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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Letters: The Covid-19 task force should remember it exists on sufferance of the Gambian people

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Dear editor,
Immediately after the declaration of a public health emergency nationwide (due to Covid-19), strains of go “Happy Days are Here Again” were reportedly overheard in the usual corners populated by those who have a living in siphoning public funds to their own pockets or bank accounts, here and abroad. We thought this was too much, especially under this administration that was supposed to make things look good.

At this time of pandemic, when all efforts should be focused on how we can fight this invisible enemy, arrest its spread and contain the damage on our people and the nation to hasten our getting back on our feet, how can we believe that there are still people, much less government paid officials and supported leeches, who simply cannot contain their greed and ramp up their nefarious deeds? These fraudulent activities are happening all over the place.

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While these shameless activities affect every sector of the national system, we have to thank Allah (SWT) for guiding one of His chosen servants in the name of Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samarteh to do what has never been done in this country of ours, that is, to expose these “shameless and barbaric” acts at the National Assembly. Allah (SWT) will reward him abundantly as there will be a time of reckoning.

We think that after the 22-year corrupt and brutal regime of Yahya Jammeh followed by three years of policy decisions and directives under a supposedly democratic dispensation, it is definitely time to remind ourselves, including the Covid-19 Task Force members and other civil/public servants that their services exist wholly on sufferance of the Gambian polity.

The Covid-19 task force was not created by an act of parliament, which would have given it legitimacy. Rather, the task force is a creation of the Executive branch, via an executive order. It is chiefly a tool to help the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Health implement the Covid-19 response mandate.
We are constrained to issue this reminder as we note the increasing frequency with which the task force blunts and hampers the people’s exercise and resolve to respond adequately to contain the pandemic.

Dr Samateh’s plea at the National Assembly on corruption at the Ministry of Health, which is real, the first of its kind in our history is particularly worrisome to all of us and should serve as acid embarrassment to the so-called advisers at the Presidency for failing in their responsibility to the Gambian tax payers.

Dr Samateh and his committed fellow-travelers have on their shoulders the faith not only of their kin and friends but their very honest countrymen who, sans doubt, have rested their thoughts and hopes in their limitless and extremely honest capacity to become worthy leaders and defenders of the people’s freedom, the flag and country.

Without commenting on the specifics of the case, we suggest that Dr Samateh should be honoured for speaking his mind, especially as it relates to perceived and actual wrongdoing in the government supported by our so-called mediocre advisers. Dr Samateh’s strategy shows, after all, how a functional democracy should operate, and how abuses supported by those entrusted with power can be checked and exposed.

We stand at attention as Dr Samateh, prompted by his traditional Spartan home training and medical discipline, stood before our eyes to tell the National Assembly how a group of unpatriotic Gambians are playing with the lives of innocent Gambians through their corrupt deals. In a functioning democracy, such exposé – especially at the National Assembly, is one way to improve the system of government and to hold corrupt officials accountable for their actions. This is responsible administration and freedom of speech, designed to honestly criticize the government and its leaders for wrong doing. Along the line, it is right for a government ministry to launch a campaign to intimidate and arrest those who do so.

We hope the national spine will be rigid enough to do just that!
We believe this is a necessary decision to safeguard the health and general well-being of the citizenry. As parents, we know – and they know, we know – how heartbreaking and disappointing that acid-truth exposé is, but Dr Samateh has done what is best for all. Safety and health are paramount at all times and cannot be compromised. We add our voice.
Suruwa B. Wawa Jaiteh
Bakau

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