By Omar Bah
The leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party has advised President Adama Barrow to institute an investigation into the Independence Stadium remodeling contract. The stadium is among many disapproved by African football governing body Caf to host international matches.
Though the facility is currently under renovation said to cost D160M, the government’s hope of meeting the Caf criteria was dashed when the continental body maintained the facility on the list of disapproved stadiums for the coming Afcon qualifier against Congo which must now be played in Morocco. Caf also listed a host of requirements that the facility should have before it can be approved and also lamented that some errors could have been avoided if they have been consulted. The Gambia Football Federation said they have not been involved in the awarding of the contract among other processes.
Giving his view on of the matter to visiting UDP executive branch in Spain, Ousainu Darboe said after all what happened, any serious government would have by now instituted an investigation into the D160 million stadium renovation contracts.
“A budget of D160 million was expended in our national stadium, but according to the minister of finance, he only approved D100 million. But for me, that is not important; whether it is D2 million or D60 million, the work should be done as planned. But that didn’t happen, and the president is quiet about it because the contract was given to their friend. If this was a serious government, the moment this was announced, the president would have called for an investigation and the outcome be brought before him in less than a week,” he said.
Darboe went on: “Today, they sing Dr Bamba Banja’s name and say that his prosecution over a D50,000 corruption charge is an indication that they are fighting corruption. But D50,000 is not even good enough for some people’s daily fish money. Millions have been mismanaged here, and nothing comes out of it, but they are using Banja’s case as a scapegoat when they are sitting on dirty things, and they ignore them. Where are the others involved in Dr Banja’s case? Essentially, I am trying to say that the change in 2016 was just to remove Jammeh, but his way of governance is still here. All those who are holding important positions today were in the APRC. The minister of energy was a minister under Jammeh, and the minister of information, Queen Jammeh, was among the chiefs who wanted to make Jammeh king. You cannot finish counting them, so it is the APRC that is in government. In 2016, all the opposition parties galvanised themselves to remove Jammeh, but the person we picked to lead that process is now consolidating the APRC’s style of governance,” Darboe lamented.
He said Gambians should galvanise efforts again to remove the current government and replace it with a responsible one that would bring about the needed change in Gambia.
“We said Jammeh is not good, and we tried to remove him and bring about a better and more responsible governance system to restore the rule of law and end corruption, but corruption is worse in this country today. Yahya Jammeh used the chiefs and governors as political tools, and Adama Barrow is doing the same. Tell me what the difference is,” he said.
Commenting on the much talked-about mishaps in this year’s hajj, Darboe said: “I have seen things that I have never seen in this country—a minister signing a contract for a hajj package. The Amir responsible for hajj should be the one signing those issues, and the minister has no authority to sign hajj packages. This is why today people are complaining, and the authorities are quiet about it,” he said.
Commenting on presidential advisers, Darboe lamented that they are paid by tax payers’ money, and at the end of the day, they will go and campaign. “When you see the likes of Dodou Sanno being escorted by a paramilitary officer, then you know things are not normal. Imagine the majority leader Bilay Tunkara and minority leader Alagie S Darboe are not given escorts, but they can give them to useless people called advisers,” Darboe lamented.