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City of Banjul
Saturday, September 26, 2020

Letters to the Editor

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Adieu Uncle Femi Peters
Dear editor,
“When beggars die, there are no comets seen/The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes” Shakespeare.
A “beggar”, someone whose services have been poor. A “prince”, someone whose services to nation and people is indescribable in size and magnitude. Even the heavens cry with the passing on of such people. Uncle Femi Peters was such a person. His passing onto eternity is a great loss to all of us, not just his family or the UDP. He fought so hard against tyranny, unwavering and with steely determination. He defied the Public Order Act re use of loudspeakers and suffered for it u unfortunately. That was one of the first acts of defiance against tyranny. He showed us that people of conscience are not supposed to obey “bad laws”.

 

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He became our version of MLK Jr. And in April 2016, he and his colleagues in the UDP Executive went out to demand the body of a fallen colleague and met the most ferocious, deadly, reprehensible state force, Davids against Goliaths. The rest is etched in our collective memory: men and women who thought less of themselves and more for country and posterity.

Great men and women are those who plant trees under whose shades they know they will never sit under but go to plant them nonetheless. Uncle Femi is one such great. We pray the great Lord have mercy on his great soul. He ran his race here on earth and in grand style. I am sure he is now in a better place, with the angels and smiling down on us. I pray the Lord give his family the fortitude to bear this great loss. It is our loss, all of us who appreciate the air of freedom we are breathing, all of us who know that freedom is often nourished with the blood of martyrs, few unselfish men and women who take the supreme sacrifice to give the rest freedom.

Since to the dead we owe both respect and truth, I need to say am bewildered by the seeming “neglect” (for want of an appropriate word) of the State towards especially the living men and women who went out with late Solo Sandeng and UDP Executive who went out of their way to demand for justice for Solo and colleagues. One by one, these gallant people are passing on and we seem to be hopelessly watching the invisible hand of Death snatch them away. Death is inevitable but good health can be given and therefore life prolonged. Anyone who had seen the UDP Executive upon their release would know they were in pain and needed overseas medical checkup. That was the needful. Not just one off but constant medical checkup. The same for the Solo Sandeng group, especially after the revelation of unimaginable torture and rape of the victims.

The State, the primary duty bearer with the obligations to respect, protect and fulfill, was the violator and torturer. The rule of natural justice demands that that State should be fully and wholly responsible for the rehabilitation and medical expenses of these victims and survivors. The heinous acts were committed in the name of the State by State agents, regardless of which government. I expect the Barrow Government to make the right to the best attainable standard of health of these people its primary obligation. The State has the obligation and the resources to fulfill this right. It should not be a financial burden on either the survivors or their families. Death is inevitable but it would be the greatest betrayal if another hero or heroine falls for lack of adequate medical care.

Sleep on uncle Femi, the two Solos and all those who passed on, who made the supreme sacrifice for us to be free today. We remain indebted. We pledge that the ideals you fought and died for will remain sacred and protected.
Njundu Drammeh
CPA

The National Development Plan: A critique
Dear editor,
It is unprecedentedly unintelligent to see in present day Gambia that men of science are continuously and almost uncontrollably seduced by scientifically ignorant politicians who are all out to impose their thoughtless and most dramatically, their unverifiable nonsensical views by economic and police power. The National Development Plan or the so-called blueprint (so to say) is just a manifestation of how ill prepared we can be in a Gambia apparently bursting at the seams in political, economic, social and environmental terms.

For an unedited ambiguous drafted document like such, clouded in abstract thoughts (of its unnamed drafters) to be overwhelming acclaimed as our roadmap to heaven is sheer ridiculousness. We will need a horizontal approach to march our differences and call for a compromise towards those things all Gambians dearly need for survival (instincts and reasons) and they must be as explicit as could be imagine. For any such thing to happen, at least scientific institutions and bodies like the UTG, the Gambia College, GTTI or nongovernmental organisations crisscrossing the country and, who are in real terms more present in our villages and aware of our real concrete problems than our government (given their proximity and collaboration with ordinary Gambians in some totally disconnected rural settings whose feelings and aspirations should be directly consulted for inclusiveness.

At least we would have expected the National Assembly to have debated on whatever visionary goal we might need to adopt. Passing such a fundamental document through the national assembly will certainly reduce the risks in both our perception and substance of it. It is not convincing, to say the least, that such a plan would definitely make a good architecture for the Gambia that dearly need an immediate scientific solution beyond the politics of political jargons saturated in their own prisons of unconsciousness about our positive conditions (economics) and ecological footprint.

Any undiscussed blueprint (clouded in wiled promises) will be tragic to follow, and would be illusive and nearly impossible to implement (because people either do not really know it or have not been consulted to see themselves as a part of it.) In a social animals including human beings, have some basic foundation in individual instincts and cooperation, but, no one instinct or closed-group preference should stand out or would earn a popular collaboration when not discussed and moderately approved by a greater margin of those whose problems it wishes to confront.

Therefore, it will be basically foolish and democratically uncultured of any government to assume that a very chosen few candidates can legitimately discuss and draw our welfare (and we hope that “providence” will come to our aid without any genuine effort towards prior channels of problem solving through engaging scientific discussions. That is, for the purposes of simplification, an exaggeration of executive power beyond where it should have purely belonged.

To my knowledge, it will be a pitiful spectacle to have this draft document adopted without undergoing national (and even beyond border) criticism of our development partners. Be it printed in blue, yellow or white, it is in the same way, beyond the personal taste of any single president even if such an individual were impeccable to decide what makes a good life for its people. No single political symbol (Coalition or not) possessed that centre of social cohesion or gravitational force to say what is (say) good health, good sustainability, good infrastructure, good education, good attitude or good philosophy.

That would be an antique fundamental political nonsense. Such issues cannot be decided or left to be decided wholly and surely by the personal tastes of any politician, whatever the situation, for scientific, pragmatic and democratic reasons. The media, civil society, private institutes and all those bodies like schools, must be involved in making any so-called national vision because it is such institutions who must through the help of a government consciously implement it. Schools will have for pragmatic reasons embedded in their various curriculums that national vision as a fundamental teaching apparatus for development and social cohesion and scientific citizenship. Even average students of economics know that industrial revolution and all others to follow, came about as a result of scientific confrontation with the reality rather than what is thought of to be the reality without scientific facts. Our problems are far away from being homogeneous. It is for some of these reasons why I termed the present NDP a draft of what is yet to be investigated for approval by all conscious Gambians. We would need some genuine efforts to study our problems scientifically, draw a feasible solution, and adopt to some of our problems that will not disappear anytime soon.

My observations will come on later. But read the NDP and spot the adjustments to be done before we enter into any conscious scientific debate. I’ve read it 4 times and it is incredibly stupid in both structure and content.
Alagie Jinkang
Italy

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