By Gibril Saine
The advent of social media instant connections in the world has transformed our lives in so many ways than one. Conversely, technology has however come at a great cost, even loss, to society in various ways than I care to divulge. The disintegration of society for one, its social fabric that is, continues to cause friction separating families, maiming lives, and even taking lives along its destructive path.
In politics & tricks of the trade, I observe in sheer desperation the collision of politics & social media on amplifier radiating fake news or even blatant lies masqueraded as truth. This is more so dangerous in the temperamental arena of politics where big government information fed to the population is consumed as gospel truth; as with media platforms reporting them.
Any responsible government in the world today will look to responsibly monitor social media, first to hold social media companies – Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc – accountable & responsible, but then implement internal [restrictive] controls with respect to hate speech & the vile pornographic content online. Fellow Gambians, let us nurture the great [Sene]Gambia culture & traditions inherited from our forefathers – for it is ethically solid & superior to any other – sourced from religious origins and fidelity in nature.
I shall always be grateful to my Lord, and parents for the upbringing – ethics instilled during those formative years in good stead.
Now, talk of politics with respect to Gambian political talk shows & commentators, I think a change of tact is nigh in how we go about ticking administration. What is meant here is that ‘democratic governance is about ‘portfolios’, responsibilities, and therefore, accountability.’ If that is true and it is the case – we should NOT blame the president for every single mishap across gov’t, but to apportion and line failures accordingly in respect of depart & the personalities manning them. I will continue to scrutinise and point out failures in president Barrow’s leadership – but what one would not do, is blame him for every ink dropped. A polity, designed on democratic ideals of separation of powers, checks and balances does not account for singularity, but rather, a shared responsibility. This is in no way an attempt to hold brief for the president, for he very well knows the entire soup bowl is on his head; that failures in his administration shall be attributed directly to him
So, let us try apportioning blame where it fits.
Admittedly, I have no moral duty to pinpoint journalists where or what stories to cover, but I’d think one is excused to express an opinion. Had there been a magic stick in hand as to how journalists in our country should operate, one would put emphasis on scrutiny in terms of the budget, how assigned totals are spent in practical terms line-by-line – by the various gov’t agencies, departments – and the statehouse itself in view of expectations.
We should also analyse the day-to-day role of government ministers: what is it that they do, actual working-time spent in the office as opposed to going about personal errands in the city during office working hours? From agriculture to education to health, why is it that no single Ministry or gov’t agency ever meet its targets on sustainable dev. goals (SDGs)?
And if I was to be a bit more nosy – you would think the public deserves to know what percentage of departmental budget allocation is consumed by salary and per diem each year – on a comparative analysis basis? That is the surest way to measure results, ensure accountability – inject public confidence in the system.
As a country, I think we can come to a solid understanding of where we are in terms of meeting those defining development challenges; but foremost – reasons why successive governments fail to meet those targets.
The shortfalls at the port should not be thrown at the president, but the director-general & the board therein. The abysmal failures at Gamtel, Gamcel & Nawec respectively should not be emptied at the president’s head either, but the very CEOs and leadership manning those parastatals. If the Gambia cannot still produce enough rice to feed itself despite fifty-three (53) years of independence, isn’t it only rational and wise to audit the state of fitness of that ministry put charge? Is the ministry of agriculture fit for its purpose, how about that of health? or Education? Why is it that mambury Njie had allocated over a billion dalasi to the Ministry of Finance – four billion dalasi in four years – where has that money gone, whilst agriculture was left to rot. It requires a journalistic look-in to unpack and repack the debate – The national Audit office must act [sic].
Rightly, hence ministerial appointees, governors, and directors are the president’s prerogative, and his administration should do a better job effectively communicating with the public instead of the foolishness of Sankara’s press statements. The aim here, however, is for Gambia’s news media to develop an investigative journalistic sense, enquire about departmental procedures, highlight failures fair and square, and hold the officials responsible to account. Reason being that the political culture does seem diluted, monotonous, boring – perhaps even unfair.
For the national interest, I remain.