It is unrealistic, undocumented, and certainly unfeasible
Sarjo Bayang insists the president is deceiving Gambians
Gambian President Yaya is fast running out of tricks. He promised transforming a nation relying on peanuts as cash crop into world class economy of superpower ranking. This fantasised wild dream of making the impossible happen is referred to as Vision 2020. President Jammeh already exhausted full 20 year time mark that this dream was pegged on. Reality on the ground holds ample proof of total failure on account of what the president promised and how much hardship Gambian suffer due to bad policies and corruption at level of the presidency. Nobody including the president believes a word of this fantasised Vision 2020. People listen to the president as story teller with no head of tail. On the event of the Muslim feast 2014 Eid President Jammeh is beating the drum again about a vision that is unrealistic, undocumented, and certainly unfeasible. Gambians are being robbed off vital time and life. Hopes are shattered. Here are some reasons why it is impossible for Gambia to achieve any development under Yaya Jammeh:
Lack of economic infrastructure and development policy framework
Above all other factors, Gambia does not have the enabling economic infrastructure to support any plans of transforming such a poor low income nation in coastal Africa becoming world class superpower given the realities at hand.
Government of Gambia does not have properly formulated development policies but relies on donor money meant to facilitate growth. Lot of such funds are aimed at poverty reduction just to keep people alive. There is no commitment to critical demands of economic regeneration although government seeks to impress donors with bundles of paperwork suggesting otherwise.
No feasibility study
For most of what is known Gambia government does not bother about carrying out any feasibility study particularly about this Vision 2020 hanging in thin air. There are no project delivery milestones in clearly realistic achievable scheme of delivery.
In fact, Gambia does not have any government in reality. Everything is done by whims and caprices of President Yaya Jammeh who does not hide his meddling with all matters of public interest. He takes pride in being called dictator and quickly added his is dictator of development. What that translates to is the fact of Jammeh meddling with every aspect of public services and truly dictates without relying on any special expertise.
Banking on any feasibility study documentation would have been handy enough. In the case of Gambia, it is a matter of the president dictating where to pave roads, build schools, health posts, and construction of bridges, in exercise of his powers that may not be derived from the constitution. Such a situation is how the president insists on bringing development to Gambia without any studies conducted.
Let president Jammeh produce clear documentation of any feasibility studies carried on Vision 2020 and give account of how the goals are met. He does not have one at hand and perhaps needed doing so soonest.
Broken financial system
Cash flow situation of Gambia dropped to unhealthy proportion since July 1994 coup that catapulted junior army rankers from guarding to ruling. Yaya Jammeh and his armed cohorts seized political power for sole purpose controlling public resources and getting rich at all cost. They never declared how much was inherited from deposed regime and no accountability regarding government finances from July 1994.
For junior army ranker who could not afford basic meals at time of staging a coup in July 1994, president Jammeh now boasts of beating his chest as richer than Gambia government; one of the richest in Africa with huge savings and property portfolios around the world.
As president Jammeh gets richer, people and nation of Gambia degenerate to lowest level of abject poverty and economic hardship. More people in Gambia are going without regular meals amids untold measure of economic deprivation. President Jammeh controls petty businesses, medium, and large enterprise. He sells sand, fish, meat, vegetables, bread, and continues using the position of presidency as cash milking pot.
President takes public resources as his personal belonging
In the process of dominating vital aspects of commerce and trade, money laundering and counterfeit currency dealings, president Yaya Jammeh crippled the entire financial system. People in the banking sector know the truth. They only gossip about it but not kind enough to school the public about the persistent squeeze everyone suffers as result of stagnated cash flow bringing the financial system roll down without any hope of stop valves.
In fact stakeholders in Gambia’s financial system completely avoid addressing the issue at all. They only want to receive salaries and fringe benefits for cool life. Nobody wants to attract attention for good reasons.
With such state of decline in Gambia’s financial system, you don’t need expert capability to know that developing that economy to world class standard is biggest hoax from a president who is busy about nothing but getting richer as the clock ticks.
Investors and Gambian entrepreneurs have no confidence
Risk of capital is too high especially with that unstable political environment. At both global and national levels, investors are scared of putting their money where such risks are beyond mitigation.
The fact that Gambia government is not committed in keeping the economy and financial environment investor friendly is grave concern. Anyone who has been in business for long enough knows where to put their money for savings or by investment. That environment does not prevail in Gambia.
Everyone knows that it is the president who meddles with all sectors thereby leading to complete collapse. Nobody tells him the truth for fear that you get arrested. Those in business face greater risk of having their investment and properties confiscated. Good stocks of Gambia’s able entrepreneurs have relocated and others lowered their business activity because the president is a fearful competitor with unfair trading advantage. He solicits donations from other businesses to grow his personal wealth and does not pay tax.
Those are some of the reasons why investors prefer giving their back to Gambia. Government departments of Finance and Trade are not providing the required technical backing to keep the finance and economy in good health. Public sector employees are afraid to perform their duties independently.
If the president is frank and fair enough to let loose these hard strings holding the economy and financial systems rolling backwards, then a jump-start of the frozen economic engine is something to talk about. For now, the president holds all the strings toying with entire system and structure like puppet joy stick.
Idle finance and human capital
Gambia lost considerable human capital since military rule began over 20 years now. Cash flow is concentrating in very few hands. President Jammeh has largest bulk of raw cash sitting in his briefcase. He does not have the most rewarding investment to generate all that idle cash dished out to corrupt experts, religious leaders, army personnel, young girls, and influential people from elsewhere around the globe.
Some people do not need to work. All they want is enough food to eat. Others want cars and houses. What it takes getting all that for them is sing praise and crowd around president Jammeh. He gives them enough to keep that crowd. That is not productive and therefore far from making Vision 2020 happen.
Public sector employees are micromanaged to the extent that hard work does not pay. Those showing allegiance to President Yaya Jammeh enjoy the best treat by cash and kind. That is not how economic activity is facilitated in making a country world class superpower.
Taking account of so much idle cash and human capital by commands of president Jammeh, it is impossible to make that country superpower.
Public finance institutions open their doors to supply idle money by demands of president Jammeh. They supply him money to build houses in his village settlement of Kanilai for boosting pride of possession. Those houses don’t yield any commercial value in return. Surely nothing of it serves any benefit to Gambian public.
Under the eyes of president Jammeh, transforming his personal poverty to riches and building houses at his Kanilai settlement indicate big time achievement. Transformation of Kanilai from little known hamlet to sprouting concrete structures Jammeh calls development are not in the national interest. Using public funds to build personal property-empire is not how a country becomes superpower.
By insisting that Gambia becomes world class economy with superpower status, president Jammeh is deceiving Gambian people while he gets richer through exploiting public resources. One person getting richer while the population goes poor and hungry is no indicator of development into superpower economy. Jammeh must desist from promising Gambians of what he knows is impossible. Even if he stops taking public funds for his personal wealth building Gambia will never achieve the goal of superpower economy in another 20 years. It is painful mockery of good people that a president insists deceiving entire population for 20 years while the clock still ticks. This is so unfair and must stop. Vision 2020 is hoax. It is evident that Jammeh is stealing time while enriching himself at very high cost to life and resources of Gambians.
**Author Sarjo Bayang has first-hand expert knowledge of development in the Gambia on project management consultancy and specialist in entrepreneurship.