26.2 C
City of Banjul
Sunday, July 21, 2024
spot_img
spot_img

It all comes down to money

- Advertisement -

Dear editor,

When you hear people make cause and effect statements, you’d think that they rely on some type of empirical evidence to reach the conclusions they arrive at. For instance, in justifying a pay rise for the judiciary, proponents claim that if our judiciary is paid a lot more money and provided better benefits, it will somehow lead to less corruption within the judiciary. You ask them what evidence they have to prove that more benefits and more money in one’s pocket translates to less corruption and you will be met with “well, such and such country did it.” The unspoken supposition is that high earners are less corrupt and low earners are more corrupt or more susceptible to influence peddlers. A rather simplistic view of the debilitating and systemic corruption killing our people. 

Other proponents claim that more money and benefits for the judiciary will mean that our judiciary can attract top talent. That may be true given that public service in The Gambia has been reduced to living a luxurious life on the backs of poor taxpayers. Listening to these arguments, it all comes down to one issue: MONEY! Whether it’s a salary increase or retirement benefits, it’s all about money. Reading some of the comments on this matter, one can easily recognize the leanings of the authors due to the primacy they place on the judiciary. I understand why so many of our learned ones cannot free themselves from the belittling colonial wigs and robes they remain immured. These colonial relics represent their idea of social primacy! Never mind that most African judiciaries happily dance to any tune played by the quasi-authoritarian executives they are supposed to be equal to. We do not need to look too far in our history to see how our judiciary allowed itself to be a lynchpin in the oppression and abuse of Gambians!

- Advertisement -

I am all for paying people enough money so they can meet their most basic needs. I also support paying people commensurate with their expertise. What I have an issue with is people telling us that the services they provide to the public are more important than the services provided by other professions and so they deserve more money. These are the same people who will tell you we have three “equal arms of government” but somehow, they feel that the judiciary is far more important! Ask them why and they’ll regale you with how critical the law is to your survival and freedom! Again, never mind that the judiciary rendered itself impotent by actively participating or remaining mute as Yahya Jammeh and his thugs abused the rights and freedoms of countless Gambians.

What the debate on this issue lacks is critical thinking. It is simplistic to claim that we should give more money and benefits to the judicial officers because it will lead to less corruption. Or that it will lead to their independence. If we know our judiciary is corrupt or that our judicial officers are not independent, perhaps we should stand closer to the mirror. The issue of corruption and lack of independence for all senior public government officials goes much deeper. The arguments by our colonially bewigged ones oversimplify the disease of corruption within our colonial space. If one doesn’t know any better, they’d make you believe that corruption only takes place because people are not paid enough. Their  argument does not distinguish between the different forms of corruption or whether the corruption afflicting our colonial space is need-based or greed-based. The lack of values in public service is too painful for too many of us to comtemplate in our anti-corruption calculus.

Proponents of this “more money and benefits for the judicial branch” never bother to understand whether salary increases in a country with such a serious unequal pay structure like ours will lead to less corruption or how gaping pay gaps  will impact society at large! Imagine if members of the judiciary insisted on a minimum livable wage for everyone! But that type of justice is not their concern. Just as it is not the concern of those who claim to represent in Parliament.

- Advertisement -

Your judicial officers simply want to throw more money at themselves just as the other branches are doing! Sadly, government service will continue to be reduced to a rat race between the executive, legislature and judiciary! And I am sorry to say this but the painful fact is that a people derseve what they accept!

Alagie Saidy-Barrow

Join The Conversation
- Advertisment -spot_img
- Advertisment -spot_img