New Year Resolution: Uncompromising Vigilance

As a son of Boraba I am a true and direct witness of the failure of State responsibility. For more than 100 years of Colonialism and more than 50 years of self-government I have seen how a State not only fails to protect a people but even goes further to also oppress and exploit them. As a son of Boraba I know that each and every government of The Gambia has only cheated, exploited and oppressed my people over the decades and centuries more than they served them. For that matter I have no reason to trust and respect any government or politician until they prove otherwise!

From the Colonial Government to the PPP Government to the APRC Regime and now to the present Barrow Government they all served to deny my community their basic rights especially our social and economic rights. The Gambian State has failed to provide us the appropriate and adequate opportunities with which to better our lives. There are no public goods and services that the Gambian State has provided to Boraba such that it was our fathers and mothers who had to build the only primary school in the village in the 1980s to educate our children! After 50 years of Independence, Boraba does not have any paved streets with streetlights and excellent drainage systems nor does it provide any affordable and quality public good and services such as water or electricity supply or the presence of public facilities such as a library, police station, health centre, recreational facilities or training institutes among many.

As it is in Boraba so it is the same in most of the communities across the Gambia. Even when these institutions and services are provided such as Edward Francis Teaching Hospital or the provision of electricity in Banjul, the capital city one will find that those institutions and services are also substandard hence incapable of adequately serving our people. Yet we continue to pay tax since Colonialism but only get even more deprived and impoverished. Why?

My new year resolution is therefore to fight for the rights of my people by demanding that the Government of the Gambia is transparent, accountable, efficient and responsive to the protection of the rights and the fulfillment of the needs of the people of Boraba. My resolve is to expose the perennial lies and misinformation of the Government perpetuated by elected and appointed public officials; to combat corruption and abuse of power and to demand quality and affordable delivery of public services that are accessible and available to all of our citizens including Boraba’nkolu!

It is 2020 today yet the Gambia Government’s Vision 2020 has only become Nightmare 2020. Despite its high sounding goals and lofty objectives, it is now clear that the Gambia Government led by elected and appointed public officials were only lying to citizens when they launched that development blueprint in 1996 because they know that they were not going to achieve that Vision 2020 anyway. The evidence is right here on 1st January 2020!

Scores of Gambian citizens continue to die from preventable diseases. Scores of Gambian women die as they give birth to another Gambian. Those babies who are delivered successfully a lot of them die even before they get to five years due to preventable childhood illnesses. Scores of our youth perish in the Sahara and in the oceans because they are running away from home because home provides them no hope. Scores of Gambians continue to be discriminated and under-served because they have some form of disability or because of their sex or tribe or religion or because of some other status that makes them different from the rest!

Yet these things happen not because there are no finances or tools or skills or knowledge in The Gambia Government. Rather these public resources continue to be mismanaged and diverted away from the majority of our people to benefit only a few people in public offices and their collaborators. Every year the Gambia Government draws up a budget of millions of dalasi but this budget only serves to drop the country into more debt and making citizens even poorer and more deprived. Those countries with whom we attained Independence in the same period such as Singapore have left the Gambia far behind in the backwaters of wretchedness. Thanks to their dedicated and visionary leadership those countries continue to advance while the Gambia retrogresses daily because of a dishonest, corrupt and unpatriotic leadership.

Indeed, The Gambia itself is hugely endowed with abundant natural and mineral resources embedded in our land, space, rivers and oceans. Unfortunately thanks to our corrupt governments since Independence these resources are being exploited for the benefit of few citizens and foreigners while the majority of Gambians remain deprived. With enough expertise and experience necessary to better organize and manage the country’s resources our corrupt governments rather choose not to tap on these potentials for the benefit of the people, but instead enables exploiters to loot our natural and mineral resources in front of our eyes.

The State is the property of the people purposely created to serve the people. The State is a tool to protect and expand the rights of the people. The rights of the people are manifested in those public goods and services that are produced and delivered by public institutions to enable citizens to live high standard of living in security and happiness on our land. Hence the State must be at the service of the people.

Unfortunately, since Independence the Gambian State has been a liability and a predator of the people. Robbing. Looting. Exploiting. Oppressing. Depriving. Damaging. Torturing and Killing our people. The State consumes more than it produces. Instead of serving as a fence to protect the crops the State instead destroys both the fences and the crops at the same time hence damaging the rights of citizens.

When a Gambian mother dies in labour because of lack of medical equipment and drugs at public health facilities it is the Gambian State that has killed that mother and child. When a Gambian is sent to prison to live in poor unhygienic conditions it is the Gambian State that is damaging that prisoner’s human rights. When a security officer slaps a citizen it is The Gambian State that is torturing that citizen. When a Gambian child sits in a classroom without the necessary teaching and learning resources it is the Gambian State that is depriving that child quality education. When the price of fuel or bread or cement goes up because of poor economic policies it is the Gambian State that is exploiting our citizens! When there is unchecked abuse of the rule of law and consequently impunity on the land it is the Gambian State that is failing to uphold and enforce the law.

Therefore, I wish to dedicate myself once more to more vigorously check the Gambian State – the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. Our freedom, development and happiness rest squarely on these three institutions of the Gambian State. Check them. When power is left unchecked it becomes oppressive, exploitative and criminal! That is what is called Dictatorship.

What history has proven is that in any society it is the State that is the greatest guarantor, provider, facilitator and protector for the upliftment of its people. But that same history has also proven that it is the State which is also the biggest liar, most wasteful, most corrupt, biggest criminal and the greatest violator of the people. When men and women of integrity, dedication and patriotism are in charge of the State then the State becomes an instrument of service for the advancement of the people. But when the State is in the hands of unscrupulous and unpatriotic men and women then the State is transformed into a weapon of waste, oppression and exploitation of the people.

So far the Gambian State has proven history to be right. Not only did the Gambian State, since Independence to date released the biggest and most immoral lies such as Vision 2020 but also caused the greatest harm to citizens through torture, enforced disappearances and murder of innocent citizens! Until today we see how the State, from the President, Ministers, heads of institutions to security chiefs, aided and abetted by the Legislature and the Judiciary would face Gambians to lie, mislead and misinform citizens just to scare, intimidate, oppress and exploit the masses and loot our resources.

Otherwise why did the National Assembly refuse to impeach the President for multiple violations of the Constitution? Why does the National Assembly fail to sack the Vice President and several Ministers for lying before them and failing in their duties and violating the Constitution including corrupt practices? Why did the National Assembly approve a budget that will fund corrupt projects like the Banjul Road Rehabilitation Project thus making the people even more indebted and impoverished? Why has the Judiciary failed to defend the Constitution by simply declaring the Public Order Act as as well as the sacking of a National Assembly by the President as unconstitutional? Indeed, the Gambia State has demonstrated that it is nothing but a criminal enterprise hell-bent on oppressing and exploiting the people for the benefit of a minority.

So what should we do now? They say eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. So long as citizens remain silent, indifferent or collude with the State for selfish gains rest assured the oppression and exploitation of the people shall continue. The question now is will we continue to buy the lies and condone the inefficiency and corruption of the State or are we going to stand up to defend the Motherland from parasites that are lodged inside State offices, sucking the blood of the masses?

The Year 2020 is a call to action. Will you act?

For the Gambia Our Homeland.

Madi Jobarteh


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