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The Gambia: Pouruh Du Gerem Nyemi Daw

Ndey Tapha Sosseh(Opinion) – A lot has been said in the past month on the severing of ties between The Republic of The Gambia and its long-time friend and ally the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan.  

The unexpected announcement of the severance on Friday, November 15 2013, came out of the blue for just a month before on September 27, 2013 to be exact the President Yaya Jammeh was advocating strongly at the 68th General Assembly of the UN for a “serious and decisive re-assessment” of their policy of excluding the ROC (Taiwan).   

This was not the first time that The Gambia had taken an unequivocal stance on what it described as unfair and unjust treatment by the World Body against the ROC, Taiwan.  
 
The unsuspecting Taiwanese were caught off guard for there was no indication that this was in the pipeline.  His Excellency (HE) the ambassador of the ROC (Taiwan) to The Gambia, Samuel Chen had on October 14, 2013 extended his “thanks and sincere appreciation’  on behalf of the government and people of Taiwan and on his own behalf to Jammeh, “for the strong speech for the meaningful participation of the ROC  (Taiwan) in the UN system”.  He went on to say that “it is indeed assuring that the Gambia as our great ally recognizes the unjust treatment rendered to us by the international organizations and therefore stands by us in our pursuit for international recognition. Just as The Gambia, the ROC on Taiwan is also committed to strengthening the existing cordial bilateral relations between our two great nations”.
 Ndey Tapha Sosseh
The mischievous President had once again done what he is adept at doing.  That is betraying his friends and allies.  Like a bolt in the dark the traitor once more stabbed his friends in the back.  The ROC (Taiwan) his long standing friend was now expendable as they could no longer sustain his unending demands.  The man with the insatiable appetite and greed for money has always been “true to form” and has not hesitated in dumping and attacking individuals, organisations and governments who have been kind and generous to him but when they could no longer sustain the endless giving have fallen foul of the ghoul.
 
A shift in position is nothing to Jammeh.  He has no scruples when he intends to sever connections. He does not sit and reflect over what had transpired in the past and would gladly bite the hand that fed or supported him.  Ungrateful, spiteful and thankless are not enough adjectives to describe the man who is bereft of all thankfulness and loyalty.  So many examples exist of his ingratitude and thanklessness. I will just list a few examples. First on the list are the Tamba’s.  The family that housed him when he went to school, have been victim of his treachery.  While Asombi Bojang is feted, hailed and held in high esteem, the woman that made it possible for him to finish his schooling Chuch Tamba does not get a whimper of a mention.  Her son Pierre Tamba was appointed minister and sacked in his cycle of hiring and firing.
 
Mustapha Njie of Taf Construction an outstanding businessman was publicly acknowledged by Jammeh for coming to his aid in 2006 by completing the Brufut buildings in time for the AU summit.  Instead of creating the enabling environment for Tapha to continue his business he made life unbearable for the astute businessman until he left the  country and is using his talent and skills for the benefit of another country.  Jammeh was among the first to condemn Qaddafi and ask him to step down.  This was a man who had pumped so much money into Jammeh’s coffers in the beginning years of his takeover to enable him establish his illegitimate government.  Baba Jobe the man who facilitated the Jammeh Qaddafi relationship became his enemy and was jailed and unfortunately lost his life (some claim he was killed) before his release from prison.  
 
Then came the EU.  From singing the praises of the outgoing EU representative Helen Cave for being an “exemplary, true and hardworking diplomat”, Jammeh now dismisses the 60 million Euro disbursed under her four year period in office as “chicken change”.  His admiration had turned to vitriolic attacks on the body that had supported so many of his projects including roads.  While Jammeh can hoodwink the people of The Gambia about the extent of the aid given by the EU as this information is not readily available except to the concerned parties and to people who make it their business to know the content of aid packages, he cannot hide the extent of the aid given by the ROC, Taiwan.
 
The people of The Gambia have witnessed the numerous occasions that the Ambassador of the ROC, Taiwan has handed over cheques on television to the Head of State or to his officials.   They have also heard the praises that were heaped on Taiwan by Jammeh and his aides at these cheque giving occasions and at other fora including the UN.    The overt display of gratitude and appreciation for the grants was enough indication to the ordinary Gambians that what was given was NOT CHICKEN CHANGE.  
 
I will just give a few examples of the large amounts of the huge amounts of money that the ROC, Taiwan pumped into this country.  This information is culled from Jammeh’s administration’s current mouthpiece, the Daily Observer and other local newspapers.  These examples illuminate that indeed Jammeh is a “pouruh bu dout gerem nyeemi daw[1]”.
 
Ferries
Ndey and JammehThe ferries have been and are a continuing source of concern to all Gambians and non Gambians alike who ply the Banjul/Barra route.  In face of deteriorating conditions, long delays due to the slowness of the ferries, long queues and waiting time, uncertainty as to the times of departure and arrival of the ferries and which direction they would take resulting in people taking boats at much risk to themselves and properties, the life line that was provided by the ROC, Taiwan to avert a possible disaster was cause for appreciation and acknowledgment.  
 
The much needed support for the ailing ferry services was provided through the ferries project at a total cost of US$1,625, 384.80, for all the four ferries.  50 percent of which was paid by the ROC on Taiwan in December 2012 and the 2nd instalment of US$728,153.92 was presented by cheque to the secretary to Cabinet, Nuha Touray, for the second payment of 40% of the four engines project.  The balance of 10 percent was to be paid after the arrival of all the engines and their subsequent installations.  
 
H.E Ambassador Samuel Chen clarified the modalities of the ferries project at a handing over ceremony which took place at The Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) complex on Wednesday November 6, 2013.  As reported in the Daily Observer of Thursday, November 7, 2013, headlined “Taiwan enhances ferry services with 4 more new engines” the Ambassador presented four new man engines and propulsion and steering systems to officials of the GPA for the Kanilai ferry.  A month earlier four new caterpillar engines as well as propulsion and steering systems were earlier supplied for the Johe Ferry.  
 
The first presentation elicited much praise for the government and people of the ROC, Taiwan in the editorial of the Daily Observer of Friday, October 4, 2013 entitled “Well Done Taiwan.”  It was hailed as another demonstration of Taiwan's genuine cooperation and support to The Gambia’s national development which “entitled them to a place in the history books of the country as a genuine contributor in the development of modern Gambia” in return for which assurances were made that “The Gambia will continue to stand by Taiwan on any platform to demand their deserved autonomy, greater world recognition and inclusion in world bodies like the United Nations.”
 
Less than two months after such assurances of solidarity and support the president Yaya Jammeh had betrayed the government and people that had extended a helping hand to avert a major disaster and provide solutions to a problem that was crippling the transportation and socio-economic system of the country by cutting off diplomatic relationships between the two allies.
 
The Security Sector
The military has also benefitted significantly from the benevolence of the government and people of the ROC, Taiwan.  This testimony was made by the Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs and Chairperson of the National Security Council on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at the Fajara Barracks at the official handing over of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) newly rehabilitated Training Centre.  Speaking on behalf of The Gambian President she thanked the ROC, Taiwan for the “numerous” military assistance it has extended to The Gambia and its armed forces.  This assistance included the donation of four new patrol boats to The Gambia Navy, the funding of three fuel dumps at Fajara, Yundum and Farafenni barracks respectively, as well as the capacity building trainings for both officers and soldiers.
 
The Rehabilitation of the GAF Training Centre Project was funded by the government of ROC on Taiwan through their Embassy in Banjul at the cost of US$113, 787.88.  The project was contracted to the GAF Engineering Corps which built their technical and financial capacity.

Five weeks earlier sixteen personnel of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) set out for the ROC (Taiwan) on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 to pursue a course of training in aviation (eight) and the field of navigation (eight).   According to H.E. Ambassador Chen the trainin.g was part of the fruitful cooperation between The Gambia and Taiwan.  The sixteen officers are now caught in an act of betrayal by their leader who has no consideration of what impact his actions will have on others.   
 
Prior to this on August 26 2013, H.E. Ambassador Chen gave a cheque of US$465,892 to Minister of Presidential Affairs, Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, Hon. Momodou Sabally for sponsorship for 5 Gambian officers and 1 civilian to study Aeronautical Engineering and maintenance skills, from 17 to 21 months, at Spartan College of Aeronautics, USA.  The funds are for stipend and tuition fees for the 6 beneficiaries in a bid to develop The Gambia’s Air Force capacity to promote national and regional aviation security.  
 
In addition to the military the Police have also benefited from aid from the ROC, Taiwan.  In April 2013, H.E. Ambassador Chen handed over a cheque of US$ 805,755 as additional funding for the rehabilitation of the Old Police Line Barracks in Banjul to Nuha Touray, secretary to the Cabinet.  This was in addition to the US$1,500,000 provided by ROC on Taiwan in 2012 for rehabilitation of the main part of Old Police Lines.  The Gambia Police Human Rights Unit also received the sum of US$52,000 for the procurement of equipment.  The cheque was handed over to Minister of Presidential Affairs Secretary General and Head of Civil Service Hon. Momodou Sabally on behalf of the Government of The Gambia, Monday July 1 2013 by H.E Ambassador Chen.
 
Tourism
The tourism sector is also a beneficiary of bilateral aid from ROC, Taiwan.  On Monday October 28 2013, eight teachers from The Gambian Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI) went to Taiwan under the sponsorship of the government of the ROC on Taiwan to take part in a two-month intensive training and field study on the latter’s tourism industry.  The two-month training programme designed by the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism is expected to upgrade their knowledge and expose them to new experiences.  The training includes four teaching categories of food production, housekeeping, front desk and events (hotel reception) and food and beverage service. The package for the three month training programme (October 28 2013 to January 5 2014) includes air tickets, tuition fees, insurance, accommodation and allowances.  Like their counter-parts in the security sector these GTHI teachers have also been caught in the web of betrayal which exposes them to living under a mantle of shame during their sojourn in Taiwan.
 
Education
The education sector has been a major beneficiary of aid from the ROC on Taiwan.  Since 2002 the ROC on Taiwan has provided US$625, 000 -700, 000 per annum to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) for the President's Empowerment of Girls Education Project (PEGEP).  According to the data 36, 500 girl students, out of the 125 schools in the in the Greater Banjul Area have benefitted from the project.  What impact this will have on the much acclaimed free girls schooling is any one’s guess? In 2007 Siffoe and Mayork Senior Secondary Schools in the West Coast Region were constructed with support from the ROC, Taiwan as a contribution to improving access to secondary education  
 
In the area of human resource development and capacity building the Ministry of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology (MoHERST) received support to hire experts in higher education and management with a view to strengthening her education institutions and develop needed experts in special fields of national interest.  In 2013 the MoHERST received the grant of US$1, 000,000 which was disbursed in two tranches.   The 2nd tranche of US$500,000 was paid to Momodou Sabally, Minister of Presidential Affairs Secretary General and Head of Civil Service in his office at State House on the August 14, 2013.
 
Over the past 10 years an estimated 200 Gambian students were sent to the ROC on Taiwan on scholarships provided by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation Development Fund (ICDF), Mandarin Enrichment programme to study in various academic disciplines.   The graduates from these universities are engaged in various sectors of the public service.   An alumni association of graduates from the ROC, Taiwan is living testimony of the numbers of students who have graduated from Taiwanese institutions.   
 
The Taiwan Cultural Centre located at the first floor of the office building of the Gambia National Petroleum Company, Kanifing Service Station was opened on March 28 2012 by H.E. Ambassador Chen to serve as a meeting place for Gambian-Taiwan alumni students and the youth with a place to socialize and learn each other’s culture.  What will be the fate of this Centre or the Alumni Association is not difficult to guess.  The Centre will be usurped by Jammeh and the alumni association will cease to exist.   When Jammeh severs relationships the generality of Gambians follow suit irrespective of whatever gains may have accrued to them.
 
Agriculture
Investments in the agricultural sector were designed to complement government’s efforts in a bid to attain the first Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that is to ‘eradicate poverty and hunger by 2015.’   The ROC,  Taiwan financed the Upland Rice Expansion Project – 2009-2012, which has the objective of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production; improve per-unit yields of rice by supplying rice seeds and fertilizer, as well as training in cultivation, and establish farmers’ organisations in order to promote economy and reduce poverty.  The project components include the development of an aquaculture plant in Sapu, in the Central River Region, and to train farmers on how to utilise The River Gambia for fish farming and manufacturing of fish food.

Other aid to this sector included the procurement of large tractors and other agricultural tools to boost agricultural production in the country.   To this end the Taiwanese ambassador to The Gambia, H.E Samuel Chen on behalf of his government Wednesday May 16 2013, presented a cheque for US$2, 921, 317 to the government of The Gambia in a handing over ceremony to Dr Njogou Bah, secretary general and head of Civil Service held at his office in State House.
 
Health
In support of government’s bid to attain MDG 4, “Reducing Child Mortality” and MDG 5, “Improving Maternal Health” the ROC, Taiwan has provided funding for a number of projects and programmes that are designed to contribute to the attainment of these important goals.  These include the training of the country’s regional health care and midwifery staff by funding nine classes of Improved Maternal Health Programme (each class for three years) and in Basse, Upper River Region, for four years and the equipping of Gambian hospitals with state-of-the-art medical equipment such as 11 mobile x-ray machines, Computerised Tomography (CT) scanner, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine    to enhance medical service and enhance the country’s medical diagnosis ability.  For this purpose H.E. Ambassador Chen handed over a cheque of US$200,000 to Minister of Presidential Affairs Secretary General and Head of Civil Service Hon. Momodou Sabally on August 20 2013 for the procurement of medical equipment and materials to enhance its medical development.  An annual grant of US$600,000 was provided by the ROC, Taiwan to assist the Gambian Government to recruit and employ qualified medical personnel to better equip rural hospitals to provide quality medical services to the people.
 
Infrastructure
The ROC, Taiwan also provided support for infrastructural development.  On Monday, June 8 2009, H.E.  Dr. Richard Shih the Taiwanese ambassador to The Gambia presented a cheque for US$2.75 million, earmarked for the construction of Sankulay Kunda Bridge in the Central River Region to the President.  On receiving the cheque Yaya Jammeh, thanked the government of ROC, Taiwan for the benevolent gesture, which enabled him to deliver on his promise to the people of CRR that he would build a bridge for them to ease their transportation problems.  In the same year, 2009 support was provided for the rehabilitation of Banjul-Serrekunda highway and in 2001 support was provided for the 52km Essau-Kerewan highway and

Sports
The Scorpions football team have also received support from the ROC on Taiwan. On Friday June 14 2013 H.E Ambassador Chen handed over a cheque for the sum of US$ 442,000 for the development of the Gambia national football team, to enhance their capability to victoriously compete in the ongoing and upcoming international football matches.   The cheque was presented to the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Secretary General & Head of the Civil Service, Hon. Momodou Sabally, at his office at State House in Banjul.
 
Support to Decentralisation
On March 16, 2012 a cheque of US$3, 84000,963 was presented to Dr Njogu Bah, the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service by H.E. Samuel Chen ambassador of the ROC, Taiwan at a ceremony held at his office at State House in Banjul for the procurement of vehicles for the government. The vehicles were intended to profoundly improve and increase the mobility of the government, particularly in its efforts to implement the Progromme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), as well as its decentralisation process.

Receiving the cheque on behalf of the Gambian government, Dr. Bah described the amount as huge and that mobility would be very instrumental in terms of the implementation of PAGE. Once again he thanked the ROC, Taiwan on behalf of the president and added that “Taiwan is a true and real friend.  The Gambia believes in the core values we share and we will always stand by you and always be your voice," he assured Ambassador Chen.   
 
To Conclude
Need I say more?  I believe that these examples suffice to illuminate the extent of Banjul-Taipei relations.  These and other support from the ROC, Taiwan such as the funding that was provided in 2000 to purchase a 6, 000KW diesel generator to improve the country’s power supply which Jammeh has claimed to be a loan that he gave to the people of The Gambia, motivated him to pledge undying support to the ROC, China.  In 2009 at the handing over ceremony of the patrol boats to Navy, Jammeh swore that the Gambia would “never betray Taiwan no matter what” and that “The Gambia under his leadership would always stand by the side of Taiwan at the international arena to fight its cause”.  
 
His leadership has not ended and he has renegaded on his promise. This indicates that promises and swearing on the Holy Quran mean nothing to Jammeh.  They are just the veneer on the wood, hollow words with no substance.  These words are regurgitated by his officials such as his outgoing Minister of Presidential Affairs and Secretary General who stated at the cheque giving ceremony in May 2013 that “President Jammeh has always said that the Gambia’s relationship with Taiwan is not about money and has never been about money; it is a relationship based on shared values and principles, mutual respect and care for one another.” These shared values were the basis for the recent visit of the Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, to The Gambia.  
 
When and how these shared values change to warrant a break is a matter for conjecture?  The bottom line is that it was all about money and ego.  He has turned the government into a fiefdom.  He claims ownership of everything and distributes in his name not government.  Everything is branded Jammeh and he cannot bear to see another person’s name appearing along his brand.  A case in point is when Honourable Tamsir Jallow as leader of majority business in the National Assembly of The Gambia, thanked the Taiwanese for giving tractors to The Gambia.  This was a cardinal error on the part of the Hon. Gentlemen.  He was immediately removed from office for simply giving thanks to where thanks was due - the government and the people of the ROC, Taiwan.

The visibility and accountability that H.E. Ambassador Chen was bringing into the ROC, Taiwan and Gambia aid agenda was anathema to Jammeh. His mask was lifted and he could no longer claim to be the sole source and provider of cars, computers, tractors and equipment.  There was an identified source –the ROC, Taiwan.  His cover was blown.  The fraudster has been unmasked for what he really is –the man who cannot give credit to where credit is due.  He cannot give thanks and appreciation for long.  In the heat of the moment he will shower praises on whoever is the source of the gesture but as the time passes his memory fades and he turns his back to the giver.  Jammeh is truly a “pouruh” who cannot thank last year’s food’.  
Written by Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Secretary General, Coalition for Change The Gambia.

Comments  

 
0 #3 2014-02-22 01:52
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0 #2 2013-12-04 01:46
This represents the finest attributes of true journalism...historically acurate and carefully crafted into a fine body of work.

Outstanding !
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+1 #1 2013-12-04 00:05
Very informative and clear truth of the delusional and pathological lies of ds evil dictator Yaya strangling of Gambia.
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