The Gambian people showed it all when His Excellency Sheikh Professor Doctor Alhagie Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, Babillimansa came out on Thursday, November 9, 2016 for his nomination as the APRC flag bearer in the upcoming December presidential election. The huge crowd from all over the country in solidarity with the president no doubt dwarfed the combined number of supporters who showed up for the GDC and Coalition Parties’ nominees earlier in the week.
In the absence of a scientific polling system often used in the west to predict election outcomes, the Gambia’s only barometer of measuring pivotal demographics depends largely on such attendances especially on nomination day and, of course, in subsequent party rallies; therefore, based on what we saw last week and even with a miracle on their side, I found it practically impossible to see any chance of the opposition parties securing enough votes to shake up the foundation of the APRC, let alone taking the Statehouse from President Jammeh. Unquestionably, the overwhelming majority of the Gambian electorate will cast their vote for the APRC government, translating to President Jammeh’s victory, PERIOD.
Social media, the GRTS and even world cable news servers such as the BBC, all transmitted what was viewed as a very convincing gathering that cheered the Gambian leader and the beautiful first lady on their motorcade from the kombos right through to Banjul. It was not only a show of strength but also an evidence of absolute loyalty to a remarkable leader.
I will however once again share my concern over the disingenuous propaganda by mainly Gambian dissidents living abroad peddling the garbage that only active members of the Gambia Armed Forces constituted the multitude of supporters for the president. To look at that massive number of men, women, young and old people happily jubilating and say that they were all soldiers is tantamount to cataloging most Gambians as military personnel. But even if they were, I would still but commend the men and women in uniform for leaning on where their interest lies best. Members of the security forces are fully aware of the disaster that awaits their careers, future and livelihoods in an opposition party victory in December. And while it is their constitutional right to support any party of their choice, going APRC is as good as going for the leader who will respect them, honor them and above all treat them as noble citizens shouldering the ultimate responsibility of safeguarding the national integrity of a great country.
It is however not a secret that our venomous dissidents out here with their ill-conceived-and-relentless conspiracies are once again asking their colleagues to empty their hard-earned pocketbooks to fund the dead-ended campaign of the opposition parties; but trust me folks, it’s going to be another waste of meagerly-raised resources with another unfortunate scheme of cajoling low IQ hooligans into resorting to political violence in the absence of an opposition party victory on December 2nd.
Well, President Jammeh is no longer wasting his breath warning troublemakers paid and incited from abroad to be mindful of the consequences of flouting the laws of the country because in hindsight, the drastic measures awaiting offenders are no longer a secret to the public. His main concern now is to share his vision for the nation after his inevitable victory next month.
Unlike the opposition candidates promising the Gambians to take them back to some lost golden age, the president continues to remind Gambians about the currency of his politics that has been transforming a decadent old order into a sustainable one far better and more prosperous. For the past two decades, he has been consistently affording the Gambian people with phenomenal and unprecedented economic, social, environmental and educational developments.
After overhauling the educational system in the country from what was a stagnant state of underperformance, His Excellency President Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh on Thursday laid out his next development objective in the next two to three years of providing free education for all Gambians up to university level. And I have no doubt in my mind that he will again deliver that promise on time.
Courtesy of the Minister of Education (MOE), the Honorable, Dr. Fatou Lamin Faye, I am recently privy to the great work the president has been doing to improve the Gambia’s education sector since 1994.
For instance, in a comprehensive compilation of data published by the MOE this year, it shows that at the time of the revolution in 1994 to 2016 the number of lower basic schools in the country broadly increased from 250 to 667, upper basic schools, 22 to 240 and senior secondary schools 12 to 123. In other words, we are, within two decades, looking at an increment in number of schools in the country from a mere 284 to a whopping 1,038, a drastic reduction in the average distance previously traveled by the child to school from 7 kilometers to 2 kilometers now.
Statistically, the report further indicates that where there was only one school in the country in 1994, there are now 10 schools covering every level of education in all regions. This has essentially increased the enrollment numbers of school children from 132,591 in 1994 to 455,568 in 2016.
And get this; as from 2013/14 and 2014/15 academic years, President Jammeh’s government effectively lifted the burden from all families paying school fees for their children in lower basic, upper basic and senior secondary schools throughout the country.
If he therefore promises the Gambian people that in two years-time his government will provide free education up to university level, Gambians might as well take that message as the gospel truth.
Is it not amazing that in 1994 there were only 4,284 teachers in the whole country and in 2016 that number grew exponentially to 14,943?
Plus, in 1994 the education system seriously depended on foreign teachers with only 34% of them being Gambians; but in 2016, thanks to President Jammeh, 77% of teachers are well-trained-qualified Gambians.
President Jammeh, for all I can say about him now is that he deeply understands the importance of investing heavily in education as the best guarantor of sustainable development, especially in third-world countries endowed with minimal or no natural resources. We will continue to pray for his long life, good health and ever creative foresight to lead the Islamic Republic of The Gambia through its cherished orbit of success and progress.
Long live the Islamic Republic of The Gambia!
Long live the Gambian people!
Long live His Excellency Sheikh Professor Doctor Alhagie Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, Babillimansa, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed and Security Forces.
New York City