By D. A. Jawo
The first global ranking of countries by the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking © 2013 as published by The Point is no doubt a disappointment to both President Yahya Jammeh and his numerous sycophants. With all the noise that they have been making about the Gambia’s rapid developments since their socalled ‘July 22nd Revolution’ and it being the ‘Smiling Coast of Africa’ and the best tourist destination in the continent, it is ranked 29th, far below neighbouring Senegal.
With regards to trade, the Gambia has performed even worse, at 42nd position, well below such countries like Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, not to talk of Senegal, which is in 15th position.
Therefore, with all the noise that the Jammeh regime and its sycophants have been making about transforming the Gambia into an ‘Economic Superpower’ and the Dubai of Africa, every aspect of the country’s economic life seems to be sliding downwards instead of developing. We can all recall that in the 1970s and 80s, the Gambia ranked among the top tourism destinations in Africa, but with the poor governance and bad management brought in by the Jammeh administration; things have gotten worse rather than improve. The Gambia, as a result, has been sliding down on both the economic and social ladder faster than any other country in the sub-region.
It is quite clear that until President Jammeh and his cohorts realise that development cannot take place in the absence of respect for the rule of law and a free press, then this downward slide will continue, thus making all the noise of their socalled unprecedented development a mere empty rhetoric. Obviously, rather than wasting valuable time on such diversionary issues like launching unnecessary tirades against gays and lesbians and insulting the West, the Jammeh regime could have made much progress by respecting the basic rights of the Gambian people as well as allowing the opposition and the media to operate freely without any hindrance as it is the case at present.
It is quite unfortunate that President Jammeh either does not listen to good advices or he has no one to advise him, but obviously most of his regime’s local and foreign policies are not in the interest of a majority of Gambians, and instead of helping move the country forward, they are driving the country more and more into isolation. As a result of such bad policies and the frequent insults President Jammeh often heaps on the West and some of his regional colleagues, the Gambia has been transformed into a pariah state which hardly anyone now wants to deal with. This is no doubt one of the reasons why President Jammeh has still not been elected either chairman of ECOWAS or the African Union or any other sub-regional body, despite the fact that apart from President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, he is presently the longest serving head of state of the ECOWAS sub-region.
Therefore, if President Jammeh and his regime want to be given the respect that he deserves by his colleagues as well as the international community, then he has to be seen to respect the basic human rights of his own people as well as stop insulting the West and his sub-regional colleagues.