Please allow me space to respond to a story you ran in your 12th November issue captioned “Yankuba Colley described Ousainou Darboe and his UDP as a joke”. I believe that it is Yankuba himself who is a big joke and a fake. The so called Mayor’s assertion that President Jammeh’s July 22nd revolution is a more important date than 18th February independent day is the biggest insult to all Gambians wherever they are.
It is sad that the so-called Mayor Colley has embarked on trying to falsely misinform young Gambians in his comparison of July 22nd to 18th February. How can any right minded person ever compare the day our country attained its independence from Great Britain on 18th February, 1965 be compared with a cowardly military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of the day? All over the world countries celebrate with pride and great ceremony Independence Day and here we have some half-educated individuals denigrating this great day.
July 22nd is another day in the calendar of this Nation and we do not object to anybody celebrating it and building grand stories about it but to give it importance is not only counterproductive, glorifying an illegal act and institutionalizing it but it is wasteful of our meager resources which with the economic situation of this country we can ill afford.
July 22nd brought nothing to this country but neo slavery and economic hardship and every Gambian except a few sycophants like the so called Mayor, is suffering for it. The history of 22nd July is clear to all and sundry in and outside the Gambia for returning the yoke of slavery on the neck of all Gambians, opposition and ruling party supporters alike when we had got rid of it in February 1964. We are therefore going backwards.
If I said this all truthful citizens and non-citizens of the country will bear me witness that things synonymous to subjugation which the 18th February have put in the dust bin of history, is what the so-called July 22nd revolution has picked up from the dirty dust bin of history and returned it to the decent people of this country. For those who need to be reminded, those things are as follows:
Arresting people and sending them to prison without trail or any court order.
Putting chains and circles on the feet and hands of decent citizens of the country, some of them have served their country honorably.
Detention without trail exceeding the constitutionally recommended 72 hour guaranteed to all citizens of the country in the Constitution. I was among many other decent Gambians who have been victims of this illegal mistreatment.
With all this and other human rights violations and harassment taking place under this present regime, can any truthful and right thinking person call this an ideal situation for a country that struggled hard to remove the chains of colonialism just to have this desperate state fall on us? What we have in this country now was never experienced during the colonial era and we say we have our fellow Gambian as leader of this country. If what is happening here now took place under the British, we would have had the international community and the African leaders shouting and condemning it.
Yankuba Colley’s assertion that the July 22nd revolution brought television with nationwide coverage today is not only unfounded but also aimed at misinforming Gambians with the sole aim of getting cheap popularity for his already unpopular and discredited APRC regime. I urge Mr. Colley just to go on a tour of this country with an open mind and monitor the Gambia radio and the television services like I did during the recent tour of the Provinces of the UDP Youth Wing only a few weeks ago.
I can assure Mr. Colley with confidence that the vast majority of Gambians cannot listen to GRTS radio, not to talk of the television in this country. So, for Yankuba to bark about GRTS’s nationwide coverage is a mere propaganda.
In fact Yankuba needs to be enlightened about the history of the television, I can tell him that it was the PPP regime that had completed all arrangements for establishment of the television – training, equipment and all and had it not been for the coup d’état television would have been up and running before the end of the very year the disgraceful coup took place. Knowing the Jawara government as I did, the television would not have been used as a propaganda tool for president Jawara or his government and access to its use would never have been restricted as it is to the APRC and its members.
Yankuba said that before the advent of the 22nd July revolution the North Bank Region did not have a hospital. I think Colley wants to be in the good books of President Jammeh that is why he is doing this undocumented praise singing. He has to understand that under the last government, several Major Health centres were built in all the regions, in accordance with the Primary Health Care system proposed worldwide for health delivery by WHO and Gambia was a model in this regard, thus becoming the envy of all its neighbours. And again, there was, unlike what exists now, adequate and regular supply of drugs through the system created by the Jawara government, of Drug Revolving Fund. Of course I do not expect Colley to say this. Where was he then? I am sure he knows that the health system then was so well organized that patients from neighbouring countries swamped our health facilities. Why does Colley want to hide this truth? History cannot be erased. It has already happened and no amount of attempt to bury good deeds will make us not to remember it with great nostalgia.
Mayor Colley said that had it not been for the 22nd July revolution, Ousainou Darboe would not have had the chance to contest for election. What a baseless fabrication! First and foremost, unlike this regime, nobody has ever been barred from contesting election under the last government. The PPP government respected human rights, rule of law, freedom of expression and no attempt was made to alter the Constitution to suit certain individuals and disfavour others. There was peace of mind for the citizens and nobody was scared of being arrested or detained for nothing. Economic stability was maintained in this country. Colley knows that Ousainou Darboe had no interest in politics during the last government. Instead, he concentrated on representing people in court. To prove Mayor Colley’s ignorance of the political history of this country, which he is falsely claiming to know better than Ousainou Darboe, I want him to know that Mr. Darboe had been on everal times offered high posts in the PPP regime which he (Darboe) declined and chose to continue to stand for the poor and less privileged.
Yankuba’s claim that he knows history better than Darboe does not merit any serious comment from me or even the readers because even the person who was interviewing him at the time knows that with his half-baked education he is not conversant with any history. He is just making a laughing stock of himself in the eyes of the public. People will in fact be wondering how this primary six dropout claim to know written history better than a university post graduate, who have all his life been working in and with the most reputable institutions not only in the Gambia but in the world. That shows that Mr. Colley is only claiming to be holding an armchair masters in history or is it an Honorary Doctorate?
For his assertion that the 2016 election is a foregone conclusion is he confirming to the people of this country the dubious and unfair political process they have always embarked on since 1996. No doubt it is the same old game that they are intending to apply. To say that the UDP is not an alternative to the APRC and should give up is a mere propaganda gimmick and does not hold water. The APRC leaders, including Colley know that UDP as the largest opposition party is the party they are scared of and that is why they are always attacking the party and its leadership. Mr. Colley is talking about his political maturity, but he has not shown any maturity if he is comparing an unlawful act done by a few junior soldiers to a worldwide accepted event of attaining national sovereignty that has put the country in a new footing and which enabled us to do and go through all that has happened in this country. We all should be proud to celebrate and honour this event rather than brush it aside. Colley should know that his statement has exposed his total ignorance of what an independent state means.
Finally I would advise so call Mayor Colley to go back to school and learn the difference between a military coup d’état and a national Independence. We Gambians will always be grateful to our leaders who brought independence to us and which has made it possible to be members of the UN, AU, World Bank, ECOWAS and all other international and inter governmental organizations that we now take for granted. May Allah punish whoever wants to minimize the importance of our Independence Day.
Written by Ebrima (Solo) Sandeng
Secretary General Youth wing of the United Democratic Party.