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Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Janneh Commission – My take so far

By Njundu Drammeh

Most of the witnesses who come before the Janneh Commission, quizzed by the great questioner:

1. Have memory loss. They cannot remember their past dealings with Yahya. Is it panic or fear? Or a deliberate attempt to be economical with the truth?


2. Cannot trace their files or documents. The acting CEO of Standard Chartered Bank said the bank cannot trace the file relating to the sale of Kairaba Hotel but produced those relating to an oil mill at Dento Bridge. Others claimed same. Is this poor documentation? Disinterest in looking for the documents? Or deliberate attempt to hide vital information?


3. Cast the entire blame on Yahya while attempting to exonerate themselves. Some described him in vile terms as ravenous for power and materialism. Is this not hypocrisy of the lowest order? Didn’t they enjoy with Yahya while it lasted? Didn’t some of them use their status, acquired through the relationship with Yahya, to intimidate, cause the arrest and imprisonment of others, buy favours and cultivate cultism and cronyism?


4. Relied on verbal instructions to facilitate financial transactions on behalf of Yahya. Weren’t they aware of the illegality of such orders? Didn’t they know of their professional and official responsibilities and the existence of procedures and processes which they should have followed? Or merely a case of convenience, desire for malfeasance or deliberate neglect? None requested Yahya to follow due procedures or observe due diligence.


5. Indicated they were afraid of Yahya and thus carried out his illegal orders. That the consequences of defying Yahya’s would have been dire. Yet, most of them stayed on their jobs and continued to do Jammeh’s bidding. As if they were possessed. They curried his favours and attentions. They accepted his job offers even when he publicly humiliated them or sent them to his “five star hotel”. They came running after him. But they were afraid of him. But they continued to work for and under him. Where were their consciences?

Appearing before the commission are men and women, but in large numbers men, who we vouch are “good” or we think they are but who morphed or metamorphosed into that unprincipled, amoral, unconscionable individuals. Why did apparently “good” men and women, intellectuals and professionals worth their salt allow themselves to be used, misused, abused and discarded or humiliated when they have outlived their usefulness or become expendable? Where did their morals, principles and values go to? What happened to their conscience? Whither their professionalism and ethics? Why did they change or ignore the rules of the game to satisfy the gluttony of Yahya? Most of them are hiding behind the fear of what defiance to Yahya would mean to them, excusing away their neglect of due diligence or processes. A serious case of distorted rationalisation.

Most of these “friends” aka officials and “business associates” of Yahya knew exactly what they were doing, the impropriety and illegality of their actions, the defrauding of the nation. They went along, actuated by nothing but two things: satisfying the ravenous desires of Yahya and reveling in Yahya’s favours.
If Karl Marx’s belief that “history repeats itself but twice: first as a tragedy, twice as a farce” is not going to be confirmed right in our case, then our work should be in process.

Are we learning from and working on the lessons as the Janneh Commission proceeds or will we wait until its work is done and report is out? The leakages, weaknesses of standards and procedures, porosity of systems, oversized powers of superiors, neglect of ethical behaviours, poor records keeping, non-existence of oversight functions, abuse of office, obsequious behaviours of professionals towards political power. These are what i see. These we must plug.

“People live on bread too” otherwise I would have wished the entire 2018 budget is spent on developing and strengthening administrative, financial and accountability systems, standards, procedures, processes, tools and mechanisms. Naivety…Wishful thinking…… Weak systems and procedures facilitate leakage and provide the fertile ground for corruption. Corruption is the main enemy of development. And corruption hurts the poor more than anyone. Where corruption thrives, development is a mammoth task.

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