By Abdou Karim Jammeh
It is now after four years of President Barrow’s government which came to power by means of a coalition in 2016 following success in voting out former President Yahya Jammeh who ruled The Gambia with an iron fist.
After the collapse of the 22 years old dictatorship, there as hope because of the beautiful promises and it was agreed that the government will govern for only 3 years as a transition government.
Gambians, especially Yahya Jammeh’s victims of human right violation and the youth who expected a real change of system rather than having an old wine in a new bottle are now very disappointed which begs the question: “Where is The New Gambia”.
Adama Barrow, instead of focusing on a system change in accordance with the aspiration of the people as agreed he went ahead with forming his own political party called the National People’s Party (NPP).
The current Gambian President should understand that he is a victim because he ran away to Senegal when former President Yahya Jammeh refused to step down from power and wanted to kill him after the election which gave birth to a political impasse in the country.
He neither registered at the Victim Center for Human Rights Violation nor visited there. The same President described the victims as opportunists who only wanted to travel to Europe when nothing is wrong with us.
The same Barrow employed the former dictator’s colleagues who killed and looted our economy.
He is not helping our brothers and sisters abroad to integrate there so that they would be productive but only signing deals with the west to deport them which lead to their mental illness, some become criminals, drug addicts and remain liabilities in society.
The current government under Barrow that should be the catalyst of the new democratization process in the country has not done any reform in our civil service, security forces, judiciary, health sector etc.
The security sector is suffering due to poor salaries which are very evident as security personnel frequently stand on the roadsides finding a lift to and from work. I wish I am a billionaire to provide them with vehicles for timely transportation to and from work.
Doctors and nurses are also working under similar frustrating working conditions punctuated by inadequate medical equipment and medicines at hospitals.
Our teachers are also suffering from low salaries compared to their counterparts in neighbouring Senegal. It is because of teachers that many people are what they are today including the President. The education system needs to change for the better and it has to start from good reform.
Farmers are next to teachers, they work hard come rain come shine, but they never give up. Despite all the sacrifices as producers of agricultural products, they still struggle to feed their families which is why they are now rushing to sell their groundnuts to high bidders even if it means going across the border.
There are no reliable job opportunities for the youth and no resting places for the elderly as many of them can even retire without owning a home of their own. The poor road network, one of the most expensive communication tariff in the world and still poor, while the cost of living is increasing day by day.
Commissions of Inquiry
The Janneh Commission was established to look into the financial dealings of former President Yahya Jammeh and his close associates but not much came out of it as some of those named in financial crimes are still working in the Barrow administration.
The Faraba Banta Commission on the killing of three young people by security officers at Faraba village was established and did their findings but nothing came out it too.
The Constitutional Review Commission also did their work by coming up with a new draft constitution but thrown in the dust bin with the support of some parliamentarians.
Now the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) is ongoing and Barrow still neither visited the victim centre, nor express sympathy for the victims either secretly or openly but did not hesitate to visit the current SIS Director, Ousman Sowe who testified at the TRRC.
This is the same who was an officer at the very notorious NIA that housed the torture chamber known for gross human rights violations under Jammeh.
The president visited the NIA Director at his residence for reasons best known to him and God the Almighty. But we the victims have hope in the TRRC because there are very content and credible personalities. The TRRC and the victim centre is our only hope.
The Draconian Way
The push for electoral reform, the reason that resulted in the martyrdom of the great Ebrima Solo Sandeng has not been keenly pursued. There are still bad laws as the 1997 Constitution is till into force with clauses that indemnify criminals who killed 14 student protesters in April 2000. The state is still maintaining the Public Order Act for fear of people’s enjoyment of freedom of assembly and they banned 3 Years Jotna who organized two protests to remind the President about his promise to step down after three years as a transitional leader.
President Barrow should be reminded that he was voted in office as President of the people, for the people and by the people and Gambians yearn to have the best government not only in Africa but to be unrivalled in the whole world.
One would wonder why a President who supposed to the leader for a three years transition would surround himself with enablers of Yahya Jammeh like Seedy Njie, a nine-day Minister of Information under the dictator who stood by Jammeh and insisted that President Barrow would not be sworn in as president, helping the dictator in his refusal to step down.
Barrow is working alongside other enablers of dictator Jammeh like Alhagie Ceesay, chief protocol; Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mambury Njie, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs; Sheikh Omar Faye, Minister of Defence; Ousman Sowe, Director of State Intelligence Services (SIS) Yankuba Sonko, Interior Minister and Momodou Badjie, Security adviser among others who aided the dictator and did not deserve serving a government that come for reforms.
Former President Jammeh’s political party, APRC should be banned because of all the killings, torture, enforced disappearances, rape, unlawful arrests, forcing elders to drink poisonous concoctions in the name of witch-hunting that occurred under their administration.
With all the revelations at the TRRC about former President Yahya Jammeh and his APRC Barrow chose to betray the trust of the people who sacrificed everything for him, put him in office and now he is creating space for these perpetrators again.
President Barrow should use his prudence and give consideration to the recommendations of the Janneh Commission, Faraba Commission and upcoming recommendations of the ongoing TRRC so that the slogan NEVER AGAIN can become a reality.
We deserve a country where clean, legal investors are attracted so that the youth can have opportunities to work in their own country to curb irregular migration.
No to Tribalism
The politics of tribalism must be killed and buried as the Gambia is a society where tribes intermarry and live in peaceful coexistence.
Politicians should also engage in the politics of programmes and policies to enable the electorate to make informed choices.
Finally, Gambians, let’s change our attitude towards our country and work together, especially our gallant security. We have very professional and experienced security personnel in The Gambia. We just need proper reform for the security and safety of our children and their better future.
It is worth reminiscing that the year 2016 was a historic moment that will be remembered as it brought the Gambia to the good side of history after giving birth to the embryonic democracy we affectionately call The New Gambia which generated the peace we are collectively enjoying today.
We should all, therefore, avoid going back to the old dark days of our history – the era of dictatorship- that is why we must all endeavour to give real meaning to NEVER AGAIN.
The destiny of this country is in our hands. The whole world is moving and we are still where we are. It’s time to move on to shape the future of our children and generations yet unborn.
FOR THE GAMBIA OUR HOMELAND
The author Abdou Karim Jammeh, is a prominent victim of human rights violations who was shot in his knee during the April 2000 student demonstration where more than a dozen students were gunned down by security personnel. He has been a leading voice for his fellow victims by granting interviews to media houses in The Gambia in commemorating the student massacre.