Gambia is a small country on the coastline of West Africa, sharing borders with Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. It is situated on either side of the Gambia River, which flows through the centre of the Gambia. Banjul is the Gambian capital, and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.
Among other African nations, Nigeria and Gambia, apart from being members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and African Union (AU), enjoy socio-political ties among others.
Gambia is not endowed with so many mineral and natural resources, neither does it have a large agricultural base. Most of its population depend on crops and livestock, and cottage type manufacturing; mostly of peanuts, fish, and animal hides. The economy basically runs on foreign aid, and International Monetary Fund's management.
Big Brother's Crisis
Big Brother, Nigeria, on the other hand, has retained the pride of being Africa's biggest in terms of population and strength of economy. The country faces it's own myriad of domestic problems, including brutal insurgencies, poverty, and widespread corruption. Nigeria emerged as the largest economy due its population numbers and cultural strength, vibrant music and film industry, and by its peacekeeping role in West Africa.
Watchers say Nigeria's leaders lack a sense of awareness and purpose, and this has led to confused policies and blunders. This leadership snag overshadows other great developments and milestones being achieved in some sectors of the economy, especially in technology, fashion, music, sports (soccer), and the movie industry; much of which has had nothing to do with government planning, policy or promotion.
Nigeria's next generation has revealed that the country is destined to lead.
Weak leadership and governance, failures in regulations, bureaucracy and lack of goodwill is a barrier to Nigeria's development, creating a gap, and allowing corruption to thrive. All of these do not speak well for Nigeria as a leader of the continent. it must address its issues and repair its foundations.
Is Nigeria ready to get itself out its quagmire?
But hope, unlike faith, is premised on reason and justification.
Nigeria has often stood behind Gambia, same way it does for other African States, especially when economically or politically challenged. The Nigeria and Gambia relationship has often times provided the opportunity to discuss issues of common interest, and review bilateral relations for the purpose of strengthening their ties and promoting the countries' economic growth.
The two countries have had cause to examine areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, notably the areas of trade, energy, health, justice, maritime transport, education, air transport, and the combat of all forms of illicit trafficking. The countries also share interest in trade as regards relevant ECOWAS protocols and the aegis of South-South Cooperation. There were instances where Nigeria and Gambia have had agreements to re-energize their Joint Commissions, for diversifying and strengthening the cooperation in all the sectors, therefore maintaining regular consultations, which also include talks on education and capacity building, especially for the youth, by giving priority to the sectors of training, in order to ensure economic growth, creation of employment and harmonious integration of the youth. They also engage in talks concerning food security, energy, climate change, poverty reduction, and guarantee for sustainable development. Cooperation in the areas of investment promotion and development of small and medium enterprises are also not left out.
They have both maintained a climate of peace and understanding and palpable commitment to mobilize all the resources and energies to ensure the well-being of their peoples. One can virtually touch the dynamism, the exemplary comportment, level of organization and excellent integration of Gambian and Nigerian communities.
The Terms of relationship has also involved the political and socio-economic developments in the West African sub-region, as regards the world economic and financial crisis. It has understood the necessity to stimulate further, the regional integration through the promotion of trade and economic activities between the States, and the acceleration of the programme of integration in Africa, through harmonization of the Regional Economic Communities (RECS).
Concerning the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the countries work jointly on alleviating the suffering caused by hunger, diseases and illiteracy. They have recognized the need to speedup action towards all the goals by focusing on those that are most off-track, and those that face particular development challenges i.e. the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and countries affected by, or recovering from conflict or disasters.
Similar Political Crisis
The retrogressive leadership and virtual anarchy under a President who wants to reign forever in Gambia, can be compared to the situation in Nigeria in 1993, when the presidential election was annulled. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, was then president, and a military leader.
The U-turn of President Yahya Jammeh on election results that was to replace him after 22 years of occupying the Gambian political space, in a manner similar to Babangida 's in June, 1993, did raise serious concern globally. His return to the public glare to reject/annul the result of the presidential election, which he once declared free and fair, made many Gambians, friends of Gambia, regional and global powers, ask questions about African leadership.
In Gambia's self journey to the near political doom on the heels of Jammeh 's adventurous stance, is one evil tag that characterize politics and power in Africa; a bane and undoing which has largely contributed to the socio-economic ailments of the continent. Nigeria again rose to the occasion of the Gambia, despite her it's and buts in the garments of international assemblies.
Visionary leadership can transform a country, even a small country, like Gambia, without rich endowments in natural resources.
Gambia's new President, Adama Barrow, whose ascendancy the world worked for, and witnessed in the face of threatening domestic resistance, must not fail; he must not fail to take his people out of the protracted want and wailing.
One can only imagine the wonders that would take place, if Nigeria, with its wealth in huge natural resources is joined with visionary leadership.
Again...But hope, unlike faith, is premised on reason and justification.
Nigeria, one of the world's consequential players and Africa's big brother, the rest of the world and the rest of us, await the change Barrow brings.
Dr. Ajulo is the Principal Partner of Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, Abuja, former National Secretary of a leading Nigeria Political Party, Labour Party and Founder of Egalitarian Mission for Africa.