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City of Banjul
Saturday, September 24, 2022

Emergency: Call for national concern

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In the wake of all these trending frenzies, the only question one can probably resort to is to ask where Gambia is heading to. Currently, almost everything that happens here, if it involves the state, whether directly or indirectly, is at high tendencies to shock you or further immerse you in the customary state of hopeless Jollof.


In my one of my articles, “Public Health Hodgepodge: What Are We Telling Our People”, I told you Gambians like talking in extremes, but I’ve also realized that they equally like doing things in extremes. From July to August, there are enough shockers and lows of national concern to bring your attention to. But meanwhile, welcome to my show. Batuwo leng.


Suspension of Public Health Officers across facility and regional levels without salaries. Futile salary increment of meagre proportion, which in itself is more damaging than useful. Banjul flood. Failed OIC event. And now, the obituary-y WASSCE results. The infamous teacher with an era-ending remark on a particular student’s report form this third term. Also, the shocking per diem party of the Sports Minister and his wife for merely and idly attending the Commonwealth and All Islamic Games in Europe for two weeks. But don’t be surprised, this is Gambia for you. So see the breakdown in bits – nuclear fission of contemporary Jollof obituary.

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I’m not addressing the Public Health Officers’ month-long suspension in this article, that’s for another one; purely and solely on corporate shenanigans and personal vendettas of few human leeches with special agendas against the cadre. But I must admit how sad conscious and savvy Gambians felt upon watching a televised content where a certain high office Secretary exposed his limited knowledge on Public Health and its functions by regrettably saying that “Nurses are more qualified than Public Health Officers”. Sadly, he only exposed himself because that’s like saying A has an undergraduate degree in Accounting and B also has the same degree in Economics and they both work at the same Bank, but A is more qualified than B based on your own sentiments. Such tantrums are so self-embarrassing. But maybe they’re serving a certain supremo, not God.


Bring on the salary increment last month. Certainly, an average Gambian has a lot to endure to eke out a living. But who doesn’t know how poor civil servants in this country generally are? I mean upright and God-fearing civil servants that do not loot or corrupt. Interestingly, Gambia is a country where there’s very little difference between an average civil servant and the unemployed, the educated and the illiterate income-wise. How? Very simple. If a laborer works for equal number of days in a month as civil servants, and they’re paid fully, they’re more likely to be on par with an average civil servant at the end of the month. And if an illiterate lives a better life than the educated, then what happened to their hackneyed platitude of “education is better than gold and silver”? It is a scam!


However, this is not to disregard the civil service, I’m only trying to portray a true picture of a typical Gambian civil service. Generally, school is overrated. Education is a real deal but it doesn’t necessarily make one rich, because largely, riches aren’t attained by working for a government or a private entity, at least not in this country. We all know that salary cannot make anyone here rich, moreso a salary that barely keeps you in the middle class. Poor bourgeois.

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The news of that percentage addition came with the instant curtailment of the expectation of improved take-homes. Those that are astute enough realized that. As subordinates are pegged at peanuts, the “corporate gangsters” are over fifty times higher than that cut without allowances and other benefits. Yet, they’re trying to deceive Gambians that they did this for them. How sarcastic! It’s quite downing that politics has become the linchpin of their operations, even when it critically involves the lives and livelihood of their poor compatriots. Sadly, they have this belief that it’s a game. But a game that directly influences the lives and livelihood of the citizenry should then be played with utmost altruism, thoughtfulness and considerateness. But do they care as long as the so-called game’s result doesn’t affect them and their families directly?


Okay, skyrocketing fuel prices is up to you to see. They said it’s the invasion in Ukraine? Up to you to believe that. As a result, fare increment, bam! Rice and flour price increment also because of the war? Up to you to believe that too. Loaf of bread, ten dalasis flat. Ah, but a villager who has always known “yerenkeh mono” may not be that bothered as long as “nyelenkung bankuma” isn’t thrown into the mix.


Honestly, after Tobaski, when last did your household manage to afford meat for a meal? Meat, not chicken. How often can you afford that in a month? Ask yourself. How much does a common bonga even cost now? Even sorrel, mere sorrel, that’s free in Jarra Dasilameh is now going unaffordable for an average Gambian. Where is Gambia heading to?


Banjul flood. After boasting of a successful forty whole million dollars project in Banjul, we’ve all seen what flood did to that place. It exposed it like how desperate Gambian TikToking girls expose themselves, leaving nothing to imagination. That exposure the flood did to their so-called successful project that would sarcastically please the Germans is as unpleasant as a tongue-piercing Gambian TikToker. What’s serious about this country? Probably not even politics. Where’s Gambia heading to?
At a time like this, we are probably supposed to be mourning the mass failure of our Gambian candidates in this year’s WASSCE while we summon a national emergency involving every facet of educational leadership and relevant stakeholders for a redress. How can you comprehend that only one percent of the total number of candidates that took the exam are admissible into university? How can you understand that up to 34% ( 5, 261 whole candidates ) did not even get 1 credit? If this doesn’t suffice a national emergency, then where is Gambia heading to?


The infamous teacher that wrote an incomprehensible remark on the report form of a particular student has really lowered the teaching bar. That is a sad and unfortunate discredit to the noble profession and sacrifice teachers are doing. Even though we all owe teachers utmost gratitude and respect, we must still champion for merit and standards. Let Gambia College stop enrolling anyhow. It shouldn’t be a matter of “if you can afford the fees” or “if you know someone there”. College, essentially Early Childhood Development ( ECD ) and elementary school programs shouldn’t be for those that have no credit to show. What will those ones teach our kids at the foundation level? Ah, you still expect them to pass? Where’s Gambia heading to?


Whenever you talk about corruption and inefficiency, Sports Ministry and GFF are like urine and faeces, if they’re not even the same. Their daylight corruption and funds siphoning is beyond bewilderment. But what’s even sadder is the way they hunt per diem like how vultures hunt blood and dead animals. Typically, they behave like vultures. Apart from Tobaski when you don’t see vultures around, whenever you see them, you know that there’s blood or a dead animal nearby; and whenever you see GFF and Sports supremo, you equally realize that there’s an ongoing sports event abroad, or a common football draw for a tournament that we’ve not even qualified to; just to grab the per diem ( blood in this regard ). Maybe vultures are even better because they take a break on Tobaski day.
What they did in the UK and Turkey for two weeks, and the amount of money they took home, excluding the costs of flights, accomodations and food, en masse, is enough to convince you that this country has a bleak future striding toward doom. Because technically, he and his wife were paid around five hundred dollars daily for being intimate. That takes us to a new discovery – intimacy per diem. Where’s Gambia heading to?


Ask Kalipha Jabbi about the insincerity of youth leaders in this country. His reasons of giving up on this country are overtly adminiculated once more.


We are living in a very interesting time. The hodgepodge in this country is too much. And we are hitting new lows day by day. This is why I often ask you: where is Gambia heading to?

Batou Saidy holds a degree in Public and Environmental Health. He’s a Public Health Officer and a writer. He’s also a football fanatic and a Manchester United aficionado.

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