By Essa Njie
After months of marathon questioning by the Janneh Commission, interesting times seem to be looming with interesting revelations. The revelations tell us that, Jammeh did not only preside over a brutal regime known for grave human rights violations, but also a kleptocratic regime known for draining-off Gambia’s skimpy wealth just as Mobutu Sese Seko did in natural rich Congo, earning himself the title of a ‘Kleptocrat’ (literally meaning thief). ‘Mobutu Valeur’ (Mobutu the thief) became a slogan during the protest against his rule before military coup will consume him in 1997.
When Mobutu left power, billions of dollars were discovered in his bank accounts in Switzerland and other places. His erstwhile general, General Eluki was reportedly caught with 17 suit cases of money while trying to leave Congo and a further raid in his house discovered millions of dollars as well. A nation rich in both mineral and natural resources worth 34.3 trillion dollars as PLO Lumumba emphasise, Congo is today one of the poorest countries in the globe.
The Gambia might not be blessed with that profuse resources, but the kleptocratic system in Congo under Mobutu was not much different from that of Jammeh in The Gambia. It is beyond human imagination that some Gambians can aid Jammeh in looting the little resources that belong to the poor Gambian tax payer.
Over 50 years of national ‘independence’, our women and children are dying in hospitals because basic equipment and drugs are not available. Over 50 years of ‘independence’ the Gambian child cannot sit in a comfortable classroom with a highly qualified teacher to give him/her the right knowledge.
Over 50 years of ‘independence’ the average Gambian lives on less than $1.25 a day-poverty entrenched in our society. Over 50 years of national ‘independence’, Gambians do not know what a railway is-instead, poor infrastructure and highly dilapidated road system. Over 50 years of national ‘independence’, the Gambia cannot create and rely on its own sovereign national wealth to uplift the standard of living of her people. Over 50 years of independence, poverty, corruption, disease, ignorance and general underdeveloped characterised the Gambian society just as the whole African continent. Do we take excuse that we are not blessed with resources? Indeed, we are blessed with resources. We may not be like Congo, but we can be like other countries that are doing well.
Our mate Singapore was not very different from us considering our colonial experience, with little resources, gain independence the same year with virtually the same population at the time etc. Why then would Gambia point at Singapore? This is partly due to corrupt and inefficient governments Gambians have created in the past 52 years, especially in the last 22. Let us be clear here, Jammeh presided over a kleptocratic regime, but he was not alone in it. People helped him to do whatever he wanted to do.
They wine and dine with him in stealing from the average poor Gambian who has been paying tax for over 50 years. Our society is a sad one because here is where we do not only condone corruption but equally celebrate it and corrupt people as well. It is clear that Jammeh was celebrated and praised by his henchmen for stealing from Gambians, calling him a ‘generous and kind-hearted man’. Many have appeared before the commission and we expect many more to.
In this regard, no one should be spared. Sparing anybody will constitute the greatest injustice to Gambians. Whether you joined the struggle lately against Jammeh or not, whether you supported or opposed him. Whether you are in fact a member of the commission or not; whatever position you occupy, investigation should not spare anybody once you are mentioned or might have likely been involved in stealing from us. The ‘maslaha’ syndrome should die.
Yours in the service of the nation.