Crowds have stayed home and for understandable reason. For twenty years, Jammeh has been making the same promises to Gambians, especially the rural population, :
" I will build train tracks that will connect the capital city of Banjul to Kaur and beyond." "My policies will result in food self-sufficiency by 2015." "I will turn Gambia into the Dubai of Africa." and on and on...
Well, 20-years of lies have finally caught up with the Gambian dictator after momentous economic and social policy failures his regime have suffered. The last ten years have been extremely trying times for ordinary Gambians who have seen their livelihood and living standards deteriorate to a level never seen in the 50-year history of the country.
UNDP has just released figures showing that almost half of the 1.8 million Gambians live on $1.25 a day despite persistent and exaggerated claims by Jammeh that agriculture is his government's top priority. The African Union's Maputo Declaration which Jammeh signed a decade ago, commits African governments to 10% of their budgets to agriculture. The regime of Yaya Jammeh did not only fail to meet the target but has actually seen a deterioration of that commitment from 6% in 2011 to 2.5% in 2014 of the share of agriculture in the national budget.
The regime's failure was fueled by the high level of corruption that involved the top echelon of the political leadership, including members of the National Assembly; an Assembly that acts as a rubber stamp to any bill advanced by the Gambian dictator.
The recent bail-out application of the regime to the IMF reveals more than Jammeh wanted Gambians to know, including but not limited to the abuse of the domestic banking system by the dictatorship. Local banks have been used to finance domestic projects by parastatals that has contributed to the high domestic debt that the regime continue to amassed, despite IMF warnings, leading to the crowding out of the private sector ability to borrow funds to growth and create jobs.
The pressure continues to mount on the regime from other external partners as well. The Economic Community of Wets African States (ECOWAS) will be considering limiting the terms of presidents of Member States to two, thus disqualifying number of sitting presidents to seek a third term.
As we have argued elsewhere, even if leaders like Jammeh are grandfathered by this measure, Gambian oppositions must use this vehicle to push for Jammeh to step down after his current term expires. Enough damage has been inflicted on both our economy and Gambia's national pride by a corrupt and incompetent regime that must go, and NOW.