(JollofNews) – On 1st December, Gambians will go to the polls to vote in a decisive election. And almost all the Gambian people in the country are ready for this decisive change that will usher back democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the Gambia which we have lost on 22nd July 1994.
We have seen that during the 22 years of President Yahya Jammeh’s rule, he has desecrated the Gambia’s status in the world and in Africa in particular as the strongest human rights defender and the country that believes in human rights and the rule of law until the headquarters of the human and people’s rights have to be established in the Gambia for the whole of Africa.
We have lost this status internationally and the Gambia is one of the most isolated countries in the world presently because of the dismal human rights record of the Gambian government.
The Gambian government under President Jammeh is on record of having committed the most human rights violations in Africa.
Under President Jammeh, the Gambian economy, which before 1994 was one of the most successful and buoyant economy in West Africa has totally collapsed.
Before Mr Jammeh came to power the Gambia was the supermarket of the sub-region. Sadly, the Gambia has again lost that status because of the mismanagement of the economy epitomised by the Jammeh regime’s unpredictable,unjustified and wasteful expenditures.
You can see from the government estimates and this have been increased in parliament year after year for entertainment programmes and ceremonies that are held weekly, monthly and yearly by President Jammeh whilst ignoring the fact that the resources of this country doesn’t belong to him but to the Gambian people.
Also because of President Jammeh’s misguided foreign policy, the Gambia has lost all its friends in the international community both bilaterally and multilaterally. Before 1994, the Gambia was a strong player in international diplomacy and was highly respected. That was why before 1994, Gambians didn’t need visas to go to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom and other countries.
Sadly, today because of the misguided foreign policy of the Gambian regime, it has created enmity between not only these countries but with the international community. That is why our economy has become the worst in West Africa. This is really shameful.
As the Gambia’s first minister of Fisheries during the first republic, during my eight year tenure, we built the industry to such a level that Gambians were in charged of it. We signed an agreement with the Gambian fishing industries for them to dump 20 per cent of their catch in the Gambian market and the 80 per cent for export.
This did not make fish available and affordable to all Gambians across the country but also brought employment opportunities to Gambians as well as a lot of foreign exchange in the Gambia.
Also as minister of Fisheries, I passed a law that prohibits foreign trawlers from operating in the Gambia without being registered to a Gambian company. On top of that, I also made it obligatory for them employ three Gambians for one year who are to be paid in US Ddollars while they out fishing. Many young Gambians benefitted from this and built houses for their parents and also took their parents to Mecca for pilgrimage.
Sadly, today there is not even one fishing industry operating in the Gambia that is owned by a Gambian. We still have fishing trawlers out there fishing though and we want to know who owns them and in whose name they are operating because the sea belongs to the Gambian people and nobody else.
Furthermore, when I was minister of Agriculture, we had a very good agriculture policy and the Gambian government used to purchase more than 260,000 tonnes of groundnuts every year.
We also diversified farming and brought in cotton and the Gambia became the second highest exporter of cotton in West Africa behind Mali. We also used to export 90 tonnes of horticultural produce every Thursday in a cargo plane to Europe.
Today, this has sadly stopped due to the failures of the Jammeh regime. Export of cotton has fallen to zero and last year, the whole Gambia was only able to purchase 23,000 tonnes of groundnuts. This reflects the farming situation and conditions of farmers in the Gambia.
The poverty that the farmers are enduring is terrible. That is why 75 per cent of Gambians who embark on the risky illegal migration to Europe across the Mediterranean are sons and daughters of farmers from the rural areas.
It is a shame that before 1994 these farmers were the ones who used to welcome Malians, Guineans and Senegalese as strange farmers. They lived with them, took care of them, fed them and provided work for them. But sadly today, it is Gambians who are going to these countries to work as strange farmers.
President Jammeh has failed the Gambian people woefully and should relinquish his position. Eighty per cent of Gambians earn their living from agriculture and it saddens every body that to see President Jammeh on television calling Gambian farmers during the rainy season to abandon their farms and go and help him on his farms.
Adama Barrow, leader of the opposition coalition will never ask Gambians to go and work on his farm. We will never ever allow Mr Barrow to get any of our soldiers especially senior military figures to go and work on his farms as labourers and managers like we are witnessing under the Jammeh regime. These soldiers are working on Jammeh’s farms while they are being paid from government coffers and not from Jammeh’s pocket.
Gambians particularly the young ones who look up to us for change have decided that this election is going to be a decisive one because we are going to defeat Yahya Jammeh hands down.
Omar Amadou Jallow is the leader of the People’s Progressive Party, which is part of the opposition coalition seeking to defeat President Yahya Jammeh in next month’s election.