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City of Banjul
Saturday, April 17, 2021

Covid -19? Never heard of!

Once again we have got a proof of the huge mistake of placing someone in a leading position in the society just because that person is a family member or a friend of yours. Nepotism is the word for it, but not many know what that fancy word means until we mention some examples like this: Donald Trump and his kids, President Barrow and his childhood buddy Hamat Bah. I know, I know, I have been complaining about this person several times but he is asking for it.

You see, normally in modern societies you elect professionals, educated and skilled people, to hold a position of high value.

You don’t know everything about the education system just because you have been to school for some years; the health care system just because you have been to the doctors sometimes; or the tourist and culture sector because you once were responsible for the entertainment at a small hotel. You might have a lot of opinions, but a professional bases his or her decisions on scientific facts. It is dangerous for a country to have leaders who have no clue of what they are doing. They would never admit it so they hide their incapacity behind strong words and different ways of exercising their power.

Our Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hamat Bah, is well known for his special rhetoric. He doesn’t hesitate to use strong words or raise his voice to make a point. What he does hesitate to do is to use his brain before he makes a statement or tell the world his opinion. The small detail of basing one’s decision or opinion on facts is nothing this …eh… hard working minister is bothered with. Minister Bah says that after “careful consideration” he rescinded his earlier instruction to halt all festivals and concerts across the country.

This was supposed to stem the spread of Covid-19, which is in the so-called second wave now. Ah, why bother about this pandemic that has killed so many? It is surely something that only affects the Western world, so we can just keep on with our lives here. Finally, Hamat Bah tried to do something good, and once again he failed! What was the problem, minister? Did a lot of people call you to complain because they can’t meet each other on a festival to make sure that they infect as many people as possible? Holding naming ceremonies is a nice tradition, but I am sure that the baby and its siblings want to keep their parents alive until the kids are old enough to manage on their own.

Minister Bah, perhaps you tried to become popular by changing your mind, but you made a huge mistake! Being a minister has nothing to do with being popular; it has everything to do with being responsible and making the right decisions. People will always have a lot of opinions, but your role is to listen to facts and present them to the people. Earlier in the week, I read a press statement issued by the Gambia Association of Resident Doctors (GARD). They wrote their statement with a heavy heart, distressed over the fact that we seem to have forgotten our loved ones who lost their lives because of the pandemic. The second wave is over us, but there seem to be no preparations for taking care of the new cases. Social distancing, face masking and washing of hands seem to be a faint memory.

The Gambia is not prepared for a new and harder outbreak of Covid-19. If the hospitals and health clinics don’t even have paper to write a prescription, how will they be able to save people’s lives? There are not enough protective garments for the staff not to talk about ventilators and tubes of oxygen for those who can’t breath by themselves. Do we have skilled personnel to care for all the difficult cases? Is it really more important for President Barrow and his ilk to prepare for a huge political rally instead of preparing for saving the citizens’ lives? How many are you prepared to infect at these rallies, Mr President? It is so obvious that you don’t care about anything else but yourself and that is why it is crucial to vote you out!

In a recent article in The Standard newspaper, Minister Hamat Bah assured us that the NPP will kill other parties. Should we take that literally? You are saying that the president has arranged for 35,000 facemasks to be handed out to the participants of the NPP rally. What about all the other citizens? Mr Bah, you are saying that the president cares for the health of all the participants. Isn’t that sweet of him? He cares about all the NPP members because he is expecting them to vote for him in December. Imagine how many people those 35,000 people will meet during the rally and afterwards. It doesn’t matter that the rally only lasted for one day; it’s enough to infect a lot of people.

Perhaps you believe that only members from other parties will get infected? Perhaps God has a special security system activated for those who believe in Barrow and his message? Still a lot of people believe that it is God Who decides who is going to be elected as a president or not. If that is the case, then I’m sure God will place some kind of protective cloud around all the participants of the “right” party. Please don’t get crossed with me when I am a bit sarcastic, I am trying to point out how ridiculous this way of thinking is.

In Brazil, South America, a lot of people have died in the hospitals because they have no more oxygen. People literally suffocated to death in their hospital beds! Imagine if the situation in The Gambia is getting worse than it is now. We have 40 people on the loose – 40 infected people who refused to be isolated until they are proved not to be infectious anymore. Such a selfish act to deliberately infect friends and family with a disease that had killed millions! These people should be dragged to court and prosecuted for general dangerous behaviour. Consider the lack of efficiency that is the norm in The Gambia. No one seems to be able to check the balances, to make sure that adequate equipment is in place all the time and to order more if the stocks are decreasing.

Also, consider the unreliable access to electricity – it doesn’t matter if you should have enough ventilators if you suddenly find the hospital without electricity. What is the choice, Minister Bah, suffocating because there are no more oxygen tanks or suffocating because there is no electricity to run the ventilators? Of two bad options, which one would you choose? This is what our doctors fear but you are arrogant enough to ignore them. You have found that people have managed to see through you and you have tried to pick some easy points. You are already a failure, but if you should try to do something right for once, then make sure that facemasks are mandatory and that there are hand washing stations all over the country. Covid-19 is not a Western world phenomenon, it

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