By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Today at the ‘Sustaining Peace through Governance’ round table diplomatic meeting the lights went off at Kairaba Beach Hotel for a couple of minutes. Soon after the lights came on the Minister of Justice, Hon. Baa Tambedou made a joke that the black out was intentional and it shows that ‘Energy is very important for us to see the National Development Plan’.
The Hon. Minister then proceeded to change the program by announcing that the media must leave so all stakeholders will be allowed to express themselves freely.
I then interjected to the surprise of many people there and told the MoJ plainly that ‘the media is a stakeholder and I respectfully reject his motion that the media should be excluded from this meeting.’ I tried to explain that the black out was symbolic of the darkness this Government is leaving the masses in.
I put it to the Honourable Minister that why the secret meeting when your Ministry invited us here to cover your event? Had we been invited to the opening of the meeting I would have understood but the MoJ invitation did not indicate that at all.
Just earlier in December 2018, the EU invited the media to a round table discussion and continues to do so. The first meeting I attended was to engage the EU Ambassador and the Fisheries Minister on the Sustainable Fishing Partnership Agreement they signed with the Fisheries Ministry. It’s those type of platforms which allow us to bridge the gap between the media and those in position of power.
Back to Kairaba Beach Hotel. Even though in this case the MoJ invited the media as observers the Honourable Minister decided to deny the media from observing the session which will enlighten the public on the discussion points raised to promote peace in The Gambia through Governance.
Its when the media covers these events that the public can say Hon Minister on so and so day you agreed to act on recommendations X and Y how far have you gone in implementing those recommendations you agreed.
As I tried to debate the Minister to inform him that the Gambian people deserve to know what’s going on I was then escorted out of the meeting by my fellow media colleague Sainey MK Marenah. How I wish my fellow media practitioners decided to sit in there with me. We would have at least covered the event for the benefit of ordinary Gambians.
In Gambia we have electricity blackout but the blackout of information being promoted by the Government is even worse in my view. Then people say we don’t inform Gambian people, we don’t probe the executive. There is no transparency. My brothers and sisters this is the Gambia we have today.
I look forward to the day that the Government can hold round table meetings with the media to debate in a mature manner as stakeholders in development.
Who benefits from holding secret meetings on behalf of The Gambian People?
Now how can we fix this darkness? Especially to my colleagues in the media we have alot of work to do.