Women are the backbone of national development...President Jammeh

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thousands of Gambian women on Saturday converged at President Jammeh’s farm in Kanilai, by responding to his call on back-to-the-land.

The women were there to help weed President Jammeh’s rice field as a show of appreciation for waiving the maternity fee of Gambian women.

The women were led by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Fatoumata Jahumpa-Ceesay, and Nyimasata Sanneh-Bojang, who also serves as the Administrative Secretary of the APRC Bureau, and Cordinator of ‘Gambian Women Solidarity for President Jammeh’.

Speaking to journalists at his Kanilai rice field, President Jammeh, said he felt grateful to see a large turn-out of Gambian women to his farm.  He said “the women and children are the number one backbone of the APRC and national development, and that they are the people behind the rapid development of the country”.

He said he has waived the fee, because women and children are the brain behind him and to make life easier for them he decided to waive the maternity fee, adding that he has to capacitate the women with economy power “as some of them have problems with their husbands when they want to go to the hospital for whatever treatment or cure, which is a big burden on women because they provide D5.00 everyday. So, I decided to waive it.”

President Jammeh also noted that he is always grateful anytime he sees his batch mates in the Army as they struggled together, lived together and laid the foundation of the revolution.

According to him, some of them left the Army after serving a five-year term and now venture into other areas, noting that 98% of them are in good health. He then added that some of his batch mates are still in active services, while some left and venture into other avenues, but was quick to state that they still interact.

For her part, Honourable Fatoumata Jahumpa-Ceesay, Speaker of the National Assembly, said it’s now a tradition for Gambian women to help President Jammeh at his farm when he is on his annual leave. “We all know that President Jammeh is different from other Presidents, who when they are on holidays, will like to spend their leave at Las Palmas or New York, but President Jammeh will go to his home town of Kanilai to do farming, whose produces go back to the Gambian people. All the Gambian women love President Jammeh and show solidarity to him, by supporting and responding to his clarion call of back-to-the-land,” she stated.

Speaker Jahumpa-Ceesay added that the women want to show their appreciation to President Jammeh for waiving the maternity fee as most of them undergo a lot of difficulties pertaining to their health problems. “This is something that is unprecedented as we don't expect this before. We thought that he would stop at free education for girls, but now he has gone far ahead of that.  We really appreciate this; and is a right move in the right direction,” she added.

She further indicated that President Jammeh has respect for women, not only empowering their status, but has regards for them. She then added that waiving maternity fee has never happened in any part of the world.  She said: “Even in the Western World medical care is not free. So, this is something he needs to be applauded for”. 

She then added that many Gambian women have responded positively to the President’s back-to-the-land call and are contributing positively to the socio-economic development of the country, citing her farm at Penia Madina, which is about four hectares where she grows nerica rice. 

Mrs Jahumpa-Ceesay then pledged that, the proceeds of her farm will go to “Jammeh Foundation for Peace.”

For her part, Nyimasata-Sanneh Bojang, Administrative Secretary of the APRC Bureau, who doubles as the Coordinator of the Gambia Women Solidarity for Jammeh, said “we have had a very good solidarity farming at President Jammeh’s rice field.  I am happy to say that this year the committee decided that this association is going to be a permanent one and we have managed to open an account to that effect. So, that fund will be saved and is geared towards helping our supporters at the grassroots level, along with other avenues for the benefit of Gambian women.”

She thanked President Jammeh for waiving maternity fee for Gambian women, coupled with other things. “We know the President has a lot of things for Gambian women under his pillow. We all acknowledged that the President empowered the women; that’s why we came in our thousands to help him on his farm. Women are not left behind since the inception of President Jammeh’s government. Women are helped in the fields of health, agriculture and education, among other things. They are supported and are always in front when it comes to national duties, from the Vice-President to the bottom. So, the President has now focused on women in my area, who are development-orientated,” she pointed out.

Dede- Nal Williams, Head of Corporate Banking, Access Bank, who are this year’s sponsors of the Women Solidarity for Jammeh, said: “Being here today is very pleasing for all of us.  Access Bank Gambia Limited, joined the baking industry in The Gambia last year October, and we do have special responsibility in participating in society. We also have the gender empowerment programme for women. This is one kind of event we wish to participate to show the people how far we have gone.”

She said as agriculture is the backbone of the country, Access Bank, is proud to be associated with it and is certainly partaking in all sectors of banking.  “We fund this type of programmes and micro programmes.  What we are saying here is that we are ready to take on women’s issue whenever the invitation is extended to us,” she added.

Captain Lamin Jammeh and Seedy Jobe, Secretary to Jammeh’s Batch Mate Association and Technical Officer of the GRTS, respectively said “we are batch mates of President Jammeh in the former Gendarmerie.  Though some of us are no longer in the Army, but majority are still active in service. We are here to answer to President Jammeh’s call on back-to-the-land. President was with us in April 1984, at the then Gendarmerie. We knew that he is very straight forward and means whatever he says. He does not take advantage of another person, even if you are his senior.”

They noted that it is an obligation not only to President’s squad mates to come and work at his farm, but the general populace, adding that this will help the country to gain its food self-sufficiency. They said “the proceeds of President Jammeh’s farm is meant for Gambians. And for one to work on his farm is one way of contributing to the welfare of Gambians”.

Other speakers included Agnes Cummings, Principal Private Secretary at the Office of the Vice-President, Catherine Riley, Principal Inspector of Gambia Revenue Authority and Amie Singhateh-Mbye Corporate Director Africell.

The occasion was embraced by all women folks of the society.

Author: Written by Ousman Darboe
Source: The Daily Observer Newspaper