Independent presidential aspirant, Bankole Yao Ahadzie on Friday spoke again about the need to legalise marijuana in the country, harping on its economic benefits, job creation and investment opportunities.
Addressing a mass political rally at the Tallinding ‘Buffer Zone’ recreational park, the dreadlocked politician who appeared in his traditional slippers, said: “One tonne of groundnuts is D20,000. That means one kilo of groundnuts is D20. The Gambia is like an old man who has D20, five children and needs to give them all lunch. Each of his children need D5, but he only has D20. So, his children must go out and seek lift to school, or someone must give them a cut of their bread. Well, I am Doctor Gambia and I have a solution to all these. A kilo of marijuana is D4,000. Imagine if your fish money is D25, that will pay for a lot of fish money. That’s why I said marijuana, we must think about legalising marijuana. To be born in poverty, to grow up in poverty and to die in poverty is what we have been made to believe and our thinking remained locked. Marijuana is the way out.”
Banky, who was cheered throughout his 40-minute speech, expounded the problems of The Gambia, listing the high cost of living, insecurity, poor health care, erratic electricity supply, water scarcity and bad roads.
He said all these persist primarily due to lack of money. “But I am Doctor Gambia, and I know how to solve it – it’s to legalise it [marijuana],” he said.
Banky said the country produces 90,000 tonnes of groundnuts yearly.
“If we can do all that, we can produce D10,000 tonnes of marijuana and we will have progress never witnessed in this country since independence. The government is employing 50,000 people including teachers, soldiers, police, and others – perhaps even less. If you look at what they are paid, if you look at Barrow’s salary, and the others including the cleaners and divide it by those 50,000 people, it’s like all of them earn D5,000 average. If we want to pay everybody a minimum D10,000 every month that will be D500 million in salaries… But we already have 40 billion [from the marijuana industry] to pay all salaries.”
Banky said he has seen pellucid indications of victory at the polls.
“I have seen signs that we will win this year. We had a windstorm here that damaged properties and downed many billboards. The billboards of Barrow were part of it, but it didn’t bring down my billboard. When Jammeh was going down in 2016, he went down with only a hat, but for us, God showed us signs and now billboards are falling,” he said.
He branded the NPP as a “terrified” party and said of its alliance with the APRC: “The grassroots APRC are not mad. If they don’t hear it from Jammeh, they are not part of it. The diehards of APRC will never vote for NPP, UDP or even Essa Faal. But rasta don’t come fi bow, they will vote for us.”
Banky said there are some political party actors who questioned his wisdom to run as an independent.
“They said, why didn’t you join other parties? I told them my ideas don’t fit in any of the parties here. They are coming under the shades wanting me to join them. But it’s not because of my MRC work that I have support; it’s not because of my tea producing company that people support me. I told these people that the true reason people support me was when I stood up and declared my support for the legalisation of marijuana. So, you too, if you want my fans’ support, get up and proclaim your support for the legalisation, but they said ‘no, we can’t’.”