May God Save Dear Little Gambia Part 3
By Saul Saidykhan
This is the third and final opinion on this topic. In a little over two months, if Yaya Jammeh or Mansa Jakut has his wish, Gambians will perform their designated role in another choreographed ritual – officially dressed up as an election, but which in fact is meant not to seek their consent as to who will govern them, but rather will only use them as props to give the appearance to an unsuspecting international community that an actual election has taken place.
In reality, what passes for an election in the Gambia is nothing but an elaborate daylight con job on a whole country. And it has happened twice already!
In 2010, based on a hunch and later, corroboration from a one-time insider and childhood associate of he Yaya Jammeh himself, I included in my Round Holes -Square Pegs… series information on how he has completely bastardized the Gambia’s electoral system not just by the more generally known wholesale registration of his ethnic kinsmen from southern Senegal in the Gambia’s Voter Roll, but worse by the more daring stuffing of ballot boxes by his sanctioned military thugs. I called it “Security Votes”. To recap, here is the gist of how the scam goes: Jammeh orders the same materials as the electoral commission; he has his hand-picked military men under his direct command fill the ballot boxes beforehand; then they take the stuffed boxes around the country on election day to counting centers; they create or manufacture excuses and distractions at each location they reach in the name of security in order to avail themselves the opportunity to mix the illicit boxes they’ve stuffed with the real votes that Gambians have cast at the polls. Bottom-line, they ensure that the boxes that they’ve stuffed at Jammeh’s behest are counted around the country. This way, they nullify Gambians’ votes against Yaya Jammeh!
This is why Jammeh keeps bragging that he’ll win elections even if Gambians don’t vote for him because djinns will vote for him due to “how I’ve developed this country”! And precisely why he is so diametrically opposed to changing the voting system in Gambia.
You see, we are so full of jokes in The Gambia that we have become a complete joke as a country. To begin with, from its very inception, the so-called Independent Electoral Commission has operated as an extension of Yaya Jammeh’s party. This electoral scam I noted wouldn’t be possible without the connivance of the Electoral Commission. Unfortunately, all but one of the Electoral Commission’s past Heads were known sympathizers of Jammeh’s APRC. Not surprisingly, the lone stand-out, the late reverend Bishop Telewa Johnson was the only one who defied Jammeh by making a valiant effort to be an impartial umpire by refusing to collude with the APRC and better heeded popular calls by introducing On-the-Spot-Counting. He knew the risk he was taking by doing the right thing, but he it did anyway out of honor and integrity. Predictably, Yaya Jammeh quickly fired him and took his job back. Bishop Johnson kept his honor and integrity intact. May god bless his soul. Wouldn’t The Gambia be a better place if our high profile imams show similar courage and integrity? What kills me is some of us Gambian Muslims still actually think we have an upper hand on other religions. Twenty-two years of madness, and pure evil rule and one cannot find even a couple of big-mosque imams courageous enough to speak up for the oppressed Gambian Muslim masses. Mention this obvious fact to some people, and they’ll accuse you of heresy or what have you. The way some tell it, you get a sense that Allah will come down physically to deliver us from Yaya Jammeh. We really are a funny people.
On a related note, my source says, this electoral heist is ALWAYS sealed with the blood of a virgin girl based on the advice of Jammeh’s Jalang priest! And not only does he know where they bury these poor innocent victims, he knows the killers who carried out the first two operations. All I can say is, the average Gambian has no idea how truly depraved and power-hungry Yaya Jammeh really is.
In Part 2, I noted our culture of not paying attention to details because Jammeh is by nature a very indiscipline person. He talks a lot for a leader and sings discordant tunes. In doing so, he indirectly reveals tidbits about some of the many crimes he engages in publicly often without realizing it. Sadly, many of us miss these clues because – well, we don’t pay attention to details.
In the last two elections, a curious thing was apparent, Jammeh’s proportion of the total votes which was in the mid-50s in 1996 magically jumped to the low 70s! This is phenomenal growth. It would signify remarkable popularity for any politician if it is real. It is not. You know this because not only is it out of sync with the vibe of the country, he Jammeh has made no secret of his anger at the largest ethnic groups in the country – especially the Manding, for hating him. I’ve had calls from countless Mandinkas over the years many of who wonder how it is possible that Mandinkas could hate Yaya Jammeh when he gets over 70% in majority Manding areas of The Gambia during elections. My answer to them is: Yaya Jammeh has conclusive evidence that he loses badly in majority Mandinka areas of The Gambia. Here is the reality: Yaya Jammeh is among the few Gambians who know the number of votes actually cast by Gambians at the polls. For the record, NO election result gets announced on Gambian radio or TV on election day unless Yaya Jammeh gives his explicit approval! This is the first key point to note about who actually calls the shots at the electoral commission. So when Jammeh says people in this area don’t like me, he knows for a FACT that they don’t because he has actual data on votes cast for him in that particular area. He knows how many phony votes his thugs drop off in each Region because he personally tracks them. So all he does to gauge his popularity in any part of the country is back out his phony votes from the total that he has in that area! The urban areas are eclectic and harder to tell. Not so much trouble when it comes to the provinces.
Officially, Jammeh has been winning over 70% in majority Mandinka areas like Baddibu, Kiang, and Jarra in the last two elections. Yet he is mad and constantly engaging in ethnically incendiary diatribes against Mandinkas. Many are perplexed and frustrated by this. Some think it’s baseless. But Jammeh knows something they don’t because he sees the real numbers, and as any astute observer knows, it’s easier to lie to others than to lie to oneself. This is one of the main sources of Jammeh’s anti-Mandinka rage.
Jammeh cannot share this information publicly without betraying the fraudulent ballot stuffing operation he engages in. Call it a Crook’s dilemma or being hoisted to his own petard!
The way the current electoral system is, no one can tell the difference between a phony vote stuffed inside a ballot box by a jack-booted thug at State House on a weekend in November 2016 and a real one cast by a duly registered Gambian voter on voting day in December 2016 because as anyone who has studied the system knows, it is archaic and lacks any Audit Trail. The marbles that are used as votes in the system have no unique features. Nothing ties any marble to any voter in any way. Worse, even the voter identification system used is not an assurer of the voter’s true ID – unlike anywhere else in West Africa presently. Multiple voter registration by the ruling party especially is rampant. Currently ALL other West African countries have adopted some form of biometric-based voting system that have helped to not only sanitize their electoral systems, but have also deepened confidence in their democracies. In the event of disputes in such systems, science-based facts are easy to establish and follow to resolve the disputes. The Gambia is threading a lonely path. The fact that Yaya Jammeh had the UDP activist Solo Sandeng murdered in cold blood for merely calling peacefully for reforming this anachronistic electoral system tells us everything we need to know about the threat he believes changes to the current electoral system will pose to his chance of maintaining the lie that he is interested in cultivating true democracy in The Gambia.
I mentioned the lack of standards in my earlier post. Beside the corrupt and complicit electoral commission, lack of standards is Jammeh’s biggest tool in subverting the will of the Gambian people. Let me explain: anyone who understands basic demography knows the Gambia’s Voters Register is heavily padded. Now what makes this so easy for Jammeh to do is, there is no standard way of spelling any Gambian Family or Last Name. As such, the people he wants to use to buff up the Voter roll register multiple times using different names or spellings and even normal computer data validation rules don’t raise any red flag. For instance, the computer sees Modou Ceesay and Modou Sesay and Modou Sisay and Modou Sise as separate individuals. Equally, it assumes Amie Njie is different from Amie Njai, who is different from Amie Njay who is different from Amie Njaye when it’s the same person with the Last name spelt differently. A biometric system will spot the fraud and nip it in the bud, but the current Gambian environment is a conman’s dream. All I can say is how about we get such fundamentals right first before imitating others in talking about lofty ideas that have NOTHING to do with Gambian reality?
Knowing all these, my heart bleeds for those who actually think the opposition can defeat Yaya Jammeh at the polls. Even after side-stepping the silly side show surrounding the opposition coalition talks and the price some are asking for a coalition (avoiding stating the obvious about certain candidates,) I can only think of a single reason for investing in elections at this point: to build a moral basis for what in all probability will eventually happen to Jammeh.
Otherwise, one has a better chance of finding a ten billion barrels oil well in Jarra Soma than beating Yaya Jammeh, his military thugs, and his IEC lap dogs at their game. No biometric electoral system, no On-the-Spot-Counting? But what do I know.
Recently, a friend called to say he has heard on a Gambian radio station that the ballot stuffing operation is well underway at State House and up to half a million vote may have already been put away for Jammeh. Now I don’t have any way to verify this, but the one thing I know is never to doubt Yaya Jammeh’s penchant for the outlandish – be that crime or otherwise. When I first heard about this operation of his from someone who used to be pretty close to him, I was incredulous. But on second thought, it made perfect sense. How else can Yaya Jammeh possibly poll over 70% in Gambia given the way he has been ruling the country especially since he murdered his main ally Baba Jobe in 2001?
In Gambian opposition political discourse, there are two camps: 1.) those that see the present dispensation exactly as what it is, and therefore open up to other options however unconventional those may seem to some; and 2.) those who obstinately cling to the idea of what the Gambia ought to be as a democracy despite overwhelming evidence that the country is in fact moving more and more away from a democracy two decades after the current second experiment began. Call it the Realist versus Idealist dichotomy. Need I say which camp I belong to?
Throughout this Jammeh era, we have lived Public Lies: official v. unofficial; nominal v. actual. Officially, Isatou Njai Saidy is Number 2 in the country. In reality, She and everyone else in government knows that to be a lie. She is nothing but a pathetic errand girl that Jammeh sends to places to humanize him when he wants. The second most powerful person in Gambia is a man called Lt. Gen. Saul Badjie, Commander of the State Republican Guards. In reality, his name is neither Sulayman “Saul” Badjie nor is he a General. In fact, he has never set foot in ANY military school in his entire life because learning has always been a struggle for him at both Primary and Secondary levels in Bwiam where he hails from. His real name is Karafa Bojang. He had “borrowed” the school certificate of a much younger man whose name he now bears to enlist in the Gambian army. That young man who is nick named Paul Badjie lives in London. In a serious country, Karafa Bojang would have long been dismissed from the army for impersonation. Didn’t I say we are a joke?
But here is the light at the end of the tunnel in all this madness. The House of Jammeh is on fire – politically, militarily, and socially. What is being touted as a new kid on the opposition block is in fact a manifestation of the political implosion of Jammeh’s APRC. Worse, and of greater consequence is the clear implosion in the military that has burst open with the bolting and sudden self-exile of alleged notorious killer O.U. Sonko. And if information reaching us are accurate, Jammeh’s enemies are no longer the usual suspects. What gives these rumors real credence is in the recent past some astounding social events have been taking place. Those that speak some Jola may have noticed some unusual phenomenon. Several videos have been posted on YouTube showing many Gambian Jolas openly denouncing Jammeh in very strong language. The videos speak volumes about the seismic changes going on in the Jola community. I have no doubt that Jammeh will rig himself in again this December. But I have little doubt also about the aftermath of that action because as Abraham Lincoln told Americans in his short extemporaneous speech at Gettysburg during the American civil war” a house divided against itself cannot stand.” What the hapless opposition cannot do to him, his own just might.
Which brings me back to my subject: May god save Dear Little Gambia!
I kind of agree with you
Saul , you have written incredible piece and it has stated how our electoral process is a complete joke ; also how our country becomes a joke for even an idiot without good education can be a top military general who run our national security . We are indeed a nation of jokers with many pretentious religious fanatics masquerading as imams and citizens with shallow interest for detail orientation. Most of jammeh’s speech are cues about what he does in the private and his criminal activities .
Jammeh is going to be taken out by his own people and that is the military . His security lies on jola people mainly from cassamance. I am glad to see patriotic jola Gambians speaking out against his brutality . The Gambian jolas are also victimized in his brutal rule while many give him blind support based on tribal affiliation . Today , a lot of jolas are silently paying the price in Foni and Kombos . It is time to confiscate our land and our country from this idiot whose father and mother were generously accepted and taken care of by our people when they were homeless and alonely in their community.
This publishes the actual blueprint of conspirations and atrocities against the Gambians’ livelihoods of the past twenty two years. This is an eye-opener. We are jokes of ourselves. This is a real good one Saul. Thanks.
Saul, it’s well thought provoking, this; this yaya KILLER DEVIL CRIMINAL is indeed SADISTICALLY EVIL beyond any imaginable human understanding; yaya Jammeh IS LUCIFER IBLIZ THE DEVIL FOR REAL; any human being of conscience will realise that without difficulty…
What’s CERTAIN is Gambians determined by common destiny will leave NO stones unturned to get rid of this CATASTROPHIC HISTORICAL ABYSS we found ourselves in from July 1994 to date…
The EVIL BARBARIC kanilai FIEFDOM is cracking up already to pieces under the counterattack from the collective resilient assault of Gambians & humanity; there ISN’T any relenting UNTIL TOTAL LIBERATION either at this election &/ beyond; the country MUST & WILL be salvage reclaimed by ALL & ANY means necessary; there’s no doubt about that; Insha Allah…
Long live the Gambia…
Sounds very plausible on the surface, and one cannot put the desire to hatch such a scheme beyond Jammeh, but a couple of obstacles need to be overcome for this elaborate fraud to come off, and I would like to know how this is done, either from the writer or anyone with the answers..
1. The writer claims that stuffed ballot boxes are mixed with the real ones, through creating some sort of distraction, at the counting stations.
A number of issues here, namely :
(a)…every polling station in the country has a number and every ballot box has a unique security code when it is sealed in the presence of candidates or their reps, before voting commences. Every rep records this code, which is compared with the code on the seal before it is broken and boxes opened at counting stations.
If these stuffed boxes are delivered straight to the counting stations, what happens to the real boxes from the polling stations, most (if not all) of which are escorted by reps of all candidates, to the counting stations..?
I’m not sure how the security codes are generated but I would assume that these are not known until the boxes are sealed. But even if these were known and duplicated by the Jammeh fraud team, the question of what happens to the real boxes is still a problem for the scheme. Can somebody help to resolve that problem.?
(b)…every polling station has a mini register of voters who are qualified to vote at that particular station, and their card numbers are printed against their names. Candidates or their reps are provided these mini registers and often set their own tables by polling officers to verify the authenticity of each voter. Each voter who turns up to cast a vote gets a tick or some form of marker by their name to indicate that they have voted.
The Jammeh fraudsters would have to know how many voters would turn up to vote at each polling station for their scheme to work. There is no margin of error here. They have to be spot on or be exposed, but even the chairman of the IEC cannot help them, because he wouldn’t know who would turn up to vote on elections day, even if he knows the total number of voters per polling station…Can someone tell me how this problem is resolved. ?
(2)…The writer claims that individuals can engage in multiple voting due to possession of multiple cards, which is made possible by using variations in spelling of names…
It is true that people can spell their names differently, but even if there are no safeguards against such multiple registration at the point of registration, the use of the indelible ink at the polling stations makes claims of multiple voting a serious problem…
How do these accomplices get round the indelible ink to vote multiple times..? That too, needs to be resolved..
(3)…What about the level of distraction needed to disguise their actions..? Ballot boxes are not items that can be stuffed in back pockets..They are quite visible and except chasing everyone away, I can’t see how these mixing of stuffed boxes can be done without anyone noticing… Can anyone tell me how.?
(4)…How has the fraudsters managed to outwit even the candidates and their observers for so long because no one has ever complained about it or are they also in on it.? Crazy stuff, it has to be said…
I find it almost laughable that Jammeh’s open claims to know which communities voted for him is attributed to this elaborate scam. Seriously..? Aren’t results compiled by polling stations to get the overall votes cast in each constituency..? The votes acquired by each candidate at every polling station is open knowledge that does not need any elaborate scheme to know.
Jammeh gets 70% because it is the APRC voters that are bothered, and have a reason, to get up and vote..Many disillusioned voters who stay away are opposition voters who have no motivation to get up and vote, partly due to such self destructive, self defeating propaganda, as under discussion here..
And until it stops, all who engage in it are as equally helpful to Yaya Jammeh as his staunch supporters..
Believe it or not, many of us do not begrudge you your self proclaimed title of REALISTS and we recognise your rights to pursue your manner of change, but whilst you are at it, please do us, the IDEALIST, a favour : Do not make our job any harder than it already is..That is, if we are ALL IN IT TOGETHER on the same side, but you have a feeling sometimes, that such a thought is nothing but idealism.. .Just a feeling…
If the writer or the participants can’t give you any answers to your well elaborated chess-move questions, then can you Bax kindly shed us light on the evident transparency and validity of the Gambian elections of the military-turn-civilian-government, that your doubts of the writer’s claims of stuffed ballots try to insinuate to us.
It must seem to you it should be important to others if many you begrudge self proclaimed REALISTS. Why should you begrudge in a national debate and should someone even care if you? Neither you nor former @Malang have a nick of an idea how eloquence is not a substitute for the truth.
Did it matter to you that one of the most powerful people in the country borrowed someone’s high school certifacate to get in the army with a false name?
Even whereas the latter is not directly your individual responsibility, such matters when they come to light should be of very right minded citizen’s concern and FEAR. You write everything to ridicule the writer’s claims of fraudulent conduction of the country’s elections to bypass the general Karafa bojang alias Paul Badjie alias Saul Badjie case. Nonetheless, the write has suggested the modern and most transparent voting methods introduced even in our sub-region but you don’t even seem to mark that one. I doubt if a transparent election to out the dictatorship in the Gambia is even an ideal amongst IDEALISTS of the poor country.
Bax, after being absent from the forum for a long time and for a good reason, I concur with you and totally rubbish the writer’s insinuations. To add to your post, this time the pictures of the voters will be on the voter register coupled with the indelible ink solves the fraud problems.
In the past elections it was during the transportation of the boxes to the counting stations that swaps take place and this is now resolve by on the spot counting.
The only SOLUTION left for Gambians is to GO massively and Vote for the opposition.
Lest they STOP dipping their brains into jinns, jalangs, fraud dreams and what not, they will always unconciously help the APRC militants simply go and vote massively for Jammeh whiles they sit at home or sell their voting cards for peanuts.
Thanks for the brilliant clarifications. Habib should STOP the false propaganda NOW.
It is because you are shortsighted to be a withness to the country’s importance being dipped into jinns, jalangs, real state fraud crap and atrocities.
Stupid elections of intimidating afprc guns and cannons and rpgs and guys in jungle military outfits………
Saul you can’t overstate with regard to the recklessness and clumpsiness of the image of the Gambia. It’s public space has a long way to have itself together to get through to the end of the tunnel to see the light.
Many Gambians like to turn a blind eye to what is true or might be true in the present and past respectively, an indication of our lack of sophistication and civilisation as a people with connection to their country’s state of affairs.
Did the Jawara government ever staged any inaugurations by inviting a roll call of specific ethnic dancers with freaky Jalangs in rituals while the rest of the country watches?
We are snubs of the truths and realities that are laid and known in our individual hearts.
Bax, I bet Saul has never engage in Gambian elections otherwise he would not even thought of fabricatng such a thing. It is the most ridiculous analysis i have ever read anywhere. The Gambian opposition for electoral reform has explained in detail the problems confronting them and their remedies. There is nothing in it that says Jammeh fraudsters changing ballot boxes. What type of people are to allow such a stupid scheme when candidates are depositing thousands of dalasis which they would not recover if they do not have 20 percent of the votes cast.
Look, don’t even waste your precious time on this useless analysis. In fact i am very surprised to know that it was some other person different from Max who has made it his preoccupation to write anything whether correct or wrong as long as it is against Jammeh’s government. These are the socalled anti election campers who are selling aparthy to the population of voters. Its a pity, his name is written as the author.
Yero ba , you guys are agents of dictatorship , therefore you won’t accept this article and comments we made here . I believe that Gambia’s elections are always stolen by Jammeh . Jammeh always decide the election results . How can he win over 70 percentage of votes when he has been kiling our people , stealing our resources ? You confused disciples are clueless and are an obstacle to truth . Bax has put foward irrelevant points just to confuse people like you who are really happy with the status quo despite your political bolster and false pretends .
You always pretend contempt as if you won something. Hypocrite and too petty Dawda won’t even note! just write the writer’s name and accuse him of being an anti election camper. Ain’t no problem in being an anti election camper, absolutely. You act like a backbiter. You wish Jammeh stays on and the Pdois makes him their political science textbook to teach to Gambians, when in reality you know his knees won’t support him anymore. Witty critics and misinformers of the public. In journalism, uncorrect information is much more useful than one been blinded off from the public, as Foroyaa perfects in.
Quote :.”just write the writer’s name and accuse him of being an anti election camper. ”
I missed the name of Mr.Saul Saidykhan printed under the box, because I am used to seeing his pictures on his articles..Though I knew Mr SaidyKhan was writing a series, I was just being cautious.
I have no reason whatsoever, to shy away from using “Mr SaidyKhan”, rather than the “writer”..as I.have done before, when I disagree with his opinion.
Why make an.issue over that anyway..? Isn’t it petty to consider exchanges here as “backbiting”..?
Bax, you have raised some valid points that can make one weary of accepting the naked daylight robbery of the electoral process by Jammeh.
However, one point you seem to have overlooked is that “Jammeh is the IEC and the IEC is Jammeh”!!. Just as he manipulates the justices and judicial system, it is in the same way that he has sway over the IEC.
How unique are the so called security codes on the ballot boxes? They are unique only to the extent that Jammwh allows the IEC.
Since the opposition parties could not even come to an agreement on the notion of electoral reform, which should include reform of the IEC, I think it is a given that Jammeh will get away with any manner skullduggery he chooses to employ.
I am of the believe that we all have the right to our own opinions but one must be careful in the manner in which it is done, especially when we are all supposedly on the same side. Realist or Idealist if I am not mistaken we all want to achieve the same goal and that is a safe and thriving ‘The Gambia’. Shouldn’t it therefore be every citizens duty to stand together as one voice and put aside our difference to tackle the first step. Which is change to simply put it. We are a nation in disarray on every political front. And Yet the people that are supposedly meant to usher our great nation into “salvation” cannot even unite together to achieve the one goal 90% of all citizens of the Gambia have. It’s so bemusing that every election the president sorry dictator uses the same tactics but in different ways to his credit I might add, but yet still we as a nation still cannot see it ‘divide and conquer’. How he wins his elections I do not know and I refuse to be part of unsubstantiated foolish chatter as to how he does it. But what is for sure is that he will win again and will keep winning until we are all ready to unite and speak with one voice as a nation, as a Gambian, Irrespective of religion, ethnic background, sexual preference, social standing or colour.