By Omar Bah
Lamin Keita, a Gambian PhD student at the Northwestern University in the US, has condemned the CRC’s diaspora travel expenses, describing it as a mere spendthrift meant to exploit the country’s resources.
The Constitutional Review Commission is currently on an international tour targeting Europe and America.
“The CRC diaspora travel expenses portray a sense that the Barrow government has not learned or has ignored the past misguided policies and economic misappropriation of the Jammeh regime,” Keita said in a write-up shared with The Standard.
He said it would have made sense to delegate the role of the CRC to the Gambian embassies in the diaspora.
“These embassies can convene meetings among Gambians and record or write what they want in the new constitution. They can also distribute the CRC’s questionnaire among Diasporas-door to door and neighbor to neighbor and major cities to save money,” he added.
Keita said approaching Gambian embassies would have also established a robust and a more meaningful engagement than the partial visit of CRC “which would not even cover every state”.
“We continuously bury innocent and young Gambian women from maternal wards, ostensibly because of lack of good hospitals, doctors and equipment.
Why can’t we save that ‘thousands if not millions of Dalasis’ spent on CRC for diasporas engagement and save life? Besides the alleged 13 million Dalasis is already spent on CRC’s domestic activities, the diaspora travel and other expenses are expected to be even higher,” he said.
He went on: “As a result, I would not spearhead such a wasteful and illegitimate venture even if I was chosen to head CRC, neither does any genuine Gambian should do so.
Simply because my conscience, moral, and religious being as well as the love for my country should dictate to me that I am exploiting my fellow citizens. This is wrong, and I cannot legitimize what is wrong.
Similarly, if we condemned the Jammeh regime for reckless spending, why shouldn’t we be bold enough to critique CRC’s shameful economic expedition under the realm of democratic environment?”
Keita said although the CRC is engaged in an invaluable service to the nation “this does not also mean that they should rob us in a broad day light while our law makers are sitting on the fence or staying aloof for not taking the responsibility to address the issue”.
“Conceptually, the CRC’s method to engage the diaspora would serve more as an instrument to enrich oneself at the expense of ordinary tax payer’s money than contributing to nation building.
I hope our law makers will continue to discuss and check such wasteful spending and also continue to engage other policymakers about the moral and economic hazards of some of their actions,” Keita added.
He said the National Assembly is failing to take up important responsibilities in allowing the CRC to pick pocket Gambians in broad daylight.
Also writing to The Standard on the issue, Yankuba Jambang, the editor Senegambia newspaper said: “It is my understanding that CRC went to Saudi Arabia with a ten-man delegation…With an average round trip airfare of $1700 per person that equals US$17,000, which amounts to D816, 000 excluding hotels and feeding and per diems. That is if they fly with economy tickets, which I doubt”.
“They’re scheduled to visit France, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the U.S. cities of New York, Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis, etc. Do you think these travels make sense? I call on Cherno Jallow and his team to stop these wasteful and fraudulent travels,” he said.