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The Fierce Urgency of Now – what’s that? (FARABA – BANTA)

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Barely an hour into the killings at Faraba yesterday, my phone was literally burning-up with the ghastly and bloody images of the dead bodies of murdered Bakary Kujabi and Ismaila Bah, my fellow citizens. Hours later, ABC news (one of the three US TV networks) and the New York Times (the US paper of record) were sending me automated news clips of the shootings in Faraba. I could not believe my eyes. For a minute second, that word, that adjective, Gambian, in these stories was unrecognizable.

A day later, as the saga continues to unfold, I am still struggling to come to terms with this story that is fast becoming a nightmare for the nation. I do not know what is in the head or the heart of anyone. So, I cannot and will not impugn the character and motives of anyone in government or anywhere else for that matter.

But, this I do know: I know the priorities and lack of priorities of this government, and by my reading, and mine only, they are:

Travel abroad – hip-hip-hooray, bring everyone and their grandmother for the ride on the per diem gravy train, “let’s go” is the call.

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Address our infrastructure deficit – If it’s to address our infrastructure deficit in a strategic and comprehensive way, nope, WHY NOW (in my Nigerian accent), not yet, well unless a contract can be signed tomorrow in my department, no matter how poorly planned, poorly designed and wrongly located it is. Wink wink!! I have my taah to complete!

How about changing the constitution and repealing the oppressive Jammeh laws – no, we’ll start the process 18 months after coming into office. In fact, in the meantime, let’s keep using them to oppress the people.

Our foreign diplomatic service and posts – let’s fill a lot of them with the most unqualified and uncouth bunch of sycophants we can find, oh, and throwing in a “cannibal” for good measure wouldn’t go amiss.

Reform the civil service – no, not yet. Leave the discredited, dirty-pocketed and blood-stained hands of the Jammeh folks in place, even while they appear before the Janneh commission and probably the TRRC, whenever that starts. Oh no, we dare not upset these folks. How can we?

Our youth (60% of our population is under 24) – train them and provide them with socio-economic opportunities – nope, not yet. Let’s leave them to idle the streets, walk the beaches and sell their “assets” to the lowest bidding pervert who is masquerading as a rich Caucasian tourist, while the dead bodies of the others are being washed ashore on the coastlines of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic.

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Our Environment – F**k the Monkey Park, burn our waste and plastics in the open and kill us all with lung cancer, pollute our seas and waters, poison our fish and destroy our farmland and landscapes with uncontrolled mining and poorly planned and poorly located dirty factories.

Power and water – what’s the problem, I have my generator and borehole. Where’s yours? Go get yours and leave me alone.

Train our police and other law and order forces and put in place an effective command and control mechanism – Nope. So, the attitude is, the President is asleep at the switch, our commanders have excellent experience from the Jammeh years to let us go to our “thang’, so let’s grab our AK47s and fully loaded magazines and head to the nearest demonstration or cemetery dispute – “ bay nyu len fa feka rek, tay sen yayi ak sen papayi joy”

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Oh, wait, President Barrow and his ministers say they need more time. There is no urgency with anything. Everything can wait.

All I will say to President Barrow is this: Faraba is the tipping point for you. We cannot afford to have another Faraba. Neither can you! So be careful of these three things: (i) The Jammeh folks – For sure, not all of them are bad and many served with honor. But you know the ones that dipped their dirty fingers into the cookie jar and those that committed human rights offenses. Why are they still in the service? I have not got the foggiest idea! Keep appeasing them at your peril and ours. Witness Faraba. (ii) Social media – because now everyone is a “Citizen Kane” and your every action or inaction will not go unnoticed. (iii) Our Youth – And, be even more afraid of the youth, whose needs you have put on the back burner. They are 60% of the population.

What Dr. King called the “Fierce urgency of now” is lost on the current leadership.

I weep for my country.

By: James Orehmie Monday

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