be protected, evacuated from The Gambia and granted asylum in the U.S. The United States cannot expect this man to live up to the Traffic In Persons Report of 2014, neither can his Minister of the Interior who is equally a sexual predictor and a confirmed prolific rapist.  He's an animal too.

We are drawing the attention of the appropriate authorities to the contents of this blog and to the audio tape in the possession of Freedom radio, and to solicit their assistance on behalf of the young lady whose life is now in imminent  danger as a result of her contacting the press.  She needs help immediately. +

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Is CORDEG salvageable?

We love rules and procedures, perhaps, for the enormous effort it requires to adhere to them that gives us the feeling of accomplishment.  It matters not even when the rules happen to be a mishmash of convoluted impracticalities that may act as impediment to the mission at the risk of invalidating the entire process. 

“Keeping it simple" comes to mind.  Call me naive and/or old school but the issues facing The Gambia may be complex to a degree, but no more so than any of its neighbors.  Yet, Gambians love to complicate things while our neighbors seem to be doing just fine.  We will pretend to be adopting democratic tools (like free and fair elections) to represent the values of democracy, a process we will manage to bungle, not necessarily because of incompetence but for our insatiable thirst to be all things to all people.   

Last year, when we blogged that the size of the representation on the Executive of CORDEG was too large for our purposes, it was not taken kindly in some quarters, especially from the 'inclusiveness' crowd, some of whom are now being accused, wrongfully, in our view, of manipulating the elections to fit their individual agendas.  

If the committee was kept at a reasonable size, yet still sensitive to the demographic and parochial interests which then elects a leader who will, in turn, select his/her team for presentation to the executive committee for endorsement by acclamation, they could have avoided a lot of the pain they are putting those good people through who are genuinely looking for effective solutions to Gambia's political problems.  If you cannot entrust your CEO with the responsibilities outlined here, then you must search your conscience.  Trust is so fundamental to making anything work.  

We have also suggested that the political parties be excluded from membership of CORDEG together with ALL of their respective officials and members.  UDP to UDP. PDOIS to PDOIS, PPP to PPP, GMC to GMC and MOJA-G to MOJA-G. All those who no longer wish to be associated with their former parties but are still interested in continuing to be politicians should either join existing parties or form their own.  Perhaps the suggestion will be appreciated more after recent developments.  CORDEG should be for the rest of those who are purely for civic empowerment, civic education and other non-political activities.

If CORDEG were kept simple, the current structure would not have been as top-heavy and redundant as it now appears to be on paper.  Consequently, most would be out of a job if the structure were to be streamlined.  Potential 'losers' in a restructured CORDEG will oppose the move which in turn will result in more leaks to the press leading to further acrimony.

Changes must be effected at CORDEG, the scope and magnitude of which can best be determined by the CEO and what’s left of his executive team.  It seems to us that a ‘vote of confidence’ - whatever form it might take - should be among one of the options while there’s still some goodwill out there.  The renewal of the Executive Team's mandate after such a dramatic configuration is a reasonable thing to do as a confidence building measure after such dramatic developments that have shaken the confidence of many who still believe in the process.

After all that has transpired is CORDEG salvageable?  Yes, but…

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Let Mr. Sanna Camara go, the problem is elsewhere

Journalist - Sanna Camara
Sanna Camara, a local journalist working for a Banjul newspaper called The Standard, was detained by the police for accurately quoting the Police Public Relations Officer (PRO).  He was detained overnight in police cells when he refused to prepare and signed a cautionary statement in the absence of his lawyer in exercise of his right under law.

PRO - David Kujabi
Sanna Camara's problems started when he interviewed PRO David Kujabi about the problems of human trafficking that has become a topic of concern for Gambian parents, as it is for the United States Department of State.

In the 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the US government  singled out Thailand, Malaysia, Venezuela and The Gambia for taking insufficient action against human trafficking.

The United States State department downgraded the four countries to Tier 3, the lowest ranking it gives to countries with the lowest level of responses to the scourge of what tantamount to modern day slavery.

Sanna Camara's story appeared on the Friday edition that quoted PRO David Kujabi as saying 'police admits problems with human trafficking', a byline sufficient to send the young reporter to jail in a country that is increasingly becoming controlling, not only of the physical movements of its citizens but what they think and how they think.

There is no mention anywhere in the reporting that the police PRO disputes the quote ascribed to him by the reporter.  In the absence of such a contention on the part of the police why hold an innocent man for doing his job as a reporter.  Instead, Mr, Camara has been charged with "publishing false information and broadcasting" for accurately quoting an authorized and office police source who has not disputed any portion of the reporting.

Buried in the current fuss over the arrest is the admission of officer David Kujabi that "isolated cases of human trafficking are often brought to their attention," he denied that there are "organized rings" in The Gambia, implying that that may be organized rings operating outside the Gambia.

The police and higher authorities are aware of the existence of a ring that operates out of Lebanon that is engaged in the trafficking of Gambian women using the Gambia-Qatar Employment Agreement ratified into law in June of 2010 as cover to traffic in young Gambian girls in the Gulf.  The TIP cites the laxity in enforcement of human trafficking laws as reason for the downgrade.  The Gambian Ambassador to Qatar in brother to Jammeh with many other family members occupying less conspicuous positions within the enterprise to exploit Gambian women.  It, therefore, makes sense to look the other way because the Jammeh family is involved.  

PRO made reference to the plight of Gambian women sold as prostitutes in Lebanon who recently pleaded for help.  He's now blaming the families in The Gambia for refusing to come forward with their complaints or asking the police to drop them altogether.  These people have lost credibility and the trust of Gambians to be taken seriously.  The regime is a criminal enterprise, and the sooner the rest of the world catches up with the majority of Gambians, the better.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

V - 2016 High Level Committee another cruel hoax

Vision 2016, a Jammeh concoction that promises Gambians food self sufficiency in two years has been shown to be not only unattainable but a political shiny object being shown to the farming community as a devise to distract Gambians of the monumental failure of the Jammeh regime.

In 1994, Jammeh promised Gambians that the importation of rice will be a thing of the past in two short years.  In the interim, the quality of imported rice will be upgraded, he promised Gambians resulting in many consignments of the commodity dumped into the sea rendering some importers bankrupt.  Imports went up and the quality remained unchanged at 100% broken which is considered unfit for human consumption in many countries.

A decade later, he continued his promise what has now become a farce, in the same area of food security by encouraging (more like paying lip service) to investments in the processing of agricultural produce, including mangoes.   Villagers provided land for these factories to produce mango juice.  They are left another decade asking what ever happened to their mango juice factory that never was.

Faced with mounting apprehension about his failed agricuture policies despite numerous promises to make them work,  Jammeh announced suddenly a new agriculture program he named Vision 2016 rice self-sufficiency.  Curiously, this sudden change in policy is coming in the midst of a cumulative 79% decline in local rice production in the last six years, according to FAO figures.

Gambia presently produces 30,000 tons of rice and imports 125,000 tons annually to meet the consumption needs estimated to be 165,000 tons.   Simple arithmetic dictates that for Vision 2016 program to succeed, Gambian farmers must produce a total of approximately 130,000 tons annually to be self sufficient in rice.

It is time for senior officials to tell the dictator that the idea is not only preposterous but it is a cruel hoax designed to divert the attention of Gambians from an impending disaster that awaits them.  Establishing a High Level Committee is equally a hoax intended to make it look like the regime is serious about addressing Gambia's food deficit  and self-sufficiency problems that has been lingering since Jammeh seized power in 1994.