Saturday, March 25

58 YEARS OF Independence The Gambia is not a Serious State

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By: Bakary Ceesay

 After 58th years of independence, The Gambia is not a serious state. The folks at the helm are just winging it – etching and sketching their way to oblivion.

After 55 years how come the Government cannot perfect the delivery of water and electricity supply in each and every home and community in The Gambia? 24/7 uninterrupted. The Government of Singapore did it. For 55 years how come the Government cannot pave all of our streets? In every village and town. The Government of Singapore did.

For 58 years of independence how come The Gambia Government cannot provide excellent healthcare and quality education for all – in decent, well equipped public hospitals and public schools? The Government of Singapore did it.

So what is wrong with The Gambia Government?? They have well educated technocrats like the public officials in the Government of Singapore or the Government of UK or that of Germany, etc.

Every year the Government budget increases but we don’t get more and better services in return. Why? Our public enterprises generate billions of dalasi annually. Where is the money? Gambia Revenue Authority generates billions of dalasi every year. Where is the money? All that we see and feel is higher taxes, higher cost of living and poorer public services.

Anytime Government officials want to travel they would do so. Anytime they want to buy vehicles they would do so. Anytime they want to host a ceremony in an expensive hotel they would do so. Anything they want to buy they can buy. But when it is to buy drugs for our hospitals or learning materials for our schools or build roads they say there is no money. But they have money to buy big fat expensive vehicles with tinted glasses and fully air conditioned!

Truly is this The Gambia you deserve? Are you satisfied with the life you live? In this Gambia? Open your eyes! Every year we are told our economy is growing by this percent yet every year our poverty increases. Who is lying to us? Who is stealing our money? Who is failing to do his or her job?

Are we donkeys to just sit here to live a life of abuse and deprivation and lies heaped on us by a few elected and appointed public officials? For how long shall we accept such insult? Are they better than us? Are they more Gambian than us?

Gambians have enough!

It is high time Gambians reject the lies and the path and the work of The Gambia Government 100%. Gambians don’t deserve this Government because our   worth as a human being and as a sovereign citizen is above the conditions to which The Gambia Government has illegally and criminally subjected us to!

Gambia is oppressed, exploited, deprived, lied to, abused, cheated, and enslaved. This is the life in The Gambia as a Gambian! I detest it. Period.

Coalition 2016, led by President Adama Barrow bred hope in many of us but after three years of what is now evident to be a failed leadership; people have lost confidence in President Barrow and his government.

Too sad our nation is plagued with serious youth unemployment, lack of good healthcare, education and the cost of living is on the rise and security as we know it has gotten worst. In light of this, the Gambia cannot afford another five years of President Barrow’s style of leadership.

As a struggling nation, we need serious leadership that will tap into the huge talent pool within and outside of the country to bring about the needed development.

Given the wrong direction we are headed as a nation, we cannot afford to sit and hope for change to happen. Thus, there is an urgent need for all to join hand and rescue the country from President Adama Barrow and his group of economic opportunists to ensure that President Barrow is removed from office when Gambia for a mass revolution.

Barrow and his government have just recently spent millions of Dalasis touring the country to form his political party while our mothers and sisters are dying in our ill-equipped hospitals; our children sitting on bare floors in dilapidated class rooms, our families not being able to afford three meals a day due to the high cost of commodities, and many other reasons.

To ensure a zero chance of this continuous bad leadership, we must start now and work with serious political parties aiming to lift our nation out of abject poverty and mismanagement.

 Within this context, Gambia cannot be run by men who lack strong convictions and who, from the outset, don’t have the stature of charismatic leaders, men who have been driven, in the “statepartisan-clan-like” structurization of current political life, to make arcane decisions for the nation.

Mediocrity abound and the ever swelling number of impoverished masses are more worried about their next meal than the governance of the state.

Consequently, the country has all the hallmarks of a failed state: massive unemployment, underemployment, inflation, economic contraction (if this happens in the West, we would call it an economic depression, with all the attendants of urgency and seriousness.

But, since we are not a serious country, who cares what the hell we call it, it’s just semantics, right?). The loss of human capital due to lack of investment in human capital and human flight, a crumbling and decayed health and education system, and an inept and corrupt government.

The security of the state has been mortgaged to foreign forces. Put differently, we are at the mercy of the Senegalese colossus for our security. The state does not have control over its own security.

Thirdly, the aging population in some parts of the provinces coupled with the youth bulge in the Kombos is a ticking time bomb. In addition, if the state does not do something about the land crisis in the Kombos, it’s going to get really ugly and nasty.

The Gambia is slowly becoming an urban country, where a good many of the populace lives in the urban, peri- urban areas. Many people have been displaced from their ancestral lands in the Kombos, creating a huge housing and economic crisis.

Fourthly, what I have observed is that we are malignantly reliant on outside dough, from foreign aid, tourism (this includes semesters), and remittances. And, without remittances – the economy would catastrophically bottom out.

We cannot build an entire economy around remittances alone. Evermore evident in the latest developments along the Kombo coastline, overwhelmingly funded by semester dollars- and remittances conservatively accounting for 22% of our GDP.

The Semesters are a huge constituency and I reckon most of the youth would like to be part of this constituency, in order to escape the poverty trap.

JFK said that, the one true measure of a nation is its success in fulfilling the promise of a better life for each of its members. In the case of The Gambia, the state has failed in this capacity, as well- and this promise lies beyond the shores of the country, for a good many of the youth. As a result of this, traveling to “Europe” for our youth, either “Backway” or not, is not a choice, but a necessity.

They also want to afford the the new D1.5 million homes on the Atlantic. Because of Gambian fatalism, our “Bayee Ko C Loho Yallah” mentality, it seems like we, collectively, have lost the capacity to question the present, much less offer alternatives to it. Which begs the question: why is it so behind us to conceive of a different set of arrangements to our common advantage? The current arrangement, my comrades, has been disastrous.

‪Finally, for those of us who dabble in the world of theories, of academic exercise, of philosophies – we would be terribly disappointed, for, my friends, Gambia is where all of our great theories, galant literatures, and philosophies come to a seismic halt.

All evident, given that absent for a few skirmishes- the state, for all intents and purposes, has failed in all aspects, every single one – to wit, security, education, healthcare, housing. I mean, the state cannot meet the basic demands of the populace. The fact that the state hasn’t collapsed beggar’s belief, honestly.

To that end, is the Gambian state tenable? What does all of these foretold? I’m not sure but, I do know that, we need to charter a better path. We need a better polity. A better Mandela. A better Moses to lead us to the Promised Land, for this Moses, is myopically punching above his weight. And, perhaps, we need a better God of Gambian politics. To that, I say, we need a better Gambia.

Bakary Ceesay is a Germany based Gambian journalist former news editor of The Voice Newspaper and former Secretary General of Young Journalists Association of The Gambia. His writing focuses on politic, human rights and entertainment.