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Monday, October 25, 2021

Letters: On the Army rice project: Letter to the CDS


Dear editor,

I salute you my dear brother, Chief of Defence Staff of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), I actually have a draft letter on the situation of our armed and security services but it has been overtaken by events with your recent unveiling of a deal for agricultural production under the aegis of GAF.

Is it really true that your institution is ready for a multi-million dollar engagement with a company based in South Africa, with the illusion of ending rice importation into The Gambia?
Commander, this development is certainly startling for me because we all know that our army, as at now, is not fit for the purpose it was morally and legally set up due to myriad reasons that are not the fault of the average officer. Is your army a united and structurally sound institution during this transitional period we are all trudging through? Is the level of morale high enough and does the high command enjoy a healthy relationship with the men and women in the ranks as at now?
In view of all the above concerns and the fact that we have a foreign force in town to guarantee our security while our fledging security sector reform process remains everything but a success; what makes you think that The Gambia Armed Forces can embark on such a daunting adventure and make a success out of the project?
I definitely need answers to these questions.

Or better still, the public deserves some level of clarification in the face of such monumental obfuscation. The dearth of necessary information coming from your end makes this whole project suspect. And please do not expect me to believe that a commercial entity will commit millions of dollars towards a project like this without our country coming up with matching resources or guarantees (sovereign or otherwise) to cover the risks on the side of the capitalists.
In the absence of credible and reassuring answers to the foregoing questions, I can assure you that this project you intend to embark upon is very likely going to join others, like the infamous Jahali Pacharr Project, in the graveyard of failed agricultural misadventures dating back to the Jawara era.

To be fair, you have one thing in your favour should you go ahead with this project but that thing may be a necessary condition but it doesn’t constitute a sufficient prerequisite for success…
Commander, Let me fall out at this point, hoping to hear from your end before I proceed with the sequel to this first epistle addressed to your respected office.
Once again, I salute you sir.


Momodou Sabally
Former Secretary General, Economist and author



On the Constitutional Review Commission

Dear editor,

At the hearing of the Constitutional Review Commission with the heads of the political parties, lots of interesting opinions were floated about. But I don’t hear any party leader calling for the introduction of a parliamentary democracy in The Gambia.
The introduction of a parliamentary democracy was repeatedly called for by many ordinary citizens when the CRC was out and about in the country.

One wonders whether these political party leaders are representing their personal interest or the political views of their constituents?
Why not a single party leader even got to mention the introduction of a parliamentary democracy in The Gambia when that call was repeatedly called for by the ordinary citizens?
From how to acquire Gambian citizenship to becoming the Speaker of the National Assembly are being talked about. But isn’t it disappointing that Darboe suggested for the Speaker of the National Assembly to be nominated?
How can the Speaker of an elected House of Representatives be a nominated unelected person?
The next parliament of The Gambia should not have a single unelected member sitting in our National Parliament. If any political party leader should be calling for the introduction of a parliamentary democracy in The Gambia, that should have been Darboe.
Darboe is not leading the UDP in the interest of the party and the country.
It’s Darboe who should be leading on the proposed reforms from the political leaders to the CRC.

If the proposals of the UDP to the CRC are not taken onboard, the UDP should campaign against the adoption of the new constitution in the referendum.
But Darboe is just Darboe playing the same mediocre political card like the party leaders of these inconsequential political parties.

Political leaders from these one-man political parties should not be given undue influence in their submissions to the CRC. They do not represent anyone other than themselves.
At least Mamma Kandeh, the second dullest political leader in the country, holds the chairmanship of a local council. We need a 21st century republican constitution for The Gambia that puts the reins of political power in the hands of the National Assembly.
The National Assembly not the State House should become the heartbeat of political power in the new Gambia.

The leaders of the political parties would have their discussions with the CRC but ultimately it’s the CRC which is tasked with providing The Gambia with a constitution that will be the yardstick and the legal framework for our political governance.
I hope that noble responsibility is not lost on the commission. If I were the chairman of the CRC, the introduction of a parliamentary democracy, a living wage and a basic citizens income in The Gambia will make it to the final draft of the constitution and let Gambians decide.

We expect the CRC to come up with ideas that’ll strengthen our political stability and enhance our socioeconomic development in the final draft of our new constitution.

Yusupha ‘Major’ Bojang

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