A cloud of controversy continues to surround President Yahya Jammeh’s recent largesse to top Nollywood and Ghollywood stars.
The controversy resulted in the wake of news reports last week that President Jammeh presented plots of lands to a number Nigerian and Ghanaian movie actors and actresses. The news, reported by Ghanaian and Nigerian media, left Gambians in complete darkness.
“The senseless wastage of our scarce resources on money-hungry foreign musicians and movie stars is scratching on those red lines,” said Germany-based Gambian filmmaker Prince Bubacarr Sankanu in a widely-shared opinion piece.
Sankanu said actors of both countries are rewarded millions from Gambian tax revenues without measurable lasting benefits to the country’s creative economy.
“If at all the monies are from President Jammeh’s personal savings before he became President of the Republic of The Gambia on the 22 July 1994, I for one would not care. But the funds that are wasted on the Nigerian and Ghanaian hustlers are generated through our taxes and remittances and we have the right to speak out on it.”
Adding to the chorus of condemnations, Mai Ahmed Fatty of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress said there are great Gambian
talents in the performing arts, landless and poor, who deserve better.
“Yet Gambian President remains self-inflicted by schistosomiasis to the gravity of not noticing the depraved plight of his own landless citizens,” he said.
GMC leader urged the “crew of millionaires to have the decency to return lands belonging to deprived Gambians”, and warned them that “a future government shall dispossess them, nationalise the lands and revert them to public trust. Make no mistake. Do not touch those
The issue has also concerned Pa Nderry M’bai of Freedom newspaper. He added his voice to the chorus of recriminations, strongly warning Nigerian entertainment industry to give a cautious endorsement to Jammeh’s so called “benevolentt gesture,” especially at a time when majority of Gambians are in dire straits.
“Gambians are in dire need of shelter, food, medication, good roads, quality education and above all a sober and matured leadership that
would champion the destiny of the virtually dead state,” he pointed out in a sizzling editorial.
In July 1994 Mr. Jammeh said his junta took over the country to defeat the flamboyant lifestyle of the ousted People’s Progressive Party. President Jammeh said gone were the days when government officials would shower money on praise singers, which according to him, was unacceptable. Here is the same leader who has over the years made headlines and continues to do so for presenting gifts to top Senegalese artists.
Nigerian and Ghanaian artists have now joined the list of people who started milking The Gambia’s scarce resources. Evidently, President Jammeh’s gift downpours are done at expense of a Gambian taxpayer whose government has been on life support, surviving only on high interest yielding loans.
Written by Abdoulie John