Archive | November 2016

THE UNTOLD PLIGHT OF GAMBIAN CIVIL SERVANTS

By: FONINKA

Dictator Yahya Jammeh and his Gold Digger Wife Zinab Suma

Dictator Yahya Jammeh and his Gold Digger Wife Zinab Suma

I am a Gambian Civil Servant exercising my God given right to free speech expressing my disappointment and frustration at our plight as civil servants in The Gambia. Ironically, I exercise this right under disguise not out of cowardice but out of common sense considering the fact that in my little Gambia, Human Rights is only an illusion and proving macho in a land governed by the sword would be gross stupidity – which I know I am not.

I vividly remember the morning of 22nd July 1994. I had just received my not too good Grade 8 end of Year examination results from my village school and was dreading the wrath of my Dad when news of a coup started circulating around the school compound. Like many a Gambian, I was enthused and excited over a change of Government. During the ensuing days, weeks and months, I became an avid fan of the radio as I listened to the voices of the revolutionaries as they pelted out words I hardly knew the meaning of. The promises were plenty, and the visions too alluring. For me the whirlwind of positive change had come with the promise of “The Sky is the limit”.

The transition came to past and our hope became a “civilian” and Gambia once more became a secular Democratic country. I grew up with watching GTV/GRTS celebrating Gambia’s achievements not realizing that I was gradually brainwashed through propaganda. Next it was university and work in the Civil Service. Meanwhile the dream of Gambia becoming a Silicon Valley remained bright as I continued to listen to the perceived saviour giving us hope.

Allow me a little digression to mention a little into the things he said then:-

We will never introduce dictatorship- No leader should have their face on the Gambian currency- The world is three days – Yesterday, Today and tomorrow- Gambians will never go out to hustle- Etc. etc. etc.…… The promises are in-exhaustive. I joined the Gambia Civil Service ready to work hard to help realize the Vision 2020. But as time went by, I realized I was only a part of machinery built and being used by President Jammeh to establish himself as lord over all. The salary of the Gambian civil servant is one of the worst in the world with middle grade position holders earning less than D5000 ($100). Gambians are living from hand to mouth, working on a daily basis to feed the family. They are forced to engage in corrupt practices in order to get something to take home. Some are deep in debt from banks and shopkeepers and some take overdrafts from their banks every other month.

Besides the very meagre pay, our God given brains and potential as human beings remain unexploited as our work is being micromanaged from State House with “Directives from Office of The President” dictating you on how to go about everything even if you know it’s not what is best or is wrong. We are forced to shove our ideas down the drain as we receive instructions for everything we do. Our opinion is never sought and even where we justifiably question certain policies, we are fired if we are lucky or worse arrested and put on trial on some trumped up charges. In effect, we are only a tool meant to operate as he devises but not as humans with brains capable of discerning good from bad.

Furthermore, our dignity as humans is trampled upon as we are coerced into slavery on farms. Civil Servants are year in year out dragged to Kanilai and other farms around the country to labour for free for President Jammeh. Only God knows where the proceeds of these farms go. We endure this slavery quietly in this 21st Century yet many do not seem to realize it. Most Gambian Civil servants do not have a property of their own and with the current pay grade, are unlikely to own one. One works an entire lifetime and won’t be able to earn enough to purchase a piece of land talk less build a house. The cost of rent is so high that more than 50% of your salary goes into it. Your account is just a salary account as you don’t earn enough to be able to save for retirement. Little surprise why people don’t want to go on retirement, but instead beg to be taken on contracts even after 40 years of service, the pension is just laughable.

Gambian Civil Servants have become beggars. It’s now common place for people to walk from office begging for money to buy food to eat or for fares to go home. Our pride and dignity is washed down the drain as we are compelled to beg for rides (lifts) to get to and from work. We troop around vehicle owners in our neighbourhood to be taken to work because we cannot afford the daily fares. It has been several years since there was any salary increment and despite our sacrifice and suffering, we have been told in a most impolite manner, that if we are dissatisfied with the pay, we should quit.

A lot of the Gambia youths who have ventured through the back way are Government employees who have lost hope for a better future and filled with the desire to achieve great things, risk death in the ocean in the hope of better lives in Europe. These are the cream of society who know deep down that they are made to achieve great things and won’t stay holed up in talent and potential suffocating Gambia. Why do you think despite the individual talents as a country we suck at almost everything: sports, music, dance, art etc? It is because we are not allowed to grow, our lives are remote controlled. It is a case of towing the Jammeh line or perish.

Our generation is the most unfortunate of Gambians. We grew up with our sights to sky as the limit, but matured with nothing to hope for. We have become either frustrates or pawns to be used, abused and refused at whim. We were nothing of the past nor are we of worth in the present and surely we are late for the future, we are the walk over generation of The Gambia.

However, all hope is not lost as we are once more presented the opportunity to correct a wrong to save our children from the decadence we are in. You have your vote, let it speak for you. You have the chance to make your voice heard, vent your frustration and anger by voting for change. Stop being naïve by thinking all is well while you suffer silently. The Gambia is sinking and it is your duty to save it. You matter, your vote is your voice let it speak for you. Do you want to realize your full potential and God given talent? Do you want to be happy at work? Do you want to be able to speak your mind without looking behind your shoulder? Do you want to do your work with a clear conscience? Do you want to look back at your life and feel proud that you have made Gambia great and not an individual? Do you want fair pay and appreciation for your work? Do you want a truly developed Gambia for your children? Then vote for change. Wake up and stop being fooled.

I conclude with a quote from Abraham Lincoln “You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.”

BY: FONINKA

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“We Have to Kill The Fear, The Day We Kill Fear Jammeh is Out The Following, says Mr Malick Kah”

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Mr Ansumana Ceesay and Gibril Saine

A fund raising meeting geared towards opposition coalition campaign in the upcoming December 1st presidential election in the Gambia was conveyed yesterday in London. The meeting was also aimed to put together a diaspora strategy and campaign in a sustained effort to get rid of Yahya Jammeh regime and all its elements in the Gambia.

In attendance were a cross section of diaspora Gambians from all across London. These are seasoned political commentators, economic analysts, and observers of Gambian society over several decades and months. The meeting was witnessed by participants of both sexes, young and old.

The meeting was opened with a prayer and after which the chair of the meeting, Mr Malick Kah began to thank all the participants for taking their time and effort in attending this worthwhile event despite the cold weather in London. Mr Kah went also thank Mr Abdoulie Jobe for a great job he had done in organising the venue of the meeting.
Meanwhile, Mr Kah used the occasion to stress the role of the leaders leading the opposition coalition.

According to Mr Kah, “‘The Dream Team’ from Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, O.J, Halifa Sallah, Dr Isatou Touray, Hamat Bah, the flag bearer himself- Honourable Adama Barrow, amongst others gives us confidence and hope. These are men and women of ethics and standards, of good judgement and experience in how democracy work and how to run a country.”

He also addressed the cynicism that exists among some about whether an election can change the Jammeh regime. “We have to kill the fear, the day we kill fear Jammeh is out the next day. What we have seen at rallies on the campaign trail gives us hope and confidence. The thousands of people turning up to hear Mr Adama Barrow and the alliance speeches is evidence that victory is in sight. However, the people must come out and vote. Everyone here must urge their families and friends to come out and vote on December 1st, Mr Kah Stressed. Mr Kah used the occasion to urge everyone to contribute towards Gambia Democacy Fund (GDF) or any fundraising event geared for the coalition. The funds gathered are what is running the coalition campaign and to provide logistics such as campaign posters, vehicle hires, mobile phones etc.

Meanwhile, Mr Abdoulie stressed the importance of such meetings, “it is important that we hold these meetings from time to time and try to unite. Unity is very important in any process you are involved in, especially given our situation in the Gambia.

According to Mr Jobe, “the pain on our people back home is high and for us in the diaspora we are suffering too. Our families look to us, they depend on us for their survival too. The real fight begins on the day after the election as Yaya Jammeh may not leave on December 2nd, however, we must be organised and plan ahead. He has managed to divide us and used that weakness against us. Not anymore and this is why we must unite and prepare for the real fight ahead the day after election, Mr Jobe advised.

In his turn, Mr Saikou Saidily known as ‘Honest Gambians’ on social media, buttressed the points made by the previous speakers and warned that “There is lots of euphoria around the coalition, however, we should be mentally prepared to battle with Jammeh if he refused to leave office come December 2nd. It’s not easy fighting a rich dictator, we know he might hijack the election, but another 5 years of Jammeh will be catastrophic for Gambians.” Honest Gambians stressed the need for a national umbrella group here in UK uniting the various groups into one. A solid group advocating action, not a reactionary.

In her turn, Mai Kanyi spoke on the importance of women’s participation in this struggle, “It is true that any event or organisation without the participation of women cannot and will not succeed. I know there are women out there who are shy, or perhaps wanting to visit Gambia and that has stopped them taking part. However, we should all care about the human rights, and to see Gambia move forward and as a result, we should all put our selfish interest and come out and participate in the struggle against Jammeh.”

Mr Omar Kolley also spoke on the importance of unity and to unite behind the coalition and the parliamentary elections. He said, “Yes, Jammeh has all the state machinery at his disposal – the army, police, secret agents etc. He also has the central bank at his disposal, and this is why is so important we support the coalition through GDF or any sister organisation.”

“Parliamentary elections are coming up, these are very important too for the kind of people we want in our parliament. We must not be silent or inactive. Listening to statements by Mr Barrow, Halifa, Mai Fatty and others shows clear a contrast to Jammeh. Change comes from the people, so people must turn up and vote come December 1st. The coalition is meant for everyone, every tribe, and every citizen. There is an equal stake, because the Gambia belongs to us all, Mr Kolley stressed.”

In his brief speech, Mr Ansumana Ceesay the editor of Gambia Voices, have spoken about people having the belief that when they do what is expected of them, which is to cast their votes for Adama Barrow Allah will take care of the rest. He further mentioned that it’s futile for people to participate in a process you don’t believe it will yield any result for you and as as result, Mr Ceesay urge people to have faith in the process and be ready to take over the government from Yahya Jammeh.

Also in attendance was Mr Bakebba Camara of CDC, who also spoke on the importance of unity, “With the challenges facing our country, it will be hard to succeed if we fail to unite. Victory is in sight, although history has shown many times the outcome of leaders who lost the election and refuse to leave office. We are confident of victory, but elections are expensive and it is hard work, and all must contribute. Mr Camara also sent a message to the security forces, “Security forces, you suffer more than most. The army you are suffering and same with the police so be civil with your fellow citizens. They are your brothers and sisters. Don’t kill yourself for the dictator, he is on his way out. Be wise Mr Camara warned.”

The GDF representative at the meeting, Lieutinant Kejaw Touray spoke about the formation of the GDF and the vital works the organisation is doing to effect the necessary change in Gambia. He said, at some point the various political parties were in needs of funds to operate, but they were not forthcoming, so this necessitates the formation of the GDF. “Our aim in setting up GDF was to set-up a mechanism to help provide logistics and funding for that effect. I urge and encourage people to visit the GDF go-fund-me page @ https://gofundme.com/2016-gambia-coalition and donate.

Meanwhile, Mr Siaka Jatta commented on the importance of people active participation in the election process, not least to take note of the number of registered voters and polling stations your area. This will help counter any irregularities and vote manipulation by anyone, including the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Mr Jatta also warned people not to be complacent and become inactive, he said people should be proactive and take the initiatives to help the coalition win the election and liberate the Gambia. This information can be obtained from the IEC’s website @ http://www.iec.gm.

Similar remarks were echoed by other speakers who urge unity and communication amongst the diaspora. They urge people to believe that the coalition is on course to win, but only if electorates to vote for Adama Barrow. Mr Gibril Saine one of the organisers, gave a vote of thanks and urge people to participate in getting rid of Dictatorship in the Gambia. Mr Saine also announced and urge people to come in their large numbers in London on December 5th to celebrate the impending opposition victory.

Report by: Mr Ansumana Ceesay and Gibril Saine

Gambia at Crossroads With Once in a Life Time Opportunity to Vote Out Dictator Yahya Jammeh In December 1st Presidential Polls

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Opposition Coalition Standard Bearer Adama Barrow

For the last 22 years Gambia has never had a better time and opportunity to challenge Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorship and tyranny on the people of the Gambia than now. One can safely argue that Yahya Jammeh has never felt vulnerable in the past four presidential elections than he did at the moment. Not least the enthusiasm and genuine interest from all the opposition party members and their leaders to bring an end to 22 years of Jammeh’s hell on earth. As well as the disappointing campaign Jammeh is so far embarking on.

It’s evidence that Jammeh has no strategy to combat the efforts of the opposition as the coalition was the least he expected to happen. Now that the oppositions are united and everyone in the country can see and feel the ambiance behind the opposition coalition, Jammeh is forced to embark on the campaign trail, which he openly refused to do in the past two presidential elections. The tone of Yahya Jammeh’s campaign says to everyone who once heard him speak to Gambians that he is seriously worried about losing this election. Jammeh knows the oppositions had never created or campaign for violence, but the fact Jammeh is going on the campaign to ask his supporters not to be violent is also an indication that the man has lost it.

My fellow Gambians, this is once in a lifetime opportunity for us all to come together just as the oppositions did and end the sufferings of ourselves once and for all. We should not fall trap of Jammeh’s desperation to hold on to power by any means, as he has begun firing and hiring his auxiliary lieutenants such as Governors, Chiefs and Alkalolos. This is one of Jammeh’s strategies to appease and intimidate the local populace at the same time. We should all reject him and see the future of our country as the most important than the future of one selfish, divisive and shameless individual like Jammeh.

All these past elections, Jammeh’s message was, either you vote for me or not, I will still win until Allah decides otherwise, and that has played to his advantage to some degree. Another mean Jammeh use is religion to manipulate and play with people’s faith, not least why he declared the Gambia as an Islamic State. However, these are no longer the case as he has realised that Gambians can no more be fooled by such nonsenses. So people should understand that power resides with them and when casting your vote, it’s only you who can decide who becomes the next president of the country.

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Frail looking Dictator Yahya Jammeh

One thing we should all keep in mind is, Jammeh is the incumbent and in African politics we all know what that means, they have all the resources at their disposal to take advantage of. We should never be complacent and take the crowd as the final results. Each and everyone of us has a duty and a role to play to sensitise and inform the electorates to come out in their large numbers on election day and vote out Jammeh and his gang. Complacency is one of the easiest ways to lose an election, you only have to take the Briexit or Donald Trump’s election as a typical examples of such. To avoid that, we should be relentless in our efforts to continually support and vote for Adama Barrow come December 1st.

It’s a good time to believe, but it’s not a good time to relent!

Gambia: Dr Isatou Touray’s Campaign Press Release on the Suspension of her Campaign and Dedorsement of Opposition Coalition Standard Bearer Adama Barrow

Press release from Dr Isatou Touray’s campaign on the suspension of her campaign and endorsement of the opposition standard bearer, Adama Barrow as the unified candidate of the December 1st presidential candidate.

Below is the full statement:

“Dialogue for peace and moving forward with coalition 2016 for Gambia Press Release Fellow Gambians it is with a deep sense of patriotism and humility that I wish to hereby recognise Mr Adama Barrow as the coalition flag bearer. I also hereby unreservedly endorses his candidature and to congratulate him and the entire opposition, leaders and delegates for an unprecedented achievement in our nation’s history.

In a demonstration of my leadership and in vindication of my desire to present myself as a unifying candidate for the opposition, I hereby acknowledge that the emergence of a single candidate under the banner of a unified opposition coalition is dream come true. Fellow Gambians, I must acknowledge the efforts done by Team Isatou in the Diaspora and Gambia and all those individuals who have formed a formidable force to bring the opposition together after 22 years of efforts to remove the Jammeh regime.

Today, I celebrate all those who stood by me to effect the change we desire for the Gambia. I see nothing but the Gambia, a Gambia that will thrive on the principles of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedom. A Gambia, with good and strong institutions, that will work and thrive on policies and principles of good governance that will benefit all of us.

In this vein, I wish to hereby suspend my presidential election campaign and withdraw my candidature, so as to offer my unflinching support and cooperation to the coalition in a bid to stir the affairs of this country towards salvation from tyranny. I wish to, therefore thank all Gambians and non-Gambians, at home and abroad who have reposed their confidence and trust in me through various ways including financial and material donations, contributions of ideas and suggestions, community mobilization and routine campaign organization.

Indeed, I have been humbled and inspired by your support. I wish to urge all my supporters and indeed all Gambians to rally behind the candidature of Mr. Adama Barrow and the opposition to vote for the change we desire on December 1st. I equally urge all opposition parties, leaders and supporters, to put any party affiliations aside for sometimes and focus on unity of purpose and direction to remove this dictator with an overwhelming victory for the Coalition candidate come December 1st. I call on all of us to firmly stand behind this unity candidate under this coalition and seek the transformation of our country with a deep sense of urgency and love for the country.

My desire to step up and enter the political arena has never been for selfish interests, or material gain, but driven by a strong sense of patriotism and historic duty as a mother, a woman, a worker, human rights activist and above all a citizen who has witnessed the untold misery and deprivation that our people have been subjected to over the past 22 years.

I wish to thank the Almighty Allah for giving me the life, courage and means to have taken the mantle of service for my people this far. I wish to pray to God to continue to guide and protect the Gambia and particularly to guide us all through this most difficult task of rescuing the country from uncertainty and hardships. I wish Adama Barrow and my fellow coalition opposition leaders the best in this most important election of our lifetime, so that we can emerge victorious and restore democracy. I wish Gambians and the Gambia, our dear motherland peace and stability, by the Grace of Almighty God. God Bless The Gambia. In the Service of The Gambia I remain, Yours Sincerely, Dr. Isatou Touray November 4, 2016.”