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Monday, July 22, 2024

Does President Barrow deserve any state land?

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By D. A. Jawo

There is no doubt that everyone would agree with Lands and Regional Governments Minister Hamat Bah that every Gambian is entitled to be allocated a plot of public land, but in his reaction to a statement made by the UDP leader Ousainu Darboe about the controversy surrounding the allocation of a plot of state land to President Adama Barrow, he failed to add that only those who deserve it should benefit from it.

The question everyone tends to ask is whether President Barrow is one of those who deserves to be allocated a plot of public land. The simple answer is that he does not deserve it for many reasons, which of course include the fact that apart from having several landed properties, he is also receiving a non-taxable monthly salary of more than D200,000, in addition to several allowances. We can also recall that during his assets declaration prior to the last presidential elections, he voluntarily disclosed that he had D50.7 million worth of properties, nine landed properties in various parts of the country, as well as several millions of Dalasis in his bank accounts. He has also recently crafted for himself the Former President’s Bill which in section 6 has given him the following facilities:

“(1) A former President shall be provided with a fully furnished residence, including utilities and other facilities for his or her comfort.

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(2) Where a former President decide to reside in his or her own residence, the Government shall maintain his or her residence and provide it with telephone, internet and other facilities for his or her comfort.

(3) The Government shall provide two cooks, four housekeepers and two gardeners to serve a former President in his or her residence, and such personnel shall be selected by the former President.”

It also appears that Minister Bah did not avert himself to section 5 of the State Lands Act which determines who is qualified to be allocated state land, before he approved the allocation of the plot to President Barrow.

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There is also no doubt that his spouses and other members of his family have acquired their own landed properties.

Therefore, there is absolutely no shred of justification for allocating President Barrow with a plot of state land when there are more than a million Gambians who deserve it but have no access to it.

This is one of the reasons why some people tend to question the efficacy of his advisers when he seems to be repeating the same mistakes committed by his predecessor; ex-President Yahya Jammeh, who was quite notorious for land grabbing. He should never have allowed himself to be tempted by those whose sole objective may be to do whatever pleases him rather than what is in the interest of the nation. Most people had expected that he would have learnt some important lessons from ex-President Jammeh and he would avoid repeating his (Jammeh’s) mistakes, but he seems to be doing a lot of things according to Yahya Jammeh’s playbook.

“It is foolhardy for anyone to believe that President Barrow would do things differently when ex-President Jammeh’s chief enablers have virtually taken over his administration and they seem to be advising him how to play the same Jammeh tricks,” said one of his critics.

There is absolutely no doubt that President Barrow has good intentions for this country, but many people are getting disappointed with how he seems to be gradually deviating from those promises that he made to Gambians in 2016, of course starting with not only renouncing the promise to serve a three-year transition but even planning to run for a third term.

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