Thursday, November 3, 2016

Why Gambian voters must reject Jammeh

Gambian voters must reject Jammeh in the December presidential elections in favor of Adama Barrow, the flag bearer of the 7 - party coalition that includes an Independent candidate who is not officially affiliated to any political party.  An absolute repudiation of the Gambian dictator and everything he stands for will mark the beginning of the long road to national reconciliation and reconstruction of a country whose institutions have been destroyed and its confidence shaken to its core.

Twenty-two years of dictatorship has brought nothing but hardship to 2 million Gambians that has caused hundreds of thousands of young Gambians to vote with their feet to escape from repression and in search of freedom from economic hardship.  Thousands of them lose their lives annually by drowning while trying their luck at trying the treacherous Mediterranean route to Europe.

Jammeh seized power because of the spurious reason that he wanted to eliminate "rampant corruption."  Instead, Jammeh displayed a level of corruption never experienced since Gambia gained independence from Britain in 1965.  He is a president who is first a businessman which leaves him with little time to serious engage in the art of governing.

Jammeh presided over the international isolation, to the level of a pariah state, of a country that commanded respect across the globe.  He unilaterally pulled Gambia out of the Commonwealth and the International Criminal Court (ICC) without prior consultation with or the approval of the Gambian people.  He retroactively sought approval from a rubber stamp parliament after he withdrew from the Commonwealth and as far as we can ascertain he has yet to go through the motions with regards to his ICC withdrawal - an institution headed by a Gambian national.

Gambian farmers are Jammeh's silent victims.  He has confiscated their communal lands, significantly dialed back extension services to farmers and allowed them to fend for themselves. Jammeh's agriculture policy is as convoluted as his promise of transforming Gambia into a rice self-sufficient in December last year.  The deadline was extended to September this year - a deadline he's conveniently failed to recall.  Farmers are still owed monies from the sale of their produce in 2010 and perhaps even before this date with no chance of ever getting paid by the bankrupt Gambia Groundnut Corporation.

The education sector, like all the other sector of the economy, is not fairing any better.  Only 4% or 444 of the total 11659 students who sat for the Senior Secondary School exams obtained credit passes in English and Mathematics.  Jammeh's emphasis has been building school infrastructure and invested very little on the knots and bolts of what makes the sector function properly to produce quality students.  School structures - most of which are underutilized - do not produce top students but good, qualified and motivated teachers do.  School buildings are visible to the voter while in-service training programs are not.  So he sells his failed education policies by pointing to school buildings and the number of high schools that produce poor quality products. It is time Gambians wake up to this snake oil salesman and throw him out of office in December.

Gambian voters must rise up to the occasion and severe their allegiance and support to Jammeh by voting for Adama Barrow as the flag bearer for the Coalition.