In response to an article published on the Freedom newspaper and Fatu network, entitled “The Jawara Administration was a Moonwalk: shall we tell Papa Njie?” written by Bub S Njie, research assistant, center for research and policy Development (Not sure where). The article according to him was in response to an interview given by the current leader of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) Hon. Muhamadou Papa Njie to the Standard newspaper, Gambia. That interview was in honor of the upcoming first anniversary since the demised of the late FATHER OF THE GAMBIA SIR DAWDA KAIRABA JAWARA on August 28th, 2019.

The current PPP leader was being sincere and upright about the legacy of the modern Gambia founded by the late Sir Dawda and his team from the twilight of the 1950s to the dusk of July 22nd, 1994. The ideals and beliefs Sir Dawda under his leadership etched into the minds of Gambians based on country and people. The political struggles of the late 1950s and1960s, the living of a country believed unable to sustain herself, the challenges of limited educated minds, the lack of mineral resources to help boost this struggle to create the modern Gambia was like an impossible mission

I intend to help him understand Hon. Papa Njie was paying a tribute to Sir Dawda on his first death Anniversary, for any Gambian to falsely attack Sir Dawda on moment likes this is very disheartening. Culturally and religiously when people speak about death at a moment of their anniversary they focused on the good side of his/her life. Of-cause, Sir Dawda as a human being also made his share of mistakes. The difference between him and other leaders is that he pondered those mistakes and quietly learned from them, and he grew and developed because he had a learning mindset.

Now let’s look at Bub S. Njies take on PAPA NJIEs interview AND THE JAWARA ADMINISTRATION Bub is allegedly a researcher at a policy center and I do respect that but I expect an honest and factual assessment with a productive counter-argument to papas claim but not based on half bake unconnected allegations with no substantive facts. I tried to be reasonable and open to his alleged claims but sadly, I found it either he is too young to understand the trajectory of the Jawara Administration from 1962 to 1970 and what they achieved from the dawn of a republic to the 1994 or he was just intellectually dishonest. I expect a comparative policy analysis from him on the PPP Administration to Jammehs 22 years and the current Government. Calling the Jawara legacy a “moonwalk” was just not only intellectual dishonesty but professionally inept.

Bub S Njie said “In his attempt to glorify his party’s founding father, Sir Dawda Jawara: “someone who will not want to harm anybody” Mr. Njie exposed how Sir Dawda was comfortable and never wanted to disrupt the status quo; a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public that had gone untreated for more than two decades. Our people had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the manipulative political equation of the Jawara Administration”. This is just false and misleading in his effort to mischaracterize the good intent of Mr. Papa Njie paying tribute and echoing the great trades of Sir Dawda both as a politician and a defender of human and people’s rights both at home and abroad. Probably Mr. Bub Njie has never done any research on Gambian political evolution. Let me try to draw an image for him how the Gambia look like before independence. During the colonial rule, people leaving in the provinces weren’t allowed to vote, Gambian are been enslaved both within the Gambia and abroad, there was no drainage system in Banjul (they use “Poti Kama”), Our farmers sell there Groundnuts at the price the British wanted, there was no bridge in the Gambia, There was no road network between Banjul to Basse (the Denton Bridge at the time was a one-way bridge one vehicle have to wait for the other to cross the bridge), Gambians are denied education (some due to family and others because going to school was preserved to sons of rich and chiefs), Girls are denied the rights to education, the caste system is used to deny people their rights, there was no resources both Human, capital and natural, there was no system of democratic government in place, etc..

Looking at this picture one can only argue that Sir Dawda from unset his objective was to disrupt the status quo to ensure Gambian become an independent sovereign state, to make sure that every Gambian vote counts, to ensure farmers get the money they deserve from their hard labors, to ensure the caste system is never used to deny any Gambia a good-paying job, to ensure every Gambian have the right to education (including Girls). Considering the concerns raised by many people that the Gambia getting full independence was too risky before independence Gambia has only ten university graduates, most of whom are medical doctors, it has no natural resources, the book written by Berkeley Rice explained the situation of Gambia at the time, but with his determination and foresight, the Gambia is still a sovereign state. He also embodied the mantra of “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Sir Dawda not only made positive changes in the Gambia he was a part of, but he also cared about people. He believed that positive change and caring about people were intricately linked.

Talking about corruption that most Gambia uses as a talking point against the PPP has probably been masterminded by the Military Junta emptied accusation of Jawara administration of rampant corruption and flamboyant lifestyle. After the military Junta took power they had established a commission of inquiries against PPP government up till now no Gambians have ever seen the findings of that commission. I will also use this opportunity to appeal to the Barrow Government to look into the archives and make such finding public. Sir Dawda is a man who believes in rule of law and would not punish any Gambia base on a mere allegation of corruption without evidence but he those acted when he has evidence and facts. Yes, he those fired a Minister who was accused of corruption as well as Minister who made a false statement to back a supporter on a passport application. He allowed the Minister to be tried in court and jailed for six months which ended his political carrier.

Furthermore; the above quote by Mr. Bub Njie just convinced me that the writer hasn’t bothered himself into any research before he writes such a misleading article. The Jawara administration has expanded the Gambia beyond the colony of then, Bathurst, to Koina. The Jawara administration set up all the public corporations in the Gambia from the National Trading Corporation (NTC), GPMB, GCDB, GGC, River Transportation, the Cooperative Unions, Jahally Pacharr, Cotton Ginnery in Basse, etc. most of this set the basis of the economy and had been making empirical changes in the socio-economic lives of the people. At the time of Independence in 1965, the government coffers were red! No human resources, some positions in the civil service has to be advertised to other qualified candidates in the commonwealth nations to fill in.

When the 1981 Rebellion took place shattering the dreams of a poor country about to notice gains of her work. After the 1981 coup and the struggled to recover from both human and material loss, came in the complexities of nature in the greater Sahel- DROUGHT. That period 1981 to 1985, was a very tough period for the PPP and there has to be tough decision making that indeed affected hundreds. At that moment, not only the Gambia but there was drought dragging hunger and malnutrition along with sub-Saharan Africa. Sir Dawda was human but also a leader of a country of poor farmers, it was challenging but we had to cross the bridge. The IMF and WORLD BANK conditionality to privatize our public corporations, peoples have to be laid off, the era of price control was over, and market reforms were introduced. This was tough but the turning point for The Gambia and hereafter the hardship and shortages of commodities came to the economic boom.

This is how Sir Dawda was able to revive the Gambian economic when it faces serious challenges, he said “A great deal of homework had gone into identifying and selecting what projects went where with the rationale for their execution based entirely on the sole objective of development that would make our independence real. It was inevitable in the early stages to pay much attention to buildings and structures but the bottom line was the well-being of the people, which should best be counted in the quality of food they ate; the standard of housing they enjoyed; the level of education and health care at their disposal; and, above all, the scope of the peace and freedoms they enjoyed; Many leaders in the sub-region asked me on several occasions what made our recovery and restructuring so successful. Ours was a simple answer. The country had taken on the whole program as a package and did not cherry pick which of its aspects were convenient to apply. We went the whole hog, whether it was administrative reforms, retrenchment, reduction of subsidiaries to farmers, or any of the measures on a tough list we had to introduce. But because we knew it was a massive load to the demand of the people, I went on a countrywide tour to explain the EPR. I told the people what it meant, and shared with them the purposeful outcomes if they came through with us. Thought four years of commitment and understanding it worked. The foreign exchange problems eased; and shop stalls filled up again. We were such a leading light in structural adjustment that the Sierra Leonean Minister of Finance, Tommy Taylor Morgan, and researchers came to study the implementation of adjustments Sierra Leone had been trying since 1983 without success.” This is to cement that Sir Dawda was a transformational leader and if our current leaders can learn from his style of leadership Gambia can only be a better place.

Mr. Bub Njie when further to say that “Jarawa’s Legacy cannot save the Gambia, he left a bad political tradition; with the advantages of incumbency; he had state resources at his disposal, using government vehicles for campaigning purposes, and his unflinching encouragement of traditional authorities to exert pressure on electorates to support his administration.” Mr. Bub S Njie need a serious basic civic education about Gambia political history, this is laughable. Hon Sidia Jatta is the only living person who has contested against Sir Dawda in an election he had accused Sir Dawda of many things but none of the above. Hon Sidia Jatta said “my wife use to be the makeup-artist for Sir Dawda’s wife at the time I was contesting against him in an election” his wife was never fired because of Hon. Sidia Jatta was his political opponent. Jawara has never used government resources to campaign, or use traditional authorities most traditional authorities didn’t like him because he fought very hard to ensure traditional leaders didn’t have absolute power to punish Gambians that every Gambian must have a fair trial. It would have been easy for him to slip into an authoritative power mode as he was under immense pressure to declare the Gambia a one-party state, but Sir Dawda humility was the real power he had in the relationships he cultivated to ensure the Gambia remains a Multi-Party Democracy. Being humble helped him to be known as someone who acted out ethically even while others in similar positions did not

Bub Njie Said “How can a legacy of political correctness, economic downturn, and deliberate control of the state media save a country? This was a government that used libel lawsuits to oppress prominent journalists sending many to Mile 2 central prisons. President Jawara’s original intent was not to be a “unifier” as Papa Njie suggested! No! Jawara’s style of politics was based on coalitions, because he thought he needed to form alliances with the urban Wollofs and Aku who dominated the bureaucracy. He sought to please these people and coax them to be on his side because, otherwise, their administrative skills could used to undermine his crumbling government. It was political. It’s a glaring fact that under Jawara’s Administration the poor majority of Gambians were forced to make the choice to sell their voters’ cards in exchange for resources needed for daily sustenance. Voter – buying became a booming business for politicians, in the Gambia”.

What frustrates me most Mr. Bub Njie did not make any reference to any media personality who was arrested or what law was in our constitution at the time that was intended to oppress the media. A good researcher argues on facts, not hearsay. Sir Dawda was a unifier, for bob Njie to say he was not is very baffling. His intention from unset was to be a unifier cognizant of the fact he was able to convince his people to change the name of his party From Protectorate People’s Party to People’s Progressive Party well before he formally gets into politic Sir Dawda said “the country, having reached a crossroads, it was with a great sense of urgency that I mounted the platform at a mass meeting the party had called at Albion Place in Bathurst to justify the need for a very important change in the name of the party. I explained that events had overtaken the original name that now lingered with a limiting feature about it. The Protectorate People’s Party carried a parochial aftertaste and presented a politically incorrect image which needed immediate correction to avoid disaffection within an urban public whose sympathies we absolutely could not afford to do without. It was a blessing that the tradition of democratic consensus was already bearing fruit. Thankfully, the party was built on principles that derived authority from no other source than the people. The meeting quickly saw the need for a name that properly reflected the national character of the party, and accepted my suggestion to retain the already recognizable abbreviation PPP- which will henceforth stand for People’s Progressive Party”. Sir Dawda in all his campaign his slogan use to be One Gambia, One Nation so clearly, his intention from unset was to see the unified Gambia.

Gambia was heaven for media personalities, due to the democratic nature of Gambia when AU decided to open a Center for Democracy and Human and People’s Rights, it was decided to choose The Gambia because of the Country’s respect for Democracy and People’s Rights and the foremost country in Africa that guaranteed the rights to its people and others around the World. Two years before the Despicable 1994 Coup, A world survey of all country around the globe, the results listed The Gambia as one of the five most democratic countries in the world and included all Western Democracies and all under the thoughtful leadership of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara and his commitment to the respect of Human Rights, Rule of Law and full and unfettered Democracy.

Mr. Bub Njie’s allegations are just pathetic, Sir Dawda`s legacy is today the very country you’re certainly proud of. He left an educational system based on quality and access, not quantity. The tertiary educational system became the components of the current University of The Gambia (UTG), Such as Gambia College, Management Development Institute (MDI), Rural Development Institute, School of Nursing, National Agriculture Research Center, Chamen Self Development Center, Cooperative Training Center, Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI), etc. without these institutions there will be no Gambian university as we speak.

Finally, people like Bub S Njie always remind me of the need to ensure PPP stays alive as a political platform to fight all deceptions surrounding the legacy of Sir Dawda and all our hard-working public servants under the PPP government. It is very unfortunate and hateful for Mr. Bub Njie to have the guts to attack Sir Dawda when people are trying to celebrate his life on his First Death Anniversary. May his soul continue to rest in perfect peace!!!!

Kebba L Nanko
PPP USA Chapter, Interim Coordinator