By Omar Bah
A US-based Gambian economist Dr Assan Jallow has urged the government to implore uncompromising political will, commitment and investment to fight public corruption.
Reacting to the sentencing of former fisheries PS, Dr Bamba Banja and recent reports of corruption scandals, Dr Jallow said: “Fighting corruption requires the government, mainly through the executive, to invest in technology that can help improve data integrity, financial transparency, and accountability, supported by laws, instruments, policies, and legislations where the legislature, the judiciary, the media, civil society, and the citizens have a critical role to play.”
He said all hands must be on deck in the fight to starve off the evils of public corruption in public institutions “as the care of human life and happiness of its citizens, is the first and only objective of any government”.
“In the Gambia, we are losing the fight against corruption as we tend to be satisfied with the optics of adopting non-workable, indifferent, and imaginary strategies that are opaque, archaic, and counterintuitive and continue to place us in the cyclical seismic of failed policies, programmes, plans, and regulations that provide boundaries protecting corrupt public officials,” Dr Jallow commented
Fighting corruption, he added, “goes beyond punishing and taking people to jail; as such, incarceration comes with a cost for the government”.
“Fiscal responsibility reminded us of this task that, at best, it is wise to deploy public resources to more needed critical areas to strengthen governance by captivating the culture of ethics through our schools and public institutions to build honest, dedicated, committed, truthful, highly-qualified, and competent present and future public servants whose roles are to exert citizens-centric authority and ensure that public resources are expended for general use based on ethics, professionalism, transparency, and accountability, and not as transactional personal funds through graft schemes,” he said.
He argued that public corruption has become an incentivised epidemic in the new Gambia with the visibility of seeing public officials living beyond their means.
“Because of this reasoning, public corruption has grown and, thus, is increasing at an unimaginable speed and form. That is beyond the speed of light and motion as one can see the status of this cancerous delight taking over our public resources by individuals and their cronies in the grand scheme of things as if the public purse is a private and family entity,” Dr Jallow added.
He said even “if the evidence suggests that they are corrupt based on the display of their physical outlays, structures, and capital equipment, it will still be challenging to prove in a court of competent jurisdictions as laws are bankable on the principles of ‘presumption of innocence until proven guilty’. Therefore, one must be answerable to their crimes on the probability of uncontested evidence and under the fluid of excellent and identifiable audit trails to serve as the seeds of evidence before our law courts.”