By Omar Bah
President Adama Barrow has claimed that some Gambian journalists attempted to take money from him so they could write favourable stories that would counter other critical views of his government.
Speaking at Ngayen Sanjal on his current Meet The People Tour, the Gambian leader said he turned down such requests from journalists, adding that writing good things about him that are not true would not benefit him.
“I have some journalists who approached me to give them money to write something good about me that may not be even true, but I know that has no interest to me because if you say President Barrow can do this and that while I cannot do it, how does that benefit me?” he asked rhetorically.
He continued: “This is why I told them I will not give them a single butut. I told them if any journalist’s luck is in my hand and I realise that you are doing a good job, I will give you something. But I will not give any journalist money to write something good about me, because if that happens I will not be able to know the problems going on in the country,” he added.
Speaking further, the Gambian leader pleaded with journalists to write the truth. “[In] objective journalism, [if] anything is not clear to you, go and verify it. Our government is open; we have a spokesperson, we have a Minister of Information, we have a director of press and even our ministers are not barred from speaking to journalists.”
He said the work of journalists is to clear doubts. “But you have journalists who are backed by people like politicians who will give them money to write something bad about the government or President Adama Barrow, because those people do not want to see the country progress.”
Meanwhile, the secretary general of the Gambia Press Union, Saikou Jammeh reacting to the comments by the president said journalism had trodden a rough path in The Gambia in the 22 years of Jammeh’s rule, who he said described journalists as enemies of the state.
“But when the new government came, President Barrow made it very clear that media freedoms have been restored in the country, and since then the relationship between the media and the general public has been very smooth,” he said.
He said if the president says anything that turns the opinion of the public against the journalists, that will be seen as moving back to the bad old days.
“But I have to say that if journalists actually go to him and ask for money, that is unethical and there is nothing wrong for him to expose that,” he added.