Barrow and the Coalition 2016 cannot fix broken Gambia
Human rights activists and institutions, both home and abroad, have described the Republic of The Gambia as a country that has undergone dictatorial, repressive and self-perpetuating governance for two decades under the stewardship of President Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh went against the laws of the republic on 22 July 1994 and ended the rule of President Jawara ran a broken and chronically corrupt Gambia for almost three decades from independence.
Jammeh in his strive to correct the socio-political and economical wrongs of Jawara, totally left the right path and turned The Gambia into a hell for journalists, opposition political party leaders and any person who is seen as a threat to his self-serving rule thereby further tearing apart the republic.
Can President Barrow and the Coalition 2016 fix this torn republic built on a weak foundation? The answer is a big NO considering the following facts:
The incapacity of Barrow and the Coalition 2016 to provide a sound leadership which should serve as a genuine alternation to both Jammeh and Jawara’s self-serving governments. Coalition 2016 first manifested their greed for political power individually when they failed to run under a coalition ticket in the 2017 parliamentary elections amid complains that the move will kill their parties which is a replica of Jammeh’s mistake of not putting a red line between state and party thereby undermining the interest of the Gambians who saw the coalition as a great chance to rebuild the republic which is still standing on a very weak foundation. One would have expected all heads of political parties in the coalition to resign from their parties as secretary generals before holding cabinet positions and give chance to energetic technocrats to run ministries for a period of three years to properly rebuild the country on a strong and healthy foundation. The fear of political heads running ministries is always putting the interest of party above the state. All are careful doing anything that will reduce their chances to win the 2021 elections. In essence, the generals behind Barrow are indeed isolating him. This is why I approved the leader of Gambia Democratic Congress, Mamma Kandeh’s advice for Barrow to resign after three years.
For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians abroad, I supposed is responsible for advising and guiding government on foreign policy and diplomacy. How well is this institution executing its functions considering the diplomatic errors both in language and actions, President Barrow did on his diplomatic missions abroad. For example, I recall his first state visit to China where in an interview with CGTN, he struggled to understand the ‘One China’ policy, a key pillar of the People’s Republic of China’s foreign policy; and the difficulty to understand the succession of the Queen as head of the Commonwealth in an interview with the BBC after The Gambia’s re-entry to the Commonwealth.
This is not a good sign to the ministry and appears to me that either somebody is undermining the presidency or the Foreign Affairs office is isolating him.
The ministries of Lands and that of the Environment and all the institutions under them are expected to review all lands and environmental cases through commissions, dialogue and consultation to avert any potential land and related natural resources problems that might trigger commotion and social unrest. For example, Gunjur versus Golden Lead, Taneneh community versus Seedy Barrow and Julakay Company versus Faraba villagers which saw the death of Gambians at the hands of police officers on 18 June 2018. The most interesting thing is, nobody wants to take responsibility for the killing of Gambians. The political executive must take responsibility since all the state apparatus are under their watch.
The government must understand that even the perfumes of Arabia cannot sweeten their hands from the Faraba bloodshed. Where is the security reform that the Coalition 2016 promised?
The Ministry of Agriculture is the most tragic ministry. At what level is the ministry transforming the agricultural sector described by Barrow as primitive under Jammeh? The fact that the Minister of Agriculture himself is battling an allegation of selling expired fertiliser to a businessman does not tell well and will raise doubts about the successful implementation of the national agriculture agenda. In addition, it’s unfortunate to read reports that some farmers have complained of being owed by government for the sale of their groundnuts.
Now to ask, how can agriculture be transformed when our poor farmers are owed and how can they improve their production and productivity?
What did the local and central governments do when the rice fields of Faraba are encroached by Julakay Company? Is that action by Julakay Company not a threat to the food and economic security of sovereign Gambians? This is rather unfortunate. Assessments of other state apparatuses will further manifest the mess in our socio-political system.
All this shows how torn the republic is and the inability of President Barrow and the Coalition 2016 to fix it.
Barrow should either convince political leaders running ministries to resign from their parties and focus on national development or he himself should resign after three years to save his integrity and the integrity of the republic..