By Omar Bah
General Lamin Bojang, the leader of opposition Gambia Action Party has accused President Adama Barrow of using his constitutionally mandated meet the people tour to consolidate his own support at the expense of taxpayers’ money.
“It is fundamental for the president to tour the country but the way in which it is done seriously defeats the purpose. With what I saw so far, he is worse than Yahya Jammeh. One will be right if we refer to his tour as means to consolidate his support base,” he told The Standard yesterday.
The constitution mandates the president to tour the country to dialogue and assess the condition of the people and as well gather first-hand information on the impact of government policies on their lives.
However, the former Commander of the Gambia Armed Forces added: “To tour the country to meet with farmers and hear issues affecting them and the plans of the government cannot be wasteful.”
General Bojang alleged that government deliberately increased the night allowances just to attract civil servants to follow him.
The Standard however got information that the night allowance increment will only come to effect after the tour.
But General Bojang continued: “Our country is hijacked by unpatriotic and greedy people. We will offer an alternative to this poor administration. He should use this opportunity to unite Gambians. If he has any development agenda to redeem the Gambian farmers from the subsistence farming this is the opportunity. He should also outline the agenda he has to help the unemployed youths. Climate change is a reality and he has the chance to explain how Gambians can contribute in the fight.
“Because he has nothing for us on health care, so he cannot tell us anything on health. But he should explain the dilapidated health system in the country and how he is going to fix it. The energy crisis, the security concern, poor living conditions of farmers, poor transport system and the indiscipline in civil service.”
Mr Bojang said the Gambian leader should know that good leaders are not supposed to threaten their followers.
“His deception still continues. He has no regard for the constitution. He is out of touch with facts on the ground. What is unique about his tour is that he diverted the purposes of the tour to consolidate his political ambitions,” Bojang noted.
He said the whole tour should be redesigned. “The president for example can spend some time in Basse, Wuli, McCarthy or Mansa Konko, during which he will visit farmers as part of his work schedules. Such arrangements will allow the president to see not only the farmers but also their farm lands”.
Meanwhile, a senior Gambian lawyer told The Standard via telephone yesterday: “Instead of arguing whether it is legal or morally correct for the president to engage in politics during the meet the people tour, Gambians should debate on the fact that the provision should not have been there in the first place, because the tour is wasteful and has no effect on the Gambian people. It doesn’t change anything”.
He said the President’s meet the people tour could be replaced with another format which will save resources.