An interview with Samba P. Jallow, economist, Gambia.
Gambia which is one of Africa’s smallest countries compared to many of its West Africa neighbors has suffered instability since independence.
Former President Yahya Jammeh who ruled the country with an iron fist after seizing power in a coup in 1994 had no intentions to leave. Notwithstanding, his 22-year rule came to an end in 2016, when he was defeated by the main opposition candidate, Adama Barrow, who is now the president. Mr. Jammeh only left office after the threat of armed intervention by neighboring countries.
However, the political and economic problem has not really seen any light since the new government took over, therefore one will be left with the question of whether the promised made by the new government can be achieved.
In this exclusive interview, Mr. Samba P Jallow a Gambian, an economist and a social media influencer on political issues, gave an insight of the past and present administration and the situation at hand in Gambia.
Adetunji: In general, kindly describe the situation in Gambia, politically and economically as at present?
Jallow: Well, the country has now gradually transformed ideologically and people are now enjoying the benefit of free speech without any cruel reaction, dissenting views or voices are respected and people are free to speak their mind without being arrested, in this regard, there’s hope, that democracy will be nurtured and strengthened.
As for the issue of the country in broad generality, progress is at a snail pace, the economy is yet to reciprocate positively, prices of basic commodities are yet to plummet as promise by the government, the security of the country is fragile, as frequent robberies kept happening, road accidents are widespread and so on, the country’s internal security is very weak so to say.
The president has made pledges in a very assuring tone recently, that reforms in every sphere of governance will be effectuated, and we take his words for it and hope for the best. Now that foreign aid is profoundly flooding, I hope it will do a direct good to which it is intended, for it must be realized, that most of the foreign aids are loans and must be repaid.
In conclusion, the government must speed up and act upon their campaign pledges to make some forward progress, there is a genuine feeling of economic distress, the government must stop the unnecessary spending, focus largely on the economy, stimulate people’s purchasing power for the consumption ability of the people, resuscitate the energy sector, revamp the health and education sectors, help create modalities to mechanize agriculture and create avenues to interest people to go back to the farm.
Before Adama Barrow became the president, he promises to bring back home all Gambians abroad but presently a lot of Gambians still travels by road to Europe. Do you think the promise made by the president is achievable and what do you think he must do to realize this dream?
Well, a lot of Gambians are not happy, that some Gambians are been deported from Europe facilitated by this government.
But however, I’ll commend the administration for facilitating those stuck in Libya to be brought back home in their own accord and will, most of them were brutally treated by Libyans in their jails, stepping in to help repatriate them is a welcome humanitarian gesture, for Barrow to achieve his dreams, he must work hard to resuscitate the economy and have jobs available for the youths most especially those backway deportees, this might help to motivate others who are not finding life easy in Europe to return voluntarily.
Conversely, I think Barrow is assuring Gambians abroad of freedom and liberty once they come home, many Gambians abroad were in exile as a result of Jammeh, many haven’t gone back home to see their families for many years, so Barrow is assuring them of that.
How do you think other Gambian youths can be discouraged from joining the ones in Europe or stopped from migrating abroad illegally?
Mass sensitization and the national TV should feature series of documentaries about illegal migration, to get people to realize the dangers associated with it, people who have tried similar route and failed then returned back should be interviewed to get their ordeal heard by the people, this might petrify some people thinking of going, to take a moratorium and think otherwise or change their mind.
The government must scout for solutions to help empower the youths, and provide job opportunities for them, this can help de-escalate such syndrome.
The interview was conducted by Ademola Adetunji, Reutlingen, in July 2017 with Mr. Samba P. Jallow from Gambia, using internet chat.
This text has been abridged and summarized by Mr. Adetunji for the print edition of RT-Journal international.
Translated by Sibylle Höf
Read also the article on our website: “My life in Germany is uncertain but going back to Gambia is not an option”.