By Yero Jallow
A gift is something given as gesture from an individual and/or organization to another individual and/or organization. Gifts can be small or huge, in cash and/or in kind, it can be a compliment, an educational gift, a spiritual gift, cultural, and the list goes on. A gift can be given to support the beneficiaries who maybe in need, as courtesy of goodwill, or given to win favors.
Herein, we are dealing with material gift which includes material cash and/or kind. Reliable reports from the Barrow Presidency said that 57 vehicles were donated to Gambia’s lawmakers, locally called ‘Members of Parliament’ (National Assembly Members). The issue has been for the Government which is supposed to lead with exemplary traits to be transparent and reveal the source of funding. Director of Press recently revealed the gifts of the cars are from an anonymous donor, which is a shot on the foot. During the giving ceremony itself, Tourism minister, Hamat Bah, was seen to be speaking in a chest-beating tone, praise-singing Barrow, and his comments too out of touch with reality and Governance, as it lacked the ingredients of good leadership by all standards. A Government must do better than that, even very recently one of Gambia’s Opposition Leaders, Mama Kandeh of the GDC, was pressed to reveal his source of funding, even though he is not paid from Taxpayers’ money, much more a sitting Government. To where Kandeh and Barrow heed public outcry and rule of necessity, it is their political careers on line. One thing for sure, it is good to see good examples from our leaders. Being transparent as representative of Government is one way to set some standards.
Let us first agree that Gambian salaries are too low to support most workers and their families; hence the reason that corruption is widespread, because living is unaffordable, though not a justification. Essentially, the Parliamentarians are supposed to be people of reputable character. Traditionally, they are seen as a the “Lambeh” (Mansa), who often demonstrate certain societal shows, often taken by the praise-singing of greatness attributes, and the thought of being greater in luckiness than the average Joe. Most of them live in the Kombos and struggle in their outreach with their constituencies that are way too far in the provinces. There is no doubt that these workers are in dire need of help, just like the many others who are in fact way less in salary performance than the Parliamentarians; however helping them in their financial goals must be done right – morally and ethically.
If a gift is done to win favors, especially a mighty Government organ like the Law makers, then that is a serious deal. It is even more serious that a Government cannot state the source of the funding. We are witnessing similar revelations from the “limping” Janneh commission where “directives” were given without due process of the law. What that really says most of those being paraded were in complicit of financial impropriety and must be held accountable. Similar fate awaits any Barrow official who behaves similarly. In this situation, both Government and the Parliamentarians must ensure that the deal is sealed right. There is no choice to not do it right, because the recipe to do it right should be there. We know how tempting a gift can be, especially the magnitude of a car, though certain principle is expected from the capacity of law makers and even individuals. That is for the good of character and protection of integrity for self and Government. Added to stating the source of funding, these vehicles should have been given to the Parliamentarians in the form of loans, maybe with certain offsets as maybe available. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and there are many other citizens in deeper financial challenges than these law makers. There is just likely conflict of interest.
Apparently, there are a lot of spin doctors, social engineers, and those that try to play with societal intelligence. To them, those that express concerns on the power excesses are “haters” of country; lest we forget, we are coming from a similar psychological entrapment. It didn’t work the first time and will never work. Shamefully, when country gets in trouble, most hibernate in their snail shells, or demonstrate such a toxic and divisive atmosphere in open space in their desperate attempts to manipulate, rewrite history, and enable the excesses of power as political drumbeats. There are the others hiding in their divisive coats, they live insecure because of their wish to support identity/association at the expense of Gambia’s interest, and they are stripped naked by their funny cat phenomena, in Peul, “Suula ubba” (defecate and burry). The very fantasy of divisiveness is a huge burden. If any doesn’t realize the fact that the Gambia is at a different level, you need to pause and examine again. That is for only those that are not too blinded by the fantasies of their held egos, hidden agendas, and mystifications.
Barrow is hereby being informed to thread carefully. Last time I checked, he was still mumbling on the MOU’s Three years that the Coalition campaigned on. He should turn off some of the destructive bees buzzing around his ear space. That would help him set a legacy for himself and be more useful to country and citizens, especially where Africa’s biggest political hurricane is peaceful and democratic leadership succession. There is some ineptness, political decision vacuum, and open political showing, and unless some of it is checked, sooner or later, it will hit back with serious consequences.