In my diplomatic and Gambian citizen cap, I found it essential to make a contribution in the current controversy surrounding Gambian deportees from mainly the Western World, Europe and the USA to be more precise. I don’t think it is right to accuse anybody of signing any agreement with the Europeans about the deportations. What is indisputable is that in his first international interview on the subject during the 2018 commonwealth meeting in London, moderated by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, His Excellency President Adama Barrow President of the Republic of the Gambia categorically made his perspective clear on the migration/deportation dilemma.
Unless one convinces me therefore that he misunderstood the question asked by one Mr. Alex like he did in the first one asked by John Kennedy who asked about the succession to the commonwealth and he explained the potential successes of the organization comprising 53 member states, we must continue to take his response as the final outlook of his government on the issue.
Mr. Alex asking on behalf of Gambian migrants in England including 25 students studying in different schools relayed their concerns over what his government had in place to resettle or reintegrate those faced with imminent repatriation or deportation from the West to the Gambia.
In his response, the president said nothing about his government’s resettlement plans for deportees but started by first expressing his understanding of the Europeans’ decision to deport the illegal aliens in their countries referring to them as those without papers.
He furthermore expressed his sympathy with Europe for shouldering an over stressful burden of receiving far too many migrants in their countries than bearable on the state of their socio-economic endurance.
The video is still accessible on youtube entitled President Adama Barrow at the 2018 commonwealth talking about migration and the Gay. They left out the first topic questioning the viewpoint of his government on the succession of the commonwealth for the obvious reason that he didn’t understand the question and therefore gave the wrong answer. I will discuss that later.
However, on the question of the deportees and how they will be properly reintegrated in his country, the president used his personal experience as an example. He explained how as a voluntary returnee from England to the Gambia in 2006, defying all odds including warnings from cynics, family members and friends on the impossibility to realize any success in the country because of “the dictatorship government at the time”, he still came back and ventured into a very successful business initiative that ultimately made him president of The Gambia.
“It was all about changing one’s mindset”, he accentuated. With the proper initiative, he believes every returnee could optimize his or her gains in a proper business endeavor. That living in the Western world as a migrant more or less limits one’s ability to realize one’s full potentiality whereas in one’s own country there are no limits to how high one could go.
Detailing how upon his arrival in 2006, he opened up a small real estate business in an office 3m x 3.5 m wide the president said he was within five years able to expand at a scale of success that soon allowed him to get a larger place and employed several Gambians to work for him. Besides, it was the success of that business that he said provided him with the resources and trustworthiness that won him the presidency of the Gambia in 2016.
He didn’t discuss the concerns of the students or what his government was doing to receive any deportees flushed out of Europe.
Why in that whole auditorium nobody attempted to draw his attention in a shuttle manner back to the question that was not at all about voluntary returnees with great ideas on how to successfully reorientate themselves in the Gambia over a decade ago but about what his government would be doing now for prospective deportees including students and economic migrants having no such initiatives, really beats me.
The person I blamed most for determining the paradigm of the congregation from the word go by his failure to clarify the questions misunderstood by the president was of course Tony Blair. After realizing in his answer that the president didn’t necessarily understand the first question on the succession of the commonwealth, as an honest moderator paid to perform his job well, Blair with all his diplomatic experience and skills could have in a shuttle way let the president understand the question better. But by not doing so and acting as if everything was perfectly normal, he sent a bad signal to the audience not to cross the line he had drawn. Otherwise I would have expected John Kennedy, who asked that question to come right back to explain what he meant so as to get the right answer. The crowd also played along as if the president had given them the right answer.
How sincere was that after all? Or did they just wait for the meeting to end and rushed to congratulate the president and the prime minister as if everything was cool and dandy but in their private moments gossiped about how everything was a degradation? Call it the politically correct world we always live by translating into the never ending crisis of people against their leaders whose actions routinely undermine their credibilities.
Hiring Tony Blair was unnecessary and a total snafu; if it is true that he was paid the cash I heard he was, he should be forced to return every penny he took for a job badly executed.
How could anyone forget that Tony Blair as Prime Minister of Great Britain is the man who with all the credible intelligence suggesting that Saddam Hussain didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction supported George Bush into invading Iraq in 2001 and helping to kill and maim more human beings, mostly innocent people, than there were in the two ever detonated weapons of mass destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945? For the genocide following the wrongful invasion and destabilization of Iraq and that whole region, I see no difference in Blair and Bush with Charles Taylor, if Taylor was not in fact of a lesser genocidal criminal than both of them. Without doubt for the crimes they have committed against humanity, if Blair and Bush were African leaders, their colleagues, I mean their fellow African leaders would have long since connived with the Americans, French or English to have them chained and delivered to La hague to be tried by the International Criminal Courts. Then why Tony Blair as moderator when there were well qualified Gambians present to conduct it?
I can in fact forgive George Bush for his commonly accepted inferior intelligence manipulated by smarter and more dangerous folks around him such as his vice president Dick Chaney and his secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld who had expected huge oil money from conquering Saddam Hussain; but when it comes to Blair, he is just as foxy like Rumsfeld, not honest and too inhumane but camouflaged by a confidence often mistaken for a philanthropist.
Since that 2018 Commonwealth press conference, all I noticed is a very cordial relationship between the Barrow government and the European Union. They have pledged huge amount of money to support the development plans of the Gambia, a kind of assistance usually fastened to strings for doing what they want, when they want it and how they want it. The deportation agenda is top priority in their demands.
If there is anywhere where we can associate the signing of any agreement with the Europeans for the deportation of our citizens it will be within the package of the pledged aid we have been celebrating without seeing much of it delivered yet. Telling them now to stop the deportation because of its negative political ramifications in the Gambia will be tantamount to telling them to forget the pledged funds. Because whether we like it or not the Europeans will never stop the deportation. Too much of what they have pledged is pending and anchored to that common understanding.
For all that I know, the conditions that legally prevented them from deporting Gambians before was the existence of the APRC government that used to reject any excuses or conditions from the Europeans and Americans to repatriate any Gambian, no matter how long the carrots dangled before their eyes were.
In fact President Jammeh during the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 openly accused the European nations for resorting to brutal and deliberate tactics of ignoring sea vessels in distress that were carrying African migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe until they capsized and killed a lot of them if not all. All was to discourage the migrants from reaching their countries. He had argued the need for Europeans to accept that through the enslavement of Africans compounded by the colonization of our continent for centuries Europe was all developed while Africa remained ruined and stagnant as a hopeless human habitat.
So Africans, he said, will continue to find their way to their shores to get back what was stolen from them no mater what it takes or how many times they will try.
Because of the APRC’s defiant stance against migrants’ deportation, many African migrants, especially from other English-speaking countries in our sub-region used to register as Gambians upon their arrival to European countries. That provided them the opportunity like all Gambians to seek political asylum even whereas the vast majority of them were simply economic migrants or ambitious students in search of higher education. The educational opportunities for Gambians alone were phenomenal producing college and university graduates who otherwise would have never developed any better from what was providable in the Gambia before the APRC government built a university in the country.
It is said that for the right price some opposition party officials in the Gambia used to forge affidavits for prospective economic migrants to Europe identifying them as victims of political persecution by the APRC just to get them an asylum and jobs in Europe.
I have also witnessed a lot of young Gambian men and women in the USA with no history of any political activities in the Gambia applying for political asylum to regularize their status for good jobs or to find good schools. Migrants’ children have been enjoying great success in Western schools that is today benefitting them and their parents tremendously.
In 2015, the APRC government through the Gambia mission at the United Nations in New York, sponsored a resolution demanding that the European or Western world paid reparation to Africa for the damages done on the continent during centuries of slavery and colonialism. In that case the African job market and educational opportunities will be improved attractively to stop the endless migration.
South Africa had once tried sponsoring the same bill but had failed because the Europeans had seen it then as a mere strategy to weaken their economies and strengthen that of Africa’s.
Anyway, with the Gambia’s resolution, the whole thing was tied to the existential threat created by the massive wave of migrants particularly from broken Arab nations coming with “terroristic tendencies” to Europe’s once hospitable shores. They had disintegrated the Arab world, thanks to leaders like Tony Blair, by waging senseless wars that in effect were increasingly forcing more peace-seeking Arabs to run to Europe. Iraq was destroyed, followed by Libya and then Syria. Egypt was going to suffer the same fate if the military hadn’t stepped in to restore sanity. Yemen has been broken lately.
The Gambia-sponsored resolution was discussed and adopted by many African countries and was about to be forwarded to the UN General Assembly when political change occured in the country.
Finally, in removing the APRC government from the Gambia, the Europeans did not only welcomed the idea of getting rid of an African leader who wouldn’t cooperate with their deportation demands but further provided them with the justification to reject every asylum applicant identified as Gambian. And that make absolute sense. Thousands were in the waiting list with many already given temporary working permits that will now be revoked because the “dictatorship is gone”.
That’s the reality folks. The Europeans are happy with the Gambia government’s new democratic dispensation. They are paying for ECOMIG to police our country in addition to the big pending pledge that could be aborted if we refuse to accept the deportation.
You can’t eat your cake and still have it folks. Even this madman knows about that.