By Lamin Darboe As I peep through my telescope on top of the Petroleum Building at Brusubi Junction, a helicopter view of my beloved country came into scene, I realise nothing has changed since Barrow took power, instead I saw only wasteful management of our resources, per diem rat race, endless presidential meetings and race for 2021 election. The hospitals lack basic equipment and medical resources, water and electricity still erratic, Chinese are still endangering coastal village fish and environmental resources with impunity, dumping dangerous waste into the sea continues, our budgetary deficit, our current account balances are spiralling out of control, debt/GDP ratio astronomical, public debt confounding, mortality rate high, yet Barrow has nothing to offer except the same old decanting political rhetoric as if he is campaigning for a new election. He is posthumously pointing to what the Chinese are doing for us but not to what he is doing to curb state budgetary waste except for haphazard measures he recently initiated. What are the potential implications of the Chinese projects to our nation? It is no secret that the Chinese government has a paradigm that envisages an ambition economic domination of Africa. Barrow is eager to mortgage the future of our country to Chinese as other Africans are doing, just to showcase his projects that he can point to, as the most profound infrastructural development in the political history of our nation. The Chinese have perfected this art of seducing corrupt government officials into contracting hefty loans or grants which shackle the nations’ progress and hinge those nations irretrievably into dependence on Chinese technology and products. When those nations cannot pay, the Chines government will takeover their most productive and high value assets. While we clap today and rejoice with Barrow’s project as we did with Yahya Jammeh’s projects, we are setting up ourselves for bitter financial parasitism, thus endangering the future of our children. Greed for political power blinds African leaders. Love for grandiose development projects with less strategic thought will lead us into a blind alley, a blackhole of economic subjugation that will boomerang in a disastrous and dire existential manner. Let the NAMs and our technocrats wake up to this reality and stop helping the greed for power by buying into irrational loan/investment hunting that has the potential to shackle the future of our nation. We fought so hard for a new Gambia that will usher in a new political and economic dispensation but it seems a group of charlatans who mystifyingly surround President Barrow are trying to scupper chances of achieving such a dispensation – a dispensation that puts socio-economic development at the forefront of its national agenda. However barely two years, we have seen the old system of politics that reveres sycophancy, wasteful spending, self-glorification and betrayal of public trust. We have seen Barrow using his wife’s foundation presumably to launder money from greedy investors into his political coffers instead of national coffers. We have seen Barrow within a year build a mansion in his home village of Mankamang Kunda with streetlights saying, it was built by my friends. When did he have those friends so rich they can build his house and build a water system and streetlights within one year? Did they build it for Adama Barrow or President Barrow, if it was for the former then it was political lobby with nefarious intent, if it was for the latter it was corruption of the highest magnitude. Business or political friends don’t do this type of investment without a motive. We have seen National Assembly Members given vehicles, the origins of which remain an enigma. Where in a democratic world will a president be given over 40 vehicles and the origins of such colossal funds disguised without the parliament or opposition members demanding answers? Also there was the allegation of the president bribing parliamentarians with money, presumably to buy their loyalty. This is treacherous and an impeachable offence. That is because the allegation is so serious to trigger a parliamentary investigation as it brings the executive and parliament into disrepute, and that makes it an impeachable offence. What is the source of those funds – from the president’ s own pocket or from well-wishers? Both sources have antecedent problems. Why when these allegations surfaced, did the president not launch an investigation or release an official statement to clear the air? It all shows that Barrow is not the type of leader we all fought for as he is showing signs of same corrupt leadership style that bedevilled Africa and retarded its development since emancipation from colonial rule. Barrow seems to be using state resources to cultivate a political movement or party at the expense of the taxpayers. Where are all the resources spent in sponsoring the numerous meetings at State House coming from? Again from his pocket, friends, business sponsorship or from state coffers? If it is from state coffers, was this line of expenditure in the last year’s budget? If not, then it is budgetary misappropriation because the only budget I know of while working at Ministry of Finance is not for organising meetings of this nature. Is this the transparency and good governance he swore to institute and uphold when he ascended to power? The taxpayer who puts him into power and who continues to eat chaalo while he eats barbecued steak and other delicacies contends with poor transport while he is driven in a convoy of expensive and top of the range SUVs. While his children are going abroad to study, the taxpayers’ children are in failing schools and a poorly resourced university. His wives wallow in glory of top fashion dresses while the taxpayers’ wives and mothers take gratitude in ordinary clothes. He travels on chartered flights while people could not even afford three square daily meals. Is this the Barrow we voted for on 16 December 2016? Barrow surrounded himself with people who even barred us to see him at State House. The people who were once his enemies are now his close friends and confidants while his best friends at the time of the struggle are sidelined and regarded as enemies. This is ultimate betrayal and it is manifestation of ingratitude and condescension. What an irony, our hero has kicked us in the face and embrace our enemies! Alas, we appeal to Our Maker to help set the record straight by heaping ignominy and disgrace on the one who betrayed us. He did not stop there, he started threatening us with his newfound power. He said he has the state security apparatus at his disposal and can unleash it on us at his whim. The same state apparatus that killed his comrades in struggle, that left so many widows and orphans and tortured and banished so may Gambians into exile for many years. Where is the Barrow who looked humble and bashful, who shunted self-glorification and arrogance? Is it so dark now we cannot recognise this Barrow who is boasting that he will stage an infrastructural development that will dwarf all what his predecessors did, all by himself? It’s like he inherited so much money in Mankamang Kunda that he can do all these development singlehandedly. It begs belief how quickly power transforms a humble man into the most supercilious and haughty man. A man who usurps team glory and sees only his individual effort in utter disrespect to team spirit. And his wife I nicknamed “kandooto”, a bird that makes the ugliest sound and can hardly fly and greedy for power, a lady Macbeth type. That woman will one day submerge Barrow into a sea of ignominy. Our parliament needs to do its work with diligence and new impetus. Their rejection of the preposterous and wasteful SAB was laudable, albeit, they have to be more vigilant and see national interest before party interest. They should scrutinise Fatoumata Bah-Barrow Foundation because it has attached to its activities, political overtures that can bring disrepute to our nation. If that foundation was accused of money laundering, the ugly repercussions can impinge on the country’s image. Paying such a colossal amount of money into a foundation’s accounts from unexplained sources expose our country and banking system to some international stare. NAMs should have a mindset of an auditor to scrutinise the budgets to ensure no budgetary shenanigans exist. Our country has become more indebted in the last two years and public borrowing has reached a crescendo of 54%. Please read the 17 December article on Freedom newspaper by Yorro Jallow: “The whole world is asking how the country’s debt has escalated from (“total public debt for 2018 is estimated at 121.3 percent of the old GDP compared to 129.2 percent in the same period in 2017. In 2018, domestic debt accounts for 53.8 percent of the old GDP, compared to 60.1 percent in the previous year, while external debt constitutes 67.5 percent of the old GDP compared to 69.2 percent a year ago. As at end September 2018, the stock of domestic debt stood at D29.6 billion (40.5 percent of GDP), 1.8 percent increase from a year earlier when it stood at D28.1 billion. Short-term debt instruments accounted for 88 percent of the domestic debt stock making government vulnerable to increases in interest rates and rollover risks. Treasury Bills account for about 53 percent of the domestic debt”, 2019 Budget Speech)” Instead of addressing this doomsday and almost existential financial scenario – we face chronic budgetary problems; our economy almost in Intensive Care Unit, with external support as the only hope for regaining our financial health – Barrow is busy politicking; bent on self-perpetuation and self-glorification. Barrow seems to want to have his cake and eat it. He resigned from UDP yet wants to control the leadership of that party by remote control. He is seething with anger why the UDP congress went ahead and chose a party leader who is likely to be their flag-bearer to his chagrin. Thus we can sense anger in his speech in Basse, with prodigious claims of setting development records, scoffing at perceived saboteurs. He made threats to his own ministers and cabinet including Ousainu Darboe. Although inconsequential since the congress verdict cannot be reversed as for now, rather the true character of Barrow we never knew, is now in crystal clear. You don’t acknowledge other ministers and ignore your vice president, your political godfather, in such a public gathering. It shows the man is drunk with power, uncouth, undiplomatic and unpresidential. Either he was hypocritical when he made that statement or he is hypocritical now by his selective amnesia, as his own saying goes, “when did it become so dark that we cannot recognise each other?” To conclude, I love Barrow, I don’t hate him, I love my country and want it to move forward on the right development trajectory. For 53 years we wallow in poverty and paucity of basic amenities of life. We thought Barrow stands a chance to usher in a new Gambia that puts hard work, responsibility, transparency, good governance, prudence in resource management as the epistles of its development goals. What we are seeing is pervasively lacklustre with little transformative impacts. Commission of enquiry are expensive and does not seem to be value for money. The Constitutional Review Commission is still housed in the most expensive accommodation with some members paid astronomical sums, paid in hard currency according to word in the grapevine. What a waste milling machinery is this government? Salam alla manittabal huda. To end….. Just as the Prophet said: “la eeman liman la amanallahu”, we pray our country find a leader who will wipe our tears of 22 years of terror. In my next article I will endeavour to look at the constitutional provision on impeachable offences that can precipitate parliamentary initiation of impeachment.. The author, Lamin Darboe, is from Gunjur.]]>
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Mr. Chairman and Government Spokesperson, Ebrima G, Sankareh, Honourable Ministers of Defence, Sheikh Omar Faye, Interior, Yankuba Sonko and Information, Ebrima Sillah, Ladies and Gentlemen...
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