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Saturday, September 26, 2020

100 Days in office: What the people say!

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Samsideen Phatey, online journalist

A lot of us are trying to measure the impact of the Barrow administration 100 days into his rule; but this new government cannot be measured with that yardstick. It inherited a completely broken, institution-less and divided nation, corrupted by decades-long autocracy and absolute rule.
Above all, this is an administration that came into power facing serious difficulties and challenges, first averting a civil war, running state affairs from a hotel room and not having a proper transition and handing over. Yet, they gave Gambians a sense of freedom, democracy and security.

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This government was more than sensible enough to understand we must rebuild the country and that freedom, democracy, liberty and justice for all is needed to transform the Gambia into an economically viable and sustainable nation. They are also repairing international partnerships, relations and cooperation that were severed and broken by the former regime to pull our country from diplomatic isolation and the civilised sanctions we were drowning in… This First 100 is what is now used to measure the successes and accomplishments of a president during the time that the president’s power and influence are at their greatest. This is not the case for President Adama Barrow. With where The Gambia came from, and where the country is right now, any expectation of this so-called First 100 days of Barrow presidency is unrealistic and if used as a yardstick to measure his competence is nothing but political propaganda. While we must yearn for and while there are high expectations for this government, I believe they are doing a great deal of work. We must keep an eye on them while they multitask to get the Gambia to where it needs to be, but we are not at a place to start measuring the success of this administration with a so-called First 100 days. I believe they are on track, especially as they seek to reform and build strong institutions, a robust economy and a democratic government: the recipe needed for us to start measuring future administrations on First 100 days.

Malamin Jagne, youth leader, Bundung

I think Barrow has done well under the circumstances within these three months. You have to appreciate the fact that his team has not even got a good starting and had struggled to fill positions because a good time was lost in the impasse during which a government in waiting could not have been put in place. However with everything in place now Barrow and his team must ensure that they have a clean and clear difference from the style of Jammeh; here I mean no unlawful arrest, detention without trial, economic looting and extravagance.
I have noticed a lot of lobbyists and interest groups hanging around the Presidency hoping to influence the new government to give them contracts and other favours simply because they had given support to one party or the other in the coalition. The last three months could be forgiven for breathing space but the honeymoon must now be over and serious nation building start. I would say he has not started anything yet. May be 50 percent [for him] is a fair mark.

Sidi Sanneh, Former Jammeh Minister, consultant

We have heard a great deal about the first 100 days of President Barrow and whether he’s achieved much, if anything, legislatively or through executive action. Many, however, question the utility or usefulness of what is regarded, in some quarters, as a mythical guidepost imported from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s America that has little relevance and applicability in the Gambian context.

How can we speak of Barrow’s 100 days’ achievement when the legislative arm of the government was elected barely 24 days ago on Barrow’s 92nd day in office, if you start the clock on the 19th January and not the 2nd December, 2016 which would put him well over the 100-day mark. I find the mark to be less useful in our circumstances for a different reason… The judiciary which has been rendered dysfunctional and packed with judges-for-hire is only now beginning to be properly staffed with the appointment of a Chief Justice that promises to put the bench in a proper, respectable and dignified footing. That leaves the executive still trying to find its footing, hamstrung, in part, by lack of capacity. Even if Barrow’s office was up and running, as it should have been by now, those cataloging the administration’s successes in its first 100 days seem to be encouraging – inadvertently, we hope, the use of executive powers to chalk up a few brownie points for the BBC and others with all the dangers inherent in its excessive use. Remember Jammeh? In short, it is way too early, in the case of The Gambia, to apply the first 100 day benchmark. It may be applied more appropriately to the successor to the transition government when the institutions are in better shape and the electoral calendar is realigned so that the presidential and parliamentary elections are in sync.

Musa Sissoho, APRC apologist, UK

Over a 100 days of nothing, no Vice President, no project, no blueprint, no security, our country in the hands of foreign troops because he’s a coward alongside his Interior minister and Darboe. That pretty much sums up ‘Wheelbarrow’. Knowing quite clearly he has no plans to take the country forward from where Jammeh left off, he now keeps himself busy taking wasteful and meaningless trips around the world while the country is longing for basic needs to be restored and maintained. Thought he’s just got back from Congo the other week, keeping in mind he’s been to Senegal twice, jetted to France and Belgium etc. Ask the new Ghanaian president how many trips he’s done since taking office. Barrow is simply a failure and a travelling president. You can run away from your responsibilities but you can’t hide. It’s about time you step down and let Gambians go back to the polls and elect a new competent and visionary president.

Kemo Ceesay, Brusubi

President Barrow has so far not said much since he came to power and his absence in the public space made people to miss him. His government needs to be seen and heard frequently. There is no use claiming to have good programmes when you fail to communicate it to the people effectively on those programmes… People are feeling the absence of government especially after a tumultuous 22 years of a noisy Jammeh. I feel also that during these past months some politicians have rushed to take ownership of the president when he belongs to all parties.  This is dangerous and can bring a rift between them and erode the confidence of the people in the capacity and ability of the government to tackle the daily needs of the people. President Barrow must prove to all that he is his own man and avoid being used by interest groups from parties or businesses. Interest groups often use sitting presidents and make them unpopular while they go with their millions. Again Barrow should fix the security problem as fast as possible. The army and police must be redeemed from the mistrust and lack of confidence people have for them under Jammeh’s dictatorship and become true servant of the people. I would grade him 45 percent for the first 100 days.

Kemo Conteh, Political commentator

National peace of mind is good for the national state of confidence in the national economy for citizens and foreign investors alike. To achieve this alone in 100 days in a state of tyranny that has endured a straight 22 years of arrogant, high-handed state based authority visiting horrendous experiences on citizens of arbitrary arrests, torture, disappearances, rapes and killings, and indiscriminate dismissals and terminations of public servants is in itself a great achievement of progress and transformation in public governance in any country…‬

Yankuba Darboe, Solicitor, UK

It’s been 100 days of no: arbitrary arrest, torture, disappearance, rape, killings, etc!  Thank you president Adama Barrow!

Madi Jobarteh, Programme manager, Tango

In the 100 days of office, Barrow has achieved more at the personal level than at the leadership level. His demeanour and words exude confidence and assurance that he is a democrat and committed to respecting human rights. His leadership however is not consistent and organised, that is to say, judging from the various decisions and actions he has taken so far. His greatest weakness is his lack of effective communications and strategy.

Musa Bah, Teacher, author

Some semblance of the rule of law, freedom of expression, appointment of ministers, and assurance of the law being supreme. He needs to appoint a VP, he needs to provide a development blueprint, he needs to engage the people, he needs to tell us the state of the economy, he needs to tell us what he is doing to extradite the criminals among other things.

Njundu Drammeh, National Coordinator, Child Protection Alliance

President Barrow’s 100 days in office?  I think he is on a marathon, not a sprint. I think the President is listening to people. Emptying the prisons of political prisoners and hapless victims of Yahya Jammeh, prosecuting those who bear the greatest responsibility for the human rights violations in the former regime, putting in place a Cabinet of politicians and technocrats and creating the environment for free speech and enjoyment of freedom hitherto unknown are worthy of recognition. Moving forward, I think the Executive should expedite the formulation of a national development blueprint, initiate the process of legal reform which was promised, strengthen the judiciary, create opportunities for youth employment, establish a human rights commission and an anti-corruption bureau and strengthen communication with the people.

Ousman Bah, public health officer

Human rights is respected as well as freedom of expression. The issue of international partnership and channels are open for investment and dialogue. What needs to be done? Internal security is volatile, national reconciliation, and quick restoration of the energy sector. In what needs to be done also, communication between government and the general public through the Information ministry.

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