By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Last week on 3rd August 2022 Gambian President Adama Barrow announced that he would be going on annual leave starting on 5th August 2022 to the end of August 2022. This news came just days after the second flash flood which affected the majority of Banjul and numerous settlements in urban Gambia. Two National Assembly members one from Banjul Central and the other from Old Yundum speak to Gainako Online News about the President’s timing of his leave.
According to a report issued by the Red Cross on 8th August 2022, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) has estimated that a total of 17,201 people are affected by the recent flash floods. The provinces affected include North Bank Region, West Coast Region, Kanifing Municipality and Banjul.
However, after the second wave of flash floods on the weekend of 30th and 31st July 2022, a statement from State House announced that “His Excellency, Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, will on Friday, 5th August 2022, go on 15 working days leave as part of his annual leave entitlement. The President will resume duties on Wednesday, 31st August 2022”.
Independent Parliamentarian, Hon Abdoulie Njai of Banjul Central believes that “it’s not a good show of leadership and also what amazes me is this was just days after his tour around Banjul”. State House is based in Banjul the capital city, however, of late the flash floods have really affected the city forcing the President to conduct regular site visits to areas worse affected even while on leave. However, Hon Njai believes that after the tour and seeing first-hand the challenges presented by the flash floods the declaration “that you’re going on leave definitely is quite unethical in my point of view”.
However, Hon Abdoulie Ceesay of Old Yundum believes that “it’s [the President’s] right, he deserves to like any other civil servant who goes on leave, I don’t have any problems with that”. According to the Parliamentarian who secured his second term in Parliament via President Barrow’s National People Party, he would “recommend that the President goes because if you are President you don’t go on leave the Vice President wouldn’t know what is happening at the State House”.
Hon Ceesay opined that the timing of the President’s leave “is not a problem. Whether there is a flood or not what is important is the President is with the people, the President is supporting the people, the President feels that the people of his country are badly affected with floods and then giving them the moral support, he can. That is the most important thing”.
The Banjul Central Parliamentarian agrees that the President’s “annual leave [is] part of the constitution and he’s it’s part of his given rights” however, given the timing and the devastation recorded “the situation is dire and this is a crisis — emergency situation”. According to the Independent Parliamentarian who won a seat in President Adama Barrow’s registered Constituent “leaders are highlighted in terms of emergency situations, in terms of [how] they step up when things get really bad. So, I think it’s not a good show of leadership”.
Calling for the need to show urgency Hon Njai added that “in situations like these even in official duties one has to accelerate whatever work that you have to do in making sure that at least if [the disaster is] not mitigated but at least [make] efforts to curb it”.
Hon Ceesay argues that the President is entitled to 26 days of leave however, he decided to take only 15 days instead. According to Hon Ceesay although his Party Leader “took the 15 days [leave], now he is with people and all the flood victims, he has been going around so we don’t talk about the importance of President taking leave again”. The member for Old Yundum stated that “since the approval of the leave, [President Barrow has been] staying in Kombo going round to check people. At least about 3 or 4 days have gone out of the 15. So, I think it’s timely for him to go”.
Both Parliamentarians have been visiting their electorates and supporting them through the flash floods by providing donations in kind and identifying alternative shelter during the emergency. The next publication will feature the efforts of these two Parliamentarians to support their electorate throughout this crisis.