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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Letters: UDP spokesman, cool down your temper!

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Dear editor,

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Almami Taal, it has always been known to Gambians that you are too hungry and desperate for power in government. The depth of depression and height of frustration from this of course could be overwhelming sometimes, especially when you know that you cannot see light at the end of the tunnel. You have confirmed this on your self in your tirade of insults and degrading remarks on my person, as reported in The Standard newspaper yesterday, in your callous reaction to my take on Honourable Ousainu Darboe’s initially declared Food Bank Initiative, intended to be established in the local government authorities. You are the lawyer, I am not. Why didn’t you first try to establish the basis of your argument before you set yourself on a fishing expedition of ideas to present me to the Gambian public as a person who didn’t know what I was saying in my take?

Why didn’t you refer to the video launching of the initiative on April 12, by Honourable Darboe flanked only by senior UDP local government politicians from BCC, KMC and Mansa Konko Area Council and no one else? Why didn’t you ask yourself why there was no board member present, or any mention made at that launching ceremony of anything like a management, administrative or advisory board of any kind for the food bank? Why didn’t you ask yourself why no mention was made in that launching video of any partner bank or any bank accounts for that matter, into which donors could lodge their contributions to the food bank? Why didn’t you read the full text of my intervention of April 13, in my Facebook timeline on the Food Bank Initiative, and the 143 exchanges of comments and my responses in Facebook? You simply jumped on The Standard newspaper report of my intervention, but even there, you failed to do justice to them because, the paper reported that I made my reaction in social media. It is clear that you didn’t do your homework on this, if you did, you wouldn’t have told the paper that I criticised Darboe’s intention to create his food bank because I didn’t do that in as many words as you made to believe. You may have read the revised statement made by Darboe in his Facebook timeline on April 14 and if you did, you could not have been blind to the fact that, that statement was an about turn, an after thought on the initial intention to establish the Food Bank in the councils, which was the trust of my argument.

I said unequivocally clear that the councils are government institutions and that it was ill-advised, impractical and perhaps illegal under the relevant laws and financial regulations of The Gambia, from an administrative point of view, for any politician, political party, organisation, individual person or persons of any category, to create and nurture an independent funding, financial or financing structure in a government institution, including the councils. If you had issues with that, why didn’t you make reference to the stipulated instruments of government in this regard? As a lawyer, in addition to the local government Finance And Audit Act, 2014, which I mentioned in my intervention of April 13, I am referring you also to the Financial Regulations of government, 2016, in the Public Finances Act, 2014.

You may also refer to the paragraph, Decentralisation as a Process: Fiscal Decentralisation, under the section, local government context of the Decentralisation Policy and Plan of Action, 2015-2024. And you should familiarise yourself with relevant provisions and prescriptions in the finance and accounting manual of councils. I hope you can do that with a clear head…if you can get yourself around to do that, you must try to read these documents not only from what you see on the lines, you must be able to read between the lines too. That’s where you will find the spirit of the texts you see on top. If you can’t do that then I would wonder how many innocent persons you may have jailed when you were serving as a magistrate, or still, how many may have slipped from the net of the law because you didn’t know how to apply your self on the bench. Almami, you are a small boy and I will tell you today! If UDP does not sack you from that post of spokesman, Darboe will lose the election in 2021, and you will have to pack your luggage again on your miserable journey to the following election in 2026. It’s precisely because of people like you Almami Taal, in UDP that your party is attracting the now fast spreading nickname of “Camp of the Disgruntled”.

And with this I am calling on The Standard newspaper. Please try and step up editorial capacity and improve your quality of reporting, especially political reporting. The media is critical in the way public ideas and public opinion are shaped in a democracy. We must nurture and hand over a mature and progressive democracy to our children. We cannot afford to bequeath a noxious public space of insults, hanging on each other’s throats in our never ending fight for State House.

I will advise you to revisit my intervention on this Darboe Food Bank, with the extended conversation on it in my Facebook timeline. The slant of your story created a public impression that I was against the idea of the food bank, which of course is far from the truth. I stressed in my argument with those who posted comments that it is encouraged in the framework of the law for persons, families, businesses, civic organisations to make donations and gifts to the councils. I even congratulated him Darboe for the gesture, when he announced his board, banks and bank accounts, and said that contributions made to the food bank would be donated to the councils. You may not have to reproduce it with all the 143 comments made by interested readers, but you can scoop the high points of it overall, and come up with a fairer, more balanced, more educated version of your story. If for nothing, this is in fairness to people like Almami Taal, who seem to be sitting, waiting for any opportunity to spring at anything that is Ousainu Darboe.

Kemo Conteh

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