By Omar Bah
Madi Jobarteh, a Gambian rights activist and political commentator, has berated what he called the “lack of transparency by government” in its handling of aspects of public affairs recently.
Speaking to The Standard, Jobarteh said the government’s handling of the 54 vehicles donated to the national assembly members, the First Lady’s foundation saga and the recent contract awarded to Semlex are very disturbing development.
Mr Jobarteh said his personal view is that the government is far behind in terms of ensuring transparency and accountability and he would not mind marking it zero percent in that area.
“The law is clear on what practices need to be made and transparency and accountability is embedded in our constitution and all the laws of the Gambia and the minimum that the government of the Gambia must provide is accountability and transparency,” he said.
Mr Jobarteh said it is utterly unacceptable that more than three instances have occurred where fundamental issues were not shared with the public.
He added that citizens will want to know the reasons for the decisions and actions of government on the way and manner public resources are utilised and how government institutions are performing.
“So when this information is not available it erodes public confidence in the government which is a very serious national security challenge because when people lose confidence in their government they can react to that government in any manner,” he warned.
The lack of accountability and transparency, Jorbateh added, will also mean public institutions will not perform translating into lack of trust which in turn causes public services to be more expensive.
Mr Jorbateh advised the President to respect the rule of law. “You can have your developmental agenda but to address the needs of the people you must be accountable to the people”.
He said Gambians should also realise that regardless of party, religion, tribe or leaders “ultimately national interest is what we all need to stand for and on the side of our leaders they should come back to respond to their mandate, because I am sure they cannot claim ignorance.”