Friday, October 31, 2014

Revolt against repression in pictures

An estimated crowd of one million protesters
A single protester and a solder
The departure of Compaore for a New Burkina Faso
Parliament Building in flames
Two buddies having a good laugh in good times
Protesters hold poster of murdered journalist Zongo
Two young protesters with their trophy
Inside Parliament Building before it was razed to the ground
Parliament Building  after

Gambian Speaker admits economic failure

Meanwhile, in The Gambia, the Speaker and some Members of the rubber stamp, APRC-dominated National Assembly while admitting that the mismanagement of the economy has reached crisis proportion, they still cannot bring themselves of taking full responsibility for the current economic melt-down.

Instead, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, who has no power, was blamed for Gambia's economic problems.  In admonishing the official, the Speaker admitted openly - a first, I might add - that the tax base is eroding leading to precipitous drop in tax revenue.  He went into a tirade and was quoted in the Standard newspaper as saying that "foreign grants and aids recently did not flow in as much as we have been receiving them". 

According to the same newspaper, the Speaker spoke of the lack of rains which has impacted negatively the agriculture sector and suggested that since the regime is running out of money as a result of all these factors he's enumerated, the onus is on the Permanent Secretary of make the machinery of government work after Jammeh and these very same parliamentarians have squandered the limited resource of one of the poorest countries on earth. 

The Speaker didn't end there.  In what could only be regarded as a threat, however veiled the threat, he warned a certainly terrified Permanent Secretary, that "the pressure is on you, (Mr.) P.S." and "it's going to be multiplying each year" He was also reminded of civil servants working under him at the Ministry who must be closely watched because "they are many (in number), cruel and smart" all at once.

Whatever the case, the Speaker ended his speech with a reminder to the poor Permanent Secretary that regardless of what those "cruel and smart" civil servants do, "we, (meaning Parliament and by extension, Yaya Jammeh) are going to see the PS as the head of the Ministry", even if he is powerless because he takes instructions "from the big man."

What is new from this new development is that the Speaker was issuing an ultimatum in such an open and frank that it took many by surprise.  It is uncommon for members of the regime to admit (1) that the economy is in a  tailspin and (2) to do so openly.  Stay tuned.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Burkina Faso 'Hamattan' in pictures

Protesters in Ouagadougou 
Statute of Blaise Compaore toppled 
Kick "Ebolaise" out of Burkina
National Assemble Building set ablaze
Add caption

Massive Burkinabe protesters

Why go to jail for a dictator whose days are numbered?

Deputy Ambassador Mr. Y. Bojang---First Sect. Mr. Gaston Sambou
Deputy Ambassador, Yusupha Bojang and First Secretary, Gaston Sambou, both of the Gambia Embassy in the United Kingdom have been accused, together with six other Gambians at the Embassy, of fleecing British taxpayers of £5 million for buying huge quantities of duty free products.

Southwark Crown Court was told that some of the accused were ordering tobacco worth more than their annual salaries, over a three year period, all the time claiming it was for personal use.

The eight accused were ordering these products at a rate that the two duty-free suppliers were finding it difficult to keep up with the demand.  The court heard that the eight accused collectively ordered or were invoiced what amounted to over 32 tonnes of tobacco to their personal use despite evidence suggesting that none smoked.

The sheer volume of the transactions emanating from the small Embassy of The Gambia is signal to a larger problem facing Gambian diplomacy in general and the larger picture of the governance situation facing this slither of a country that has been under dictatorship since 1994.

The Gambian Missions abroad under Jammeh have been transformed into enclaves that advances his personal business interests instead of the traditional role of diplomatic missions.  In the United States, the Embassy is nothing more than a reception center to welcome and see off Gambia's First Lady who visits Washington twice monthly.  All of Jammeh American vehicles are procured by the Embassy staff.  All of the foodstuffs consumed by Jammeh and his Moroccan wife and two children come from Sam's Club or Costco in Washington DC.

The Gambian Embassy is evidently no different from what these Embassies have been reduced to.  All of the professional diplomats have been dismissed from the service, exiled or imprisoned by the dictatorship.  They have been replaced by Jammeh's relatives, the majority of whom are illiterates or semi-illiterates.  They are posted to Embassies around the world to service the dictator.

A £5 million illegal operation could not have been sustained for three years without backing from Banjul. And no business operation of this size, with that number of Gambians, all associated with the Embassy, without the  knowledge of the Gambian dictator.

Deputy Ambassador Bojang is a cousin to the Dictator's mother.  Prior to being elevated to second in command at the Embassy, he worked as a cinema ticket vendor in Bakau New Town, The Gambia before moving on to being a sales agent for Banjul Brewery.  His last known job was at Challeram's, a department store chain in the capital city and up-country.

Before leaving Challeram's, he collected all the sales receipts from outlets across the country.  The rural Rest House at Mansa Konko where he stayed went up in smoke and all the money he collected perished.  So he told the police.  The case was never investigated.  Few weeks after the episode, he ends up as Gambia's second highest ranking diplomat in the Court of St. James who can hardly write his name much less a complete sentence.  He was recalled briefly two years ago for reasons still unclear but was subsequently reinstated.

Gaston Sambou, the First Secretary is a high school product who ended up signing up for the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) known simply by its acronym.  His main function at the Embassy was to keep tabs of the dissidents groups resident in the United Kingdom and to report on them.

The Gambian Ambassador Mrs. Ya Eli Harding is expected to be the prosecution witness whose testimony will be crucial to the state's case against the eight defendants.  It is unclear at this point whether authority has been granted by the Gambian dictator for the Ambassador to testify.

We have suggested to the former Deputy Ambassador to cooperate with the UK authorities provided that it is not too late in the day.  For these Gambians to take the bullet for Yaya Jammeh with the likelihood of spending many years in jail and then face deportation after serving their respective sentences is not worth it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The criminal case of Sheikh Tejan Sosseh is a farce

Justice Emmanuel Amadi
The case against Sheikh Tejan Sosseh was again adjourned for the umpteenth time yesterday because, according to news reports, he was stuck in traffic.

Justice Amadi, apparently sensing mischief on the part of the prosecution, fined the witness D2,000 ($50) for wasting, yet again, the time of the court.

Dragging frivolous courts cases for months and sometimes, years, is one of the regime's favorite methods of abusing the human rights of the accused.

Sheikh Tejan Sosseh is the poster child of everything wrong with the Jammeh dictatorship, including a judiciary that has increasingly been discredited to the point that its members have become pariahs in the eyes of the international legal community.  The record of those judges and magistrates, including Ministers of Justice and Attorney Generals, despite doing the bidding of the dictatorship by honoring instructions of Yaya Jammeh have not been impressive.  As we speak, a former Attorney General and Justice Minister and a former Chief Justice are currently in jail for an assortment of reasons ranging from corruption, economic crime to lying to a public officer.  Another former Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice is a fugitive from the law, and hiding somewhere in Cameroon.

The case before Justice Emmanuel Amadi of Sheihk Tejan Sosseh vs the government of the Gambia is part of the regime's determined and concerted effort to persecute through prosecution Agriculture Ministry staff for contributing, according to the Gambian dictator's own twisted, to the impending failure of achieving rice self-sufficiency in 2016 for a policy objective - without the appropriately-designed policy - that was announced only a few month ago.

Tejan Sosseh is being taken to court because he implimented an EU-grant funded and World Bank-administered project so well that at the end of ti all be realized a balance that he surrendered to the granter through the World Bank.  The total amount of the grant was $7.3 million, and at the end of the project $67,489 was the unspent balance which Mr. Sosseh as Project Manager rightly surrendered to the World Bank who would have returned the same said amount to the EU account.

Because he returned the unspent amount, it was deemed to be "detrimental to the economy of The Gambia and the welfare of the Gambian people."  Remember, it was the same Gambian dictator who famously said recently that the EU's development assistance to the Gambia was "chicken change", meaning inconsequential. Yet, here he is trying to sent an innocent Gambian to jail for returning what, in international financial circles, is really 'chicken change'.

In addition to this frivolous charge, Mr. Sosseh is also being accused of shoddy construction works, the supervision of which must be the function of a construction engineer, and not the project manager.  All construction works come with what is known as a guarantee period of a fixed period during when all deficiencies are to be fixed at the contractors expense.

Mr. Sosseh is being finally charged with the catch-all 'economic crime' for the so-called loss of $67,489 which was surrender to the European Union Find.

Who is the contractor for the "rehabilitation and construction of the Seed Multiplication Center at Chamen. Who supervised the construction?  Who was the appointed project construction engineer or supervisor? These are all the relevant questions that the prosecution team should have asked before charging someone who should be commended for implementing the project in a satisfactory manner.

For justice to be served, Judge Amadi must dismiss the case against Sheikh Tejan Sosseh, and all other future cases that are similar in nature.  

Secularism, freedom of the press, human rights and The Gambian State

Basiru Mahoney, Gambia's Attorney General and Minister of Justice, presented his government's case at the United Nation's 20th Session of the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva under the watchful eye of the dreaded Gambian Interior Minister, Ousman Sonko, who has been the Chief Enforcer of Jammeh's dictatorship.

The Attorney General's statement to the UN Panel was a compendium of lies and fabrications about the state of human rights in Africa's smallest and poorest country.

After the diplomatic fall-out with Taiwan, the resource gap created as a result forced Jammeh and his dictatorial regime to pivot towards the Arab world.  Even well before the new diplomatic tilt, came the incessant courting of the Arab - Gulf States with the introduction of the 4-day work week.  The declaration of Friday as a non-working day, made the Gambia one of the few countries to observe a 3-day weekend. Radical Islamists have been employed by the dictatorship to propagate a form of Islam that encourages the execution of political opponents of the president who has been preordained by Allah, and thus, must not be opposed by any mortal.  These Islamists are employed as Imams at State House, the official residence of the Gambian president and at government departments and at the University of The Gambia.

The declaration, therefore, of the Gambia's Attorney General and Minister of Justice that The Gambia is a Secular State is factual as far as constitutional provisions go but operationally false.  Yaya Jammeh has regularly sponsored Islamic scholars to deliver religious lectures on subjects that are nothing more that proselytization of a region, using State funds and State facilities in, what is supposedly, a secular state.   The latest fray into the evangelical no man's land by Jammeh was the invitation of Dr. Zakir Naik, the so-called Indian Muslim cleric who was quoted as saying Muslims, by definition, are and should be terrorists.

The rest of The Gambia's Justice Minister's presentation before the Review Panel had been equally spurious with claims that since Jammeh seized power illegally in 1994, there has been an increase in the number of private radio stations, implying that there is freedom of speech and expression.  What the Minister fail to say is that not a single one of these station is allowed to even read the news.  They are essentially music and sports stations.  They are not even allowed to translate the officially-sanctioned news into the local vernacular.  Radio stations have been closed for simply interviewing opposition party leaders.   For the Minister to claim that the opposition leaders have equal access to the national radio and television is a blatant and outright fabrication.  Opposition parties are each accorded exactly eleven minutes each for the entire presidential election campaign.

Mile II Prisons conditions are as appalling today as they have ever been.  In fact, those who've just been released from there say conditions have deteriorated, despite international pressure to force the regime to improve conditions.  Prisoners are still exposed to communicable diseases.  They suffer from malnutrition, and , of course, they are being physically abused everyday as a matter of routine.  According to latest reports, there are dozens of Gambians held in Gambian prisons, some for over 15 year, without charge. Some don't even know why they are being held, illegally.

Attorney General Basiru Mahoney failed the very Gambia public he's supposed to protect against the repressive regime he sides with in Geneva by willfully embellishing the human rights record of the Jammeh regime before the Review Panel of the United Nation in full view of the world.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

We jumped the gun

IOC president, Thomas Bach
In our October 21 blog post entitled 'FIFA should emulate IOC against a recalcitrant regime', we reported that The Gambia has been suspended by the international sporting organization over consistent and persistent government interference. 

The paramilitary forces who occupied the GNOC offices finally decided to vacate the premises as directed by the IOC but not before after the deadline. 

We, obviously, jumped the gun, and we apologize.

But in an AP report carried by the Washington Post, The Gambia escaped suspension only after the regime of Yaya Jammeh allowed the reopening of the Gambia National Olympics Committee's offices that were closed since April.

The occupation of GNOC-owned premises by paramilitary forces was deemed unacceptable and in contravention of IOC rules and procedures.  Ultimatum was given to the regime to empty the premises of soldiers and hand over all GNOC property or risk suspension.  Sensing the inevitability of a suspension looming ahead of the IOC executive board meeting, Jammeh and his supporters backed down in time to avert suspension.

Mark Adams, the IOC spokesman said that The Gambia has agreed to abide by the agreements reached in Lausanne one month ago.  In an email to the Associated Press, Mr. Adams said that "this is a positive development but IOC will continue to monitor the situation closely."  We will too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prof. Wale Adekunle says Vision 2016 is achievable

Prof. Wale Adekunle
Professor Wale Adekunle, Director of the Sub-Saharan Challenge Program (SSCP) who doubles as special adviser to the idiosyncratic Gambian dictator, Yaya Jammeh, on agriculture matters is quoted in the local papers as saying The Gambia can be self-sufficient in rice in the next 18 months.

To make such a claim does not only put his professional reputation on the line but sets him on a collision course with the temperamentally insane and highly unpredictable Yaya Jammeh who has been known to expel foreign diplomats for simply carrying out their normal diplomatic functions or simply disagreeing with him about the science of HIV/AIDS.  One wonders what will happen to the professor if, come 2016, rice exports continue its current upward trajectory, as expected. 

Time, rice import numbers and food deficiency figures are all working against the good professor.  In the professor's own words, Gambia imports $50 million worth of rice annually which he expects to reverse in two rainy season, as special adviser. In all fairness to him, he has said to achieve the fete they regime will have to try to plant rice three times a year starting in January.  The only way this can be achieved is to have the rice sector firing on all cylinders, upland, tidal and irrigated rice.

Gambian rice agronomists have known and written about this for a long time.  But all have limitations of their own which must be taken into account to arrive at a realistic approach, free of political propaganda directed at an unsuspecting citizenry.

As recently as last year, a Gambian agronomist and former head of the Ministry of Agriculture and a colleague made the same presentation at an international gathering where he strongly advocated for a nation-wide use of pump irrigation as a means of reducing poverty and food insecurity. 

They further argued that in the short run, the rehabilitation of the abandoned irrigation schemes is the most efficient way to expand pump irrigation rice cropped area.  In the medium term, an extension of the irrigated cropped area nationwide is being recommended by Gambian experts.

Gambia's agriculture is predominantly rain-fed and the rainy seasons are short and highly unpredictable. With the advent of global warming, it will be a dicey proposition to rely exclusively on the rains.  Thus the need to invest in agriculture under irrigation system where rice productivity is 5 times higher than rain-fed rice which makes a strong argument for investment in irrigation infrastructure. 

The sudden reversal of the regime's agriculture policy which has evolved from the Vision 20/20 of 1995 to Vision 2016 of last year has turned many Gambians into skeptics, and are seeing the latest antics of the Jammeh regime as just another scheme designed to play politics with Gambian lives.

To achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2016, it would mean Gambia will stop being a rice importer in one year which many reasonable people find difficult to imagine, much less accept as a fact-based outcome.  Time, as the saying goes, will tell.  Until then, Professor Wale Adekunle, we are told, has signed on a 2-year contract, presumably with the Gambian dictator, the details of which are unclear at this stage.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FIFA should emulate IOC against a recalcitrant regime

The International Olympic Committee has suspended The Gambia from the international body over the regime's insistence on interfering with the operations of the Gambia's National Olympics Committee (GNOC).

In April this year, the IOC demanded that the offices and all properties belonging to the local GNOC be returned immediately as the IOC-recognized body.  All restrictions imposed on the GNOC by government were to be lifted as well as the cessation of any action planned by the regime to destabilize the GNOC.

Despite warnings that protective measures or sanctions will be applied if the conditions are not met, the regime opened the offices briefly in August but limited access to the GNOC-owned premises only to close them again.

The regime of Yaya Jammeh is not only interfering with the operations of the GNOC but it is doing the same with the Gambia Football Federation.  There, the regime succeeded in installing an APRC political party apparatchik as president of the Federation who immediately moved to stack the Executive Committee with 'nominated' members.   His unconstitutional move has been appealed by members of the GFF to FIFA. We hope FIFA will step up to the plate and take a firm decision against the Gambia Football Federation.

We applaud the IOC for taking a swift, firm and decisive action against a recalcitrant regime.  We expect FIFA to take a similar move against the GFF.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Agriculture Ministry professionals being scapegoated

Fatajo, Adda Gaye and Amie Jallow
The Gambian dictator wants Gambians to forget that he's been presiding over the decline of agriculture since he seized power 20 years ago by arresting and prosecuting good and decent Gambian professionals of false charges.

The charges against the Permanent Secretary, Ms. Adda Gaye, Permanent Secretary,  Fafanding Fatajo, the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Project (FASDEP), Omar Jammeh, Financial Controller FASDEP, Dr. Abdou Ceesay, Director of Livestock Services and Foday Jadama, Deputy Director of Soil and Water Management Services range from "economic crimes"  (which is now a standard charge) to conspiracy to commit a felony.

Realizing that his Vision 2020 which was inaugurated almost twenty years ago has failed, the Gambian dictator modified his long term vision for the development of the country into a shorter version that he dubbed Vision 2016.  The new Vision promises Gambia food rice self-sufficiency in 18 months, a target considered unrealistic and unachievable even before it was formally introduced.

Yaya Jammeh has been the Minister of Agriculture for most of the 20 years he's been leading the country following his illegal seizure of power from a democratically elected government in 1994.  Yet, the near collapse of the most important sector of the Gambian economy is the fault of everyone but himself.  

To prepare the country and the international community for the failure of his targets, several senior officials of the Ministry have been facing an assorted set of accusations and frivolous charges at the specific instructions of the dictator.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We welcome UNAIDS' return to The Gambia

Dr. Leo Zekeng of UNAIDS
The return of UNAIDS to The Gambia after a year of its absence from the country is an encouraging sign that the medical quackery practiced by the Gambian dictator Yaya Jammeh and his reliable Assistant, Dr. Mbowe, is finally coming to an end, and with it, we hope, the international ridicule associated with the claim that the two can cure HIV/AIDS.

It may be better late than never for UNAIDS to resume its work but it important to acknowledge the unnecessary interruption of the efforts of the international community resulting in reversals to the gains made against the disease before the village doctor embarked on his HIV/AIDS 'cure'.  The set back caused by the Jammeh treatment program can and will be reversed but at a higher cost of life and cash.
The other human casualties of the Jammeh/Mbowe HIV/AIDS quackery was the UNDP Resident Representative and Coordinator of the UN System of the country who was declared persona non-grata for questioning the scientific basis for Jammeh's claim.

Another human casualty is the professional carrier of Dr. Mbowe,  a trained medical doctor who served as validator of the most absurd claims of the Gambian dictator relating to the disease.

However, all is not lost despite concerted effort of the herbal doctor's effort to lure patients from conventional treatment.  According to the United Nations news agency (IRIN), Jammeh's herbal treatment actually had unanticipated positive side-effects of the antiretroviral.  Instead of pulling patients toward herbal treatment, it raised the profile of antiretroviral therapy.

Twenty months into his declaration that he can cure HIV/AIDS in 2007, many patients switched from antiretroviral to herbal only to return to the proven therapy after many reversals and deaths that victims' families were and still are scared to report for fear of their own personal safety.

Needless to say, UNAIDS return to The Gambia is a positive development and a very welcomed news. We will, therefore, ignore the spins by all parties.  We say WELCOME UNAIDS.    

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Over 6,000 'Back Way' Gambians arrive in Italy

According to the Italian Interior Ministry's figures supplied to the International Organization on Migration, young Gambians continue to venture the Back Way to Europe despite the horribly grave events that have occured involving Gambians.

In the first nine months of this year, 6,179 Gambians, almost all young, have survived the back way journey that typically starts from Banjul through Dakar to Bamako and Niamey across the Sahara Desert to various points in Libya.   Needless to say that the trek is treacherous and thus dangerous.

According to various accounts of the journey, many of these young men, and a few women, do not survive it, and those who do survive, many end up perishing during the Mediterranean voyage to either Malta or Sicily.

Of the 6,179 Gambian emigrants who arrived in Italy from January - September 2014, 5,196 are men and 17 women.  Of these 966 are minors under the age of 18 and only 52 of these minors are accompanied by parents or relatives.  An unimaginable figure of 914 Gambian minors venture the trip alone without the benefit of being accompanied.

The global figures provided by the Italian Interior Ministry indicate that a total of 138,796 migrants arrived in Italy during the same period from seven of the biggest contributors to the figure in descending order : Syria (32,681), Eritrea (32,537), Mali (8,532), Nigeria (6,951), Gambia (6,179), Palestine (4,223) and Somalia (4,113).

Migrants from the non-African countries of Syria and Palestine of course follow different route from their African counterparts, but they all end up in the same holding facilities in different parts of Italy.

Proportionally, Gambia is by far the biggest contributor to the migration problem of all the non-African countries on the list, except Eritrea that has a population of 5 million with 32,537 arrivals in Italy in the past nine months.  Mail's population is estimated to be 16 million while Nigeria's is 177 million, yet their arrival figures for the same period are 8,532 and 6,951 respectively.

These are the known arrivals in Italy covering the period of 1st January - 30th September 2014.  How many Gambians succeeded in making it to Italy and beyond in the past decade is unknown.  To think of the number of Gambians who perished at sea in the same period is beyond imagination.

As we have suggested in our Facebook page, the Gambian economy being drained of  its youthful population must be a cause for concern of the economic planning authorities, a recent phenomenon following the tightening up on civil liberties and increase in human rights abuses of the dictatorship.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Is Zeinab Souma Jammeh legitimate political target?

The question whether Zeinab Souma Jammeh, Gambia's First Lady, is a legitimate political target has moved from being purely a rhetorical question into the realm of actually eliciting real answers, now that she has also served almost as long in the job as her husband.

Apart from her now famous jet-setting habits and shopping sprees in New York, Paris, Rabat and Guinea-Conakry, she has managed to stay behind and away from the Gambian political scenes effortlessly.

As a Moroccan of mixed parentage (Moroccan mother and Guinean father) she has never felt the need to assimilate with the local Gambian populace, so to speak, but feels more at ease with "her own kind" in Morocco and with her sisters in Conakry.   Consequently, she feels less obliged and not driven by political expediency to attempt to win the hearts and minds of Gambians, especially when she seems to be actively encouraged by her husband to stay away from Gambians like they've been afflicted with the Ebola virus.

Her aloofness, and genuine lack of interest in the country or its people, except if it is the meager resources that her husband siphon off that are subsequently stashed in foreign banks and the purchase of foreign estates in the United States, Europe and Africa, may be an issue that concerns even the ordinary Gambian.  They often wonder out loud why their First Lady is never seen in their rural villages and hamlets across the country. Their welfare is certainly not a priority of someone who goes by the title of First Lady.

It has now come to light that Zeinab Jammeh maybe the only person standing in the way of Jammeh calling it day in advance of the 2016 presidential elections. According to a highly credible source close to the Gambian dictator, sometime in the past couple of years, Jammeh did confide with the source in question that he was considering stepping down from the presidency.

The reasons Jammeh reportedly gave was that he needed sometime to address the grave health issues which plagued him for years, and which he couldn't address adequately because of the mounting economic pressures at home and the political opponents actively pursuing him abroad.

According to the source, Jammeh's idea was to select a person within his APRC as his successor to run in 2016.  However, the idea was shot down immediately by Zeinab Souma Jammeh because relinquishing the presidency is suicidal.  She reasoned, there's no guarantee that the APRC candidate will win an election. She was quoted as saying "they will come after us and our children."  She is obviously aware of the threat her husband's regime faces, and by extension, her very own safety and that of her kids.

The time frame of the conversation is still unclear but we were told it might have taken place at the height of the Arab Spring or immediately after relative calm came to Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia.

What is clear to this point is that Zeinab Souma Jammeh is clearly the woman behind the Gambian throne and she will not let Yaya Jammeh resign or retire.  In doing so,  she has answered our question : that Zeinab has effectively transformed herself into a legitimate political target by preventing Yaya Jammeh from stepping aside even though she has spent nearly two decades staying above the political fray; not anymore.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Passengers stuck for days at Farafenni ferry crossing

Farafenni ferry crossing 
While Yaya Jammeh and his dwindling supporters were busy trying to convince them that things were really getting better, many Gambian and Senegalese travelers were stuck for two days trying to cross the short span of the Gambia River.
Farafenni ferry

The ordeal of the passengers was described more like an odyssey of two unforgettable nights of hell by passengers and drivers, a view shared by Baba Galleh Ba who heads the Senegalese Regional Transporters Union. He further referred to the ordeal as a "maltreatment of Senegalese." 

Passengers were stuck aboard the ferry for five hours before they were able to disembark.  By the account of the same passengers, when they finally disembarked and upon arriving at Senoba they were forced to spend a second night there because the last ferry to Kerr Ayib had already left.

Travelers also experienced frustrations transiting through The Gambia.  Passengers who intended to pick up their flights from Banjul International arrived to an empty airport because no one bothered to inform passenger ahead of time that SN Brussels had cancelled its flights to Banjul - for how long and for what reasons no one can say at this point.  

When these passengers decided to take the Banjul ferry they were told in Banjul that the ferry was on stand-by at the instruction of Yaya Jammeh.  The only option left for these international civil servants was to take the canoes and by the time they arrived at the Barra end of their horrifying experience, you can only image how they looked and felt in their soggy suits and socks.  

Their ordeal ended in Dakar but not before three taxi breakdowns en route from Barra to Amdalayai.  One of the passengers eventually turned to a Gambian and said "Your country is gone."

The three missing words in Jammeh's speech

An empty Independence Stadium
Transparency, Accountability, Probity, were the words that greeted Gambians when Jammeh and his minions seized power from a democratically elected government.

Words repeated by the 29-year old bachelor Chief of the Revolutionary Council that promised Gambians a new dawn of accountability and transparency.

It was a ploy, a cruel joke conjured by a group of twenty-somethings of the lowest rank in the military who have never managed a household budget much less a national budget.

They came to loot, steal, kill, maim, torture and extra-judicially execute their way to a permanent state of dictatorship that is a far cry from anything Jammeh and the initial group of "soldiers with a difference" promised an unsuspecting citizenry.

Jammeh and his Council of Revolutionaries justified their illegal usurpation of power, just like previous military juntas before them, on corruption of the previous government they replaced.  They turned out to be the biggest of thieves and human rights abusers that Gambia has ever witnessed.  Immediately upon seizing power, their first move was to loot everything that was movable at the State House, including the personal effects of the previous president - a sign of things to come.

Interestingly, the Inaugural Speech by the leader of the "Revolution" ushering in the 20th Anniversary of the event was more about pleading for divine intervention from Allah The Almighty instead of accounting before the Gambian people his 20-years at the helm.  It was his Foreign Minister and Secretary General of the ruling party who attempted, in his usual clumsy and idiosyncratic manner, to outline the regime's achievements.

The Hon. Minister's television audience was subjected to the usual long list of so-called infrastructural developments from passenger terminal to hospitals to school buildings at a time when the incidence of poverty has reached an all-time high of 70% of the total Gambian population and where 600,000 of Gambia's 1.8 million population go to bed hungry.

The omission of these three words which were the mantra of the Armed Force Provisional Ruling Council and subsequently the APRC political party both led, uninterrupted, for 20 years by Yaya Jammeh is a signal that the regime has finally come to terms with the incontrovertible truth that he has failed in leadership.

Jammeh cannot defend his record therefore he conveniently omitted the three words that would have been the benchmarks against which his 20-year achievements would have been measured.   It is understandable if Jammeh would not like to be reminded of those three words - Transparency, Accountability and Probity - which have come to haunt a regime that has failed and decaying in the vines.        

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It is Lamin Kaba Bajo again

We've said in these pages that Lamin Kaba Bajo is bad for Gambian football.  We are reiterating the same in less than a week into office.

The newly elected president, in a highly disputed elections, is moving quickly and unashamedly to stack the decks with regime-friendly faces.  It is a blatant power grab that is brazen even by the standards of dictatorial regimes.

If there were doubters to our claim that Kaba Bajo was the regime's hand-picked candidate for the office of president of the Gambia Football Federation (GFF), there should be any now because of the blatant move by the former Minister and Ambassador under the Jammeh dictatorship to flagrantly violate the Statutes of the GFF in his first official action.

Kaba Bajo made numerous appointments that extensively expanded the membership of the Executive Committee of the GFF to include the brother of the current Minister of Youth and Sports, members of the Gambia Armed Forces and prominent political supporters of the Jammeh regime.  If these appointments should stand, the regime will have total and absolute control of Gambian football.

Mr. Buba Bojang, the former presidential candidate of the GFF is contesting the constitutionality of the appointments because they contravene numerous clauses of the federation's Statutes which were enumerated in a letter to the GFF.

Kaba Bajo, meanwhile, has arrogantly refused to respond to Buba Bojang's claims and was quoted in Standard newspaper as suggesting that he has better things to do and bigger fish to fry than to respond to the charges by members of the GFF.

His reaction did not come as a surprise because Bajo's entire career is deep-rooted in a dictatorial culture of a military regime that has transformed itself into a civilian outfit but still essentially militaristic in behavior.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Celebrations poorly attended, THANK YOU GAMBIA

Empty stadium greets Jammeh and his 20th Anniversary
2001 Inauguration of Jammeh's 2nd term
Gambians have finally come to their senses by staying home rather than joining the "celebrations" of twenty years of gross ineptitude and high level corruption.

Full capacity of the Independence Stadium is 33,000 which was filled to capacity only on two occasions - a match between Gambia and Senegal and Jammeh's first Inaugural address in 1994.

The low level of attendance of the "celebrations" is further evidence that the Gambia population is more concern about the state of the economy that is in steady state of decline with high level of unemployment, especially among a youthful population.

The A(F)PRC regimes' staunchest constituents have been women and young people.  This demography has also been the most reliable until in the recent past when it became clear that Jammeh cannot deliver on his previous promises of creating jobs for the youth and women.

Currently youth unemployment is 70% and growing which has led thousands of young Gambians using the "Back Way" in search of financial and economic freedoms for their parents and for themselves.  Unemployment numbers are not the only ones on the rise.

Both the incidences of rural and urban poverty are on the increase since 1994.  The overall poverty figure is around 65% from 50% twenty years ago.  Thanks to the bad, incomprehensible and disjointed set of economic policies of the Jammeh regime, the youth and women have been the victims even though they were the pillars of the so-called revolution.

The youth and women of The Gambia have finally come to terms with the fact that their support of the Jammeh regime was misplaced and they are beginning to distance themselves from this vile, inept and corrupt regime.   Their boycott of the "celebrations" is confirmation of a dawn of a new day.  THANK YOU GAMBIA.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why should Gambian taxpayers pay Dr. Zakir Naik's $ 1.5 million speaking fee?

Dr. Zakir Naik
As speaking fees go, the purported $ 1.5 million plus expenses that the Gambian taxpayers have been committed to paying the controversial Indian Muslim cleric whose views on terrorism have resulted in him being banned in the United Kingdom.

The Indian Muslim cleric visit to The Gambia is part of an elaborate celebrations to mark the twentieth year of military take-over of a legitimately and democratically elected government.

We are less particular about Dr. Naik's views on terror that by definition every Muslim is, or should be, a terrorist.  He later tried to clarify a view that brought an avalanche of criticism from around the world.

Jammeh thrives on controversy which he uses to divert attention from the real political and economic problems his regime has brought upon Gambians.  Therefore paying humongous speaking fees to controversial religious personalities like Dr. Naik is worth the distraction of a failed regime.

Yaya Jammeh is the biggest threat to the secular state because of his inaccurate and public description of The Gambia as a Muslim country.  We have noticed that Dr. Naik has also taken to this notion by expressing his delight that " The Gambia is a Muslim country."

The doctrine of the separation of Church, in our case, the Mosque and The State is enshrined in the 1997 Constitution.  It is the same doctrine that has guided the country since Independence.  Religious tolerance and religious coexistence is what makes The Gambia special and distinct from many countries, and by inviting controversial religious clerics like Dr. Naik, that harmony is threatened.

It is therefore wrong and inappropriate to use taxpayer money to finance what is essentially an evangelical crusade by a cleric.  The State should not have been involved in the financing and promotion of Dr. Naik's religious tour or  ANY religion for that matter that's better left to private religious groups.

Besides, spending what our sources say is $ 1.5 million for a handful of lectures is grossly inappropriate and an imprudent expenditure of public funds for a country where a third or 600,000 of 1.8 million Gambians go hungry at night because they cannot afford three square meals daily.  And of these 200,000 are children who are severely malnourished.  There are more appropriate uses for the $ 1.5 million in one of the poorest countries on earth.

Distressing photos of Banjul on the eve of the 20th Anniversary of the so-called Revolution

Trust Bank the customer area, this morning
McCarthy Square on eve of the celebrations
Banjul by day 
These photos were sent to me this morning.  It is a scene taken of the customer section of Trust Bank, Banjul Branch, as it appeared at mid-day today, Banjul time on the eve of the celebrations of the 20th Anniversary of the illegal coup d'etat that ushered in the misery Gambians face today.

The source who sent these photos described these scenes as distressing.  The Trust Bank scene is particularly jarring to our source who commented thus: " Even no money today at Trust Bank which is the biggest commercial bank.  Uncle, Gambia is dying."

We were also informed that the "wax ashobi" for the celebrations is being sold by Yaya Jammeh ar D 800 which you can get in retail shops in Banjul for D 350 for the same quality but they dare not buy from him (meaning Jammeh) laments a business operator.

We were also informed that businesses continue to pay 3% sales tax in addition to the 15% VAT, contrary to what the regime told Gambians that the new value added tax was to take the place of  the sales tax. "we pay everyday and the men in uniform come begging' says another frustrated business operator.    This promise has proven false.  

The high incidence of taxation is one of the reasons why businesses are fleeing Gambia for more business-friendly Senegal.  A business operator summed it up this way : "We pay everyday and the men in uniform come begging."

Gambians have begun to feel the pain that has been inflicted on them by the regime of Yaya Jammeh even by those who have not been physically tortured but are feeling the economic hardship resulting from 20 years of bad economic policies.  

The "soldiers with a difference" have indeed made a difference in the lives of Gambians by reducing the economy to rubble while pretending that everything in just fine.  Gambians know better 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sidi Sanneh interview with Maafanta ( March 2013 )

Sidi Sanneh, Former Executive Director, AfDB
Maafanta's Fatou Jaw Manneh

To the numerous readers of the who've been sending questions and inquiries about my background, professional experiences and the like, I thought it might help answer some, not all, of your questions I have been receiving from readers if I should reproduce the only interview I have granted to an online newspaper.  reproducing it here also places the interview in the permanent record of the Blog. The interview was conducted in March of 2013 with Ms. Fatou Jaw Manneh, the proprietor and Managing Editor of Maafanta, one of the leading online newspapers that specializes on Gambian politics and social and cultural affairs.

Gambian/American technocrat Mr. Sidi Sanneh  shares his experience with maafanta. He worked for both the PPP and APRC governments. Gives a very interesting perspective on the current poltical sitiuation in the Gambia and some bold ideas as how to move Gambia forward. For a start he said he has no political ambitions. He is not a politician. He is not endorsing anybody either because he does not know 'them' enough. Enjoy.

Hello Mr. Sanneh. How are you? Good encounter on facebook
For some of us who never met you before , Who is Sidi Sanneh?

Sidi Sanneh is the only son of the late Police Inspector and Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, Morro Sanneh and the late Aji Mallen Gaye. He was born in Banjul in 1947.  He's a husband, a father and grand father to beautiful kids and grand kids. He was a member of the first batch of pupils who started Gambia High School in 1959. He attended university in the U.S.with majors in Economics and Political Science and a Masters in Agricultural Economics. He returned home in 1977 but not before working as an Assistant to the Mayor of the City of Madison, Wisconsin, then as his Public Service Employment Administrator and finally as the Coordinator of the Community Development Block Grant for both the City of Madison and the County of Dane. He returned home after the passing ofhis father and joined the civil service, rose to the rank of Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Trade before taking up a job with the African Development Bank, becoming a Member of the Executive Boards of the African Development Bank Group.   He left the Bank in June 2001 and became Senior Advisor on Resource Mobilization with the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.  He later became Foreign Minister and then Ambassador to Senegal with concurrent accreditation to Mali and Burkina Faso.  He left Government service in February 2006 and returned to America a year later.

You sound educated, experienced and knowledgeable.  What is your line of work?
Experienced, yes.  Educated and knowledgeable, I am not so sure.  What I do know is, I have been around, and blessed to have been part of some of the most important, exciting and transformational periods in the histories of the United States and The Gambia. The 60s in America was transformational - the Vietnam War, the protest and hippiemovements, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy ( whom I campaigned for in his run for the Democratic nomination in1968) and Martin Luther King, Richard Nixon and his Southern Strategy in reaction to the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  

In The Gambia, the period posed a different set of challenges - a transition from a mono-crop economy to a diversified one, a process that has, unfortunate, stalled under the incompetent regime of Jammeh. I was fortunate to have been part of the newly created Ministry of Economic Planning and Industrial Development, known simply by its acronym MEPID under the late Dr. Jabez Langley, and very privileged to have benefited from being supervised by some of the most seasoned administrators and professional economists of the day.

From MEDIP, I went on loan ( secondment ) to the Ministry of Agriculture to help return the scandal-ridden Rural Development Project (RDP) to credible standards after UK's IDA - now DFID - and the World Bank threatened to withdraw financial support.  At the end of my three-year secondment,  I decided to return to MEPID rather thanexercise the option of extension for a second tour of duty.  I guess I did well enough a job to be asked by donors and government to recommend a successor, which I did, to head the successor project renamed Agricultural Development Project (ADP).  

My next stop - Ministry of Education - to take over yet from another British expatriate manager of the World Bank Education Project whose contract was not renewed.  This time, I asked and received a transfer ( rather than secondment ) which allowed me to retain my position as Under Secretary in additon to my PM post. The project which by this time was 100% Gambian was able to complete the GTTI, MDI, the Regional Educations Centers and prepared the Second Education Project financed, this time, by the ADB. We built primary schools, built and equipped BPMRUat a new site, The School of Nursing, The School of Public Health where built under the Health Ministry with ADB funds with technical inputs from the Education.  The picture that emerges from these investments is the heart of what is now the University of The Gambia.  To claim otherwise is disingenuous at best.

In 1989, I was asked to move yet again - this time to the Finance and Trade Ministry as Deputy PS.  As I said in my first response, I left government service for ADB in Abidjan January in 1992, eventually to the U.S, via UNDP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.   I left the Bank in June 2001 but stayed in Abidjan as UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa as SeniorAdviser for Resource Mobilization.  I returned to Banjul in 2004 and became Jammeh's Foreign Minister from October 2004 - March 2005 and his Ambassador to Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali from November 2005 - February 2006.  Istayed in Dakar and worked for a private company until my departure for the U.S. in January of 2007.  Since my return to the U.S. I have been working in the private sector.  Presently, I am a Partner in a consulting firm in Washington DC.

You currently reside in the U.S. or Africa ?
I am a full time resident of the U.S. 

And now that we share the Yahya Jammeh predicament, what do you think should be the first diaspora move?  Where do we start?

Let me say at the onset that I am not a politician.  I have never voted in Gambian elections in over twenty years. However, I am a keen observer of the political scene and can assess the mood of the electorate with some degree of accuracy; at least on economic matters which is 90% of what voters care about anyway.  My first observation of the Diaspora scene is what seems to be the proliferation of organizations.  I appreciate that some are social service organizations and NGOs dedicated to servicing the Gambian communities and thus apolitical.  Even with that in mind, I still believe that is a need to consolidate.  I have seen a move in that direction with the formation of the GCC which must be linked to similar groupings in Europe and Dakar.  It appears that the consolidation phase is taking place in the U.S. Dakar can consolidate, and I think they are, without problem.

I have answered the second part of your question - we should start with ourselves by consolidating, establishing linkages between the three main centers ( US, Europe and Dakar ) to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Why did it take you so long to join the struggle against Jammeh?
For someone who is 65 years old and has retired from the Gambian civil service over a decade ago, I consider it a compliment to be considered part of the struggle against murder including extrajudicial killings, torture,disappearances of journalists.  I have been maintaining the same level of engagement.  The only difference is that I am now maintaining a Facebook page and a tweeter account and the response has been great from a young and energetic group of Gambians. I am very proud of my modest contribution to society both as a civil servant, as development finance professional and, now as a private sector operator.  This sentiment is shared by those who matter in my life, my family, friends, colleagues, and most importantly,  by those I tried to help through my work and whose lives have been impacted - and that's what matters a great deal to me.  What I can assure you is that I will continue to pick my fights selectively that guarantees yield high dividends or returns.  Jefferson Waterman International was one such target and I am ready and willing to collaborate with anyone who shares my approach to solving problems. I have always been results-oriented. I am not going to change now.  At the close of day, I'd like to list my accomplishments and failures with the view of vowing to do better the next morning.  

How do we manage the Gambia opposition hurdle?
As I said earlier, I am not a politician.  A degree in political science does not make one a politician. In fact, the best Gambian politicians I come to know over the years had never been to school.  However, they had something that most folks do not have or doesn't come naturally - the ability to 'connect' with constituents, feel and share their pain a-laJefferson Clinton.  To connect with the people, one must, in my view, have a degree of sincerity, which must politician lack, unfortunately,  and a high degree of believability. if you will.   You cannot move a population if you insincere, and no one believes a thing you say.  Of course, politics without money is like Gladys Knight without The Pips. The two are inextricably linked, one without the other almost always spells defeat at the polls. 

I have great respect for Gambian opposition politicians.  They are operating under the most difficult of circumstances,usually under threat of arrest and other forms of intimidation.  Their constitutional rights to assemble are being infringed daily with the constant threat of arrest and imprisonment.  All of them have been locked up at one time or other at Mile II or the notorious NIA headquarters over the 19-year tyrannical rule of Jammeh.  I understand the frustration within us, leading some to rethink the current relationship between the diaspora and opposition parties.  It is natural, it is healthy as it is smart to take stock and decide whether to continue investing in a stock that has been in steady decline over a 19-year period or shift resources elsewhere.  However, before you shift resources, you must decide on overall strategy. I think this is where we are.  I think it is also time for the opposition to self-assess and decide whether they should continue doing the same things over and over again with the same outcome - defeat. Their inability, and some would say, refusal, to unite against the APRC is baffling and a source of frustration from diaspora opposition supporters.

Personally, I am open to discussing the option of turning a new page with a new political party of an amalgam of the new and the old, with the new leading the Party or the Movement, as some would prefer to call it.  Under the current rules most, if not all, of the present opposition leaders will not be eligible to run for President anyway.  It is time to consider change.

Do we help the opposition or do we have to bypass them in the struggle against Jammeh?
I believe I have responded to this question in my previous answer.  We cannot continue to pretend that all's well on the Western Front.  The opposition has been losing ground instead of gaining.  This downward slide has been going on since the first presidential elections in 1996. As I said before, I am open to a considering the option of a new realignment along the lines I suggested earlier.  Of course, it is up to the politicians, young and old, to decide the future of opposition politics in The Gambia.  What is evident and inescapable is the need for change in the current state of affairs.  

What do you think are the complications ?
I think I have touched on the complications, as I see them as a Gambian.  All of the opposition leaders have invested time, money and their personal liberty since 1994.  It is not easy to walk away from it all.  It is only human to want to see a project through to it successful conclusion.  However, we must also be realistic enough to be able to smell the coffee, and call it a day.  As democrats, we respect the right of the individual to decide on matters of this nature.  But it is also incumbent on the representative of the people to step down when he or she can no longer effectively represent the interest of people. Politicians owe us that much.   Retiring from leadership position is not synonymous with retiring from politics.  They can assume advisory roles in their respective parties or run for the National Assembly if they cannot take the substance called politics out of their blood streams.  I understand from some practitioners that politics is addictive.  Well, some may have to go cold turkey to make room for the young. 

If you think we should strengthen them, where do we start because all the groups I have known in the diaspora for the past 10 years cannot make them reach consensus ?

What's important to note is that folks in the diaspora with interest in politics, especially those in the U. S., are passionate about their support for their respective political parties.  These dedicated individuals have committed their own resources in support of the opposition.  Therefore, they are entitled to a seat at the table.  However, some feel they have their wishes have been ignored, and for too long, by leaders of the opposition.  It is a very frustrating feeling to experience, and to demand change is not an unreasonable proposition.  It appears that some opposition supporters have decided to turn a new page with a new agenda and poised for a new approach, including the formation of a new political Movement. 

How do we work with them?
I think diaspora political activists underestimate the leverage they have over opposition parties.  The monies raised in the U.S. is substantial compared to what the parties raised internally.  The figure is more impressive as a percentage of total intake dedicated to presidential elections.  My advise is use this leverage effectively to gain the desired results.  Otherwise, its going to be, as they say, same ol', same ol'.

Do we have to repatriate or do we just stay here, collect a lot of money for the opposition and let them chase Jammeh out? I think the leverage I spoke of should be used more imaginatively.  Why not refrain from supporting individual parties financially or otherwise, and commit funds only to a coalition of two or more parties.  This way you will be forcing them to come together.  I really cannot think of any other rational way of achieving a unified opposition so desperately needed to compete against the Jammeh machine.  Repatriation is an individual and personal matter, but it should always be in the mix of options available to those wishing to see an end to a very repressive regime. 

Do you have any interest in running for office of the President or leading the Diaspora movement?
The answer is NO. Do I want to lead the Diapora organization NO. Do I have a candidate. Frankly, No .I do not know them well enough. 

Okay Mr. Sanneh. Now i have a few follow up questions
Mr Sanneh, If i understand you correct, you are open to discussing turning a new political party of an amalgam of the new and the old. It looks like the political parties at home are not ready to open up to new leaders. If they are, i have not heard or read anywhere. You think the political parties back home will make room for that or be open to that suggestion??

I do not know if the opposition will accept.  Given the desperate situation they land themselves in, it is worth trying.  The present status is untenable. 

I can see you work for both the the PPP government and that of Yaya Jammeh. Some of us  credit the PPP for a peaceful, but yet corrupt and nepotistic government. Jammeh's we'll credit for buffoonery , cruelty and greed. You worked for both, Please compare and contrast for us?

The corruption under Sir Jawara pales compared to what obtains under the Jammeh regime.  The two governments are not comparable.  I will choose the PPP regime over the A(F)PRC any day.  There is no need to compare and contrast.  Those who have lived under both governments, even the most ardent opponents of Sir Dawda will attest to it. 

Why did you work for the Jammeh government in the first place and why did you leave???

I accepted the appointment - an appointment I neither yearned or lobbied for - because I thought I could make a difference in changing the direction of the regime.  Call me naive but if you recall, between the years of 2004 and 2005 the cabinet was filled with experienced retired international civil servants from UNEP, FAO ADB etc.which I thought was a signal for change.  I was obviously wrong in my assessment.   My decision to accept the Ambassadorial appointment afforded me and my family the opportunity to move away from the scene.  I was fired from both posts, and no official reasons were advanced.     

And Mr. Sanneh, the new politicians and active participants in the struggle are mostly Jammeh rejects or mainly Gambian intellectuals who have abandoned our plight and join the Jammeh government. Only to return back with vigor after their dismissals? We do not have a scintilla of trust in them. The country is divided on associating with them. What is your honest take. Do we pat each other on the back forgive and forget and move on  or what do we do?

I am aware of the criticisms.  The critics are certainly entitled to their views but they are not to entitled to their facts.  In my case, what was being peddled as fact was the figment of the imagination of an individual whom I have never met, cannot tell him from Adam.  He claimed that I was fired because of corruption.  That I was a subject of the Paul Commission that found me wanting.  Let me say here and now - I have never been a subject of the Paul Commission or any other Commission, ever.  I was never asked nor did I ever fill out any form listing my assets.  I have never met Justice Paul.  I cannot pick the guy from an identification line-up.  These are all false malicious claims.  While I'm on the subject of Commissions, I was the youngest member of one of the two Review Commissions appointed by President Jawara in 1981 to review the cases of those detained as a result of the coup.  I was Foreign Minister for 4 months, 80% of that time spent travelling outside Gambia.  I served roughly the same - 4 months - as Ambassador, many a time I had to dip into my pocket to pay for items, including gasoline for official vehicles to travel back to Banjul and paying for air fares for stranded officials on official mission or so they say.  By the time I left  I had maxed out my personal credit card.  May be I should form a Commission of Inquiry for the purposes of recovering monies owed me by the Jammeh regime.  I will defend my good name anywhere.  I am proud of my record and I will put it against any of my critics', anytime, anywhere.  

Ms. Manneh,  I am a retired public servant residing with my family in the U.S. trying to grow a start-up with great partners.  I have no time for politics of personal destruction or idle talk. Granted, I am a keen observer of the political scene but not for the interest in or pursuit of public office.  I have been there, done that, as per the lyrics of the song by the same name.  If I have to relive my life, I will live it exactly the same as the previous 65 years - no regrets, no apologies.    

How do the new and the old meet , the angry and the optimistic form this amalgam??

The two will never meet if no one is willing to give an inch - just look at what's going on in Washington DC. They cannot all be President of the Republic of The Gambia, all at the same time. 

Thank you Mr. Sanneh 

Thank you Ms. Manneh and for inviting me to this interview.  It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the valuable services you and proprietors of other online papers are rendering to Gambians and those who follow Gambian affairs in this critical juncture of our history.  Thank you, oncemore.