By Sulayman Jeng, UK
When Hon Mai Ahmed Fatty debunked Jammeh during the political impasse at a press conference in Senegal for allegedly looting $11 million from the Central Bank during his last week in office, many vilified him. Some even purported perhaps he wants to help himself with the funds when sworn in office. Gladly, rectitude has vindicated him. It is, therefore, prudent for those who hastily crucified him to manly swallow their pride and apologise to the dude. The Hon Minister of Finance’s disclosure of Jammeh enriching himself with state funds did not come as a surprise to many. SukaiGaya Gaye, a young activist validated, “Okay, I knew #DumbJammeh was enriching himself all that time he was in office, but boy, I didn’t know it was to this magnitude, D48 billion? Dang man! Hana dafdon ngiroo during his last days? This man really did us dirty. We need to organize a search party and get his ass ASAP.” Momodou Ndow, a gentleman of fine mind, further reinforced: “We all knew Goloh was a thief, so I don’t think anyone is surprised here. He made his supporters believe that he had supernatural powers, and now I too believe he does. You have to have supernatural powers to be able to steal as much money as Goloh did from a small and poor country like Gambia. How many Warambas and Ray Ban sunglasses can one buy with D48 billion?” He went on to enunciate, “It is clear that Goloh had people assisting him with cash withdrawals and all sorts of financial transactions from almost every revenue generating source in The Gambia, and his assistants should be held responsible. But to follow the money, Amadou Samba must be invited for a chat because he has admitted to being Goloh’s manager. Amadou did deny being Goloh’s business partner though, but as his manager, he should still be able to lead us the Panama Canal. Gambia has $900 million reasons to go there”.
While some are recuperating from the shock of the Jammeh financial saga, Frederic Tendeng insinuates “Today’s revelations are just the beginning of what should be an extensive situation analysis and appraisal, not only on our meagre public funds, but to uncover the magnitude of Jammeh’s illicit, illegal and dark business empire that is crippling the Gambian Economy. Sanity is also about tracking down all liege men behind the Jammeh parallel and toxic economy. They are equally criminals and bandits”. Pa Nderry Mbai who is celebrated for speaking his mind irrespective of what others feel buttressed: “We need an independent audit of the financial activities of the former Jammeh administration in the interest of accountability, transparency and probity. A statement of account about the alleged financial embezzlement perpetrated by Jammeh and his cronies, coming from the Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh, is not enough for one to draw a compelling conclusion or make a fitting informed opinion about what actually transpired during Jammeh’s rule. The books must be properly audited before passing any judgment. If it means setting up a Commission of Enquiry to probe into the matter, it is worth doing. Making statements without backing them up with facts is a disservice to a nation oppressed for twenty two years”.
At this juncture, the fundamental query remains how was Jammeh able to swag that huge amount? A blunt answer is lack of probity, transparency and accountability. When Jammeh ascended the mantle of leadership of the unsuspecting and laidback nation in July 1994, most of us welcomed him in open arms. We groomed him, overlooked his omission and protected him from his sceptics. Then the disappearances started. Closely following its track was state orchestrated murders, unlawful arrests and detentions. When he graduated from banditry with dazzling comfort and nauseating arrogance, he openly bragged of killing, imprisoning and banishing perceived sceptics on GRTS. We debunked him and his human rights records. Lamentably, we were branded haters, fabricators and blasphemers. We got showered in the most poignant profanities and dressed in borrowed robes. Some even went to the extent of whitewashing Jammeh’s human rights record at the United Nations despite the battery of evidence of Jammeh’s brutality littering everywhere. There are others, even today, who believe Jammeh is an angel. We fought. The fight was hard. Limbs, lives, wealth and properties got lost. But we won at the end. A new dawn is born. A new Gambia that is anything but what Jammeh and APRC epitomised. As the blinding arrows of freedom, justice, security and democracy lacerated the dark clouds of dictatorship, Gambians decided to be commanders of their own destiny. The liquor of freedom tasted sweet and we all got drunk. In the process, some quickly forgot what the fight was all about. They become poised to defend the new order at any cost such that when President Barrow says jump, they chorus how high? Certainly, I will jump too but first I would want to know why do I have to jump? Who will benefit from my jumping? That is a relationship based on mutual trust and appreciation of each other. A relationship built on honest and sincere communication. A relationship for equal opportunity and justice. But not one in which some are more equal than others.
President Barrow promised us that went elected into office, he will tell us how much he is worth and his cabinet will also declare their assets. That promise still remained unfulfilled. When Lamin Cham of Champion Sounds tested the rainbow government on the amount slated to finance Gambia @52 two in one celebration, he was vilified. The minister refuted the alleged amount but failed short in stating the actual budgeted amount. The Barrow government is also accused of lavishing our meagre resources at the Kairaba Hotel on staff meals and unnecessary bills. No state official either authenticated or refuted the allegations. Furthermore no veritable independent audit has been carried out in any of the line ministries and the president’s office since they officially took over. The vice president position has become a forbidden fruit. Since the appointment was decried as unconstitutional, President Barrow became tied-lips on it. When genuine Gambians highlights President Barrow’s omission, they are shouted down and bullied to silence. That is not what we fought for. You either have to join the club or you become an outcaste. Loving President Barrow to bits means guiding him on the right part and calling him out when he goes wrong. Unless we do so, we will only groom Barrow into another Jammeh.