After the rice, oil and sugar relief, the Government should consider “cash transfer” to vulnerable families. With the lockdown, business down and lay off happening in some sectors, families may need money to buy medicine for sick members or condiments(fish money), pay the electricity bill (cash power), meet the needs of their children or pay for some necessaries of life.
A robust social protection system must be in place asap. Cushioning vulnerable families and individuals against the effects of poverty, which can as well exacerbate exclusion, is an obligation on the State.
Covid-19 is breeding unemployment and poverty and exacerbating vulnerability. These produce exasperation in the people. And hunger can break down walls.
Yes, we can. All we need is proper management and utilisation of the covid-19 support funds. And an effective monitoring and accountability systems in place.
A new national past time?
So do we now have a new national past time in New Gambia? And Boy!OBoy! Does it smack like the stuff of baby democracy? All of a sudden, the New Gambia Hall of Fame is busting with overzealous, overnight political or are they policy experts all over social media? We have so many of them now popping up everywhere, dishing out dreary lectures and unsolicited advice to President Barrow and, or, any member of his team anytime they make an important decision or say something significant in State House. Some of these pundits whose claim to any experience in government could at best only be a few years in a junior or at the highest, mid-career post somewhere in the corridors.
In junior and midcareer posts like that in the civil service, no one gets anywhere close to anything significant, much more taking part in the making of an important decision in government. These overnight pundits have been preying on our naivety and our shallow knowledge of how government works! As if they know any more than the rest of us, they beat their chests with great self-awareness all over social media with loads of unsolicited, unverified, untested advice to the President and his aides with text book ideas of “how to run a government”. I hope our so-called experts will first seek to learn how to unpack their own workload where they are. And only then, get into the business of throwing so much free advice at a President who clearly, is too busy, too focused for the distraction of scattered ideas of groping experts on a mission for a name and a voice.
UDP’s bungled case against Chairman Sonko
When the United Democratic Party presented Sheriffo Sonko to the electorate, the message was simple as it was clear: he was being sent to serve the overriding interests of Brikama Area Council constituents. When taking the Oath of Office after his victory, Sheriffo pledged his allegiance to the office and affirmed his promise to serve the people of the area without fear or favor irrespective of whether they voted for him or against him. In short, he promised to serve them regardless of their political affiliations.
Months into his tenure, Chairman Sonko had proven unprepared, detached and less strategic in handling the daunting tasks and challenges of his administrative area. He had failed, colossally, in almost every development metrics and was trailing far behind when compared to the progress made by his colleagues in other municipalities. Understanding that the people of Brikama Area Council were being under-served, contrary to the promise made to the constituents, UDP could have initiated both public and private engagements and brought its administrative experience to bear and help, guide and mentor their struggling party member.
Leadership, as I understand and experience, is not all about taking punitive measures when someone is failing. Leaders should be able to recognize the needs of their team members, understand root cause(s) of such needs and establish action plans to bring about positive outcome. I am inclined to believe that UDP failed to follow leadership wisdom and responsibility in order to help Sheriffo Sonko.
It is safe to say that UDP’s plan to revoke Sonko’s membership from the party and consequently remove him from the office appears not guided or necessitated by the Chairman’s under performance and plummeting metrics but because of his affiliation with President Barrow. Forcing an elected Chairman to vacate his seat not because he is doing poorly (even though he is) but on account of his political leaning, flies in the face of vendetta and revenge. This is both disappointing and worrying with consequences – among others – of having even bolder, unhinged and invincible Sheriffo at the helm.
For all of this to make sense, let the electorate decide Sonko’s fate either through the ballot (as in next election) or through a recall proceeding (as in vote of no confidence). In the meantime, I am calling on UDP to let this go, learn a thing or two from this experience, exercise patience and do better next time. Besides, we’d rather the party makes these mistakes outside of government and course correct itself than when in total control of government.
Kemo Zakaria Konteh