(JollofNews) – Mr. President,
While voters in the Gambia have decided with their voting cards and ousted the tyrant, Yahya Jammeh, Gambians living in the diaspora voted massively with their wallets. They made significant financial contributions during the campaign responding to many appeals launched before the elections.
In fact most of those contributions were directly sent to the newly appointed Vice President who properly accounted for all the funds she received in a statement published in one of the online newspaper.
Gambians in the diaspora have been marginalized and constitutionally disfranchised in many elections and have been treated like prisoners living in foreign countries yet their contributions in the economy can no longer be ignored.
According to sources from the Central Bank, over $85 million (about D29.5 billion depending which exchange rate you use) was received in 2014 as remittances from abroad passing through exchange bureaus. This constituted almost 20% of GDP and renders the Gambia one of the most topmost recipients in Africa.
This is too significant to be ignored considering that our country has no important mineral or other natural resources and revenues in the 2017 budget is projected at D 14.3 billion. With expenditures at D19.1 billion, you will inherit a deficit of D4.7 billion.
How to finance this deficit when the previous government had accumulated debts amounting to D25 billion as at September 2016 is the key question to be asked. This figure is projected to rise to more than D30 billion once the actual figures are established during and after the election. Remittances from the diaspora provided the “shock absorbers” to cushion off the effects of the economic collapse.
Create opportunities for employment and for diasporic investments
For 22 years, former president has refused to allow diasporic Gambians who have valid voting cards to vote in elections or allow them to return and engage in any meaningful occupation including investing in the country’s development process. Instead those perceived as ‘enemies’ to his government have been arrested, tortured, persecuted and recently two Gambians with American nationality disappeared since 2013, have still not been found and their case is now in the hands of the FB1.
Faced with few or no opportunities for employment, many young men and women are taking the perilous journey in rafts and fishing boats across the Mediterranean seas to travel to Europe in pursuit of ‘greener pastures’. The number of Gambian professionals escaping the harsh realities of job insecurity in the country have also increased remarkably over the years and many are now working for international institutions around the world.
All these people have to be motivated to come back by addressing their needs and requirements. This could only be achieved if a ministry or agency is dedicated to look into their needs. There are also thousands of Gambian entrepreneurs doing successfully outside the country and ready to return, a sound investment policy with concessional incentives could be designed to attract them back. This could boast the failing economy to grow exponentially and create massive employment opportunities for the people.
Monkey work Baboon eat
When Gambians in exiles were doing everything possible to fight the oppressive regime of Yahya Jammeh, those opportunists calling themselves loyalist of Jammeh were ready to go at any length to frustrate their efforts in the struggle. Many true citizens in the struggle set up radios and online newspapers not to make profits, but to provide information to expose the human right abuses of the previous regime. Many also provided a platform for the voices of the oppressed be heard.
Today, without the sterling online services made by Freedom newspaper, Maafanta, Gainako, The Gambiaecho, Jollofnews, The SidiSanneh blog and other media outlets who devoted their time and energy fighting for what is right for all Gambians, we would have been recoiling in horror ready to have a ‘billion years’ of despotic rule. We should not compromise our new found democracy for anything else.
The best defense is a strong offense
There are some hard-core Jammeh supporters still working in the civil service ready to derail our newfound democracy by disguising themselves to cause monumental havoc to your administration. Jammeh suffered the indignity to being forced into exile. He never accepted the verdict of the people and his refusal to smoothly handover power had caused untold suffering to thousands of innocent Gambians. That being the case, we have to view all those last minute appointments and promotions he made during the dying days of his regime with suspicion.
In fact we have seen how the new DG of GRTS is still continuing to restrict coverage of some of your important engagements such as your return from Dakar. Other international media outlets gave a full and ‘honest’ coverage of the event showing the thousands and thousands of people who turned out to welcome you. Lest we forget that apart from the army, GRTS was the other institution that Yahy Jammeh was skillfully using as an instrument of propaganda to stay in power. Getting rid of Malick Jones will be good for our democracy.
Also, the current secretary general who was caught crying profusely in camera at the time of Jammeh’s departure is playing double-standard. He has always been grudgingly denigrating the diaspora reporting to Jammeh on the activities of some targeted Gambians abroad. This is how he was promoted bypassing many permanent secretaries better qualified than him.
This new SG is more dangerous to your regime than any armed soldier ready to topple your government. Let him not be privy to any new cabinet deliberations. I am not trying to influence your decisions but as somebody who voted for you to sit and see a cohort of deadly deceptive detractors who are ready to to sabotage our new system to triumph. They still believe that Jammeh will be back and that is wishful thinking.
Our journey to bring back sanity and rule of law has just started but first a crucial barrier needs to be overcome. Those unwavering Jammeh loyalists planted within the security and civil services must be weeded out before they can cause irreversible damage to our drive to restore genuine democracy for the people. We still have to fight and cut the cancer of opportunism, tribalism, cronyism, the subjugation of personal liberties and freedoms and bring in a new era of hope, togetherness, and prosperity for all GAMBIANS.
By having a dedicated ministry to look after the needs of the diaspora we are sending the message to all Gambians living outside the country that we care and appreciate everything they are doing. Fighting for what is right is worth the arduous journey even when the road is long and muddy.
Thank you Mr. President
By MBO Gaye
Ps. My next piece will focus on regional integration and the failing economy. I have important message to share. After all is good to share knowledge without favors or rewards. Stay tuned…