• Sainey Darboe, Editor-in-chief

Sabally predicts failure for army rice project

By Sainey Darboe:

Former Secretary General and head of civil service under president Jammeh, Momodou Sabally, has questioned the army’s readiness to mobilize financial and human resources for its much-touted foray into agriculture with a South African company.

Former Secretary General and Head of Civil Service Momodou Sabally

The project ,according to the army chief Masanneh Kinteh, will see AGCO Corporation work in close collaboration with his men and women in uniform to achieve food security in The Gambia. The cost of the project is estimated at $125M.

Incredulous at the confident declarations of hope for the project’s success, Sabally inquired of the Army Chief:

“Is it really true that your institution is ready for a multi million dollar engagement with a company based in South Africa, with the illusion of ending rice importation into The Gambia?

Commander, this development is certainly startling for me because we all know that our army, as at now, is not fit for the purpose [for which] it was morally and legally set up due to myriad reasons that are not the fault of the average officer. Is your army a united and structurally sound institution during this transitional period we are all trudging through? Is the level of morale high enough and does the high command enjoy a healthy relationship with the men and women in the ranks as at now?”.

Sabally postulated that the continued presence of peace keeping forces in the face of excessively tardy security reform process puts the army’s lack of preparedness in stark relief.

His words:

“In view of all the above concerns and the fact that we have a foreign force in town to guarantee our security while our fledging security sector reform process remains everything but a success; what makes you think that The Gambia Armed Forces can embark on such a daunting adventure and make a success out of the project?

I definitely need answers to these questions. Or better still, the public deserves some level of clarification in the face of such monumental obfuscation.

Chief of the Defence Staff, General Masanneh Kinteh

The dearth of necessary information coming from your end makes this whole project suspect. And please do not expect me to believe that a commercial entity will commit millions of dollars towards a project like this without our country coming up with matching resources or guarantees (sovereign or otherwise) to cover the risks on the side of the capitalists”.

The economist who also had a stint as director of budget predicts a trajectory of failure for the new project as was the case for its predecessors in regimes past.

While making a chilling prognostication for the project, he said: “In the absence of credible and reassuring answers to the foregoing questions, I can assure you that this project you intend to embark upon is very likely going to join others, like the infamous Jahali Pacharr Project, in the grave yard of failed agricultural misadventures dating back to the Jawara era.

To be fair, you have one thing in your favour should you go ahead with this project but that thing may be a necessary condition but it doesn’t constitute a sufficient prerequisite for success”.

Latest news, features and opinion posts