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City of Banjul
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

3 Years Jotna

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With Aicha

Time flies fast, it’s already October and at this time of the year, The Gambia would normally be buzzing with activities everywhere. The Gambia is like a beautiful, shiny balloon which makes everyone happy by the sight of it.

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But the balloon has lost its air and sank with the value of the shares in Thomas Cook – the largest travel agency in the world that had been in business for around 150 years. The company was considered as unsinkable, just like The Titanic, and just as The Titanic it has taken a lot of people with it to the bottom. So many in The Gambia depend on tourism directly or indirectly. So many had made up plans for what they would do with the money they would earn during the tourist season. It is understandable that people act like that, even large companies, calculate with a future profit.

The difference between the large companies and the lady who sells baskets and necklaces at the market is that the small business has no margins for a declining business. People borrowed money so they could buy the kind of material they need for their craft making. Promises were made that the money would be paid back at the end of the tourism season. Endless sleepless nights await and only God knows when it is going to turn for the better. It is about time the suffering in The Gambia came to an end! We can’t blame the government or the president for what happened to Thomas Cook, but they have enough to answer for by now anyway. There is a fear among the leaders of The Gambia, the golden pedestal you have placed yourselves on is rattling and it doesn’t feel as steady as before.

Did you really believe that people wouldn’t protest against your mismanagement of the country? Does the president really believe that he can break a promise just like that and no one reacts negatively? I have tried my best to remain calm and polite until now, but facts speak for themselves. Those of you who were elected to make life better in The Gambia have failed! How dare you force people to remain silent and not speak their mind? It’s your own fault that the citizens of The Gambia are dissatisfied. What have you done during almost these three years to improve the lives of Gambians? Not much and definitely not enough!

Army troops and police officers are on their toes, waiting for orders to interfere. Interfere with what? With the fact that people are hungry, sad, worried, angry and without hope? If you had done a better job you would have nothing to fear. In a democracy, there is communication between the people and their leaders. In a democracy, you respect that people have different opinions – and that goes for both sides. You have the right to your opinions as well as others have the right to theirs, but are you willing to listen? You are elected by the people, you are representatives of the people but you seem to have forgotten your roots.

If your mum should call you up and cry on the phone because she is hungry and has no money for food, would you hang up on her or help her? If your sister was going to give birth to her first baby, and she was very anxious, would you give her a lift to the hospital or tell her to manage on her own? If your father had lost his job and was worried how he would support his family, would you help him to find a new job or tell him that it’s none of your business? If your young sisters and brothers only had a kerosene lamp to study with in the evenings, would you help them to install a solar panel so they could see to study or would you tell them that they will not become anything anyway so there is no use studying?

The Gambia is full of mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who struggle every day to make ends meet and it is your obligation to help them. You are their big brothers and sisters, you have a high position and you have the ability to help them. Don’t you think of the people around you as your brothers and sisters? Don’t they have the same values as you? You are the lucky oneswho have an education and a position – does that mean that your value is higher than others?

The Holy Prophet (SAW) said:”That man is not from me who sleeps contentedly while his neighbour sleeps hungry.”
Are these words to be neglected or should we take them to our hearts and ponder upon them?How is it possible to call oneself a devoted Muslim and still forget the most important commandment of all: love thy neighbour?

The former commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Justice Emile Francis Short has stated that people who venture into politics should use their power to make decisions based on their understanding of the common good.
He said those decisions should serve the office holder’s constituency, that is, those citizens who voted for him or her adding that decisions should not be made, nor should they appear to be made, based on the financial self-interest of the officeholder.
Any such decision undermines the status of citizens as sovereign as well as the trust they have in the government, he said.

He condemned the practice of people getting into the political office just to enrich themselves.
So for what reason have you committed yourself to the world of politics? For the common good or for the prospects of laughing all the way to the bank where you can see numbers on top of other high numbers in your bank book? A while ago I wrote an article called “A Man of His Word”. Have you read it? If not, do so and you might learn something. A man is not worth more than his word, and his word is nothing worth if it’s not kept. People are disappointed, to say the least. High hopes were swaying in the sky like beautiful balloons, after the inauguration of President Barrow, but you have done your best to break every one. This is the problem with having uneducated people at the power. You don’t have the ability to see longer than your own noses reach, the wider picture is not of your interest. If you would begin to evaluate your efforts so far, without lying, you would cover your faces in shame.

Here is a quote from London’sThe Guardian newspaper: “Almost three years ago, Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule over the small west African nation of The Gambia came to a shock end. Fed up with the constant fear and human rights abuses, floundering economy and endemic corruption, Gambians voted out one of Africa’s most notorious strongmen.
The man who beat him, estate agent, businessman and one-time Argos security guard Adama Barrow, was a political nobody who united a divided opposition in a coalition, promising to create jobs, repeal bad laws and create a level political playing field. He also promised to be only a transitional president, resigning after three years.

With the deadline creeping up, however, Gambians who voted Barrow in say there has been little progress and many abuses of power in the country since he took over. Some even draw comparisons with Jammeh’s governing style, and worry that he too may use constitutional changes to rule for decades too.”
This article is from 23 September 2019 and it is sad to read. Not much seems to have been learnt from the past; old mistakes gets dusted off and are redone.
It seems like there is a pattern engraved in the walls of the State House and other places where our leaders reside. The pattern has taken over the eventual ambitions people had when they entered the premises in the beginning of 2017.

When the euphoria faded away like a cloud of dust, it was a golden opportunity for greedy people to befriend themselves with the new president and get into action. All the photos of President Barrow from the beginning of his mandate period showed a confused man with his eyes wide open like a lost child. I felt sorry for him as it was obvious that he wasn’t prepared for the situation.

It was sad that he was picked as the candidate the parties could agree upon. Being a president comes with the highest responsibility of all positions imaginable. This person must be prepared mentally, have a high level of education, have great maturity and not fall for all the sweet words he is going to hear.

Why was Adama Barrow elected? Were there no other candidates or was there a hidden agenda? I feel sorry for President Barrow because it is obvious that he was given something he didn’t know how to handle. Promises of assistance and good advisers must have felt comforting, but suddenly he stood there on his own – left on his own. I’m sure Adama Barrow is a good guy, but he is not cut to be a president. The prestige that comes with this position has made him think too much of himself.

Those who gain on having him as a president for two or more years cheer him up in times of doubt.All of you who desperately cling to power and refuse to let go – remember that you can’t stay there for ever. What do you wish people say about you the day you have to step down? Can you hold your head high and be proud of yourself or do you more or less isolate yourself because you don’t know what to say to people? Will you even become that power hungry so you refuse to step down and you suddenly change your political opinions just for the chance to stay a little longer? This has already happened among some of you so don’t tell me that this would never happen.

We have a saying here, and I will try to translate: ”He or she is someone who turns his overcoat at the direction of the wind”. This means that when the wind is cold you turn your overcoat so the wind can’t blow inside it and chill you down. It doesn’t matter if it looks strange, and the overcoat is backwards; all that matters is that you won’t get cold. Translate this to a political situation: you are prepared to do anything to stay “warm” when the political winds are cold. Your urge to stay ”up and going” for power, is stronger than your political beliefs.

Most of the citizens of The Gambia are still uneducated but that doesn’t mean they are stupid. Information spreads fast thanks to the Internet so you can’t get away with bluffing for a longer period of time. Mr President, rest assured that the citizens will protest, it is their constitutional right whether you like it or not!

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