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City of Banjul
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Letters to the Editor

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A welcome development but….
Dear editor,
I applaud President Adama Barrow, commend and congratulate the 11 eminent members of the Constitutional Review Commission for drafting a new constitution for the Third Republic giving ourselves a truly people-driven constitution.

I believe that the nomination processes ought to be made more procedurally transparent to build more credence, acceptability and legitimacy for persons holding these positions. For example, there is no known criterion of nominating eminent constitutional scholars. I was expecting the process will take into consideration the quality of the persons in character and values and rest more emphasis on the academic qualifications. I was expecting to see counsel Lamin J. Darboe and Dr. Abu Jeng in the Constitutional Review Commission.

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Senior Counsel Lamin J. Darboe JD, London, UK and Dr. Abou Jeng are two of the Gambia’s finest legal luminaries and constitutional scholars today without fear of exaggeration who upheld the values of constitutional law. Abou and Lamin have been prolific legal authors, work of both adjudication and scholarship. Abou and Lamin are courteous, courageous, consistent; articulate.

In need of an advocate of conscience? Call Lamin J. Darboe and Dr. Abou Jeng. The state has trampled on your human rights? Call Lamin J. Darboe. Looking for a walking encyclopedia on due process, the constitution and democracy? Call Lamin J. Darboe and Dr. Abou Jeng – even Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and Halifa Sallah will attest to this. They are by far, one of the Gambia’s finest – technetronic, telegenic; iconic. Now, now – away from the corridors of justice. Looking for a rational, national leader? Don’t look for Lamin and Abou. Of late, they have become microphonic, an ideologue for the “constitutional scholars “; a gramophone of a legal scholar’s syndrome.

Is it because once bitten; twice shied. Abou Jeng and Lamin J. Darboe; one of the Gambia’s very best constitutional scholars: –
Dr Abou Jeng is a human rights lawyer and the director of the Centre for Research, Development, and Social Justice Advocacy (CreSpsa). He is the author of Peacebuilding in the African Union: Law, Philosophy and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2012). His current research interests focus on constitutional governance, globalisation and rule of law, conflict and peacebuilding, refugee law, transitional justice, postcolonial studies and third world approaches to international law.

For God and our country
Alagie Yorro Jallow
New York City

When will Barrow address the nation on the donor conference?
Dear editor,
My expectation was that immediately he landed in the country the president will go to the National Assembly to report to the parliamentarians about the Donor Conference held in Brussels where he obtained pledges amount to 1.45 billion Euros, approximately 1.7 billion US dollars. In addition I had also expected that he would go to GRTS to address the nation about this conference and the pledges received and what and how his government intends to manage the NDP as well as give citizens his expectations of what citizens should do or not do.

But it is two weeks now that the president has done neither rather the same silence continues until he now has to leave the country for yet another foreign travel. Is this disrespect or disregard of citizens or ignorance or there are no advisors around him to make him understand that governance and leadership requires that you communicate and report to your key stakeholders in each and every milestone you reach.

A donor conference is a not a normal activity. It only takes place where a country had undergone a major conflict or severe authoritarian rule where the institutions and capacities of that nation have been severely damaged. As a start such nations or their friends and concerned partners convene a donor conference to find ways of enabling that country to get up on its two feet. Thus when that conference is done and major commitments are made there, the next thing is for the head of the receiving country to come back home to report to citizens and the parliament so that we all understand where we are and what needs to be done.

But it is utterly concerning that the Gambia Government and its partners could convene such a major conference and realise such huge commitments only for our president to return home and keep mute as if he came back from a wedding party. The fact that a donor conference was held shows that we are in dire straits. For that matter, business cannot be as usual.

Let the advisors of Pres. Barrow tell him to go to the parliament and lay before them the issues and concerns and gains he received from Brussels. Let him go to GRTS to speak to the nation of what these pledges entail and what measures, tools and actions his Government will put in place to handle these pledges.
We must bear in mind that the idea of donor support through loans and grants is not unprecedented in the Gambia. In fact our Government, since Independence has been surviving mainly because of grants and loans. But when there is such a conference where in one single event 1.45 billion Euros was committed then this asks for the president to report to the nation.

For the information of citizens, at the end of 2017, the Gambia’s public debt stood at 58.8 billion dalasi equivalent to 1.2 billion US dollars. Yet in 2017 alone, the Gambia Government received a total of 11 billion dalasi in donor support comprising 6 billion dalasi in loans and 5 billion dalasi in grants. The National Development Plan cost 2.4 billion US dollars.
This reality therefore calls for strategic, transparent and smart leadership. Let the advisors advise the president well.

Madi Jobarteh
Boraba

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