By Sarjo Bayang (political analyst and commentator)
Apart from rampant corruption and gross abuse of his position as president there is further damage that Yaya Jammeh badly inflicted on Gambian society. Since coming to power by staging a coup, Jammeh has been shrewdly utilising public resources to destroy young persons in Gambia by calculated systematic process revealed through keen observation.
Majority of young persons who turned into victims may not have noticed in the longest time how it all started. Just in last couple of years, it now came up clear that the whole scheme to destroy future generation of Gambians is no default but cunningly by design. Here is the result of how much damage young generation Gambians already suffered as victim by a president and government meant to protect or provide for their best welfare.
What you are about to read is factual account of what has been promised to Gambian youth and how their hopes dashed away by a regime that fails to deliver after 20 years building castles in the air. While you may not fine everything expected this is more for unborn children of Gambia who will be wondering about what exactly happened during their absence by people of this generation.
How dangerous deception of young persons can be
Experience of growing up teaches anyone that young people look up to their immediate social environment to identify role models. What comes immediately visible to the eyes can be easily taken for granted especially when young people are not guided towards critical awareness.
When the military seized power by coup in July 1994 with intention to stay on after brief military transition to civilian rule they needed the youth population as ready electoral constituent. Election campaign of the junta was in the following words: “we don’t want old pa, we want a young president.” Such statements were calculated to make young people of the nation look down on the older generation as useless and fit for no good.
The selling point has been that it was the older generation politicians that failed to develop Gambia and then a new generation military group seized power to correct all wrongs and soon bringing development.
In traditional Gambian society respect for older members of family and society is highly maintained through generations. That bond of respect broke down with advent of military rule when coup leader Yaya Jammeh and his cohorts told younger members of society it was their turn to rule and deserving that chance.
At that time, anyone who was barely 10 years would have had no better understanding of governance and how public resources are managed by those in power. The scheme to deceive began since then and designed to extend further in coming years.
After 20 years, young people of 5 -10 years then now constitute most active population of 25-30 age brackets. Over all that period until now, Jammeh and his cohorts by deliberate scheme continue deceiving this vital population. It was over this period that school parties are organised for lavish enjoyment by the youth population. Scholarship is awarded to girls on the face of beauty. Active youth population became target for setting up 22 July Movement which later transformed into Green Boys and Green Girls trained in Libya to serve as secret killer operatives for opponents of President Yaya Jammeh real or perceived.
It has been instilled in this particular youth gang that anyone who questions about the legitimacy of 22 July coup they call their revolution is enemy of development and progress deserving to get killed. With that mentality secret killing of the president’s enemies as they call them began and still continues by operatives known as Green Boys, later “Junglers”; suggesting they operate in the Kanilai jungle where President Yaya Jammeh transformed his resident village as seat of power with fairly high facility infrastructure.
Ironically everything that the president does remains in his personal wealth creation interest. Gambian youth are useful so long as they form the growing crowd as extension of the July 22 Movement. In their collective or as individuals there is hardly any tangible evidence of support with value added reality that Gambian youth can boast about. There is National Youth Service Scheme, a semidetached military outfit where the country’s youths are recruited as way of curbing hopelessness. The rest is history.
Fallacy of a youth government
Disappointment became result of those who ever trusted or hoped that Jammeh and his military cohorts would commit action to word of mouth declaration that the junta government is for youth of the nation to benefit from.
Before military takeover of power government of Gambia under Sir Dawda Jawara already created a department of youth and sports under a designated state minister.
National Youth Service Scheme NYSS was subsequently established as platform to provide paramilitary and vocational skills training for young school leavers and dropouts. This was arranged by technical support from government of Nigeria where similar scheme was in operation even before the coup in Gambia. This author provided business training for the youth intakes as time outside of regular work on voluntary basis. Sessions delivered on basic small business management were meant to inculcate enterprise awareness especially for those who may wish to become full time entrepreneurs as career.
On similar line of pursuit this author voluntarily designed and helped established the National Youth for Food Security NYAFS, an idea later supported by United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation and Gambia government Ministry of Agriculture. The overall idea of business drive for conceiving a project like NYAFS was so that youth of the country would engage in diverse agro-business ventures to become bankable source of various food and agricultural produce on year round basis. If followed to the letter youth from one of the country will be trading their produce with counterparts elsewhere around the whole nation. How far NYAFS achieved those goals, only people at the Agriculture Department and those who enjoyed as project leaders could explain. The rest again is history.
Desperate youth risk dangerous deep sea waters to Europe at own peril
Contrary to what has been promised as government of and for Gambian youth, life remains increasing unfulfilling for this most active yet highly marginalised population. Enough water still runs under the bridge with no tangible evidence of impact that government of Gambia from July 1994 as military regime has anything in stock for youth of the nation.
As more youths realised there is nothing for their advancement, the risk of backway to Europe is seen less severe than staying in a country where young people and students get killed by a military government meant to protect and provide for their collective livelihoods.
With all the talk and celebrations by the junta regime of President Yaya Jammeh, that has not translated into good life for youths of the country who now prefer to risk their dear life in search of treasure abroad they are uncertain about.
No succession plan for future leadership
For a president who was sworn to serve temporal term of public office but later insists ruling extensive one billion years, there is certainly no succession plan in place for youth of today or next generation leaders.
What makes that so worrying is the fact that even the most competent person on this planet still has some limitations in doing everything all right at all times. It is very dangerous and serious for a sitting president to declare his intention of ruling until death parts him with the seat of political power.
Evidence at hand clearly proves that Yaya Jammeh does not even permit the current Vice President to assume the required role of Acting President while the president travels away or remains at home on leave of duty. Jammeh when he travels takes along bag and baggage, office and titles.
A sitting president who does not trust his immediate members of government to facilitate success planning is certainly not thinking about another generation.
In the absence of succession plans, it is too risky and very much impossible for Gambia under Yaya Jammeh the way everything stands. This state of affairs undermines all prospects of making Gambian youth competent custodians as future leaders.
Educational failure produced low thinking young persons
Anyone following social media exchange of views between people claiming to be supporters of Yaya Jammeh and rest of progressive Gambians would have realised how much damage is done to vital human capital through brainwashing by the junta regime.
Lack of understanding on their part about governance and how public resources are meant to be judiciously managed is serious concern needing quick fix. Out there among people claiming to be in support of Yaya Jammeh, the common thinking is that everyone is under obligation to believe that Gambia is truly turning into economic superpower nation of world class standard.
Based on their notion of what national development is Jammeh deserves total support from everyone even after so woefully squandering public resources and stealing money borrowed in the name of Gambian tax payers in generations.
They perceive anyone subjecting Jammeh and his cohorts to critical scrutiny as jealous or pure enemy of Gambia government. Very often social media communication is littered with highly inflammatory vulgar remarks by supposed supporters of Yaya Jammeh. They even forget or may need reminding that government position is not private outfit especially at higher level of presidency.
Being so easily irritated by simple mention of facts about government of Gambia not placed as personal property of a sitting president that makes supporters of Yaya Jammeh so furious they trade on insults reserved for the lowest of society.
Just because anyone refuses to surrender their rights as stakeholders of national development in letting one person or regime stay on beyond normal term limits, Jammeh supports can’t get their heads round that basic reality.
To blame their lack of understanding on low thinking and poor education does not require better proof than simply observing how they think of public affairs as personal matter.
Given that Yaya Jammeh prefers his blind supporters not to think good enough especially about his limited powers over public position and shared resources, then he made such an impact on them.
National rescue efforts become readily handy for salvation of Gambian youths who for 20 years remain under dark cover of deception in believing that the country and national resources belong to a sitting government.
Governments come and go. People of a nation carry on in successive generations. No president or government will be seen genuine unless those who keep them as custodian of public resources are made critically aware and given all rights to exercise such rights without reservation.
One truth that everyone needs taking home to their pillows before sleeping is that prior to using guns to dislodge an elected sitting government, Yaya Jammeh has not served Gambia people of Gambia in public responsible possible. Yes, he was in the military as job security to keep some change in his pocket. He was never entrusted with basic financial responsibility or as custodian of public resources. It remains highly risky that he will continue squandering public resources especially with the crude mentality that as president he must be richer than the government meant to give him that temporal employment.
Education for society goes beyond the classroom. Correct information for all is the duty and right of everybody. To deny people right information is starving them food for thought.
Younger generation Gambians deserve better information for critical awareness.
Sarjo gives an unerring and precise reality on the long term impact of mindless, selfish Dictatorships.
Even if President jammeh were to return all his lands and properties, back into the hands of the next generation. His impact on the mindset of Gambia’s youth, will leave a protracted legacy, of youth under achievement for at least the next two generations.
To become challenged, to seek the back way to Europe, is to leave a brithright and belonging, that can never be fullfilled, in most western countries. I have met hundreds of Gambian’s in the UK. There is not one of them who would not rather be at home, with families and communities, and there independence.
Sadly. the bi product of endless brainwashing, comes as great shock when each and all enter the UK..and taste western” freedom”
What is much worse is the plight of those caught in the UK’s illegal trap, of despair loss of self esteem and self worth and dignity.
Mercifully, I would pay tribute to the compassionate Gambian communities in the UK, who are quick to lend a helping hand…to those facing an uncertain future….in exile.
Many have worked to get an education, and travelled up the social ladder with great speed and accomplishment.
One day these human resources and human capital must return home..to build the Gambia….of real substance and respect.
The sooner…the better for most. The loss will be ours when they go.
Many thanks again Mr Bayang….Jammeh in a nut shell, gambled the future of the gambia people particularly the young generation. He has seriously damaged the moral ans social fabric of that great nation.
It is tragic but surely there is hope for the future post Jammeh…..