Jun 8, 2012, 1:34 PM
Tomorrow Tuesday 22nd July marks the 20th anniversary of President Yahya Jammeh in power.
We would like to congratulate Mr President for having managed, through thick and thin, the affairs of The Gambia over the years.
As a development-oriented media institution, we always highlight the achievements and shortfalls of the government of His Excellency, for the good of national development.
Since the President took over the reins of power in 1994, we have noted the achievements he has registered over the years, especially in the health sector, which has seen the construction of many health centres and hospitals countrywide with several doctors coming from overseas, such as Cuba, Syria, Egypt and Nigeria, to serve.
In the education sector, several primary and secondary schools and a university have been built, which are serving the nationals well.
Over the years, the country has also seen the establishment of four GSM companies namely, Gamcel, Africell, Comium and QCell, which has placed The Gambia on a higher pedestal in terms of internet service of high quality.
On communication, the national TV was launched in 1995 to actually promote divergent views as a state broadcaster.
In respect of infrastructure, many roads across the country have been built, such as in URR, LRR, CRR and West Coast area. For example, there are the Soma-Basse road, and Basse-Wellingara road. The South Bank region has also seen the rehabilitation of the Madinaba-Soma road.
In the agriculture sector, the nation has witnessed some drastic improvement with multi-million dollar agric projects being implemented across the country.
People in The Gambia are also enjoying religious tolerance under the current leadership and government, for which we must thank the Almighty Allah for making The Gambia a role model.
In terms of peace and security, The Gambia is envied by many nations around the world for her religious tolerance and how amiably the people are living.
While a relative and sustained economic growth has been maintained over the years, the ramifications of the deteriorating purchasing power of the Gambian dalasi and the rapid rise in prices of essential commodities is not commensurate with the income level or earning power of the masses of people in the country, and is a matter of concern to all genuine citizens of The Gambia.
However, there are some clear challenges the country is faced with, for which we must express concern as a development-oriented media.
Human rights is one. We have noticed that many people arrested are detained for more than 72 hours without being charged, which is contrary to the requirements of the constitution.
Some people acquitted and discharged by the courts, are rearrested and detained again. We should always endeavour to maintain and respect the independence and decisions of the Judiciary.
Press Freedom is another issue of concern. We believe that all draconian media laws should be abolished especially knowing that The Gambia is a signatory to Article 19 of the UN convention which promotes freedom of expression.
The state media should be seen as an instrument of equal rights and justice, promoting divergent views of both the ruling APRC party and the opposition.
Government and the media are partners in development; this must also be borne in mind, as we are not enemies.
For instance, the independent or private press should have access to information from government quarters to be able to give accurate information in reporting of national issues. In this vein, a director of press should be appointed to facilitate the job of the journalists.
A Government spokesperson should also be appointed to speak to the people and the world about issues of paramount importance. Such a person should serve as a link between government and the public on state matters to avoid misgivings and rumours, which creates unnecessary panic in society.
The energy sector is another bone to pick with government, as it has also been experiencing rapid deterioration in respect of the supply of electricity and water, which are becoming increasingly inadequate whilst bills are skyrocketing frequently.
The ferry service is also facing its own challenges. We should consider soliciting support and assistance from friends of The Gambia to acquire new ferries for Banjul-Barra and Yellitenda crossing points, particularly.
The situation of roads and streets in the capital city of Banjul and KMC is worsening by the day as roads in these communities are very poor, while other areas need rehabilitation of new roads.
There is a serious sports crisis looming over our heads. Since the wake of 2014, the sports sector has been faced with serious turmoil, which has brought about the suspension of The Gambia for two years from participating in all categories of international football competitions. And just last April, we witnessed the dissolution of the GNOC executive and the closure of their office.
On 10 July this year, FIFA dissolved the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) and recommended the formation of an interim body to run the affairs of sport in the country till the problems bedeviling the FA are ironed out.
An immediate solution should be found to remedy the challenges in sports which the country is grappling with, because sport is very vital in our society as it creates entertainment and business. We should not allow it to die a slow death, since sports is also good for our health.
We are also pleading with the government to consider giving amnesty to some prisoners, as well as promote national reconciliation.
As we are in the month of Ramadan and are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution, we are appealing to the President and his government to give amnesty to all people found wanting, both to those currently detained and those outside the country.
We are also calling for a national reconciliation, as well as the application of the Islamic value of forgiving one another, to open a new page for The Gambia to move forward.
“As we are in the month of Ramadan and are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution, we are appealing to the President and his government to give amnesty to all people found wanting, both to those currently detained and those outside the country”.