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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Living in The Gambia is risky

Our love for the country can indeed blind us from seeing the truth, but it is an undeniable fact that living in The Gambia, especially in recent times, is very risky and quite a number of reasons are responsible for this reality.

Of recent, we have been hearing so many devastating reports of murders, preventable deaths of pregnant women, robbery and many other social crimes mainly involving young people on whom the government ought to have made a lot of investment.

The Gambia used to be a very peaceful country; a country that attracted tourists because of its peaceful nature and the sweetness of its people.  In reminiscing about the days of glory that engulfed this once peaceful and beautiful country, one is only saddened by the drastic nature in which the country turned to be an Angel of Death for its innocent inhabitants.

Our fragile health sector is claiming the lives of innocent Gambians, men and women, on a daily basis and no lasting solution seems to have emerged to halt this menace. Almost every day we hear reports of death of pregnant women at our hospitals due to doctors’ negligence, lack of medicine and other nonsensical factors that are very subtle to forgive.

Every day, every week, a pregnant woman would die at childbirth and these are very obvious preventable deaths. Should our pregnant women continue to live in fear from conception to delivery, doubtful of whether they will come out of labor alive all because our fragile health sector and its creepy nurses and midwives prove to be killing machines for these innocent women?

I have always said that a country’s ability to providing quality health services for its people will not only increase the life expectancy of its citizens, but will also make them all the more productive and make them contribute meaningfully towards the development of the nation. The Gambia is a failed nation that doesn’t invest in quality health assurance for its people – Thanks to our failed government and a distracted president.

We find ourselves in times when sicknesses are rampant, thus making hospitals the most visited institutions on a daily basis. People should have been assured of having access to quality health services in the Gambia by now, after half a century of independence. Clearly, Gambia is not lucky when it comes to leadership, but the case of the present one is an extreme case.

Today, doctors and nurses feel so comfortable in admitting that there are no medicines in our public hospitals when demands for these items are on the increase every single day. The government, one of whose primary functions should have been the provision of quality health services for its citizens, has neglected the constraints of the health sector all in a bid to galvanizing support in the upcoming presidential elections that is barely two months away. What an irony!

What is the rationale behind having a government if the people continue to lose their lives due to poor health care services? These basic necessities should not have raised any issues if our government was serious. It should be clear to every conscious Gambian by now that the Barrow-led administration does not care about our lives and that is why we should all see it as a civic responsibility to oust him in the December 4 presidential elections.

Also, cases of death have been reported due to power failure in the middle of an operation. Why is it that the Gambia is unable to provide basic necessities such as adequate electricity supply after more than half a century of independence? Now you see why it is important to have a government that is serious about development.

The risk of living in the Gambia is not only limited to poor health care services. Recently, quite a number of reports have indicated murders in broad daylight, mainly committed by teenagers who are mostly influenced by alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and other forms of drugs which have no place in the human body.

An industrious young man was reported to have been stabbed to death by young boys of less than twenty. The victim was said to be a very responsible and worthy citizen, working at the National Audit Office of the Gambia. According to people who knew him, Ousman Jarju was a brilliant auditor whose life was cut short by young boys who should have been going to school to acquire education. His death was not only a loss to his family, but a loss to the whole nation.

This week, another young man was also allegedly murdered in Brufut after having a little fracas with one Yusupha Bojang, who is said to have killed two people in less than two years. How would the lives of citizens be protected if coldblooded killers are allowed to freely walk the streets? What kind of magistrates do we have in the Gambia?

I strongly blame the government for this menace. We are losing our young people to drugs, crimes etc., and it is the fault of the government. Our young people should not be allowed to waste like that when the government can do something to make them contribute to national development. When young people are faced with massive unemployment, crimes and drug abuse become inevitable.

What the government should have done is to provide more job opportunities for young people in order to drastically reduce the rate of crimes that are a threat to the lives of every Gambian living in this country. Creation of jobs for the youths will inevitably make the young people productive, thus these endless crimes will be drastically reduced, if not completely exterminated.

But it is crystal clear and evidently manifested that a desperate and distracted president like Adama Barrow will not consider the plight of young people in the face of seeking a reelection, and that is why the National Peoples Party should not even be in the list of options that one should consider voting for in the December 4 presidential elections.

I am reiterating the fact that 2016 elections should serve as an eye opener for every conscious Gambian. This was an election that ushered in a president who is opposed to everything we stand for as a nation. It was a mistake whose consequences are so serious that it serves as sufficient lesson for the need to be careful in deciding our destiny in the next elections.

Barrow is desperate for a second term, and it will be the height of self-destruction if Gambians made the mortal mistake of voting President Barrow into office in December. This man has clearly manifested to us that he’s not burdened by the plight of the people. He will be willing to do anything through vengeful political tactics, not minding or caring about the plight of victims of the 22-year Jammeh rule. The NPP-APRC alliance is just one example.

Let us not pretend to be oblivious of the fact that this was the very man who ushered in a misguided, baseless, scandalous and disgraceful approach to transitional justice whose recommendations are yet to be submitted to him. For him to establish alliance with the party that had inspired this transitional justice approach says a lot about his blatant lack of moral rectitude, and this self-destructive political move should result in the ultimate demise of his political ambition.

If we are unbiased, we should by now see the true character of Barrow and his government. Here is a man who doesn’t have any of our Gambian values and for such a man to be voted in for a second term would be a gross violation of our fundamental beliefs and principles as a sovereign nation. Adama Barrow should be seen as public enemy number one who, by all standards, cannot heal the nation in the face of his inordinate aspiration for a reelection.

It is about time we chose our interest and the interest of our country. Voting for this man is neither in our interest nor in the interest of our democracy. We ought to love our country enough to oust this man in the upcoming presidential elections. We cannot continue to have our destinies in the hands of mediocre leaders who are only interested in enriching themselves on the back of poor Gambians.

In barely two months we are going to hold the most decisive election in the political history of the Gambia. Our destiny as well as the destiny of the future generation lie in our hands. How we desire to live depends on the choice we make in the upcoming presidential elections. This election is going to be a determiner of the future of the Gambia and that is why it is very critical and needs careful decision making.

Let us not put the interest of an individual before the country. We have dwelled in regression for so many years now, and it is our ardent desire to start progressing like other countries are doing. If a small country like the Gambia, blessed with sufficient natural resources, is unable to ensure rapid development after fifty-six years of self-rule, then we need to interrogate where the problem lies. And in doing that we will come to realize that lack of good leadership is the only player in the regression of our country.

Good leadership is indispensable for the development of any nation. The development of the Gambia had been stagnant because the Gambia had never been lucky to have a leader who was willing to transform the country into a first world nation. And since we have dwelled in the burden of regression for quite a long time, we now want a new form of leadership; a leadership that will salvage us from the shackles of poverty and destitution that we have been grappling with.

It should be a civic duty on every Gambian who has any slightest love for the country to make sure that we kill and bury the National People’s Party. This party should only be seen as a threat to our peaceful coexistence, putting into account the party that it had recently established alliance with – a party that had traumatized Gambians for twenty-two years. We don’t want to see what Barrow is capable of doing if he happens to win the December 4 presidential election  God forbid!

I am calling on all patriotic citizens of the Gambia to come together and remove our country from the hands of these mediocre, self-centered leaders. We owe it to generations yet unborn to build them a Gambia where their pregnant women will not live in constant fear due to a possibility of death as a result of poor health care service; where they will not lose their youths to drugs and crimes; where they can live happy and dignified lives.

Building such a Gambia for unborn generations starts with the decision we make in the upcoming elections. Therefore, we equally owe it to ourselves to vote wisely, lest we incur the wrath of poverty for all eternity.

Ismaila Saidybah is an award-winning writer and novelist, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English language at the University of The Gambia. He’s the Founder and Country Coordinator of Writers Space Africa – Gambia Chapter.

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