Friday, January 29, 2010

African Unity Under Chairman Ghaddafi

NEWS BANJUL,THE GAMBIA(MB)-The Executive Session of the Council (African leaders), between January 28th- 29th,2010, in Adidas Ababa, Ethopia, African leaders are calling for the re-election of Libyan leader, Muamar Ghaddafi,it must have been with a sigh of relief for the Libyan leader, Muamar Ghaddafi, when the last summit of the AU in Addis Ababa agreed to make him chairman of the continental body. He has aspired to have the position previously even offering Tripoli as a venue for the summit at one time but for reasons best known to them, the majority of African leaders failed to support the move.

Of course, the Ghaddafi of old days is not today’s Ghaddafi and indeed the Libyan leader has changed a lot just as the rest of Africa and the world at large. To his credit, he has always stood for African unity and African integration. For him, the concept is not merely one to uphold in order to look good, he even puts his money where his mouth is. In fact, he stands out as one of our few leaders for whom African unity is a matter of necessity. Left to him alone, the whole of Africa would be united as one state under one leader and one flag. He finds it exasperating that this is not possible up to this time, long after the great Pan Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah, dangled the project at the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa in 1963. But unfortunately, as time went on, the idea of having a United States of Africa a la the US of America has become more and more difficult to accomplish as an objective.

Some tinkering was done in the change of name from OAU to AU, in view of the fact that our preoccupation with colonial rule has ended and a new imperative, that of African unity, has become even more compelling. Some six years down the road with this change to a new name, it has become evident that even with NEPAD the AU is not getting us anywhere near the real African unity of our dreams.

The last AU summit has therefore come up with the new acronym of AA. In other words, we have made progress from union to authority (African Authority instead of African Union). The pundits have since been splitting hairs to let us know the difference between union and authority. As far as we can understand the reasoning, the authority is supposed to have more clout as an organisation than a union. The understanding now is that decisions, normally taken at the level of our heads of state on consensus basis, will be legally binding on member states. The days when a state can walk out of an agreement reached at the level of the summit are supposed to be over. In which case, there can be optimism that this will give a new impetus to the pan African concept.

Which makes the choice of Ghaddafi as chairman of our continental body rather propitious. As everyone knows, he is a fully committed pan Africanist. Not only that, he also has the money and the energy to spend in promotion of his pan Africanist dream.

The whole concept is not lost on him as indeed one can see in his resolve to change to an Authority. The only thing is that the task is quite stupendous and as chairman he has a limited time in which to turn around such an unwieldy organisation as this unique grouping of African leaders. In fact, the task may prove to be greater than Ghaddafi, nothwith-standing his disposition and determination, not to speak of the abundant wealth at his disposal--the array of more than 50 heads of state each pushing a different agenda can in the end prove to be his undoing as far as bringing about continental unity is concerned.

Yet the need for unity is compelling. It is sensible economically and feasible geographically. As a strategy for progress and development, no better solution is available. By pulling our resources together, and putting the available manpower from all parts of Africa to the task of pursuing rapid industrialisation, eradication of poverty and ignorance, Africa can in this 21st. century at last end its unenviable status as the poorest of the poor in respect of the status of its inhabitants. A quick check of some indicators should be enough to sober up the most stubborn cynic in this regard: disease prone, high illiteracy, low incomes of the population, rampant poverty with earnings averaging less than a dollar a day!

And there are such high risk factors as the dangers posed by unforseable developments such as ethnic conflicts of genocidal proportions, natural disasters and manmade ones, gross violations of human rights, thuggery and gun robberies. A more united people with one ideal and one destiny in view should be able to scrape through such matters and join the ranks of world level peers on a basis of respect and equality. Right now the popular image of the African and the African continent has not progressed much from what it used to be, and has not taken the African people and their continent far to where other peoples of the world have reached among the comity of nations.

The disparate tasks being performed by this multiplicity of heads of state each leading a sovereign state and acting in his or her full capacity to steer the way ahead for such states as we now have will certainly not get us out of our present predicament.

Hence the need for us all to give leaders like Ghaddafi their chance of a life time. Let us all for once resolve and accept the need to make headway in forging ahead under Ghaddafi and on the basis of the now newly established authority of African states to have a full united states. We are sure the whole world will then have something formidable to deal with and to determine the future of mankind under this type of dispensation.

For our peoples themselves, just consider the prospects in having one currency, one passport, one government, one set of laws and one army, navy and air force. Above all one finance, health, education, interior, foreign affairs ministry. It would mean freedom of movement, free trade, freer movement of funds and of all kinds of resourcs across the length and breadth of the African continent.

The prospect before us is the possibility of continent wide airlines, shipping, railways, truck and bus transportation as well as developments in industry, the distributive trades, manufacturing and merchandising.We are talking of a new Africa, an Africa one can hardly summon the will to even imagine, an Africa with full rights in all the councils of the world, an Africa that is in a position to deliver its teeming population from the portals of poverty, disease, conflict and doom.

UNFPA; 2007-2011 Programme Review

News BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)- Stakeholders from the government of The Gambia and UNFPA Tuesday gathered at the Sheraton Spa Hotel in Brufut on tuesday 26 January 2010, to review the UNFPA 2007-2011 mid-term supported country programme.

The one-day forum will help both the government and UNFPA to know what has been achieved so far, the constraints and what should be done in order to overcome these challenges so as to achieve the goals and outcomes of the country programme. Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Reuben Mboge, UNFPA assistant representative, thanked the government of The Gambia and other development partners for their unflinching support to the country programme.

According to him, UNFPA Programme of Assistance to The Gambia for the period 2007-2011 was approved by the Executive Board for a total of US$5.5 million which, he said, came as a result of conclusions and recommendations of the evaluation of the 5th Country Population Programme, the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in The Gambia in conformity with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and UNFPA Strategies Plan.

Mboge stated that the mid-term review is an essential step in the cycle of UNFPA programme of assistance to countries. He added that it is an exercise undertaken jointly by the Fund and governments and is both a retrospective as well as a prospective exercise.

He further said that the outcome of the forum will provide valuable inputs into the next upcoming CCA, UNDAF and MDGs report. Earlier, in his opening remarks, Ebrima Camara, deputising the secretary general, Office of the President, Dr. Njogu Bah, expressed gratitude for the contribution of the UN Agencies to the socio-economic development of The Gambia, through interventions that are immensely supportive. He also thanked other development partners for their steadfastness in the partnership with the government of The Gambia in driving the countrys development agenda that is already MDG-based, and pro-poor friendly.

He disclosed that the UNFPA assistance to The Gambia started far back in 1972, and the current programme, he said, is the 6th cycle of assistance with overall goal of improving the quality of life and the standard of living for the Gambias population. According to him, the US$5.5million programme is structured around three areas namely: reproductive health; population and development; and gender, which according to him, are importance pillars for poverty reduction, since they represent the cross-cutting dimensions that underpin any serious effort in poverty reduction. He finally assured them of governments continuous commitment towards the successful implementation of the country programme.

Gambia Info director impressed with YJAG

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA(MB)- Thursday, 28 January 2010, Isatou Davies-Ann commonly known as Aisha, the director of The Gambia Info has expressed satisfaction at the initiative taken by the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia (YJAG) to meet the heads of media institutions and discuss the welfare of their reporters, as well as their mode of operation as far as journalism is concerned in The Gambia.

She made this remarks last Friday when the executive members of YJAG called on her as part of their tour of media institutions in the country. According to Aisha, the journalists in her department are given special attention and their payments and salaries have been increased. She described training as a key issue in the development of journalism, adding that her department has prioritised training for its journalists.

The dynamic Gambia Info director reminded the executive members of YJAG that young journalists should not take journalism as a money making venture, instead they should have a passion for the field and work hard to achieve their objectives. She said the young journalists in the country need to be guided and well-trained. She finally encouraged YJAG to keep up the momentum and advised their members to uphold to the code of ethics of the profession.

Speaking earlier, Assan Sallah, president of YJAG, said the reason for the courtesy call is to discuss with the heads of the media institutions in the country about the welfare of the young journalists in their various media houses. Sallah used the platform to call on the media chiefs to provide in-house training for the young reporters, increase their salaries and organise them in a better way, so as to enable them deliver in their newsrooms as expected.

He said the tour of media institutions is not a familiarisation tour, but rather a platform for discussion with the media chiefs about the welfare of their reporters. He also informed the media chiefs that YJAG has plans to come up with a series of training programmes for its members as part of its 2010 Action Plan and called on the media heads to support so that they can realise their objectives.

Sallah thanked Aisha Davies for her support to her staff especially the young reporters. Speaking earlier, Mamadou Edrissa Njie, YJAGs 2nd vice president, gave a historical background of the Association. He said YJAG was established on September 16th, 2007 with the objective of promoting unity among all young journalists in the country, provide training in the form of capacity building, and address the welfare of young journalists, among others. The organisation, he added, is also tasked with responsibility to facilitate the recruitment of young journalists into the media profession and build capacities for its members. Modou Baldeh of YJAG delivered the vote thanks
Author: By Fatoumata Mbenga, Daily Observer

YJAG visits The Point, Digest office

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB)-Friday, 22 January 2010,as part of its tour of media institutions in the country, the executive members of the Young Journalists? Association of The Gambia (YJAG) on Thursday paid a courtesy call on Pap Saine, the managing director/publisher of The Point Newspaper and Moshood Abdou Salam Sesay, the managing director of Digest Publications, to discuss with them in their capacity as media chiefs, the welfare of the young reporters in their various media houses.

Speaking at both functions, Assan Sallah, the president of YJAG, said the reason for the courtesy call is to discuss with the heads of the media institutions in the country about the welfare of the young journalists in their various media houses. Sallah used the platform to call on the media chiefs to provide in-house trainings for the young reporters, increase their salaries and organised them in a better way, so as to enable them deliver in their newsrooms as expected.

He said the tour of media institutions is not a familiarisation tour, but rather a platform for discussion with the media chiefs about the welfare of their reporters. He also informed the media chiefs that YJAG has plans to come up with a series of training programmes for its members as part of its 2010 Action Plan and called on the media heads to support them to realise their objectives.

Sallah finally thanked Pap Saine and Moshood Abdou Salam Sesay for their support to YJAG and the young reporters in general. Speaking earlier, Mamadou Edrissa Njie, YJAG?s 2nd vice president, gave a historical background of the Association. He said YJAG was established on September 16th, 2007 with the objective of promoting unity among all young journalists in the country, to provide training in the form of capacity building and to address the welfare of young journalists, among others.

The Association, he added, is also tasked with responsibility to facilitate the recruitment of young journalists into the media profession and build capacities for its members.
In response, Pap Saine, the managing director/publisher of The Point Newspaper, expressed delight at receiving the young journalists in his office and promised to continue giving them advice and support at all times. He revealed that The Point Newspaper is paying more than the Gambia Press Union (GPU) recommendation for newspapers on the payment of stories for freelance reporters. He further revealed that his company has allocated some other incentives for his reporters such as medical bills, training both at local and international level, among others.

According to The Point boss, he has plans to start an in-house training for his reporters and he has already given some of his freelancers a three-month probation, during which if they excel, they will be promoted to the position of a staff reporter. He advised the young journalists to search for news and report objectively on them. He however spoke of some of the constraints faced by media chiefs in printing their papers, as well as the late payment of some adverts, which he said, makes their work difficult sometimes. ?Journalists should respect divergent views and should report objectively,? The Point boss emphasised. ?I will never exploit the labour of my staff and freelancers,? he remarked.

He finally advised YJAG to meet the authorities and discuss with them.
For his part, Moshood Abdou Salam Ceesay, the managing director of Digest Publications, commended YJAG for the move, describing it as a move in the right direction. He challenged the reporters to come up with interesting stories and finally promised to look into the issue of salary increment for his staff. Modou Baldeh, a co-opted executive of YJAG delivered the vote of thanks.

Author: by Fatou Sowe, Daily Observer

YJAG tours more media houses

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB)- Thursday, 21 January 2010, the executive members of the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia (YJAG) Wednesday continued its tour of media institutions to discuss with the media chiefs, the welfare of the young reporters in their various media houses.

The executive members first met Musa Sheriff, the editor-in-chief of The Voice Newspaper and later called on Swaebou Conateh, the proprietor of The Gambia News and Report Magazine in Serrekunda.

Speaking at both functions, Assan Sallah, president of YJAG, said the reason for the courtesy call is to discuss with the heads of the media institutions in the country about the welfare of the young journalists in their various media houses. Sallah used the platform to call on the media chiefs to provide in-house trainings for the young reporters, increase their salaries and organise them in a better way, so as to enable them deliver in their newsrooms as expected.

He said the tour of media institutions is not a familiarisation tour, but rather a platform for discussion with the media chiefs about the welfare of their reporters. He also informed the media chiefs that YJAG has plans to come up with a series of training programmes for its members as part of its 2010 Action Plan and called on the media heads to support them to enable them realise their objectives.

Sallah finally thanked Musa Sheriff and Swaebou Conateh for their support to YJAG and the young reporters in general. Speaking earlier, Mamadou Edrissa Njie, YJAGs 2nd vice president, gave a historical background of the association. He said YJAG was established on September 16th, 2007 with the objective of promoting unity among all young journalists in the country, provide training in the form of capacity building, and see to the welfare of young journalists, among others. The organisation, he added, is also tasked with responsibility to facilitate the recruitment of young journalists into the media profession and build capacities for its members.

In response, Musa Sheriff, the proprietor of The Voice Newspaper, welcomed YJAG and commended them for the initiative. According to him, the welfare of the young journalists has always been a concern for the media chiefs. He spoke at length on the behaviour of the young journalists in profession and advised YJAG to rectify some of those issues. The editor-in-chief of The Voice Newspaper also urged the young journalists to venture into investigative journalism.

He said The Voice newspaper is a training centre for all journalists and promised to increase the salaries of his reporters. Swaebou Conateh, the proprietor of The Gambia News and Report Magazine, also commended YJAG and described the young journalists as the lifeblood of any newspaper. Conateh promised to look into the welfare of his reporters and support them in acquiring training on journalism.

The veteran journalists assured YJAG that his newspaper will meet the requirements of the young journalists and advised them to be hardworking. Other speakers include; Alhagie Saidy Faye of the Voice Newspaper and Baboucarr Ceesay, the managing editor of The Voice newspaper. Modou Baldeh, a co-opted member of YJAG delivered the vote of thanks.

Source Daily Observer

YJAG continues tour

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB)- Wednesday, 20 January 2010, the executive members of the Young Journalists? Association of The Gambia (YJAG) Tuesday continued its tour of media institutions, to discuss with media chiefs, the welfare of young reporters in their various media houses.

The executive first met Sam Sarr, the managing editor of Foroyaa Newspaper and later called on Pa Malick Faye, managing director of the Observer Company. Speaking at both functions, Assan Sallah, president of YJAG, said the reason for the courtesy call was to discuss with the heads of the media institutions in the country about the welfare of the young journalists in their various media houses.

Sallah used the platform to call on the media chiefs to provide in-house training programmes for the young reporters, increase their salaries and organise them in a better way, so as to enable them deliver in their newsrooms as expected. He stressed that the tour of media institutions is not a familiarisation tour, but rather a platform for discussions with the media chiefs about the welfare of their reporters. He also informed the media chiefs that YJAG has plans to come up with a series of training programmes for its members as part of its 2010 Action Plan and called on the media heads to support them so that they can realise their objectives.

Sallah finally thanked Sam Sarr and Pa Malick Faye for their support to YJAG and the young reporters in general. Speaking earlier, Mamadou Edrissa Njie, YJAG?s second vice president, gave a historical background of the Association. He said YJAG was established on 16 September 2007 with the objective of promoting unity among all young journalists in the country, provide training in the form of capacity building, and address the welfare of young journalists, among others. The organisation, he added, is also tasked with the responsibility to facilitate the recruitment of young journalists into the media profession and build capacities for its members.

In response, Sam Sarr told the young journalists that media chiefs are equally concerned about the welfare of the young journalists, especially the freelance reporters in their newsrooms. He spoke at length on the remuneration of the freelance reporters and assured YJAG that Foroyaa would also look into their case and will increase the salaries of the reporters.

Sarr however complained of the high cost of the newsprint, which he said is very expensive, and that newspapers sometimes get few adverts. He advised YJAG to come up with concrete suggestions so that they will address the issue. He revealed that Foroyaa has given a page to some students who are interested in writing or becoming journalists in future, to explore their skills in writing. He also informed the YJAG executive that in-house trainings are conducted for Foroyaa reporters and assured that they would continue with it.

He finally called on the young journalists to practice the code of ethics of the profession, in order to become professionals in their job. At the Daily Observer, Hatab Fadera, a member of YJAG, commended Pa Malick Faye, the Observer boss for his commitment to YJAG, as well as his concern for the young reporters at the Observer Company. Fadera showered praises on MD Faye and expressed delight at efforts made by the Observer Management to ensure that its reporters are well paid.

Fadera did not hesitate to commend the leadership of YJAG for the brilliant initiatives taken over the period for the interest of its members. Lamin Dibba, marketing manager of the Observer Company, commended YJAG for the initiative and advised them to organise training seminars on journalism for its members. Dibba also urged the young journalists to observe the code of ethics of the profession and save its good image. He finally wished the YJAG executive all the best of luck and assured them of his support at all times.

For his part, Alhagie Jobe, deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Observer newspaper said the staff and freelance reporters at the Observer Company are well taken care off and provided with a lot of incentives. On the issue of coverage, Jobe said the reporters should be well organised and should avoid having conflicts of interest over certain coverages. He also urged the young journalists to be concentrating more on trainings especially their in-house trainings so as to develop their capacities. He praised the YJAG executive for the initiative and told them to keep up the good job. For his part, Pa Malick Faye, the managing director of the Observer Company, reiterated his commitment towards supporting YJAG, saying: ?We at the Observer will continue supporting YJAG as long as you don?t deviate from your mission statement.? He advised the young journalists to redouble their efforts, maintain unity, disagree to agree and do what is best for them.

MD Faye spoke at length on the numerous incentives created for the young reporters at the Observer Company and promised to redouble his efforts to address their welfare. ?You should work hard to succeed in life and don?t allow anybody to put you in trouble,? he advised. ?You should know the laws within which you operate, respect authorities and uphold the tenets of the profession,? were the final words of advice of the Observer MD.

He finally commended YJAG for its activities and called on them to organise another football match between them and the media chiefs so as to engage the latter and foster unity among them and the young journalists. Demba Kandeh, the public relations officer of YJAG delivered the vote of thanks.
Author: by Fatoumata Baldeh-Ceesay, Daily Observer

YJAG executive calls on media chiefs

News, Banjul The Gambia- The executive members of the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia (YJAG), on Monday 18 January 2010, started their tour of media institutions, to discuss with media chiefs the welfare of the young reporters in their various media domains.

The executive first met with the proprietor/managing editor of Today Newspaper, Abdul Hamid Adiamoh, at his office along the Kairaba Avenue before meeting with the proprietor/managing director of the Daily News, Madi Ceesay, at Churchills Town. Speaking at both functions, Assan Sallah, president of YJAG, said the reason for the courtesy calls is to discuss with the heads of media institutions in the country about the welfare of the young journalists in all aspects of their profession.

Sallah used the platform to call on the media chiefs to provide in-house trainings for the young reporters, increase their salaries and organise them in a better way, so as to enable them deliver as expected. He said the tour of media institutions is not a familiarisation tour, rather as stated , to create a platform for discussion with the media chiefs about the welfare of their young reporters. He also informed the media chiefs that YJAG has plans to come up with a series of training programmes for its members as part of its 2010 Action Plan and called on the media heads to support them realise their objectives.

Speaking earlier, Mamadou Edrissa Njie, YJAGs 2nd vice president, gave a historical background of the association. He said YJAG was established on September 16th, 2007 with the objectives to promote unity among all young journalists in the country, provide training in the form of capacity building, and address the welfare of young journalists, among others.

The organisation, he added, is also tasked with the responsibility to facilitate the recruitment of young journalists in the media profession and build capacities among its members. He then revealed that YJAG at present has a membership of over 150, including the press clubs in the senior secondary schools across the country. In response, Abdul Hamid Adiamoh, the managing editor of Today Newspaper, thanked YJAG for taking the initiative and encouraged them to make their association a study group.

According to Adiamoh, his newspaper attaches great importance to the welfare of his reporters and promised that he would also increase the payment of his freelance reporters. He called on the young journalists to work hard and improve on their writing skills.

Madi Ceesay, the proprietor of the Daily News, also described the topic of discussion as important, adding that the young journalists are the life blood of any newspaper. Ceesay also outlined some of the constraints faced by the media heads in printing their newspapers but promised that he would soon increase the salary of his staff in order to meet their demands. The tour continues today at Foroyaa and the Daily Observer newspapers .
Author: by Omar Wally Daily Observer

Party Leader Governor Juwara Urges Gambians to Vote for Jammeh

As He Slaughter Trust within NDAM Party

As the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) embarks on a nationwide tour with a high powerful delegation, the party breaks the waves of Lower River Region with a mass rally, in which the governor of the region, Lamin Waa Juwara, called on Gambians to put aside their political difference and vote for President Yahya AJJ Jammeh in the forthcoming election in 2011.
The Secretary General and party leader of the National Democratic Action Movement (NDAM) and former member of the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) but now a governor, made the called at a mass rally in Soma in Jarra West District in LRR, recently as the APRC national party mobiliser and Mayor of the Kanifing Municipal Council, Yankuba Colley accompanied by Honorable Fabakary Tombong Jatta, House member for Serrekunda East and majority leader of Parliament a current nationwide tour to sensitise electorals ahead of the forthcoming presidential seal for 2011.
Governor Lamin Waa Juwara urged peoples in his region to turn out massively during e lection day and vote for President Jammeh for a term of five years saying that the Gambian leader has bring a lot of development at the door steps for the people in his region.
According to him, the alarm bell has ring for all Gambians to rally behind President as (Jammeh) makes Gambians and people residing in the Gambia to be happy in their everyday lives.
Governor Juwara told the touring delegation that the people of his region are all rallying behind the APRC party saying that the people of the area will continued to speak one voice as far as he is the governor of LRR, while assuring Colley that there is no political suicides or differences in the region at the of speaking at the rally.
“As far as I remain to be the governor of LRR, it is my intention to make everyone happy and it is the ruling party who can make the Gambian people happy,” he vowed adding that Jammeh’s concern is to make every Gambian and people residing in the smiling coast (Gambia) to be independent. Juwara re-echoed “I am calling on all the people of my region to vote for Jammeh in the forthcoming presidential election in 2011,” he concluded.
Also addressing a glowing turn-out meeting in Soma, Jarra West District in LRR, Mayor Colley reminded the gathering some of the development that the APRC has undertaking under the dynamic leadership of President Jammeh since 1994 to date stating that Soma has undergone a massive transformation.
According to him, Gambians and non- Gambians alike has enjoyed the benevolent gesture of President Jammeh in term of developments in the country noting that due to lots of development transformation, Gambians are now respected all over the world calling them to rally behind the APRC government
The National Assembly member for Serrekunda East and majority leader of the National Assembly, Honorable Fabakary Tombong Jatta assured the meeting that the Gambian leader has a genuine intention for Gambians and urged them to have the mentality that no one else can develop their region but themselves.
He then expressed optimism that President Jammeh will be voted into office, noting that the party needs victorious in LRR for the 2011 election.
Addressing party militants and cross over militants from other political parties at a mass rally in the Lower River and Central River Region, the national mobiliser of the ruling party , Mayor Yankuba Colley, called on Gambians to remain loyal to President Jammeh and the ruling APRC party for the socio-economic development of the country.
Mayor Colley stressed that the bedrock for sustainable socio-economic development in any country is for its people to unite, love and have respect for each other, while calling on them turnout in large numbers for the 2011 election.
In Kudang village in Central River Region, Colley told Gambians electorals to cast their votes for the ruling party, in which he revealed that there is “no” room for any opposition party to survive in the area other than APRC party.

Friday, January 15, 2010

UDP Leader Questions the Competence of Local and Central Gov’t

Says “I cannot get water to rinse my face”

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB)-The leader of the main opposition party, United Democracy Party (UDP), lawyer Ousainou Darboe has renewed his usual missiles attack on the central government and local government for what he describe as priorities is not set in the development program as Farafenni town and Ndawen village are buying water on daily basic.
Farafenni town is located in North Bank Region while Ndawen village is in Central River Region South and both are buying water on daily basic for home uses like washing cloths, cooking etc.
According to local newspapers publications, with an interview with Mr. Darboe at his office in Banjul,
Darboe stated that “if we have set priorities in our development program on issues and matters that need to be addressed urgently, we will address these matters once and for all”.
According to him, he was in both places and spends the night there adding that, “honestly, in the morning, I could not even have water to wash my face. And Ndawen was the seat of the Chief of Niani at that time.”
In his own thinking, the government should really act together to address issues that are of concern to the people, not only bringing white elephant projects to its citizenry like the rural electrification, when the rural cannot even pay bills for electricity because it is too expensive, said Darboe
He noted that in the rural areas, “No one will pay D6, 000 for a meter, when you cannot provide two bags of rice in your house. So the priority should be water supply. And I hope that both central and local government will address this issue urgently for us to make use of water in our various ways.”
He went on to explain that, water is life.
“We can’t live without water under any circumstances. You can’t even perform your religious rites correctly without water. So water is everything and it is regretting that in the 21st century Gambian people could buy water due to scarcity of water in a large settlement like Farafenni. Rural electrification program should go hand in hand with water supply for the rural areas. In fact, priority should be rural water supply rather than rural electrification.”
UDP leader pointed out that the local government authorities have a responsible to ensure that water is available to residents within their various local governments administrative areas, noting that no Government, whether local or central government, is worth its salt if it cannot provide water for its citizens.

Mayhem on Restoring Sales Tax on Rice

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB) - The announcement that the ‘government would restore the sales tax on imported rice to the 5 percent level’ must be received with mixed feelings. For an economy which is heavily dependent on revenue generation, this was first and foremost a revenue measure since, through “the government in 2008 zero-rated the sales tax on rice as a policy measure to minimize the impact of the food crisis”, we are told this meant “foreign significant revenues”.
And whereas one may really wonder whether “ we have passed the episode of high food prices’ as asserted by the Finance Minister in his Budget Speech, yet the need to “encourage local agricultural production” was always and still is a valid goal.
Indeed, pundits are generally agreed that it is a good thing to encourage local food producers whose efforts, it is believed, are undermined by the dependence on imported rice, for example, which importation trends to discourage local production. This happens; the argument goes, when especially the government subsidizes the rice price to make it affordable to urban consumers.
The problem we wish to highlight here through is the fact that locally produced rice is not easily available in the market-not in Greater Banjul area anyway.
Remember there was a time when this rice was being provided by the Kuntaur Rice Mill, and could be brought in diverse places in Serrekunda. As far as we know, this is no longer the case.
Thus one must worry about the likely effect of the government measure which could cause an increase in the price of imported rice and its impact on livelihoods, a time when locally produced rice is not readily seen in the urban areas where a significant proportion of the country’s population resides. Thus the issue needs to be studies closely.
Another matter which begs for clarity is the claims of a bumper harvest of crops in the country frequently made on the public news media.
For instance, it was announced that Kanilai Farms alone is expecting to harvest at least 10,000 tonnes and, in fact, up to 25,000 tonnes (is it of rice or of all crops?) this year, from its around “200 farms” countrywide, which was announced recently by President Yahya AJJ Jammeh himself on GRTS television.
National farm production figures are usually provided and confirmed by sources such as the Ministry of Agriculture. Are we to assume that the crops production figures given in the 2010 Budget Speech include all produce by all farmers and farming entities in the country?
Ideally, in the interest of transparency and to facilitate accountability, the relevant official sources, being the sources to turn to fact reliable facts and figures, should endeavour to publish such information. If Kanilai Farms has become a important big player in the country’s agricultural sector, going by the figures cited above, then one would expect to hear mention of this information in relevant official sources.

Is Agriculture Really Given the Priority by Jammeh’s Regime?

As the sector is allocated D140.40 million “Act now” before it’s too late

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB) - The call of President Yahya AJJ Jammeh for The Gambian people to “Return to the Land” is not new, since records shows it was being made by politicians and others during the first Republic and other Presidents in Africa.
Former President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana also engages in farming during his tenure in office, going through records for presidents who made such announcements is not anything peculiar either, since records show, examples like President Rawlings who was an ardent farmer.
However, in spite of all the talk about the need for a “return to the land”; and for national food security, an analysis of information available from the 2010 Budget Speech suggests that the government is not putting its money where its mouth is!
The 2010 Budget Speech highlights the “Sectoral Allocation for 2010 Budget – Development Resources and Development Budget (GLF)” and Sectoral Allocation for 2010 Budget – Department Resources and Development Budget (All Funs).
Agriculture is allocated D140.40 million (2.74 percent) far lower than spending on Defence, Interior and Foreign Affairs, for example.
Still, compare this to the fact that Education (Basic, Secondary Higher Education) received D1075.70 million (21 percent of allocation and the highest) and Health D389.60 million (97.61 percent).
“Education continued to receive the largest share of the 2009 national budget, and appreciable increase over 14.4 percent in 2008” (2010 Budget Speech).
This is the situation; despite the Finance Minister also declared that “Agriculture continues to be one of the most important sectors as it employs 70-80 percent of the population and generates over 60 percent of household incomes”.
In fact the Finance Minister was quite pleased to state; “It is heartening to report that The Gambia is on track to achieve both the Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) related targets, as incorporated in our Poverty Reduction Strategic Paper and Vision 2020”.
Is this situation an indication of the true priorities of the Gambia government?
“The African Union (AU) has urged governments to devote 10 percent of their spending to agriculture, but only four or five countries have actually met that target”. Obviously The Gambia at 2.72 percent is not one of them.

Lawyer Darboe Split the Beans

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB)- The leader of the main opposition party Unite Democracy Party (UDP) lawyer Ousainou Darboe has said that the remuneration of farmers for their produce to be sell should be a great concern for the government as they should not left to go to the lumos to sell their produce.
In an interview with local media, Mr. Darboe says “no one can deny that the biggest work force in this country is constituted by farming communities. It is the largest work force in this country. We want them to realize their wages as early as the marketing started in this year’s trade season, because they earn wages only once in year”.
Darboe went on; farmers are looking forward to their earnings after three to four months of hard work in the field under the hot sun. At the end of the day, they want to realize the fruits of their hard work and sweet but the government seen to be doing little about it.
He spelled out that Gambians farmers are not in position to prove markets for themselves so as to sell their produce to the international markets. The farmers, he noted are not in positions to even determined the prices neither for their own produce nor to create a viable market for them.
According to him, “all this should be provided by the Government or probably with other stakeholders to come to the aid of the government if they cannot prove markets for poor farmers.
“It is unpardonable that after all this toil, the farmers should go without realizing their wages. I know that in November, after a very good trade season.”
On behalf of the party on my own behalf, “we are advising that whosoever is responsible for these marketing facilities should ensure that this year’s trade season is not like past season, when farmers were left to go to the lumos to sell their produce. This was what I said in my New Year message. There should not be any owing them”, he concluded.

Gambia: 82,807 Elderly Living in the Country

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (MB) - In the Gambia, there are 82,807 elderly people living in the country, according to the Coordinator of Ageing with a Smile Initiative (ASI), Mr. Balamusa Joof while quoting from the Gambia Bureau of Statistic (GBoS) at the official launching of the Organisation on the 9th January 2010 at the Kanifing Municipal Council’s Ground.
According to Joof, today’s society has been built by the concerted efforts of previous generations of people “who have worked extremely hard to get us where we are now” adding that when we talk about the elderly, they always narrates stories how they had struggled to bring food to the family, pay for education, built the homes and ensure that our security is to the maximum.
With all this, he said some of them are very old more especially the women saying that as we celebrates the new year with sending cards to loves ones, visiting them at homes, going to night clubs, some of them are in their dark rooms with all their windows open with little help from family members.
In the Gambia, he explained it is often believed that traditions of respect mean that the elderly are adequately supported by the family; this Joof pointed out is not the case nowadays.
Nowadays there are even instances when older people are abused socially, physically, economically and psychologically, their basic human rights such as the right to life, liberty, food, health, freedom from discrimination are all violated in their daily lives.
These old people, he went on, are as diverse as farmers, teachers, fishermen/ women, religions leaders, politicians, drivers, tailors, health workers, carpenters, cleaners, dock workers and security officers serving their nation with pride.
According to him, most of the old have worked under hard, difficult and in some cases dangerous conditions “to give us their best” noting that “we are gathered here today to pay tribute to their efforts and sacrifices and appeal to the younger generation to continue giving them back what they has cultivated for us to reap the fruits.”
Mr. Joof stated that majority of older people in Africa work in the informal sector and despite advancing age, they continue to work to support their families until they find it physically impossible to do so.
In addition, older people supports their families by caring for children at homes, managing the home and taking part in agricultural work. They also make valuable contributions to society as guardians of traditions and cultural values passed from generation to generation.
“As nature dictates, at a certain stage in their lives, heroes and heroines, who were once strong active and independent become frail and weak and in many case need support especially during the last days of lives”.
ASI coordinator mentioned that the elderly people should be guaranteed better living conditions for meaningful transition to old age, as he put it, it should be our collective responsibility to ensure that they have good health and proper living conditions whilst encouraging their participation active in leisure, sporting and cultural programmes.
On the organizations definition that is elderly, Joof said, ASI definitions of an elderly are someone who has attained the age of sixty (60) years and above. This he added is consistent with the United Nations definition of an elderly person.
Although, the family remains the most important source of support for older people in The Gambia and in many parts of Africa, family structures are changing and traditional patterns of care are no longer guaranteed for many elders, he said loudly and clearly.
Giving examples, Joof stated that urbanization is resulting in many older people now living alone in rural areas as many of the young folk is making ends meet in the urban centre, in which most of the elderly are receiving support from them while they were taking care by the old in days passes.
Another point, he stressed is economic pressures and changing social values makes many families are either unable or unwilling to care for older relatives. “We are therefore, witnessing a gradual disintegration of the extended family system thus rendering it ineffective in its role as a social security institution.”
He also spoke at length about the objectives of ASI saying that as part of their objectives is to improve access to basic health care services for disadvantaged elderly people, improve the re-integration of the elderly in Gambian social life, and promote inter-generation dialogue and to advocate for the rights of the elderly in the country.
To achieve this, he said ASI is with the strong believed and has already started a wide range of activities that includes the provision of routine health check ups for the elderly in their homes. This he said includes checking the elders’ capacity to earn a living and participate in family and community life among other services.
Revival of positive traditional roles of the elderly in Gambian social life such as story telling, riddles and knitting, with modern communication technologies, saying that “we now have opportunities to record the knowledge and experiences of the elderly and share it with a much audience”, he emphasized.
The work of ASI, Joof mentioned is being implemented by five working groups that respond to the diverse needs of the elderly in a comprehensive and integrated way and this groups are ; the medical and home visiting team, social events , the functioning and resource mobilization, advocacy and sensitization and research and publication team.
People identify for support by the Organisation, ASI coordinator revealed should be based in one of the following that is the person has attained the age of 60 years and above, the person has poor health such as physical disability, poor vision, with heard of hearing, arthritis, recovering from stroke, hypertension, diabetic, malnutrition etc, the person does not have adequate attention from family members and neighbours as a result of which he or she feels lonely and the old person is economically poor and does not have adequate support from family members or other organizations to lead a healthy and dignified life.
He concluded by saying that ASI can only meet its objectives with the support of the government, the business community, non-governmental organizations, and the public at large.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Award Presented To MOSHW

NEWS GAMBIA, BANJUL- The The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) has awarded the Expanded Programme on Immunization under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in The Gambia, for its consistent high immunization coverage over the past five years.

The award was yesterday presented to Sekou Omar Toure, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare on behalf of the health minister by Dr Omar Sey, the deputy permanent secretary Technical at the same ministry, who went to receive the award in Vietnam (Hanoi), according to health officials that were present at the conference.

This award, health officials went on, was conferred to The Gambia during the last GAVI Partnes Forum meeting held in Vietnam, Hanoi. However, the award was in recognition of the giant strides registered by the Gambia government in ensuring quality health service delivery to the doorstep of all Gambians, with much emphasis on immunization coverage over the past years.

The Gambia is the second African country apart from Rwanda that has successfully introduced the pnumocongentical Vaccines quite recently in 2009.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) has awarded the Expanded Programme on Immunization under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in The Gambia, for its consistent high immunization coverage over the past five years.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony held at the Ministry of Health conference hall, Madam Ramou Cole-Ceesay, the assistant director, Family Health, at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said the EPI programmes in recent years evolve progressively for the betterment of Gambian people and even non-Gambians to the extent that most of the preventable childhood diseases that normally kill children are no longer a problem in the country as many of them have been put under control by virtue of these very good vaccines.

So we are also grateful to the scientists, our development partners and government in particular, that has prioritised the health of children and made sure that the resources are available to get vaccines all over the country at any given time for that matter, as she puts it, the country's progressive success in the area of immunization:

The Gambia has been designated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the best countries in Africa that has consistently maintained high vaccines coverage for more than five years around the continent. We are really second to none.
Permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Seku Omar Touray, noted that there have been significant gains in The Gambia's Expanded Programmes on Immunization, adding that the life expectancy when compared to other countries in the sub-region is absolutely very significant.

Touray stated that despite challenges the country is still ranked high as earlier mentioned, considering EPI World Health Organisation report and UNICEF report among others. He however noted that there are still some challenges which will be addressed gradually in the near future.

PS Touray hailed the Health Ministry team that went to receive the award in Hanoi for their dedication.

In a power-point presentation on behalf of the EPI Team, Madam Yamundow Jallow, the programme manager, Expanded Programme on Immunization, said that the country adopted the Primary Health Care (PHC)and EPI in 1979. the polio eradication was launched in 1992, EPI integrated with maternal and child health services in 1982, in which, she said that the programme is to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality.

Halifa Sallah's New Year Message

NEWS GAMBIA, BANJUL- Halifa Sallah was the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) flag bearer for the 2006 presidential election.
The 2010 message reads,
Each human being has signed an unwritten contract with destiny. We must either honour the contract and be the architects of our own destiny or honour it with gross disregard and be the victims of blind destiny. This is the dictate of historical science and common sense and it is incontrovertible.
The Gambia is at crossroads. On one hand, 2009 is receding into the background with uncertainty looming in the horizon. On the other hand, new initiatives are unfolding which herald a great promise that a new Republic is in the making. In short, uncertainty has gripped those who cannot see the future arising and developing from the disintegration of the architecture of the present. Hope however is alive in the hearts and minds of those who are convinced that people are thinkers, inventors and builders of civilisation and have the capacity to transform difficulties into challenges and gloom into bright prospects.
2009 ended with the Gambia still vegetating as a highly Indebted poor country that had been offered debt relief under the Multilateral debt relief initiative. This debt relief was designed to reduce the annual budget on debt servicing and facilitate the utilisation of the resources to alleviate poverty. It is however clear from all government statistics that while it is claimed that the number of people living in abject poverty has dropped from 69 percent to 58 percent, it is equally acknowledged that there is growth in severity of poverty, increased malnutrition, high food contamination and a growing lack of balanced diet for the vast majority of the population. Sugar is now D6.00 per cup.
Five loaves of bread which cannot fill the stomach of a small child, a cup of sugar and a tin of the cheapest milk would cost 31 dalasis daily and is equivalent to the salary of a driver or messenger in the public service. If such people cannot afford a balanced diet what about the farmer who earns less than D8000 annually?
Financial indiscipline has been the order of the day as expenditure exceeds budgetary outlays, thus resulting in a budget deficit of 363 Million dalasis, for 2009. Instead of becoming an export oriented economy and stable investment zone to attract foreign direct investment, imports for 2008 stood at 7.1 billion dalasis while exports amounted to 300 Million dalasis thus creating a deficit of 6800 Million dalasis.
The Government’s seeming disregard of the politics of economics has led the image of the country to suffer because of all the allegations of human rights violations.
The drop in the earnings from tourism and remittances did impact on the volume of transactions in the domestic foreign exchange market resulting in a drop from 1.6 billion dollars to 1.3 billion dollars in 2009. That constitutes a drop of 7.8 billion dalasis. The depreciation of the dalasi against all major currencies did not come as a surprise. Only one public corporation, GPA is expected to contribute 1 Million dalasis as dividend in 2010. It goes without saying that in the face of budget deficits and public enterprises which do not pay dividends one does not expect any significant growth in investment and employment on the side of the civil service or public enterprises.
In the same vein, Private companies are being led to contribute to consumption in the name of meeting their corporate responsibilities instead of providing them with investment avenues to expand the productive base of the economy. Hence they also do not make maximum contribution to employment generation. The lack of parliamentary tracking of the volume of sovereign wealth arising from the mining sector, the growing centralization of land in the hands of the head of state instead of encouraging community resource ownership and management, the fluctuation of the prices of commodities to the detriment of consumers, the soaring of the cost of living above earning capacity, the soaring unemployment and under- employment, all add up to undermine economic development and general welfare.
In terms of the social sectors such as education countless boys and girls are finding it more and more difficult to pay the expenses. The cost of Senior Secondary Education now stands between 5000 dalasis and 10,000 dalasis plus per annum. Finance is therefore a major obstacle to educational opportunities.
Despite the existence of a road authority major roads are in a dilapidated state and are poorly maintained. Suffice it to say, for the past fifteen years Gambia has been unable to have a North Bank and South Bank complete road network for vehicles nor river transport to provide for the smooth movement of people, goods and services from one end of the country to the other.
In the civil ,political and cultural domain the omnipotence of the executive which has literally nullified the separation of powers between the executive, judiciary and the legislature, the numerous detentions without trial, the murder of Deyda and disappearance of persons like Chief Manneh and Kanyiba Kayni without diligent investigation, the witchcraft fiasco, the incarceration and eventual release of 6 journalists the endless threats of coups, the persistent attempt to promote the culture of the coup through poems, songs, musical jamboree, beauty contests and drama, the various attempts by the executive to encroach in religious matters and the growing marginalisation of the civic education council which has the constitutional mandate to raise public awareness on constitutional rights and other provisions of the constitution, confirm that there is a gross deficit in the ownership of power by the people and serious limitations in the exercise of their rights as sovereign owners of the country. Compatriots, this is one side of the coin of history as we turn our backs to 2009. Allow me to turn to the other side of coin in order to give a complete historical picture.
Compatriots, a New Year is about to begin and a new Republic is in the making. 2009 witnessed the launching of Agenda 2011.A new culture is arising and developing, the culture of the Republic; the Culture of the Sovereignty of the People. 2010 is heralding a new beginning for the Country. This is the beginning the country has always wanted since 24 April 1970 when the people should have evolved into a sovereign people in a sovereign Republic.
I have emphasised over and over again that the governments which took over had the responsibility to build a sovereign community which is larger than the family,the village, the ethnic group, the religious denomination, the tribe and cultural heritages, a community which should have earned greater loyalty and legitimacy by its capacity to protect personal liberty and deliver general welfare on an equitable basis without any discrimination with regards to demographic characteristics. It was necessary to ensure that the citizens of the Republic gave their mutual loyalty not by strengthening the instruments of coercion but by guaranteeing protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and general welfare in the form of infrastructural development, social service, jobs, social security. The Republic should have enabled each to enjoy maximum civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights. In that way each sovereign person irrespective of one’s personal attributes and social connections would become connected to the sovereign community which becomes an indispensable part of ones social being, a polity that one would be proud to belong to and in the absence of which, one cannot survive in liberty and prosperity.. Each sovereign Gambian should have become a part of the whole Republic and the whole Republic should have become a part of each sovereign Gambian .Each sovereign Gambian should have become a political being tied to the National interest. For 40 years this task of nation building was neglected. This is why some people still put their tribal, religious, regional and other identities above their National Identity and have rendered themselves incapable of making informed choices.
Today, a nationwide initiative has begun to inculcate in the minds of the people what should have been done 40 years ago when the Republic came into being. The battle against the culture of the coups started in earnest in 2009. This year 24 April will be commemorated with poems, songs, drama and lectures so that the people would know that the birth of the Republic is tied to the attainment of their political right to be the guardian of the sovereignty of the Nation. It will consolidate the lessons that Presidents, Ministers, National Assembly members and Councilors are public trustees elected by people to work day and night to build a civil, political, economic, social and cultural order that would guarantee equity, liberty, dignity and prosperity to all.
Compatriots,the power of the people was usurped since 1970 by keeping them ignorant of their sovereign rights. Instead of becoming sovereign citizens they became aliens in their own country who frequently claim that they are not literate and are at the mercy of the literate. Most considered politics as either a futile exercise for those who have time to waste or an opportunity to assist relatives, friends and patrons to get closer to the centre of power or the green pastures so as to gain from the trickling effect of the benefits that accrue to those who occupy palaces. Consequently, people turn their backs at the power they own and squander their opportunity to shape the policies of governments that are sensitive to their needs or remove those who abuse public offices. The time has come for the days of ignorance to come to an end.
Agenda 2011 is reversing the trend. It is creating fora of civic educators to promote civic awareness. Such civic educators are telling every single Gambian that they have a stake in what is happening outside of the gates of their homes. They are challenging the politically apathetic to realise that no home could exist without the street, the community, the Nation which should serve as the source of income to bring to the homes and the places to get all social services. Agenda 2011 is trying to build a sovereign consensus that everyone has interest to be served outside one’s home. This is inconceivable without some people being charged with the responsibility of building facilities in the streets, communities and nation in order for homes to function. Politics is nothing more than the science and art of managing the affairs of a state in order to provide services to the people. All must be involved. No one should be left behind.
We are succeeding in building a sovereign consensus that voter apathy is not an option for a sovereign person in a sovereign Republic. There is a general consensus that since each has a right to determine who manages the street, the community and nation, as Councillors, National Assembly members, Ministers or President, none should refuse to exercise one’s right to a choice of leadership. The battle against voter apathy has started in earnest and we will not stop until each Gambian is resolved to have a say on what goes on outside of his or her home by taking full part in the political life of the country.
I am sure people would be interested in knowing how far we have gone with Agenda 2011 and where we are to go from here.
Compatriots, you would recall that Agenda 2011 has the primary aim to promote the unity of the people around the issues, objectives and values they could take ownership of and further empower them to assert their sovereign right to determine those who are to govern them and their manner of government. Agenda 2011 therefore seeks to build structures aimed at promoting consensus building and the holding of a primary to elect a consensus candidate who will preside over a non partisan transitional administration, when elected, that would put in place the democratic instruments, institutions and standards of best practice in governance needed to give the country a new democratic beginning.

The first phase of the Agenda is to build the structures necessary to facilitate debate, enrichment of the text and consensus building. Work has started in earnest to sensitise the public on the content of the Agenda and register the impressions and reflections of diverse sectors of the population, nationally and internationally. It must be said that it is receiving wide appeal. Some have declared their endorsement of the tactics and strategy embodied in it. Others have gone further to make suggestions. Many questions have been asked and it is important to give general answers to all the individual concerns.
The key question asked is how Agenda 2011 hopes to do away with voter apathy. The answer is not so complex.
There are 670,336 registered voters in the Gambia (2006/7 IEC Report). The Independent Electoral Commission has divided the country into 7 administrative areas namely, Banjul with 19,892 registered voters; Kanifing with 129,014 registered voters; Brikama with 163,675 registered voters; Kerewan with 94,579 registered voters; Mansakonko with 51,979registered voters; Janjangbureh with 106,934 registered voters and Basse with 104,266 registered voters.
Primaries have never been introduced by political parties in the Gambia to determine candidature in elections. There was voter apathy in the Gambia in the 2006 Presidential elections. The Apathy grew worse during the National Assembly and Council Elections. Political Parties are exclusivist by their nature. Negotiation to determine candidature by an alliance of political parties would compel them to put party interest before other interests in both selection and the establishment of a government after election. Attempts have been made to draw all parties of the different political spectrum to form an umbrella party which would rely on a primary to determine candidature and the formation of a coalition government to manage a transitional administration. It did not reach the level of allowing the masses to decide. Agenda 2011 is a fast track initiative to create a voting bloc irrespective of party affiliation, based on a consensual programme aimed at reflecting and addressing most of the diverse and relevant concerns of the Gambian people in particular and the international community at large. It proposes for all those who endorse the programme to participate in a primary to ensure the democratic selection of opposition Presidential candidate for the 2011 Presidential elections and each opposition National Assembly Candidate for the 2012National Assembly elections. The presidential candidate would also be required to form a transitional and consensual administration for a period of two to five years so as to lay the foundation for good governance and free and fair elections and depart from the scene without making any attempt to put an heir in place. It is anticipated that such a primary will put an end to voter apathy and fragmentation.
I must say that many people have endorsed this proposal especially when they came to realise that it is the people who will do the selection of a candidate from a pool of persons recommended for candidature from political parties or civil societies, if they endorse the tactics and strategy of the Agenda.
How are we to move from noble intentions to noble actions?
The answer is simple. People are taking ownership. They are volunteering to promote the Agenda and get opinions. Mobilisers are required to consult with no less than 50 people who would say whether they would want to vote directly at a primary to select a candidate or ask one among the 50 to do the selection on their behalf. Structures to implement the recommendations are already developing from grassroots level. People are taking ownership. Future feedbacks on developments will give more details.

On the launching and promotion of the Agenda
Some people have recommended for the Agenda to be launched in the Diaspora in a formal way so that the people would be able to engage in its promotion.
This is useful recommendation. The Agenda is to go through five phases.The First phase is the publication of its summary to facilitate debate and consensus building.
The second phase is for those who endorse the agenda to volunteer to promote it among 50 persons who would undertake to vote at a primary to select a presidential candidate. The aim is to consult with nothing less than 300,000 people before the process is considered to be viable. The third phase is to prepare a list of the people who endorse the agenda to prepare the ground for their participation in nominating a Presidential Candidate. The fourth phase is to consult with political parties and civil societies on the best mechanisms for nomination of candidates.
The fifth phase is the debate on the best mechanism to conduct the primary. It is currently being proposed that those whose names are given as subscribers to the Agenda should be empowered to participate in the selection of a single candidate through a primary from a basket of nominees determined by stakeholders of the Agenda, to contest the 2011 Presidential Elections.
We are currently operating under the first and second phases. This requires the spirit of volunteerism from those at home and the Diaspora to ensure that the 300,000 people are consulted within a period of 1 year. No one has to ask for any one’s permission to explain the Agenda to 50 or more people and give feedback to the initiator. Suffice it to say, in order to broaden consultation community meetings, symposia, debates will be organised at home, in the sub-region, Africa and the Diaspora. This is different from the initiatives that will be taken in preparing those who are to participate in nominating a candidate, in consulting all stakeholders on the nomination process and mechanism for candidature and in facilitating the primary and the campaign of the person selected. Each process will demand an initiative of its own.
Some people have also asked how a consensual cabinet which could manage a transition could be created.
The Consensual Cabinet
Compatriots, it is strongly recommended that the democratic beginning of the country should be marked by consensual governance for a transitional period and then followed by genuine elections on the basis of a vibrant multi party system. Some of the mechanisms which are being proposed to ensure consensual governance by a transitional administration is to appoint a cabinet by considering lists of nominees of different groups in society. For example, a list of nominees may be provided by the bar association and Human Rights NGOs for the post of Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Human Rights; a list of nominees of the business Community and the Chamber of commerce for the post of Minister of Trade; a List of Nominees of the Trade Unions for Minister of labour; a list of nominees of the women’s groups for the post of Minister of women and Children affairs; a list of nominees of the members of the teacher’s union and any association of retired teachers for the post of Minister of Basic Education; a list of nominees of youth organisations for the post of Minister of Youth and Sports; a list of Nominees of the members of the Press Union for the Post of Minister of Information; a List of nominees of the members of the Medical and Dental Association for the post of Minister of Health; a list of Nominees of the associations for the protection of children, the elderly, those living with disability, the orphans for the post of Minister of Social and Cultural affairs, etc.
Examples of Consensual Administration
Take the plight of the farmers. For decades the bulk of their crops remain un-purchased. Credit buying almost became institutionalized. In 2008 the world market price for groundnuts was approximately 36000 dalasis per ton. The producer price in the Gambia was 8000 dalasis per ton. Consensual administration of the Groundnut sector would have required the establishment of a strong farmers’ Cooperative whose leaders would sit down with those responsible for marketing the produce to discuss all the administrative and logistical cost of storage and transportation from buying stations to the purchasers abroad. The sum would be computed and subtracted from the World Market Price and the outstanding sum would be made known to the farmers.. Union and Marketing agency would then negotiate to determine a fair producer price. They may take into consideration the advantage of deducting a reasonable sum from the balance for the purchase of farming implements and fertilizer which would be sold to the farmers at subsidized prices to make them available and affordable. The sum left would then be relied on to determine the producer price. In short, consensual administration would enable the whole process of determining producer price of the products of the farmers to be characterised by transparency, accountability and consensus building between farmers and marketing agencies..
The ideas are inexhaustible. We have to answer to the call of duty to fulfill our social contract. History absolves those who fulfill their contract with destiny. It indicts and banishes those who betray their contract to eternal pillory. Each of us has a duty to evaluate whether we are on track in the fulfillment of our contract or are heading towards a blind alley. We must know what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong, as individuals, a Community, a Nation and International community in order to be able to move forward. This is how we could make our transit into the New Year relevant. This is the only way we could renew our contract with destiny,
Awareness, Truth, Justice, Conscience and Organisation are the birth attendants of every old order that is pregnant with a new one. These are the tools which could make us thinkers, inventors and builders of a new destiny that would assure us liberty, dignity and prosperity. We have a duty to meet the challenges in order to harness the bright prospects. This is the demand of times and circumstances and it is irresistible. The End of the text.

SOURCE: FOROYAA NEWSPAPER authored by Halifa Sallah


NEWS GAMBIA BANJUL- The message of the Pary leader and secretary general of the National Democratic Action Movement (NDAM) Lamin Waa Juwara for the year 2010, which he convey to all Gambians and non Gambians.
The message reads,

"I wish to felicitate all Gambians for going through 2009 and it is my candid opinion that some positive results have been recorded. I wish we concert all our efforts to engage each other constructively in our endeavour to build our nation. I congratulate Gambians for the achievement and also congratulate the government, and in particular the leadership that created the enabling environment for the positive achievements recorded during the past year."

"I have no doubt in my mind that with the will and commitment, we will achieve much more during 2010. I call on all the political players, be they in the government or in the opposition to fight against poverty and under-development.

By looking at The Gambia, I have seen the resolve of the women in this country who are prepared in all sectors of Gambian society. I also congratulate Her Excellency the Vice- President for her exemplary leadership as Minister for Women?s Affairs. Their stand has made The Gambia proud."

"I also congratulate all media houses from print to electronic, public or independent, for the crucial role they continue to play in national development. Their role in the dissemination of information has contributed immensely to the peace and tranquillity in the country."

"I also salute the youths who are the future leaders of this country. It is my conviction that if they continue being correctly focused, tremendous activities would be recorded within a very short time."

"The last and not the least, the pride and patriotism being inculcated in the Gambian people by the President of the Republic had not gone unnoticed. I thank every Gambian both those at home and abroad and wish them a prosperous New Year. May God answer our prayers."


NEWS GAMBIA BANJUL- This was the message delivered by the Party Secretary and Leader of the National Reconciliation Party (NRP)honorable Hamat Bah , in wishing Gambians and non alike happy 2010. The message goes like this

"As was said last year, we need to be committed as a nation and as a people and work towards the common good of our country. Most specifically, I want to say that each and every Gambian should work towards eradicating poverty and improve on our livelihoods. We cannot do this unless we avoid sitting the whole day doing nothing other than talking and gossiping. We as Gambians must work very hard for the good of our country. But in as much as we work hard, we need to be supported particularly when it comes to the agriculture sector.

"We must maximise the usage of the River Gambia. We are losing millions of litres of fresh water from the River Gambia simply because we are not making best use of it. Our country has a size of about 11, 000 sq kilometres. We could easily irrigate this and harvest every three months if we are determined to do it. If we invest to the River Gambia by way of irrigation, we could harvest every three months and eventually eradicate poverty in this country.

"The PPP regime started something with the Jahally Pacharr Project but that failed. The APRC have not made any significant investment in that direction. I believe it is time for the Gambian people to understand fully that we have all the resources to enrich every one of us and eradicate poverty from this country.

"Government alone cannot do this, the private sector has an important role to play in this regard; they have to be involved. But because of the high lending rates in the banks, it would be difficult for people to take loans from the banks. Government cannot also afford all that money on it's own.

Secondly, "we have too many single mothers and unemployed youths in this country, who are struggling to maintain families. Yes we agree that we cannot all go into agriculture, but it is important that we open other avenues by getting funds for those young people to make it possible for them to get involved in the import and export trade rather than leaving it in the hands of foreigners. If we are able to do that, it would make a big difference as it would allow a national participation in all aspects of development.

"We all agree that we have so many banks in this country, but it has become clear that Gambians are fearful of them in terms of loans. Most of them do not have trust in the banking industry simply because some bank projects have failed. The rates are too high and the revenues generated cannot repay loans. At the end, what comes next is failure.

"If the banks are to fully participate in the development process, interest rates should be considerably reduced. That will make it possible for small-scale businesses to develop. Unless this is done, it will be difficult for small-scale businesses to develop.

This I believe is the way forward to eradicating poverty in this country and I believe, as citizens, this should be our resolution for 2010."

UDP 2010 New Year Message

NEWS GAMBIA, BANJUL- 2010 New Year message from Ousainu Darboe, Secretary General and Party Leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP)to Gambians and people residing in The Gambia.
The full text of the 2010 message reads

My Gambian compatriots and friends living in The Gambia;

Let me first of all extend to all of you, my greetings and that of the United Democratic Party. Just a few days ago, we celebrated together the auspicious feasts of Christmas and Tamharet. This is a pleasant coincidence with Christians and Muslims all over the world celebrating two of the most important events in their religious calendars. The Christian feast of Christmas commemorates and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ whose prophet-hood and status, as one of the messengers of God, is recognised and accepted by every true Moslem.

The Moslem feast of Tamharet or Yumal Asura is the beginning of the new Moslem year. Both events hold promises of redemption and deliverance for mankind. The two feasts being celebrated in the month of December this year conjure peace and joy, good neighbourliness and harmony. In this month of December, Christians and Moslems the world over rededicate themselves to peace and renew their hopes for a better, more peaceful and a just world in the coming year. This is equally true for the Christians and Moslems in the Gambia. The occasions offer us, we Gambians and our friends living amongst us, the opportunity for introspection and retrospection of the year ending and anticipation of the New Year and what it may bring for all of us in terms of our welfare and well-being.

As we look back at the year that is about to end, we have to admit that the economic condition of the average Gambian has been dire. The prices of basic commodities have been on the increase and the means of making a living are not available. Employment opportunities, particularly for the young people, are virtually non existent. Work in the public sector is available mainly in the army, police, and prison services and even in this case, hundreds are turned away because of limited spaces. As government has not been able to provide employment for the great number of school leavers and other qualified people that are graduating each year, there is an absolute need for government to palliate this by encouraging the private sector to thrive and create jobs.

We follow with great anxiety, the difficulties facing the tourist industry, one of the major seasonal employment outlets in the country. We cannot continue to blame the failings of this industry on the global economic downturn. Our own management of the industry and sometimes pronouncements have resulted in high spending tourists looking for alternative resorts. We cannot ignore the fact that tourism, which is a major foreign currency earner, must be nurtured through rational and efficient policies on the part of government without sacrificing moral values.

At the beginning of December whilst counting down to 1st January, we were looking forward to 2010, with high hopes and expectations. However, with the recent increase in taxes introduced by the government in the 2010 budget, particularly the sales tax on rice, it is hard to see how the situation next year can be an improvement on this year. To the contrary, an increase in the price of our staple food by any means would spell additional hardship on the people. Any increase in the cost of living of Gambians has always been as a result of increases in taxes and duties.

The year 2009 has witnessed a series of arrests and detentions, the reasons for which in most cases, have been a matter of speculation for Gambians. Since we live in a country where the Constitution and other laws reign supreme, it is necessary for the citizenry to know the reason for arrests and detentions and in some cases dismissals from the public service. Transparency in these cases could allay fears and confusion. Mutations in government, indeed the civil service, have been difficult to follow, much less comprehend.

The global trend is to provide the media easy access to information. The media’s role in the dissemination of information and differing opinions is accepted and recognised by all democratic governments as a sine qua non to good governance. The arrest, trial, and conviction of six Gambian journalists earlier this year (subsequently granted Presidential pardon), are a direct assault on the right of individuals to express differing views on topical issues. As we approach 2010, we can only pray for a healthier government-private media relationship and a harmonious public media and dissent group relationship. To strengthen this relationships, The Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), in the interest of the nation, must not only be objective in the dissemination of information but must also cover the activities of all political parties.

As we end the year, we cannot but remember our fellow Gambians who have not been with their families for a long time now and whose whereabouts or state of health are unknown to us. I think particularly of journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh and the UDP’s Eastern Kombo Constituency Secretary Kanyiba Kanyi, who were abducted by state agents some years ago and have not been seen or heard of since. We can only join the multitude of local and international appeals that continue to be made for their release, and demand that in the spirit of peace and goodwill, these two religious celebrations epitomise, these Gambian brothers be charged and brought before the courts or released.

A fortnight ago, the life and times of a great Gambian – Deyda Hydara – was celebrated. His life and what he stood for will continue to be celebrated but such celebration will have real meaning for his colleagues, family and those of us who were beneficiaries of his pen, if before the next anniversary of his death; those who cowardly brought about his untimely death are apprehended and brought to justice. Let us all Gambians pray to God the Almighty to remove any and all hurdles impeding the apprehension of the cowardly criminals.

The year 2009 has been a year of abundant rain and good harvest. As we enter the New Year, we would normally look forward to a good groundnut trade to the satisfaction of all actors particularly the farmers. Groundnuts have been, from time immemorial, the main livelihood of our farmers and the mainstay of our economy; a good trade season therefore, can only augur well for the economic well-being of the country. For this reason, we pray for a good and prosperous season so that our hardworking farmers will not be disappointed and will reap the benefits of their labour. We pray that this season will not be another season of broken promises.

Finally, as we start another year, we do it in the sincere hope that the peace and good as symbolised by both Tamharet and Christmas, be a reality and that the wishes and prayers we have made for the health and well-being of our families, ourselves and our country, be realised in the new year.

On behalf of the United Democratic Party, I wish you all a prosperous new year and good health in 2010.

May God bless you all and The Gambia.

UDP Secretariat
Banjul, The Gambia
31st December, 2009

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Honorable Sallah Relieve as Njogu Bah Replace

NEWS GAMBIA, BAMJUL- According to news monitored on GRTS on friday evening, the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh, has appointed Dr Njogou L Bah as the new secretary general and head of the Civil Service with effect from Friday, January 8th, 2010, a release from the Office of the President reveals. Dr Bah replaces Abdoulie Sallah, who has been relieved of his position.

Below is the full text of the release.
His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh, president of the Republic, acting in accordance with the provisions of Section 168 of the constitution of the Republic of The Gambia has relieved Mr. Abdoulie Sallah of his position as secretary general and head of Civil Service with effect from Friday 8th January 2010.

In the same vein, His Excellency the President has appointed Dr. Njogou Lamin Bah as secretary general and head of Civil Service with immediate effect. Mr. Ebrima O. Camara, permanent secretary (2) Office of the President now replaces Dr. Njoguou L. Bah as acting secretary to Cabinet.

"Radical cleric" never deported to The Gambia

NEWS, GAMBIA, BANJUL- The government of The Gambia has denied reports by certain international media networks such as the BBC, CNN and Aljazeera of the deportation to The Gambia of a Kenyan/Jamaican national ?radical muslim cleric? in the name of Abdullah Al Faisal who allegedly had links to Al Qaeda.

In a joint press release issued by the ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Interior, the two ministries described the media reports as malicious, unfounded and misleading and that no such person has landed on the shores of The Gambia.

The release reads:
It has come to the attention of the government of The Gambia that certain international media networks such as the BBC, CNN and Aljazeera have recently reported the deportation to The Gambia of a Kenyan/Jamaican national by the name of Abdullah Al Faisal who allegedly had links to Al Qaeda.

The government wish to inform the general public, all diplomatic missions accredited to The Gambia, and the whole world that these reports are malicious, unfounded and misleading and that no such person has landed on the shores of The Gambia. All statements alluding to the arrival in The Gambia of Abdullah Al Faisal are absolutely false, baseless and an insult to the peace-loving people of The Gambia.

Furthermore, there has never been any contact between the government of Kenya and the government of The Gambia on the said deportation of Abdullah Al Faisal to The Gambia. Given government?s position of ?zero tolerance? on crime, more so on terrorism and terrorists, it is inconceivable that The Gambia government would entertain, let alone welcome a person being deported for whatever reason and who is not a Gambian and allegedly linked to terrorism.

The government wish to reassure the international community and friends of The Gambia of its commitment to main The Gambia as a haven of peace and prosperity where hate-mongers, racists, criminals and terrorists are not welcome. Any airline who dares to fly the said Abdullah Al Faisal to The Gambia will be impounded and those responsible will be charged for terrorist crimes against The Gambia and be prosecuted to the letter. We have no intention, whatsoever to entertain such activities of deporting terror suspects, terrorists or deportees on our soil.

Editor's Note:
The Jamaican-born Muslim cleric has been sent back to Nairobi from Nigeria, days after he was expelled from Kenya. He has never been in The Gambia , and the cleric himself has clarified it to AFP news agency from his prison cell in Kenya.

source: Daily Observer


As Muslim Phone arrives with an offer price

NEWS GAMBIA, BANJUL- The first and only 3G (Third Generation) network, enabling a guaranteed clear network QCell has yet again break record not only in The Gambia, but in Africa and the world at large has launched a new product in the Gambian GSM services called Muslim phone, dedicated to Imam Ratib Mass Jah imam of Pipeline Mosque who the Almighty Allah has taken his last breath on the 23 October 2009, May his soul rest in perfect peace, AMEEN.

The phone is first of it kind in the African soil to be launched by a cellular company. QCell is the first GSM company to launched the new product in West Africa and is the second in Africa after Malaysia, big thanks SUNU BUSS for been pride to itself for always bringing the latest and cheapest products in the Gambian telecommunication market.

The classic phone has all the basic features of a great phone, it comes with a colour screen, FM radio, long life battery and it alerts Muslims on their five daily prayers. When the phone features are activated, even it is switch-off, when it is prayer time; it will come on, alert you and switch-off again and QCell has discounted it by 50 percent selling it at a retail cost of only D750.00

With seven months of operations from July 2009 to date, Gambian has witness records that has positively change their lives and , it will be worthwhile to recognized and celebrate the event of the record breaking, this was disclosed to a group of journalists at a press conference held at QCell Headquarters on the 8th January 2009.

In his remarks at the conference, Chief Executive Office, Mr. Muhammed Jah expressed his profound gratitude to the Gambian leader for creating the enabling environment for the business sector, all the people of the Gambia and people residing in the country.

“It will be worthwhile to recognized and celebrate the event of the record as the record will positively change the lives of the populace. “This is good, because it will set a new challenge for the rest to try to break the record and that is what brings about development and will it creates ambition for the young and growing and increases the quality of life for our people.” Position Jah.

According to Jah, the idea of brining to the Gambia “the highest and the best” in the telecommunications technology is QCell goal noting that “we are aiming to place ourselves as Industry Standards in the Gambia and as such, our goal and challenges are very high.”

He noted that they are in the limelight for achieving the vision 2020 which is a Silicon Valley project of His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh adding that SUNU BUSS is doing all it can in a timely responses to the technological challenges of the age.

“You will agree with me that by any standard of reckoning, QCell is what the Americans call a game changer. It continues to raise the bar, in terms of its technology, its services and its products.”

Highlighting on some of their services and developments, Jah positioned that the internet is fast to access throughout the length and breath of The Gambia from Banjul to Konia.

The first GSM Company to introduce video call service is now the talk of the town, QCell MMS messaging, the service that allows you to send and receive video, music and photos from one mobile to another, this he went on, is a product that is particularly interesting among young people.

In addition, Chart service is a social networking application which allows customers to have fun chars in groups or in private. Still on QCell services, CEO Jah explained that their QTunes allows one to select the music that the individual want people to listen to when they call him/her, with the QAlert, one will never have to miss a call when the phone is switch-off, as the service is there to alert one to view all missed calls.

He mentioned that the QWAP is another fantastic facility, as it allows those with low-end, non-3G, phones to access the net, and enter a world of rich content, including video, sports, news and much more. For the laptop, or a desktop owner, but without a wireless connection to the net, the QWEB USB Internet Data Card is what the doctor order, adding that one can have a fast, easy and reliable connection to the Web anywhere in the country.

In summing it all, Jah stated that QCell’s CUG Services, allows users working in the same institutions to talk and see each other free of charge, thereby reducing the communication cost for both the individuals and institutions drastically. “Today with just D375.00 monthly, one can have access to QCell’s CUG services with a free QCell 3G mobile phone but was quick to announce that they also give discount.

Few weeks a go, Gambians witness the launching of QCell Instant Roaming Sim service with 550 roaming partners in 208 countries in the world and is the first company in Africa to have such a number in the world. QCell Instant Roaming Sim Card is apiece of innovation that exemplifies convenience and simplicity and the service is a gate to the global communication.

QCell CEO added “with the roaming sim cards, customers can travel far and wide, and wherever they might be in the world, they would be able to make a call. The major aim of the service is to provide customers with a cheap, efficient and wide reaching mobile phone experience.

Speaking earlier, Madam Anam Jah of QCell spoke at length about the products that QCell launched within the period of seven months of operations saying that they are the to give free weekend calls which has saves and is still saving their customers thousand of dalasis, first 3G mobile internets, where one can download on your computer emails on the go, Skye, Face book, Stream Quran etc at a very fast speed among other service. She disclosed.

According to her, the phone comes in two colours that is black and white, while calling on all Gambians and people residing in The Gambia to support SUNU BUSS and give assurance that theirs is excellent services at cheapest rates.

In his launching statement, Dr. Omar Jah, an elder of the Jah Family also expressed his profound gratitude to all the people, in which he described all people as born Muslims and called on all Muslims to stick to the five pillars of Islam.

He advised all Muslims to worship Allah and follows the teachings of the prophet Muhammed (SAW) saying that as Muslims we need to be obedience’s, do good deeds and preaches the words of Allah do what is right and prayed for peace and harmony.

Giving an account of the late Imam Mass Jah, he said that Imam Jah has devoted all his life in Islam and has contributed a lot in Islam in the country, Africa and the world at larger noting that he was a true Muslim and all his work is for Islam to prosper.

Imam Ratib Cherno Mass Kah, thanked QCell CEO and the management for the quality services that they are offering to the populace in the telecommunication sector adding that the Muslim phones will be of good use to many people more especially the Muslims community.

Imam Abdoulie Fatty of State House Mosque, Baba Leigh of Kanifing Estate Mosque, Sheikh Jawara of City Limit Radio who runs an Islamic programme and one Badgie all spoke in Mandinka, Fula, Sarahule and Jola respectively for the benefit of the masses as the conference was give live broadcast by the radio stations that were present. In giving the solidarity message, Lord Mayor of KMC Yankuba Colley commended Muhammed Jah and the staff of QCell while Ousman Jah chaired the conference and was well attended by both print and electronic media.