By Sarjo Bayang
Cost of burden in keeping Yaya Jammeh as president for 20 years
Critical assessment of damage incurred by Yaya Jammeh since 1994 reveals true life loss in thousands. This evidence is clear to see without complicated mathematics required. Gambia has a population pegged at 2 million. Everyone lost 20 years of life time in waste moments. By proper accounting of real time values, the figure is even higher. Take 2 million as the compromised basis of counting. Total loss of time incurred means everyone having equal share of potentially productive time lost while one person makes use of everyone’s time, money, and material resources to build his personal wealth. That person Yaya Jammeh allocated himself what belongs to everyone. Multiply 2 million (Gambia’s population) by 20 years and what you have is a staggering 20,000,000 years. That is how deep Yaya Jammeh has buried generations of Gambians in his 20 years mishandling of national possessions. His killings transcend physical life. On the death list includes truth, decency, family life, honesty, intellect, productivity, social capital, finance, economy, systematic administration, good governance, freedom, happiness. Skills, professionalism.
Time deaths and life loss accounted for
If you worry about amount of people that Yaya Jammeh killed in his 20 years of misrule, there is more shocking information adding to that. Going by head count of those killed by wilful act or through negligence it is phenomenal.
Life loss refers to real human deaths in the period under scrutiny. That includes enforced disappearance without trace, extra judicial killings, accidental death through reckless driving by the presidential motorcades, and torture-to-death carried under command of Yaya Jammeh as in what is called executive orders.
Time death is the overall loss to whole Gambian population in terms of potentially useful social time shared proportionately. While one person is stopping everyone from embarking on productive efforts this has bearing on potential gains in terms of collective optimal output. That means every passing moment is cost to whole society.
Jammeh’s iron fist control over people and resources is costing each person so much. Adding that up the picture becomes clearer. In that regard one minute amounts to 2 million minutes. That translates into 33,333 hours taking full account of Gambia’s population pegged at 2 million. When you divide this further it turns as 1,388 days. Therefore every minute wasted by Jammeh stopping people from productivity is time death of 1,388 days in proportion to Gambia’s current population. Any increase in population will correspondingly trigger the reading upwards.
People killed wilfully are withdrawn from productive life cycle. Theirs is loss of both life and time death. Such is the situation Gambia is faced with in the course of 20 years dictatorship by whims and caprices of Yaya Jamus Jammeh. You can carry out rest of the calculations to get the bigger picture.
National priorities are placed on the lowest scale. Everything is done to satisfy Yaya Jammeh’s personal desires. There is no serious planning as people in responsible public position play the tune that pleases their master.
So long the master feels good, nothing else matters. It is hard for people in certain organised settings to imagine that entire government and public resources can be abused by one man for so long.
Gambians are not only running out of time, money and material. Lost opportunity is even greater. Decision making is not shared responsibility. What satisfies personal desire of Yaya Jammeh as someone in high post of president does not translate to real needs.
In seeking to please Jammeh because he is president and commander of everything other custodians of national resources with responsibility for hard decisions end up choosing alternatives on the lowest priority ranking by which process resulting to very high opportunity cost. That leads to a situation of colossal loss in potential gains.
When Yaya Jammeh seized power to take control of public resources, his net worth was below a Dollar. He was poor in the real sense of spiritual, money, and material poverty.
Loading on the Gambian economy and financial resources the magnitude of poverty experienced by Jammeh could not go without pains. To lift him from the lower depths of poverty using government platform remains the biggest resource risk. Rising from his level poverty induced destitution to become richest on that part of this planet is what keeps Gambia sinking deeper. Jammeh getting richer, Gambian people and nation getting poorer is enough hardship to serve as warning. There are good and decent people in very low income brackets like Jammeh was before seizing power by force. They will respect decency and not take the like that Yaya chose doing.
Placing in the hands of one person what belongs to everyone is very high resource risk. This becomes more serious when someone like Yaya Jammeh who equates being president to mean getting rich. He does not respect boundaries. National resources are grossly exploited to build his personal wealth. Yet he will stand before the whole population to condemn corruption and promise setting up anti-corruption commissions of enquiry to curb this human vice.
Although there are some competent persons in government who know the truth, they fear to scrutinize, challenge, or even mention about this serious menace. Here is another good example of how public resources are going down drain for no collective benefit. People are hire to oversee ghost positions.
If Yaya was reasonable and just enough, he would have permitted reason to prevail and draw thick line of demarcation between his personal and public resources. With his notion that everything for government and people of Gambia belongs to him public resources are put at highest risk. Jammeh as chief custodian and key decision maker is himself real resource risk. Cost and maintenance of Yaya Jammeh in power for 20 years puts this resource risk even higher.
One serious danger that Gambian people ought to have recognised from Day 1 is the fact that Jammeh had and still has nothing on the table as bargaining strength in power negotiations. He came to power with no particular set of skills and expertise to warrant being handed full national authority as president. That was, and still remains crucial piece of evidence, resource risk and worse collateral damage suffered by Gambians.
Anybody to serve as president is normal. The problem is when that person refuses to observe regulations while also too hungry for power and public resources including an insatiable desire to get rich by all means is totally out of place.
Yaya Jammeh is not qualified to keep the position of Gambian leader not only by demerits of his other defects but the fact that he had nothing to bargain. He had all the doors opened to form a political party as decent entrance point. He chose the most barbaric method of usurping power and still refuses to take stock all these long painful years feeding on Gambians by force of gun power.
Social capital loss
Apart from rampant hiring and firing of people in public office a good stock Gambia’s social capital is lost to 20 yeas maltreatment thanks to heavy hands of Yaya Jammeh. This generation is robbed off vital human capital by a scale never in history of a nation needing so much social capital.
Public office holders have been molested and experienced the most degrading treatment by whims and caprices of a single person. Unless Gambians get rid of Yaya Jammeh from meddling with public office the loss of social capital and other vital resources will continue rising while output declines to counterproductive proportion.
As result of harmful encounters that some public office holders suffered, many died prematurely. Others have fallen ill and not likely to recover. Bread winners are made hopeless beggars adding to their despair. Youths have resorted to taking risky ventures of travel abroad by open boats in the wild ocean and some ending their lives before reaching desired destinations consumed by deep sea blue waters. Number counts are not known. Now even female youth have joined the risky voyage by dangerous sea waters at very high perilous consequences.
Lot of deaths in Gambia are not related to human life only but beyond. People get killed. Systems and due process of things also die down through negligence or by dictates of force. Time is killed too in counterproductive ways.
Apart from loss of life by direct harmful encounters with Yaya Jammeh and his military they bear direct responsibility for tearing the country down in vast ways. It is a case of total loss with casualties including time, life, personal freedom, truth, decency, property, social capital, peace, public resources, governance, to name only few. Translated in realistic terms, every person has a share in the amount of wilful damage incurred by Yaya Jammeh. He is eating up time as self-perpetuating scheme of entrenchment. After failing woefully on deceiving Gambians about development into world class superpower by this year 2014, he is now advancing another plot of deception pegging 2024 as time line. When will Gambians recognise truth from lies?
Even if he was given half of the world’s resources, the mind set of selfishness and greed sitting inside Yaya Jammeh will not permit him distribute one bit of that for best shared good of every person in Gambia. Stakes are too high to permit one person continue exploiting the good nature of Gambians. It has to stop. Gambians have to stop Yaya Jammeh before he stops the nation and people living the good everyone deserves.
In passing, shall we add that lot of things and whole system died under the cruel grips of Yaya Jammeh’s lethal hands and inhuman mind? Now one more thing needs to die so that Gambia returns to normal life. Gambians have to kill fear and that is enough to bring other dead matters alive. Leaving fear alive, more people and good life will continue to die by worry and harmful encounters. Before another venture into the fantasised Vision 2020 now rebranded Vision 2024 let Gambians take the country back. Kill fear and keep Yaya Jammeh alive for him to give account what happened in his 20 years forced rule.
Mr Bayang hit the nail on the head.
Nakeba, this is a new dimension, brilliant Sarjo
Another Halifa Sallah speaking on top of people’s heads. God knows what is meant by 20,000 lives lost in time value.
Thanks Sarjo for this. Years of life lost (YLL) usually referred to as potential years of life lost in the field of healthcare research/analysis is used to measure premature mortality (or death in layman’s terms). For example if we want to use Gambia’s life expectancy of 58.61 years (2012) as the reference age for calculation of YLL for an individual who prematurely died at the age of 30, then YLL for that person is simply 58.61 – 30 = 28.61.
Your estimation based on a simple model you used for the analysis could be a gross under estimation of YLL as a result of the political system in the Gambia. I can however understand why you chose to use the approach.
In such scenarios (where there is serious primary data scarcity), to guide one’s analysis you come up with a hypothesis and develop a model to test the hypothesis. As there is no primary data you then use the little information you have together with some assumptions to populate the model and come up with the results as you may have done. Your choice of a simple model is the best for the media you have used… for all readers regardless of their background to read and understand the message.
It is not an academic debate or debate between professors in an African context where people believe in pomposity, which is sad. A prominent Canadian professor that I worked with (now retired) told me that there are credible research evidences that pomposity or being of too many words is inversely related to effectiveness. He said if he sees someone who talks too much he usually have doubts about the effectiveness of the individual and throughout his career he has always been right about those people.
Well done Sarjo.
Morro, this is a wonderful contribution to Sarjo’s article. You are a scholar of excellence who will never compromise his professionalism and intellectual independence. I have read some of your journal articles. Keep it up. You have proved that you can triumph in any part of the world. Great!