After the July 1994 coup, commission of enquiry was constituted to delve into the looted public properties. It scrutinized almost every public officer in the ousted government; and found many of them culpable of having siphoned huge amounts of money from public coffers.
Every evening, Gambians [particularly the youth] would tune in to listen to the proceedings of the Algali Commission. It beat the soap operas because in addition to being entertaining, it offered the promise of development and an easier life if the assets were recovered.
Thus, when an Assets Recovery Program was started, it increased the expectations of the people. But one may wonder what ended up happening to the recovered assets. Were they re-looted by the new officials? Were they put to good use to improve the lives of ordinary people, or did they end up being used to buy a fleet of luxurious cars to further drain our dying economy by consuming a lot of fuel?
The answers to these questions will provide a pleasant read for any economics student who wants to understand how and why African states keep failing their people. There is no doubt that those funds ran into millions of dalasis which could have pulled the country out of the desperate conditions at the time!
Today, we are inundated with information about the freezing of assets of the former president, Yahya Jammeh [the constitutor of the Algali Commission] and we are shocked as to how small Gambia could produce so much funds to be looted by the person who promised to clean the Gambia of corruption. The wealth he and his cronies are alleged to have siphoned from our coffers is just unbelievable!
The auctioning of four aircraft of the former president is currently the talk of the town. What will an individual leading a poor country – half of the population of which lives under the UN poverty linel – do with four aircraft?
What this shows is how greedy African leaders can be and how indifferent they are to the plight of their people. It should be hoped that everything done with the properties of the former president and his cronies is transparent and that whatever is recovered should go to benefit the common man.
We hope also that after the three year stint of President Barrow we will not need to set up a Commission to look into their financial doings.