|Edrissa Mass Jobe of Elton|
The Jammeh cavalry is out to defend the indefensible by reframing the question to meet the regime's desired goal of misinforming the Gambian people.
The Daily Observer was first off the blocks with the qualifier to Vision 2016 Statement issued by Yaya Jammeh and his former Secretary General, Momodou Sabally, that states categorically that self-sufficiency in rice will be attained by 2016.
This was reaffirmed by Jammeh's own Agriculture Minister, Owens, during the ongoing tour of Jammeh in the Central River Region. In fact, the Minister claimed this week that the regime is on target to achieving the ultimate by the end of 2016.
During the recent visit of the president of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to the Gambia as guest of Jammeh, he said that self-sufficiency in rice "is ambitious but attainable but it also calls for strengthening of institutions, consistencies in policies, an enabling environment for the private sector and massive investment in rural infrastructure."
In its desperation to look for an international validators to his unreasonable timeline of banning the importation of rice - a market valued at $50 million annually - in December 2016, the regime, in my view, distorted the IFAD boss's statement by stressing the "attainability" part of his statement while ignoring the necessary conditions for the attainment of rice self-sufficiency.
The Daily Observer led the charge and they are are being supported by Edrissa Mass Jobe, a successful Gambian entrepreneur who took to the Standard newspaper to accuse opponents of the Vision 2016 of cynicism with an equally cynical advise from him for us to "decolonize our minds" to allow, I guess, our imagination to run wild.
We didn't know that Edrissa, like Jammeh, is also a Bob Marley fan. If to decolonize our minds is for the sole purpose of dreaming as big as John F. Kennedy, we can do so without decolonizing anything. We can simply dream dreams as big as JFK by declaring that Gambia will send a man to the moon a goal 'is attainable'. What's the point when the goal is attainable only in the 22nd century.
Our good friend has missed the point. Opponents of Vision 2016 are doing so not because the rice-sufficiency goal is not attainable but that it is possible within the time frame. Yaya Jammeh has been at the whelm for twenty years when he unveiled his Vision 20/20 which also called for food self-sufficiency with the grandiose promise of turning Gambia into a Singapore of Africa. He has discarded that Vision. Now we are being told by this buffoon named Babilli Mansa to concentrate on Vision 2016.
We wish to assure Mr. Jobe that when we question the goals of Vision 2016, we are not focusing on the "hurdles" as he's accused us of doing, and in fact, we do "dare to dream" by suggesting to Yaya Jammeh that he should allow Gambians to be free to exercise their fundamental freedoms of speech and association - fundamental freedoms necessary for any meaningful development to take place.
Our last word on the Vision 2016 is in the form of a warning about the proposed Food Security Corporation (FSC). We have said that it is very bad idea. The traditional tenure system should not be tampered with, especially by this regime.
"Excess arable land" should never be deeded to a public corporation, effectively creating a Land Bank, managed by public officials at the beacon call of a dictator. This is what Jammeh is proposing under Vision 2016 with the formation of a Food security Commission and a Ministerial Committee to oversee the FSC.
Gambia's land resources, like its other natural resources, a meager and in this case fixed. We cannot afford to peel off the glue that holds the social and cultural cohesiveness of The Gambia together. Every effort will be made from our side of the divide to oppose Vision 2016, including the formation of the the proposed Food Security Corporation. We were hoping that the private sector operators will join us in this endeavor because it is to its best interest.