How the Janneh commission revealed the ‘moral and ethical deficit in our work force


Amie Bensouda Counsel for Commission of Inquiry

Earlier today I posted this statement on my social media face book page “Our parents used to be ashamed of associating with criminal and unethical behavior; but today you are celebrated for being a criminal; absolute moral bankruptcy”. My reference to parental behavior is what I vividly remembered as a child to be a high standard of moral behavior in our society. Our parents and grandparents would do everything possible and even take their lives if they were to be associated with certain immoral and unethical behavior. What I was referencing is the unbelievable behavior displayed by our most privileged citizens at the Janneh commission looking into the assets and financial dealings of former President Jammeh. The revelations at the commission are at best mind numbing and at worst outright disgusting. Civil servants and government officials entrusted with the most sacred duty of running the affairs of the state succumbed to the dictator and showed the most unprofessional behavior in front of the nation. They did not only display incompetence and outright banditry, but the most unpatriotic and immoral characteristic a nation has ever witnessed.

Many Gambians including this author actually thought the major cancer in our society was Yahya Jammeh becoming president who managed to entice a few unruly citizens to hijack state machinery, commit crimes and loot our economy. Don’t get me wrong, Yahya Jammeh was and is still one of the worst, if not the worst citizen Gambia has ever produced! But what civil servants, service personnel and private business men and women manifested at the commission is beyond one leader’s power to manipulate and control a nation and it’s people.  These people were willing and able bodied men and women who willfully went to work every single day doing everything possible against their oath of office and professional standard behavior that they have been taught.

From Governors of the Central Bank; Secretary Generals and head of the civil service, private bank executives, Directors of major institutions, cabinet ministers, security officers, regional governors and senior civil servants among others, all displayed the most unpatriotic code of conduct in carrying out their duties to the state. Not a single person manifested the patriotism and moral fortitude to advice against and or refused to carry out an illegal order or quit their job based on disagreement they had with illegal orders from the president’s office. They all willfully, deliberately and proudly carried out illegal withdrawals of massive funds; cosigned bank accounts and or executed orders they knew to not only be immoral, but illegal all in pretext of obeying orders from above. The duty and responsibility of running the affairs of the state rest with every citizen who took an oath of office to serve the people without fear or favor! Violations of this basic code of conduct no matter the circumstances must squarely rest in the hands of these citizens and must be regarded as criminal behavior.

The most scary thing coming out of all these unbelievable behaviors and willful conduct, is the evidence that so many citizens with so many privileges and such high expectations and responsibilities will mortgage the nation’s soul while they collect their salaries and go home to teach their children honesty and integrity! What institutions were these people trained? what moral and professional background do these citizens come from, and what religious conviction and human basic decency do they subscribe?  When has morality, honesty and professional integrity eroded so bad in our country that no one dares speak or conduct themselves ethically and professionally? What are the root causes and the rationale behind an entire state work force becoming so unpatriotic and so irresponsible in handling state affairs? This is no doubt the lowest standard of moral and ethical bankruptcy our nation has ever witnessed.

Many things are now making more sense on why the New Barrow government in fact continue to appoint some of the most corrupt and most incompetent civil servants ever to be employed in the Gambia. There appears to be a vacuum of moral and professional deficit in Gambia’s work force to a level that the new government had to ignore such level of incompetency to recycle people back into the work force. Unfortunately, anybody outside of the system that is so rotten may not be able to make a difference under such a system. The Gambian civil servants after Yahya Jammeh needs moral, ethical, and professional training to restore the value and professionalism seen during the first republic. These crop of civil servants, political appointees, security personnel and I must add religious leaders have failed the test of patriotism and must be reoriented into true national service orientation and professional responsibilities.  They have not only lost the moral decency to serve but also failed to understand the basic competence to be effective on the job. The new government must therefore reintroduce civil service training to restore a uniform code of conduct in the work force. They must also prepare to hold heads of institutions and political appointees who knowingly and willfully violated the law and their oath of office accountable. Excusing these unethical and immoral conducts by these citizens under the pretext that they were afraid of Jammeh while enjoying the ride with him would be the highest betrayal of accountability.

By Demba Baldeh Associate editor: For comments or rejoinder contact the editor


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