In the past few days, there has been a heated debate on social media and other media outlets over the issue of the fifty-seven vehicles purportedly gifted to the president of the Republic of the Gambia, Adama Barrow which he in turn gave to the National Assembly Members for their use. Should the president accept gifts in the first place? If so, should the donor remain anonymous?
True democracy requires – demands – complete and total transparency at all times at all levels of government (with the exception of issues affecting national security). The government officials – the president included – are servants of the people. The government derives its legitimacy and powers from the people of the country and these powers must be used for, and on behalf of, the people. Whatever the government does should be for the supreme interest of the Gambian people.
The laws of the land state that when a government official receives a gift, or gifts, s/he should declare and surrender such gift/gifts to his or her superior immediately. Thus, if the president receives any gift/gifts, being the holder of the highest office in the land, he must immediately declare and surrender it to the only people he is answerable to – the National Assembly. He should also tell them where the gift is coming from and under what basis or circumstances they were received.
It is abundantly clear from the above that when the government received those fifty-seven vehicles; therefore, they should have declared and surrendered them forthwith along with an explanation as to where they came from. They should have told the National Assembly Members who donated these vehicles and for what reason(s). This is how it should be done in a democracy. We must indeed proceed with caution in order to put our nascent democracy on a sound footing. There is no room for complacency.