Part 6

The next critique in the queue is Mr Simon Sabally.

He did not actually raise any question regarding the statement made by the Secretary General of PDOIS. Apparently he has an issue regarding the nature and characteristic of Foroyaa. Notwithstanding, he deserves a reply, especially when one Karamba Touray of the UDP has decided to add his voice to claim that Foroyaa is an organ for the amplification of the policies and values of PDOIS.

Mr Sabally would be interested in knowing that Foroyaa came into being in 1987 because of the fact that the national media did not allow any political party to communicate its views or any other divergent views expressed on the only electronic medium in the country, namely, Radio Gambia. Only cyclostyled papers in few sheets served as information outlets for The Gambian people. Reports on agriculture, the environment, health, education, torture, violation of human rights, the budget and other issues of concern were hardly covered by any media outlet.

The Nation newspaper by Dixon Colley featured prominently as the amplifier of the voices of the people. When the Suntorch under Junkunda Daffeh and The Torch under Sanneh Manneh tried to hold the government accountable to the people, the sword became mightier than the word.

Foroyaa distinguished itself as the most resilient amplifier of the voices of the people. Foroyaa helped the Gambian people to know that Gambia was putting D26,000000 and Senegal D52,000000 into the confederation to maintain a confederal force and confederal parliament instead of addressing the needs and aspirations of the poor Senegalese and Gambian people. It was Foroyaa that announced the death of the confederation before the Gambia government was fully aware of why the Senegalese troops guarding state house left unceremoniously. It was Foroyaa that reported the Sana Manneh case verbatim, which encouraged Gambians to be reporting on court processes. It is Foroyaa that exposed human rights violation that enabled Gambians to be aware of their constitutional rights. It is Foroyaa that has been reporting on land rights and has compelled authorities to reduce their excesses in the exercise of their authority.

Regardless of party affiliation all those who have causes to fight, information to give, that would not be amplified by the state would find outlet in Foroyaa as the principal instrument for the amplification of the voices of the people. This is why all sectors of society are readers of Foroyaa. In fact this focus of Foroyaa in publishing the truth in good faith in the public interest has earned it the respect of Amnesty International in terms of being the apex newspaper that reports on all violations of human rights and a reliable source of plain unalloyed facts regarding violation. Its reputation for fair presentation of facts has earned it trust and respect by the international community as a reliable source of information in making assessment of the realities on the ground. Hundreds of Gambian university students, researches, journalists have either gone through Foroyaa to acquire experience or to conduct research in all fields of study. Foroyaa is the paper that covered the collapse of the Gambia Cooperative Union, the Gambia Commercial and Development Bank and the Assets Management and Recovery Corporation which had to be charged to recover 300 million dalasis worth of mismanaged funds. It is Foroyaa which made it a duty to inform the farmers of the world market price for their crops and the pittance given to them.

It is therefore unfortunate that Mr Sabally is not aware of all this. Has he been in The Gambia or is he simply trying to trivialize the tremendous work that Foroyaa has done in the interest of the nation, the people, and the sub region, Africa and the world at large? No human rights defender concerned with the plight of the Gambian people would claim to be oblivious to Foroyaa’s role in The Gambia. No one can name three major newspapers in The Gambia in the first republic without mentioning Foroyaa. Foroyaa is bigger than PDOIS and has amplified more voices than the voices of PDOIS members. It is a national institution. Those who manage it have their peculiarities but those who provide the facts are bound by truth, good faith and the public interest.

Hence Mr Sabally should be informed that Foroyaa has invited all political forces to utilise its column for political debate. It has even sent reporters to contact political parties to submit their code of conduct so that the population would be able to distinguish those who are adhering to the values of their political parties and those who are not. Contrary to what Karamba Touray has said Foroyaa has built institutions like nursery schools, the newspaper and other instruments to serve people.

Mr Sabally may recommend to any political party to use this column to open up a critical debate on any matter of national and international interest. This principle of publishing divergent views on a given subject is what has enabled Foroyaa to earn the respect and credibility it now enjoys. The challenge is now on Mr Sabally or Mr Karamba Touray to call on other parties to use this column to engage in the great national debate on Gambia’s future without derogatory remarks and angry invectives. It is also important to point out that PDOIS has realised that Foroyaa cannot be its political organ. This is why the PDOIS Congress has assigned its organ, GONGA, to disseminate party principles, policies, plans and programmes.

Read Part 1

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