Wednesday, December 31, 2014

President Obama to Yaya Jammeh: Meet U.S. demands or Gambian Embassy will be shut down

The Gambian Embassy in Washington is being threatened with closure by the Obama Administration, unless the dictatorial regime of Yaya Jammeh mend its ways, but particularly to meet certain demands.

A source in the Ministry of Affairs in Banjul informed us the Obama Administration is making four specific demands on the Jammeh regime, one of which is specifically related to the recent refusal of the regime of Yaya Jammeh to accept the the US nominee to fill the post in Banjul.

Our source said refusal of the proposed US candidate for the Ambassadorial post appears to have been a diplomatic tit-for-tat because previously the Gambian candidate as Ambassador to Washington was refused by the Obama Administration.  The reason for the refusal was unknown then and still remains a mystery today, according to the same source.

Another demand of the Obama Administration on the recalcitrant and increasingly isolated regime of Yaya Jammeh is related to the recently passed draconian law known as "aggravated homosexuality" law that was secretly signed into law on 9 October 2014 by Jammeh.  The US wants to see the law repealed.

The other demands are less clear, but all appear to be related to human rights abuses that the regime has been accused of in the past which led to the European Union's 17-point demand and the subsequent United Nations Rapporteurs Inspection Mission to the Gambia that was frustrated by the lack of cooperation of the local authorities.  The Mission was denied access to the security wing of the notorious Mile II Prisons which led to its shortening.  The Final Report is due in February which will add to the list of demands on the regime plate to improve on its human rights record.

The Obama Administration must expect the Jammeh regime to expect to try every trick in the book in an attempt to muddy the waters by trying to implicate the United State in the 30 December incident that is being described as a coup in some quarters and an extra-constitutional means in other quarters that led to the deaths of several Gambians.

Jammeh has already concluded in a national television appearance that it was not a coup but it was rather a 'terror attack'.  He has displayed light arms that he claims were captured and that these arms were mostly U.S made and most of the victims were Gambian-Americans.   We know where this is headed.

After all is said and done, the Obama Administration is insisting that either all or some of these demands are met (date uncertain), Gambia will be asked to close its Washington DC Embassy.

We will, as always, follow the story to new information.

US and UN condemn Gambia coup attempt but warn Jammeh of atrocities against the population

The United States government, through its State Department, and the Office of the United Nations Secretary General have both issued statements condemning what is being described as "an attempt to seize power".  The State Department's statement condemned any use of "extra-constitutional means" of gaining political power.

Whereas both Statements "called on all parties to refrain from further violence", the United Nations went a step further, based on its recent experiences of the violent nature of the Jammeh regime, by referring to the Secretary General's encouragement for the Jammeh regime to the "establishment of a transparent investigation into the events of 30 December, in compliance with due process and respect for the rule of law."

In that regard, the UN Statement continued, " the Secretary General urges The Government of The Gambia and its security and defense forces to act in full respect for human rights.

Violence has become an integral part of the regime in Banjul and has deservedly earned the reputation of using extra-judicial killings and executions to instill fear in the hearts of Gambians.

The United Nations and the U.S. Government are probably aware of the fact that the armed forces loyal to the dictator immediately embarked on what they refer to as "mopping up operations" which is nothing more than random searches of compounds suspected of harboring remnants of those who attacked State House.

Innocent by-standers who have nothing to do with the incident, as well as army personnel will be targeted for removal extrajudicially using the events of 30 December as justified reason..  Others will be arrested, charged and railroaded through Jammeh's kangaroo courts manned by mercenary judges.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Jammeh in Chad to procure the services of Tuareg fighters to fight the Gambia army

Tuareg fighter 

Idriss Deby of Chad
The Gambian president landed in the Chadian capital Tuesday in a plan bearing the Gambian colors, a Reuters witness said.  It is the first confirmed sighting of a desperate African dictator looking for a safe heaven while he tries to enter the Gambia, after gunfire erupted at his presidential palace known locally as State House.

Contrary to what local authorities in Banjul want the general public to believe, Yaya Jammeh, as at going to press, is not even in The Gambia much less Kanilai.

Our sources in Banjul are telling us that Senegal appears to have been reluctant to allow Jammeh to use its airspace but this cannot be independently verified.  What appears certain, however, is the cool reception the Gambian dictator has been receiving fro his colleagues in the region who have become increasingly unfriendly because of the disruptive character and nuisance Jammeh has become.  He is being seen as a threat to regional security.

This fear by regional leaders that Jammeh is a threat to regional peace and security seems to be on the verge of being proven to be a genuine one,

Our primary source in Banjul is quoting what he refers to as 'a capable source' that Jammeh is in N'Djamena to try to secure Tuareg fighters from Idriss Deby who was recently in Banjul on an official visit.  The source said and we quote "he is coming in with Tuaregs, on loan from Deby to take some names and kick ass."

Our source proceeded to warn that " if he (meaning Jammeh) is allowed to land, then he will kill everybody."  As most Gambians have now come to realize, our source said "he has now demonstrated that he does not trust his own people that are defending him."  "So if they are smart, our source opined,  they will not let that plane land!"

This is developing story as we trail the Jammeh plane across the region where Jammeh has very few friends.  STAY TUNED

As we were about to go to press, France 24 is reporting that "Jammeh is on his way back" which we assume will be towards Banjul.  We will continue to monitor the situation.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Gambia: The birth of an ungrateful nation

 This piece was meant for our Facebook page but we decided to publish it as a blog post because it captures the essence of the transformation of a Nation on the verge of total destruction because of an accidental leader who is psychotic - a serious mental issues.


American journalist, Berkeley Rice, effectively characterized us as a group of improbable when he referred to the occasion of a newly independent Gambia as birth of am improbable Nation.

Undeterred by such international pessimism fueled by questions eminating from the UN about the economic viability of a Nation of 250,000, Sir Dawda proceeded to prove the doubters wrong, armed with nothing but a can-do spirit by cultivating international understanding and cooperation.

Soon, the improbable became the possible until a man named Kukoi visited us with his rag-tag army made up of Serrekunda taxi drivers with names like Simon Talibo Sanneh and Ampai Jatta.  The 1981 coup did set The Gambia back with wanton loss of life and destruction of property and other physical assets.

What Kukoi failed to do, however, was to dampened the spirit of the Possible Nation until everything the country stood for Progress, Peace, Prosperity was buried with the arrival of the "soldiers with a difference" who reversed the national development agenda to suit their individual personal agenda: self enrichment.  And when their agenda is threatened by international isolation and Presidential Proclamation from Washington, they lash out at their former friends with venom.

They've maligned the Commonwealth for a withdrawal that was the decision of an ungrateful.  They unleashed similar tirades against Taiwan that has been with the regime since 1995 and has been its most generous and reliable partner for almost two decades.  Jammeh and his minions will not hesitate to attack anyone who do not succumb to their childish behavior or question their style and form of governance.  So, in our almost 50-year of history, The Gambia has morphed from an Improbable Nation to a Possible Nation to an Ungrateful Nation.   It is a sad story that the international community is finally beginning to come to grasp with.  


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Yaya Jammeh personally benefited from AGOA

No sooner did we publish our last blog post about AGOA than we received feedback from a source in Banjul informing us of that Yaya Jammeh's fishing company had benefited from AGOA.

Initially, the Gambian leader exported fish to the US market together with other prominent Gambian entrepreneurs, including a leading businesswoman and an ardent supporter.  Eventually, Jammeh used his immense powers "to drive many out of the business to almost the complete detriment of many small businesswomen" according to our source.

Kanilai Farm products have been found at a grocery store in the Takoma Park area in the State of Maryland, just outside Washington DC which is safe to assume must have been under AGOA.

This regime will readily distort and conceal facts, and if need be, will fabricate 'facts' to suit the circumstance.  To claim in an official press release that Gambia did not benefit from AGOA is both ungrateful and a behavior unbecoming a Head of State which explains why Jammeh doesn't enjoy our respect.

The women of The Gambia, one of Jammeh's most reliable constituent, have been shortchanged by Jammeh and his APRC ruling party for a very long time.  It is long overdue for Gambian women to switch their political allegiance.  Jammeh's interest is Yaya Jammeh and no one else.

Gambia exported $ 10 million worth of goods to US under AGOA

The regime of Yaya Jammeh came out with an incoherent and bizarre statement that "congratulates the Government of the United States for the removal of The Gambia from the list of eligible sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA)" of 2000.

The statement continued to claim that under AGOA "The Gambia has never benefited from it in the first place" since it designated a beneficiary country on March 2003.  The American Charge d'Affairs George Staples wasn't spared either in President Obama's proclamation withdrawing the Gambia's eligibility.  The Charge was accused of making unfavorable remarks in both local and international news outlets about the Gambia proving that "the Government of the United States has no good intentions for the people of The Gambia."

By quick reference to the fact sheet will reveal that government's claim that Gambia never benefited from AGOA is clearly untrue.  Although The Gambia was declared eligible in 2003/04, records show that between 2000 - 2013, Gambia exported goods to the United States worth close to $ 10 million.

Total value of Gambian exports to the U.S. between 2000 - 2003 before AGOA eligibility amounted to $1.2 million.  Exports picked up slightly after AGOA.  Like many sub-Saharan African countries, limited capacities of local businesses to take full advantage of AGOA.  As recently as last October, Gambia's Trade Minister, Abdou Jobe, lamented that "despite support measures,...utilization rates...under the scheme is still minimal in the case of the Gambia."

The underestimation of AGOA preferences has also been a concern of American authorities at the local level.  David Greathouse of the U.S. Embassy in Banjul recently challenged Gambian entrepreneur to be imaginative, especially in the "design and finishing of their products." In the US market, the product must not only be of high quality but it must be appealing to the eye, therefore, packaging of the product and its display on the shelf could be the difference between more or cancellation of orders.  

Gambian women have been the main beneficiaries of AGOA.  They have been at the vanguard of small entrepreneurship since the advent of Gambian tourism in the 1960s.  AGOA provided the opportunities but the government of the Gambia failed in providing the necessary support to take full advantage of the program.  The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency's resource center has been underutilized since it was established, and there is no evidence that government has made efforts to improve the center's utilization.  The Government of the Gambia failed to make use of a AGOA facility to benefit the country's entrepreneurs.  Now they are looking for a scapegoat and they found one in Uncle Sam.        

An education tax of D30,000 to take effect January 1

Honey bee as GRA's logo
Acting Head of GRA - Y. Darboe 
The business community found a present it did not wish for under their Christmas tree from Yaya Jammeh -  a new education tax of D30,000 annually - as part of the regime's revenue proposal for 2015. Interestingly, this tax measure was not in the Finance Minister's Budget Speech.

The annual levy is for every business establishment to pay.
It is so sudden a measure, even of a tax of this magnitude, that notices started going out a day after Christmas - a present the business community least expected after the Finance Minister's Budget Speech which made no mention of an education tax.

When the question was posed as to why the education tax was not mentioned in the Finance Minister's Budget Speech which he delivered before the National Assembly last week, the response was this is a regime that practices what he termed "street administration."  When I ask him to elaborate he said "these GRA officials meet at 'Attaya Vous' and what ever comes to their head, they agree to propose to Jammeh who, in turn, give directives for implementation."

A similar tax existed a few years ago which was dropped for reasons only known to the regime.  It is now being quietly reinstated without a fanfare and not being featured in the Minister's Budget Speech.  It is no coincidence that Jammeh promised "free education by 2020" when he had already promised Gambians that Grade 1 - Grade 12 will be free in 2014.  It was as recently as last September that the Education Minister reiterated the promise.

Gambian parents have been posing questions to Headmasters about the "free education" claim by the regime because they still pay upward of D 1,400 in book bills and other charges.  It is perhaps as a result of Gambians beginning to see through the falsehoods that the regime is trying to recalibrate by shifting the date of free education to 2020 and to levy an education tax that was abandoned.

To reinstate the education tax without public debate and scrutiny and being completely omitted from the Minister's Budget Speech is one more indication of the type of a regime we are dealing with.  It is an opaque and sinister regime that is being managed by a group of functional illiterates who'd rather serve a tyrant and a criminal than to serve and protect the interest of the Gambian people.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Signs of a mismanaged economy

Let us hope that in 2015, the Jammeh regime will adopt a set of fiscal and monetary policies  that addresses the urgent and pressing issues facing an economy that is contracting at an alarming rate.  Ordinary Gambians are suffering unnecessarily as a result of government neglect.

Inflation is a problem that is partially being fueled by government that is spending scarce resources in expensive and non-productive projects.  State-sponsored celebrations should stop, 5-day workweek restored and domestic borrowing limited to the essentials to bring the deficit under control.

Transparency in the budget process must be reintroduced, including a staff audit of the civil and public services, starting with the security forces.

While the reestablishment of the Major Tenders Board is welcomed, we were shocked to learn that it had been abolished thus rendering the tender process opaque, partial and expensive.  What other institutional safeguards have been dismantled without the knowledge of the general public?

Gambians are currently suffering as a result of the high cost of living due to price inflation.  Basic commodities are now priced beyond the reach of ordinary citizens while the 0.02% of Banjul-based plutocrats are disproportionally benefiting
from deliberately skewed government policies.  This unbalanced "growth" is contributing to the contraction of the economy that has been sapped of the purchasing power of the "middle class" ( for lack of a better classification) whose wages have stagnated for 20 years.

No wonder, one in every Gambians can no longer afford three square meals a day and over 200,000 Gambian children are hungry and malnourished.  There is an outbreak of kotishoka, a disease caused by hunger and malnutrition, among children in CRR children.  Urgent attention to their plight is required to help supplement the interventions of NGOs in the area.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Travel ban against Jammeh, Zainab, Seedy Njie our next target

Yaya Jammeh
Now that The Gambia has been taken off AGOA, the next focus of our attention will be to focus our campaign on getting a travel ban imposed on Jammeh and senior members of his administration.

Jammeh, his immediate family including his Moroccan wife, Zainab Jammeh should be banned from travelling to the United States and Western Europe.
Senior members of his cabinet including but not limited to the Interior Minister, Director of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Director of Immigration should be included in the list of officials who should be refused travel privileges to the United States and Western Europe.

The ban should also include nominated Members of the National Assembly, Seedy Njie, Fabakary Tombomg Jatta and the Mayor of Kanifing.  

In addition to the travel ban, Jammeh's $3.5 million mansion in Potomac, Maryland will be targeted to have it revert to the Gambian people.  It was purchased by the limited resources of the Gambian people.

BREAKING NEWS: Gambia and South Sudan taken off AGOA by Presidential Proclamation

President Obama
More bad news for The Gambia when President Obama signed a Proclamation taking The Gambia and South Sudan off the African Growth and Opportunities Act or AGOA for short which was signed into law May 18th 2000 as Title 1 of the Trade and Development Act of 2000.  The Act offers tangible incentives for African counties to continue their efforts to open up their economies and build free markets.  It is obvious from this action by the United States that neither The Gambia nor the world's newest Nation of South Sudan fit the bill.  In the case of The Gambia being taken off the AGOA list can only add to the economic woes of a country whose governance-related issues continue to multiply.

Beginning on January 1, 2015, South Sudan and The Gambia shall no longer be designated as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries, general note 16(a) to the HTS is modified by deleting "Republic of South Sudan" and "Republic of The Gambia" from the list of beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries. Note 7(a) to subchapter II and note 1 to subchapter XIX of chapter 98 of the HTS are modified to delete "The Gambia" from the list of beneficiary countries. Further, note 2(d) to subchapter XIX of chapter 98 of the HTS is modified by deleting "The Gambia" from the list of lesser developed beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries.


Proclamation on AGOA, Other Trade Acts

23 December 2014
Office of the Press Secretary
Washington, D.C.
December 23, 2014
- - - - - - -


1. In Proclamation 8921 of December 20, 2012, I determined that the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (Guinea-Bissau) was not making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974 (the 1974 Act) (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(1)), as added by section 111(a) of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (title I of Public Law 106-200) (AGOA). Thus, pursuant to section 506A(a)(3) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(3)), I terminated the designation of Guinea-Bissau as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country for purposes of section 506A of the 1974 Act.

2. Section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act authorizes the President to designate a country listed in section 107 of the AGOA (19 U.S.C. 3706) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country if the President determines that the country meets the eligibility requirements set forth in section 104 of the AGOA (19 U.S.C. 3703), as well as the eligibility criteria set forth in section 502 of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2462).

3. Pursuant to section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act, based on actions that the Government of Guinea-Bissau has taken over the past year, I have determined that Guinea-Bissau meets the eligibility requirements set forth in section 104 of the AGOA and section 502 of the 1974 Act, and I have decided to designate Guinea-Bissau as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country.

4. In Proclamation 8921 of December 20, 2012, I designated the Republic of South Sudan (South Sudan) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country for purposes of section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act. In Proclamation 7657 of March 28, 2003, the President designated the Republic of The Gambia (The Gambia) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country for purposes of section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act.

5. Section 506A(a)(3) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(3)), authorizes the President to terminate the designation of a country as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country for purposes of section 506A, if he determines that the country is not making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act.

6. Pursuant to section 506A(a)(3) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that South Sudan and The Gambia are not making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act. Accordingly, I have decided to terminate the designation of South Sudan and The Gambia as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries for purposes of section 506A of the 1974 Act, effective on January 1, 2015.

7. On April 22, 1985, the United States and Israel entered into the Agreement on the Establishment of a Free Trade Area between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Israel (USIFTA), which the Congress approved in the United States-Israel Free Trade Area Implementation Act of 1985 (the "USIFTA Act") (19 U.S.C. 2112 note).

8. Section 4(b) of the USIFTA Act provides that, whenever the President determines that it is necessary to maintain the general level of reciprocal and mutually advantageous concessions with respect to Israel provided for by the USIFTA, the President may proclaim such withdrawal, suspension, modification, or continuance of any duty, or such continuance of existing duty-free or excise treatment, or such additional duties, as the President determines to be required or appropriate to carry out the USIFTA.

9. In order to maintain the general level of reciprocal and mutually advantageous concessions with respect to agricultural trade with Israel, on July 27, 2004, the United States entered into an agreement with Israel concerning certain aspects of trade in agricultural products during the period January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2008 (the "2004 Agreement").

10. In Proclamation 7826 of October 4, 2004, consistent with the 2004 Agreement, the President determined, pursuant to section 4(b) of the USIFTA Act, that, in order to maintain the general level of reciprocal and mutually advantageous concessions with respect to Israel provided for by the USIFTA, it was necessary to provide duty-free access into the United States through December 31, 2008, for specified quantities of certain agricultural products of Israel.

11. Each year from 2008 through 2013, the United States and Israel entered into agreements to extend the period that the 2004 Agreement was in force for 1-year periods to allow additional time for the two governments to conclude an agreement to replace the 2004 Agreement.

12. To carry out the extension agreements, the President in Proclamation 8334 of December 31, 2008; Proclamation 8467 of December 23, 2009; Proclamation 8618 of December 21, 2010; Proclamation 8770 of December 29, 2011; Proclamation 8921 of December 20, 2012; and Proclamation 9072 of December 23, 2013, modified the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS) to provide duty-free access into the United States for specified quantities of certain agricultural products of Israel, each time for an additional 1-year period.

13. On December 5, 2014, the United States entered into an agreement with Israel to extend the period that the 2004 Agreement is in force through December 31, 2015, to allow for further negotiations on an agreement to replace the 2004 Agreement.

14. Pursuant to section 4(b) of the USIFTA Act, I have determined that it is necessary, in order to maintain the general level of reciprocal and mutually advantageous concessions with respect to Israel provided for by the USIFTA, to provide duty-free access into the United States through the close of December 31, 2015, for specified quantities of certain agricultural products of Israel.

15. Section 1205(a) of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (the "1988 Act") (19 U.S.C. 3005(a)), directs the United States International Trade Commission (the Commission) to keep the HTS under continuous review and periodically to recommend to the President such modifications to the HTS as the Commission considers necessary or appropriate to accomplish the purposes set forth in that subsection. Among those purposes are to promote the uniform application of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (the "Convention") and to alleviate unnecessary administrative burdens.

16. The Commission conducted an investigation pursuant to section 1205 of the 1988 Act (Investigation No. 1205-10) in order to make certain technical corrections to keep the HTS in conformity with international standards and to make certain reclassifications of chemical products that would alleviate unnecessary administrative burdens.

17. In April 2013, the Commission published the results of Investigation No. 1205-10 pursuant to section 1205 of the 1988 Act (Recommendationto Modify Chapter29, 3037, and 85 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United StatesUSITC Publication 4392 (corrected August 2013)), recommending specific changes to the HTS. Each of these recommended modifications would have little or no economic effect on any industry in the United States. On August 2, 2013, this report was transmitted to the Congress. The report and layover requirements of section 1206(b) of the 1988 Act (19 U.S.C. 3006(b)), were satisfied as of December 18, 2013.

18. Section 1206(a) of the 1988 Act (19 U.S.C. 3006(a)), authorizes the President to proclaim modifications to the HTS based on recommendations made by the Commission pursuant to section 1205 of the 1988 Act, if he determines that the modifications are in conformity with United States obligations under the Convention and do not run counter to the national economic interest of the United States. I have determined that the modifications to the HTS recommended in USITC Publication 4392, as set forth in Annex II to this proclamation, are in conformity with United States obligations under the Convention and do not run counter to the national economic interest of the United States.

19. Presidential Proclamation 8039 of July 27, 2006, implemented the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (USBFTA). The proclamation implemented, pursuant to section 201 of the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (the "USBFTA Act") (19 U.S.C. 3805 note), the staged reductions in rates of duty that the President determined to be necessary or appropriate to carry out or apply certain provisions of the USBFTA, including Article 3.2.8. That proclamation incorporated by reference Publication 3830 of the U.S. International Trade Commission, entitled Modifications to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States to Implement the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement. Annex I of Publication 3830 included a technical error that affected the tariff treatment of goods under heading 9914.99.20 after December 31, 2015. I have determined that modifications to the HTS pursuant to section 201(a) of the USBTFA Act are necessary to correct this error.

20. Section 604 of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2483), authorizes the President to embody in the HTS the substance of the relevant provisions of that Act, and of other acts affecting import treatment, and actions thereunder, including the removal, modification, continuance, or imposition of any rate of duty or other import restriction.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including but not limited to section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act, section 506A(a)(3) of the 1974 Act, section 4(b) of the USIFTA Act, section 1206(a) of the 1988 Act, section 201(a) of the USBFTA Act, and section 604 of the 1974 Act, do proclaim that:

(1) Guinea-Bissau is designated as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country.

(2) In order to reflect this designation in the HTS, general note 16(a) to the HTS is modified by inserting in alphabetical sequence in the list of beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries "Republic of Guinea-Bissau (Guinea-Bissau)."

(3) The designations of South Sudan and The Gambia as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries for purposes of section 506A of the 1974 Act are terminated, effective on January 1, 2015.

(4) In order to reflect in the HTS that beginning on January 1, 2015, South Sudan and The Gambia shall no longer be designated as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries, general note 16(a) to the HTS is modified by deleting "Republic of South Sudan" and "Republic of The Gambia" from the list of beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries. Note 7(a) to subchapter II and note 1 to subchapter XIX of chapter 98 of the HTS are modified to delete "The Gambia" from the list of beneficiary countries. Further, note 2(d) to subchapter XIX of chapter 98 of the HTS is modified by deleting "The Gambia" from the list of lesser developed beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries.

(5) In order to implement U.S. tariff commitments under the 2004 Agreement through December 31, 2015, the HTS is modified as provided in Annex I to this proclamation.

(6)(a) The modifications to the HTS set forth in Annex I to this proclamation shall be effective with respect to eligible agricultural products of Israel that are entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after January 1, 2015.
(b) The provisions of subchapter VIII of chapter 99 of the HTS, as modified by Annex I to this proclamation, shall continue in effect through December 31, 2015.

(7) In order to modify the HTS to promote the uniform application of the Convention and to alleviate unnecessary administrative burdens, the HTS is modified as set forth in Annex II to this proclamation.

(8) The modifications to the HTS set forth in Annex II to this proclamation shall be effective with respect to goods that are entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after the later of January 1, 2015, or the 30th day after publication of this proclamation in the Federal Register.

(9) In order to make technical corrections necessary to provide the intended duty treatment under Article 3.2.8 of the USBFTA, the HTS is modified as set forth in Annex III to this proclamation.

(10) Any provisions of previous proclamations and Executive Orders that are inconsistent with the actions taken in this proclamation are superseded to the extent of such inconsistency.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


Read more:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gambians need tax relief and not more taxes

For those contemplating building a house in Banjul or simply trying to keep your current house clean, tidy and attractive, it will cost you an arm and a leg.  Thank the regime of Yaya Jammeh for these high prices.  For example, 20 liter drum water paint will cost you D 1150 today.  In 2012, the same quantity of water paint was priced at D 450.   This trend is unsustainable.  Gambians need relief.

Meanwhile, while Gambia will be levying  D 1.00 tax on every liter of petrol you buy starting January 1, 2015, our neighbor Senegal has announced a CFA 100 per liter and CFA 102 reduction in the price of fuel and kerosene respectively.

Many consumers around the world have been experiencing a reduction in fuel prices at the pump because the world market price for a barrel of crude has dropped from $115 in June to $70 today but not in the Gambia where fuel prices keep going up and importers and suppliers keep pocketing bigger profits margins instead of providing relief to the consumer  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Suruwa Waawaa Jaiteh - A true son of The Gambia

Suruwa Wawa Jaiteh, former OMVG Director of Agriculture

We are happy to reproduce Suruwa's interview with the Standard forwarded by a source.  We urge our readers to please ignore the asinine behavior of the interviewer who saw fit to joke about the conditions at Mile II prisons that has come to earn a well-deserved reputation since 1994 as being on the top ten list of the worst prisons in the world where healthy detainees go to die and be tortured by a vicious and brutal regime.  

The inhumane conditions at Mile II should make every decent Gambian ashamed rather than being proud that it is being referred to as a "Five Star Hotel" by none other than the vicious dictator.    Here's Suruwa who I am proud to have shared the same classroom at Gambia High School for five years. There are a few of his kind left in the Gambia.  He's a true "gorr" who I am proud to call a friend and a colleague.  Please read on and ignore the snarkiness of the reporter
Alhaji Suruwa Waawaa Jaiteh was born and bred in Bakau. He attended Bakau primary and Gambia high schools, Yundum College, Njala, University, Sierra Leone and University of Philippines, Los Banos. He also did a six-month attachment at the University of California, Davis.  
He worked with the Department of Agriculture as an irrigation agronomist, rice specialist and promoted tidal irrigation as a dependable alternative to lift pump production system. Served as the first director of Agriculture of the Gambia River Basin Develoment Organisation (OMVG (based in Dakar, Senegal.  After retiring from the civil service, provided consultancy service, worked as permanent secretary, Department of State for Agriculture (DoSA( where he pioneered innovative Programmes and projects. 

In this edition of Bantaba, The Standard editor Sainey Darboe started by asking straight-talking Mr Jaiteh how he started work with the Ministry of Agriculture.
I went to Yundum College and took up agriculture from where I went to Njala, University College of SierraLeone and I came back home. I did some extension work for about a year or so and went to The Philippines for studies on my own.
With the high expenses involved, how did you raise money for it?
It was expensive but through family support I was able to make it.  I was looking forward to achieve something and I had to make an investment for it. I could have gone to America or UK where most Gambians would go then, but I went to The Philippines specifically for a reason, because I wanted to establish something unique in society. I wanted to be unique when I talk and do agriculture and I have achieved an as aspect of that in The Gambia, at the OMVG and across Africa.
With your brilliance you could have gone into more lucrative fields. Why the choice of agriculture?
I am a type of person who believes that The Gambia being an agrarian society, we can only generate sustainable socio-economic development through an agriculture led-growth. We have to make sure that agriculture attains the requisite productivity growth as a basis for socio-economic take-off. Any agrarian society that wants to generate an all-inclusive socio-economic development must be supported by agriculture-led growth.
Which brings me to the next question. The country has been gripped by the Vision 2016 rice self-sufficiency fever. As a trained agricultural expert do you think the target is realistic?
In the first place, with all due respect to the president's ambition and his leadership, every Gambian wants more peace with enough food.  No Gambian wants to see their rice store in a foreign land and we don't want to be buying foreign rice to subsidise foreign farmers. We are better off subsidising our own farmers. If we want to attain self-sufficiency in rice, we have to ask why do we want to attain this? People have to know why and what are the prerequisites. We cannot just jump from nowhere, at only about 15% self-sufficient in rice and say we want to attain food self-sufficiency, as a matter within two years. It must be planned and programmed and there must be a compelling ability to achieve this at an affordable cost.  To achieve self-sufficiency in rice we need to identify guidelines and adopt a methodological approach within the context of an agricultural improvement. That methodological approach with the context of development as a linked process is lacking. It is nowhere. To attain self-sufficiency in any food commodity, certain things have to be put in place first. It is a chain process with different links. You cannot get to the last link without passing through the other links. We should go back to the drawing board design and implementation framework within the context of professionally outlined rice development strategy, that is explicitly cost-conscious. Our intervention cannot be justified, if we produce domestic rice that costs more than imported rice.  It does not make sense. If imported rice is costing D1,500 to D1,600 or D2,000, we should be able to produce rice 15 to 20 % cheaper for effective import substitution, otherwise it is not worth all the effort. We have to promote the marginal productivity of the farmer as our departure point. 
You sound doubtful of the attainability of the vision as though it is blurred?
I doubt very much if Vision 2016 can be achieved by 2016. We are only producing about 15 % of our rice requirements, so jumping from 15 to almost hundred percent is an uphill battle. I cannot imagine us attaining it in two years, even in five years. I am an irrigation agronomist and rice specialist.  I worked on rice in this country for about thirty years or more in different production systems so I know what rice sufficiency means. Currently, we are just concerned with area expansion strategy and, not much concerned with yield revolution, that is, production intensification. We must embark on a focused yield revolution and  intensification approach as the basis for generating productivity growth in rice development.
President Jammeh blamed the failure of agriculture on corrupt officials despite investment of over US$100 million.  Don't you share a portion of that blame as your services were terminated and you were indicted for corruption along with other agric officials?
I am one citizen who served as a paragon of virtue in agriculture.  I was extremely honest, efficient and productive. I went to jail for 104 days as a detention prisoner, eventually charged for economic crime. I am of the opinion that the people assigned to investigate the matter, recommend charge, do the witness line-up and prosecute did not do their work properly. I was charged with economic crime and went to court for almost five years. The painful part of the whole thing was that anytime I enter the witness box I stand shoulder to shoulder with Badara Loum, who received money from Abdou Touray and distributed the fertiliser unilaterally. Minister Yankuba Touray knew about this and made me write a letter to make sure the Department of Agriculture took over the distribution. So if I think about standing in the dock side by side with Badara Loum for five years my heart boils. It pains me and I can never forgive that.
Tell me what exactly happened?
Badara Loum insisted on distributing the fertiliser. I said, 'No this is not your area. Technically, you know nothing about fertilisers and administratively you have no experience in fertiliser distribution. Besides, you are a veterinarian and knows nothing about fertilisers, so forget it…If you do it, somebody will go to jail.' I said this to him at a meeting with two deputy permanent secretaries Ebrima Camara and Dr Amadou Sowe. But he went to Abdou Touray of Ministry of Finance and got the money. He did this without our knowledge. Abdou only called me to tell me about it. Badara claimed it to be his mandate as the permanent secretary and the sole accounting officer. It is unfortunate that people seem not to be committed in fighting corruption.
The court declared you innocent for lack of evidence, but were you actually innocent?
I knew nothing about this fertiliser business. I tried to stop Badara Loum from distributing it, but he went to get money for it and did what he had to do unilaterally. Yankuba Touray sought advice from me. I called Dr Sowe to witness the meeting. I told Yankuba Touray that Badara Loum was distributing the fertiliser much against my will. Yankuba Touray asked me to write to the director of agriculture, Musa Damha to revive the Agricultural Input Office (AIO) which is responsible for the input distribution and put them in charge of fertiliser distribution. I was asked to write this letter which I did. I travelled and upon arrival I was told Badara was still distributing the fertiliser. I told the minister and he said once Badara Loum started it, he should complete it. But in the interim there was a problem.
Could you recall you detention in mile two?
I got a letter of termination on the 13thof December. My good friend, the late Walter Rodney, died on the 13th of August, so when I received this letter I thought there was something fishy. We have this superstitious bent and most of the time we are right. I came home and some guys came from the Office of the President and said I was wanted for questioning. They said I was wanted for questioning at the NIA. They told me I have to wear heavy cloth, because the place could be very cold. I told them there was nobody in my house and my wife was at the shop and the boys went out to play football so they should wait. I called my wife and brother and told them. The boys came in 30 minutes and I told them. Then I was ready to go. That's how I went to Mile 2. On the whole they had already picked up Badara Loum who was outside waiting for me and they took us all…
Mile 2 has been dubbed by the president as his 'Five Star Hotel'. Did you receive good hospitality?
Mile Two was horrible. But I went there with a very clear conscience and a strong faith. If I had committed any crime as a civil servant it must be the sin of being an honest symbol and model for generating productivity growth in agriculture as the basis for any meaningful take-off. I never knew being honest can take you to Mile 2. That made me learn a lot more things about the society in which we are. I had mental torture over the question of why I should be in Mile 2.  I had high respect at Mile 2 with everybody calling me 'dad' but the fact that you could have honest people there defeats its purpose.That is a cause for concern.
So, it is definitely not a hotel?
Nooo…That is a paradox. Once you enter Mile 2, you are a prisoner - either a convicted prisoner or a detained prisoner without freedom. I was a detained prisoner by mistake.  I spent 104 days there and Badara Loum whom I blame for whatever happened applied for a court order and was let out of Mile 2 after just 70 days. I stayed put without budging until they took me out. When I went to the NIA to write my statement, I met Badara Loum who told me he was charged and will be appearing in court soon. But somehow, may be by magic, his charges were dropped and they gave us a combined charge. What made them charge me I don't know because no proper investigation would indict me. The investigations and charges were wrong as far as I am concerned, the witness line-up was laughable and the prosecution a joke as well as a suspect. How could they investigate fertiliser distribution without knowing the cost involved in the distribution and who gave the money for the distribution as well as the correct   quantity of fertiliser that was received. In this whole case I was very much disappointed by the prosecutor... He told me that there was nothing against me and he wanted me to serve as a prosecution witness and so requested a witness from me. I gave him a comprehensive witness statement which my lawyer was aware of, only for him to turn around and recommended my conviction. You can see between the lines and figure out the type of kangaroo treatment I went through.  For almost five years of court hearings my name and position were never mentioned as an evidence against me. Try to read the Judgment delivered by Justice Amie Joof, you will be amazed.  
What do you see as the solution for the many perennial problems that hobble the agriculture sector?
In order to do that you must have professionally committed people. We must make sure that things are done correctly. There was no commitment. This fertiliser thing would not have been a problem if Yankuba Touray and the whole was properly investigated. Someone took money and distributed fertiliser alone without involving me as permanent secretary responsible for programmes and projects. And as an agronomist I know more about fertilisers than Badara Loum. Why would he involve himself in fertiliser distribution? Why were  Abdou Touray and the deputy permanent secretaries served as witnesses?  
What have you contributed to the agriculture sector?
As a permanent secretary, most of the things we initiated are what are coming round now. In collaboration with my partner deputy permanent secretaries we came up with a D51 million programme called Provision of Agricultural  Support Services that was funded from the counterpart funds. There was so much money at the Central Bank so I said to the minister, 'Look, this money is there without any interest. Why not do something about it'? He asked me to see what I could do about it. I spoke to the Japanese Embassy and they said I could make a project proposal for funding out of the money, it but to make sure the fund was audited. So, I wrote a programme brief and it was funded at a cost of about D51 million. We bought vehicles, made tenders for 4,500 tons of fertiliser and equipment just to be able to generate productivity growth and raise incomes and employment. Without that agriculture cannot grow.  There was a second programme for agricultural improvement at a cost of about D9O million.  This catered for six mixed farming centres to be equiped with 24 hour light and water 6,OOO broilers and 6,OOO layers geared to generating cost-effective poultry production programme, designed to give us minimum of 25,OOO eggs daily and 25,OOO dressed chicken every three months.  
What happened to the project?
I would not know.
What are your final words?
In my own case my rights have been seriously abused. I was trying to be honest and it took me to jail. My God, I was disappointed. Where there is accountability and transparency there are not supposed to be much secret things. I wrote two letters to the Office of the President asking for redress but they were not acknowledged.      
Taiwan Chinese gave US$70,000 on bird flu. Badara Loum claimed to have used this to sensitise farmers without the involvement of the Director of Livestock Services and/or his deputy. These are some of the carefree actions that made agriculture miserable looking. We have to investigate things properly to end corruption in this country. There has to be team work within the context of a committed approach. This must be knowledge-based. My final words are that we should be mindful of James Madison's insight that 'a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge and experience gives'.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Gambia: Fuel subsidy removed but who will pay ?

The Gambian Finance Minister informed the National Assembly yesterday that the regime was going to levy a D 1.00 tax on every liter of petrol bought at the pump, representing the subsidy on petrol and petroleum products that was being lifted effective January 1st 2015.  

He was quick to add that it will not be the motorists/consumers who will be paying the extra dalasi. So, the question then becomes if its is not the consumer is going to pay then who will? The importers? The retailers? 

The Minister tried answering his our question in the next sentence by implying that it is an importers tax that should not be transferred to the consumer.  He reasoned that since importers have been enjoying a windfall since the world market price has been tumbling - from $115 per barrel in June this year to $70 today -  without being reflected in the form of lower pump price for the consumer.  In other words, the 40% price differential was being pocketed by importers, as it has always been the case. 

But who are these importers?  We'll let the Minister ponder over the question. From what we know of the domestic petroleum market, the importers are not likely to take the hit. They will pass every butut to the motorists and transport owners who in turn will shift some of the cost to the users of public transport. 

Has anyone ever seen petrol pump prices go down in The Gambia as they do in the West when there's an oil glut?  If you or someone you know have experienced it, we'd like to know. I think the Minister was trying to be too clever by a half on this one.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

America is for the young, the educated and the able-bodied

America at work   

The United States is not an easy place for middle-aged and old refugees and exilees. It is highly competitive and downright hostile environment where the social safety net has been substantially weakened and entry and being retained in it has become a challenge for many.

New arrivals to these shores are provided with six months of public assistance and after that you are on your own.  If you are old and without much of an education, you are stuck.

The system is designed for the highly educated and the young who can use their physical strength for the menial jobs at the low end of the ladder.  Even the young find it tough, much less folks my age. America is designed for the second generation American to prosper, and not the first generation.

It is, therefore, understandable for folks like Falai Baldeh and others to beg for mercy from Jammeh to return home.  It is a personal choice and the inalienable right of everyone within these United States, regardless of their immigration status, to exercise it without being chastised or ridiculed. What they don't have the right to do is to continue polluting the airwaves with fake reconciliation talks by giving the impression that they have been mandated by Yaya Jammeh when they have no such authority.

Jammeh's "Face to Face" television interview with a UK-based television outlet is latest prove that we have been right on the reconciliation malarkey.  Jammeh is belligerent, he is rude, he's uncouth and uncompromising and thus no appetite to talk much less reconcile with diaspora Gambians.
Therefore, we should each carry on with our individual or group agendas without interruption.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jammeh continues acting alone in petroleum sector

  • Acquisition to cover approximately 1504 square kilometres.
CAMAC Energy Inc. (NYSE MKT: CAK) announced today that its wholly owned subsidiary, CAMAC Energy Gambia Ltd, awarded a contract for the acquisition of a 3D seismic survey to Polarcus Limited. The survey will cover approximately 1,504 km2 in the Company's A2 and A5 blocks offshore Gambia.

The objectives of the seismic survey are to enhance the definition and maturation of potential prospects in the blocks and provide high-quality sub-surface images that allow high-resolution characterization of reservoirs. The A2 and A5 blocks are located in the offshore Casamance sub-basin, which forms the southern part of the greater Senegal Basin. The southern area, including blocks A2 and A5, now has a proven petroleum system in place due to two recent discovery wells on an adjacent offshore Senegal block.

The recent FAN-1 and SNE-1 offshore Senegal discoveries, by Cairn (LSE: CNE), Conoco (NYSE: COP), FAR (ASX: FAR) and Petrosen (Senegalese NOC), are on-trend with the Company's A2 and A5 blocks and are located approximately 35.5 km NNE and 13.8 km NNW, respectively, of block A2. The 3D seismic survey will help determine the extent of the play fairways into CAMAC's blocks.

Segun Omidele, Senior Vice President of Exploration and Production, commented, 'This 3D acquisition is an important part of our offshore Gambia exploration program. We are encouraged by the recent discoveries north of us and excited that we are able to contract with Polarcus. Given their in-place infrastructure, almost immediately with the 3D seismic acquisition.' 

The National Assembly is an accomplice in Jammeh's misdeeds

The National Assembly rubber-stamp approval of the 2014 Supplementary Appropriations Bill to the tune of D1.12 billion with neither substantial debate nor probing questions makes its members accomplices in Jammeh's criminal activities.  The reason being, it is obvious that the Executive branch of government, specifically the Office of The President, has been using the budget process to siphon off public monies for private use by Yaya Jammeh.  

It is evident that he using the budget process to conceal his regime's nefarious spending habits that will not pass normal budget scrutiny even by this rubber-stamp National Assembly.  

Jammeh also appears to be "pre-financing" the same bad spending habits of his only to you the budget process to seek "reimbursement".  For example, his fleet of jets are maintained and fuel by the Gambian taxpayers without the benefit of us knowing who owns the planes, and why are taxpayers paying the salaries of the pilots and crew.  

Nowhere in the public assets register are the planes listed as government property and yet the National Assembly routinely approves Supplementary Appropriations year after year without asking the right questions about assets, with dubious origins that are being maintained through the public purse.

The huge deficit, particularly the domestic debt, is partially due to the raiding of the revenue generating government agencies of The Gambia Revenue Authority(GRA), The Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 

It is common knowledge that a substantial part of the foreign exchange collected at the Banjul International Airport (BIA) and other foreign points of entry is collected and delivered to the dictator in Kanilai thus aggravating and weakening the forex market further.  The erosion of confidence in forex market continues to go unabated since Jammeh decided to interfere in it over a year ago because forex bureaux and individual dealers do not trust that Jammeh will ever stop interfering.   

The confidence in the market is at its lowest in years and the small forex traders, most of them Fulas of Guinean origin, sufficiently intimidated by the regime that most are just waiting for the land borders to open for them to return to Guinea.  

It is, therefore, not surprising that the revenue targets set by the Finance Ministry are hard met, year in, year out.  The revenue leakages are mainly caused by Jammeh by siphoning off revenues collected by GRA, GPA, CAA to name a few.   

The National Assembly, as representatives of the Gambian people must, first and foremost, protect their interests and not those of Yaya Jammeh.  

Therefore, it follows that if their is collusion between the National Assembly, and Yaya Jammeh, its Members are equally culpable and will, therefore, be held responsible for encouraging and perpetuating a devious system designed to encourage illegal use of public funds using an opaque budget process.  

Transparency in the process if the regime stands any chance of reversing the existing and deteriorating economic condition that Gambia faces today.  The National Assembly must exercise its constitutional duty as representatives of the people by scrutinizing every expenditure item brought before it by the regime.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rice importation ban effective Jan.1, 2015

In an interview granted to the Gambia Radio and Television Services last June, Yaya Jammeh announced that he will ban importation of rice effective January 1, 2015.

According to the Gambian dictator, the ban is in accordance to his Vision 2016 which calls for rice self-sufficiency in The Gambia by 2016, a country whose rice import bill is estimated to be in the region of $50 million annually.

During the interview, Jammeh warned rice importers that consignments will not be allowed to enter the country even if they place their orders well before the 31 December, 2014 deadline, arbitrarily set by the regime.

Importers have two weeks before the deadline which, for all intents and purposes, would be too late to have placed their orders for it to be in the country by 31 December, 2014.

January 1, 2015 is the first test of the resolve of the Jammeh dictatorship to see its Vision 2016 through to its logical conclusion.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The 2015 Groundnut-buying seasn

Last year, like the year before, the regime of Yaya Jammeh started off the season late with conflicting announcement about the official opening of the season that left the Gambian farming community confused.

First, the regime withdrew its association with the Agribusiness Services and Producers Association (ASPA), effectively giving monopoly power to Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC), a public enterprise that is not financial solvent under ordinary circumstances.  You can find our comments on the two previous seasons here and here .

We are now in the second week in December without any indication from GGC as to plans for the seasons.  Based on information available thus far, the late rains have impacted the quality of the nuts as well as its quality.  Therefore, it will very optimistic to match lasts years purchase of 32,000 tons. The producer price is yet to be announced which adds to the uncertainty.

With the economy in the doldrums, credit buying or its avoidance is uppermost in the minds of the farming communities.  They need their money immediately upon delivery, especially in these hard economic times.  The regime and the local councils have failed in providing the much needed services despite taxes and rates collected from the poorest of the rural communities.  To delay payments for their produce is unjust and immoral.

The second pressing issue facing is allowing the ASPA and allow other private buyers to participate in buying this year's crop.  In 2013, the regime handed monopoly power to GGC.  When it could not deliver in its new-found role, the private buyers were allowed midway (January 2013) into the season.  Upon entry into the market, they forced the producer price upward which benefitted the farmers greatly.  Higher producer process greatly enhanced  farmer income in 2013, thanks to an open market.

We hope in the 2015 season, private buyers will be allowed to participate and compete with GGC, an event that can only benefit the rural farmers by enhancing their incomes.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gambia : A battered and demoralized nation

The Gambia is like a battered wife.  Anytime the abusive husband enters the room, she instinctively takes on a defensive posture to protect her face and body from the vicious blows that are likely to follow.  Yaya Jammeh has so habitually abused and humiliated Gambians that anytime he shows his ugly face, an entire nation is on edge, wondering when the next blow will throw and where it will land in an already battered body.

The dire nature of Gambia's predicament always reminds me of Yaya Jammeh's uncle's  horrifying warnings to an inattentive nation that the junta's enemies defined as residents of Pipeline, that they will be force-feed chloroquine, if necessary - as punishment, I presume - for being born into privileged families of civil servants.  These unfortunate souls were also guilty of "enjoying" under Sir Dawda's administration while the mother of Yaya Jammeh and both parents of the Singhatey brothers lived in unfinished structures by night while barely eking a living by day in I civil servant's "mansions" as maids.  Little did Gambians know that John P. Bojang, who died recently, meant every word of it.

When I became Foreign Minister in November 2004 - March 2005,I visited Taipei and was received by him in his capacity of Gambia's Ambassador to Taiwan.  Every gesture and utterances of Mr. Bojang, at the time, suggested regret that those words will haunt him to his grave.  I brought it up only to watch him squirm Those were hurtful and vindictive words that became the hallmark of what has morphed from a kleptocratic military "soldiers with a difference" regime of 1994 to the full-blown repressive "Futampaf" dictatorship we have today.

This brings me to the elders of Banjul who, like the in-laws or the good neighbor, are expected to step in on the side of the abused wife or child.  Unfortunately, they have shirked their collective responsibilities toward society in exchange for raw cash, titles and other amenities denied the more deserving and better qualified in exchange for occasional trips to GRTS to sign praise to the dictator and to chastise and admonish good and decent citizens like Imam Baba Leigh or Ba Kawsu Fofana who dare challenge the authority and policies of Yaya Jammeh.

One can see how Yaya Jammeh, a functional illiterate, managed to cling to power by murdering, maiming, torturing, executing women and the mentally-challenged extra-judiciarilly, raping, stealing from the public treasury, raiding the Central Bank and forcing educated Gambians into exile.  Instead of fighting back, we elected to throw away our moral compasses, checked out consciences at the door together with our common decency in exchange for some worldly paraphernalia.  Just watch members of the Supreme Islamic Council seated behind a mountain of chase representing nothing but bribe money without an iota of guilt or embarrassment.  These are the same men moralizing about gay and lesbianism when the entire economy and our livelihoods are going to hell in an hand basket. What a shameless bunch of Banjul Mullahs.

Gambia has been emptied of a majority of its good and decent citizens.  Most of those left behind have either succumb to the repressive forces like the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) or risk being made to disappear or sent to Mile II prisons. Compliance with the obnoxious laws is no guarantee of one's safety because all it takes is the word of an APRC supporter against an innocent person to face the wrath of Jammeh's age. Husbands have turned against wives, sisters against brothers and friends against friends. No more family visitations for fear that you will be set up by your own or friend.

Regrettably, North Koreans enjoy more personal freedoms than Gambians. Who would have predicted this even a decade ago without being laughed off stage.  Today, it is no laughing matter.  Everyone in The Gambia is as scared as the battered wife or the abused child.  The good neighbor is nowhere to be found, his silence bought by Jammeh with cash and patronage.

National salvation lies in our hands - the Dispora Gambians.  It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless.   We on longer can sit on the sidelines and pretend that somehow the abusive husband will come to his senses and stop the abuse., especially when he's a proven drug addict.

The economy has been so terribly managed that jobs are being lost instead of being created, forcing our young men and daring young women into taking the "Back Way" at great personal risk.

Despite the that fact that the dictatorship has failed the youth, Jammeh has managed, until very recently, lying to them about creating a conducive environment for them to prosper by advancing their education thus increasing their chances of being gainfully employment.  It's all phony baloney as Karamba Touray is fond of saying.

The chickens have finally come home to roost.  Jammeh's own Finance Minister, faced with disturbingly huge deficit numbers had to face his colleagues last week to admit that "2015 is not going to be an easy year" which is still considered by many, including yours truly, to be an understatement.  Things are going to get extremely dire for many Gambians when many of them, exactly 33% of the population cannot afford three square meals a day, and many more facing hunger and malnutrition.  As I pen this blog, children in the CRR are already dying of hunger and malnutrition - a crisis that the regime is concealing from you and me.