Speaking, partly off-the-cuff, at the state opening of the National Assembly in Banjul on Monday, the president stated: “I live for justice and I will die for justice. The Gambia will never be colonised or exploited twice. By the grace of Almighty Allah, I will do whatever I want to do to liberate my people from abject poverty without anybody doing anything about it. I live for justice and I will die for justice. I will die a proud man for having stood for justice. Gambians will not be enslaved or colonised twice or exploited. That will not happen.
“What is democracy and human rights? For 400 years we could only have one high school, the north of the river Gambia was left in a jungle state. Children were not going to school, university education was a far-fetched dream and [yet in] 19 years of ‘dictatorship’ there are schools and university in the provinces. My definition of good governance is for the government to work for the interest of the people, not for the interest of government officials, and that is what I stand for. So, the choice is yours, Gambian people: a democracy that enslaved you and captured your children and sent them into slavery; or another democracy that you will dance to the tune of slave masters that were exploiting you, impoverishing you; or a dictatorship that brings you development and equality. The choice is yours. I am proud to be called ‘a dictator of development, freedom and integrity of Gambian people’.”
While taking a swipe at the West for its colonial legacy and history of injustice to Africa, the president continued: “Human rights? For 400 years, there was no human rights institution in this country! There cannot be anything worth calling genocidal more than slavery and nobody is talking about it. Those who killed the Jews are still paying for it. After World War II, Africans who clamoured for independence were massacred, and none of those criminals have faced justice for their actions despite the fact that those who were responsible for the Holocaust are being prosecuted. Africans fought to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany and when they celebrate, you never see a black man as a veteran in their celebrations. Even the veterans are not paid their dues… My government had to take care of all of them and treat them as veterans despite [the fact that they did] not fight for us but Great Britain. While Gambians were coerced to fight for Great Britain, the capital city Banjul was ‘a hell hole on earth’ that President Roosevelt of United States even became ill immediately after visiting The Gambia. The capital was so rotten.
“African should realise that for 400 years, the British could not build a university. For 400 years! For 400 years they built only one high school [Armitage]. So, it would have taken us may be 12,000 years to build a school and billion years to build a university. We are not sleeping and we will not sleep. Patriotic Gambians and Africans will stand up for their rights. How many storey buildings were here? Even the State House was built by the Portuguese, not the British, and now they are telling us about democracy and human rights. Those agents of yours that work for you will find me here and I’m not afraid of anybody.”
The president further told lawmakers: “I had made a pledge during the last Meet The People Tour that by 2013 September, I will make education free for lower basic school and by the grace of Allah, we implement the same for upper basic schools in 2014. The objective of my administration is make education free for all Gambians from kindergarten to university by the grace of God.
“By providing such grants, the cost burden of education on the households will significantly reduce to a level that allow every household in this country to be able to educate their children with absolute affordability, irrespective of geographical location and income level. This a promise I am making good to Gambians, especially our women who bear the brunt of educational expenses for their children and insha’Allah, I will never fail in making sure that their children get quality education in this country.
“Ignorance is the worst disease for humanity; it is the worst killer disease because if it is not ignorance, Africans who are killing each other for the sake of Western interests will not be killing each other. Ignorance cannot be eradicated by any political philosopher but through education. Education is a remedy and we want to educate every Gambian whether the mother is poor or rich. And because of the support of Gambian women, I don’t want to overburden them with expensive school fees because I know at the end they have to work very hard to pay tuition fee for their children. I want to assure Gambian women, the mothers of this country that as long I am alive, as president or not, your children will be educated with quality education for free.”
By Sainey Marenah]]>