22nd July 2016, marks precisely the 22nd anniversary of the glorious July 22nd 1994 Revolution. It was in the forenoon of this fateful day and date that a contingent of young, gallant and highly motivated soldiers under the command of then Lt.Yahya AJJ Jammeh, spearheaded their historic, long and triumphant march on State House in Banjul to topple and take over the reins of government from an earlier political set up that spanned over a period of thirty years (1965-1994) prior to the four hundred years of Colonial hegemony.
This highly anticipated military takeover was meticulously planned and executed with the utmost maturity, discipline and highest sense of professionalism as was evidenced by its bloodless nature. Consequently, it came to herald a new political dispensation never experienced in the entire history of this country.
It is in this regard that I feel deeply honoured and humbled to align myself in solidarity with all patriotic compatriots, on-Gambians and genuine friends of The Gambia,in felicitating His Excellency,Sheikh Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya A JJ Jammeh,President and Head of State of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia and the entire population on this auspicious tridimensional occasion. Additionally, I would like to commend His Excellency for having mustered the courage and fortitude to weather the turbulent storm during these past 8030 (eight thousand and thirty days) and nights amid the multitude of vociferous skeptics and detractors. Despite the smear campaign orchestrated by the West under the tutelage of the Commonwealth with the British at the helm of this crusade, His Excellency President Jammeh was able to shut both eyes and ears consistently, persistently and constantly in order to concentrate instead on the more important destined mission and vision of the Revolution. July 22nd 1994 marks without any iota of doubt, an important milestone on the political calendar of this country. It signaled the collapse of the 30-year old decadent regime of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the emergence of a new political dispensation under a newly constituted military Council, the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), headed by a then Lieutenant Yahya A J J Jammeh, Chairman/Commander of the Revolution.
As we celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the J-22, it is of paramount importance that we, as a people, require to soberly reflect on His Excellency the Leader’s empirical dissection of the world into three days viz: Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow.
It is an open secret that the 1st Republic held the country political hostage at a high ransom because of the imminent state of limbo and political paralysis vis-à-vis national development in almost all fields of endeavour. The destiny of the country was literally shrouded in total obscurity.
Fortunately,this unfortunate state of affairs came to be addressed swiftly and radically with the advent of the July 22nd Revolution culminating in the rapid design and implementation of a host of socio-economic projects during the Transition Period (1994-1996).The latter was the most critical epoch in the history of the Revolution as it was within this short two-year mandate that the new regime was to demonstrate not only its capabilities and potentials but above all its commitment and sincerity in living up to its expressed mission and vision. This Period unquestionably formed the basis of the unprecedented and unparalleled levels of development that we are celebrating today after twenty two years of our existence under the dynamic and progressive leadership of His Excellency, the President/Head of State of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia and Leader of the Revolution. Additionally, it was the era that witnessed the final blow that was dealt on “the camel’s back” when these “soldiers with a difference” overtly defied and demystified all the detractors and prophets-of-doom.Henceforth,the Revolution embarked on a massive Rectification Programme in every politico-socio-economic domain. A host of priority projects were urgently identified for immediate attention and implementation in the vital areas of education, agriculture,health and infrastructural development. Virtually all the outlined major projects were efficiently and timely executed to the utmost satisfaction and appreciation of the citizenry.
Furthermore, it was during this short spate of time that the all-important National Consultative Committee (NCC), the National Civic Education Committee (NCEC) and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) respectively were institutionalised.They all came to play a significant role in creating the requisite avenues to raise the then much needed awareness for the citizenry in several domains during this critical period of the Revolution.The Gambian people were for the first time in their lives and in the history of this country, liberated from the multiple ills of ignorance and other apparent woes.They were exposed to and equally afforded a wide range of opportunities thanks to the creation of new media outlets. Suffice it to say that the Revolution never lost sight of the invaluable role that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector can play in national development. This was clearly manifested in the establishment of the long overdue Gambia Television Services as early as 1995 and the total overhaul of the decadent services of Radio Gambia or “Radio Kombo” as it was nicknamed because of its limited coverage solely in the Greater Banjul Area.The creation of these official media outlets coupled with the mushrooming of other private and community based FM radio stations and newspapers in ensuing years, came to reinforce the inalienable and fundamental right of every Gambian to search for and acquire information indiscriminately.This was in direct contrast to what obtained during the “dark age” era when the only source of information was obtained either through the Gambia News Bulletin,a thrice weekly 2-3 page stenciled papers in the name of a standard newspaper or via the informal “radio kangkang”.It was through these media outlets and other diverse windows of opportunities that were created that these twin institutions,the NCC and the NCCE, were able to reach out to the people nationwide in order to execute their mandate successfully. Hence, the ability of every citizen to freely and unreservedly express his/her thoughts at these important nationwide meetings without fear,harassment, intimidation, political affiliation or other similar considerations regarding the governance and other salient issues at the material time.
The creation of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) came to herald another important era in the electoral system of this country. It came to ensure that all the necessary ingredients and otherparaphernalia were adequately and rightly put in place to ensure free, fair and most importantly, transparent elections.This new development was in stark contrast to the days when all elections were entrusted to and solely conducted by the Ministry of Local Government.This came to change the electoral system radically as was positively manifested in ensuing elections starting from the Referendum exercise in 1996 with the introduction of the unique marble counting system, a system that is today acclaimed and envied by several nations.
In addition to these noble institutions and the robust policies that were put in place by the Revolution, the Transition Period also witnessed the birth of the July 22nd Movement as a mass nationwide,voluntary organisation under the aegis of the AFPRC military administration.The “Movement” as it was popularly referred to by its many tens of thousands of its militants and sympathisers,was the brainchild of His Excellency the Leader of the Revolution, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Yahya AJJ Jammeh. It was founded initially to coordinate the bold efforts of the numerous solidarity groups that mushroomed within the short period of time starting from the Greater Banjul Area and its periphery before spreading its tentacles from Kartong through Kalagi and eventually to Koina. It was also to close ranks with the AFPRC regime and equally assist the latter in the execution of its rigid outlined Rectification Programme in tandem with the mammoth task of nation building.
The members of the Movement comprised academics with different professional backgrounds, civil society/social activists, students and workers from diverse walks of life.
His Excellency the Leader/Chairman of the Revolution became the Chief Patron and personally rendered at all times the requisite financial and moral support and assistance that the Movement ever required and requested. Essentially, it was this personal concern and engagement that the “pater familias” bond was naturally created between His Excellency the Leader and the militants. It was therefore because of this cordial and amicable relationship that the entire membership of the Movement held their Leader in very high esteem and with the utmost reverence, sense of utter pride and respect, always addressed and referred to him as “Chairman Jammeh”. The same phenomenon is still inherent in the hearts and minds of the “old guards” who out of continuous genuine loyalty and sincerity, still refer to His Excellency the Leader, as “Chairman Jammeh” in the same vein the revolutionary Cuban people used and continue using the honourable title, “el Commandante” to refer to their legendary Leader, Fidel Castro Ruz.
To Be Continue
by Pa Modou Njie