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Sunday, June 23, 2024

No amount of bravado can demean the NAO audit report

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Dear Editor,

As we observe the Holy Month of Ramadan in my country under scandalous, unacceptable and impious conduct from some of our public servants, I wish to join millions of Muslims around the globe to pray for peace, joy, and tranquillity for all God-fearing devotees in the Gambia and beyond.

During this holy month, Muslims are expected to be occupied with worshipping God and strictly following the teachings of Islam to gain Allah’s reward in this life and afterlife. However, it’s with utter dismay that we the believers find it so difficult to concentrate and worship as expected due to the damming and misguided inept, misdeed revelations from various ministries ranging from the insincere sharing of state land among some cabinet ministers and other prominent citizens to Rosewood saga unearthed by Malagen news outlet and the latest crosscurrent report by the National Audit Office. All these palavers at hand made it difficult for citizens to focus and exercise their constitutionally sanctioned day to day activities devoid of distraction.

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The audit report of the National Audit Office specified as ‘helping government to spend wisely’ is an extensive report which should be embraced by all genuine citizens. Though it’s a way of tackling and exposing corruption, the audit report didn’t only inform the masses about the kind of government we installed but also uncovered the blatant disregard of procedures, laws and regulations regarding the procurement of Medical and Food items distributed during the pandemic.

The comprehensiveness and highly standardized nature of the audit report tell how dedicated and bold the auditors were to divulge the bastardization of public funds by our servants unabated and without remorse in the name of Covid responses and containments.

In the wake of the Covid pandemic, the likes of former Secretary-General, Mr Momodou Sabally publicly came all out to call for the sacking of Dr Samateh amid the Health Minister, claiming he lacks the charisma to lead the country in such a trying moment. Dr Samateh, who seems to exonerate Sabs a few months later, when he (Samateh) took the floor of the National Assembly, reveals the corrupt practices in his Ministry marred with a breakdown of service of Covid respond throughout the country amid the countless number of strikes in the name of unpaid allowances. Such scorn outlooks from his Ministry could make one sceptical of his leadership potential.

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However, I found it unsettling and misguided as well for Samateh’s Ministry to convey a presser expressing concerns and flagging biases around the audit report on the synopsis that the World Bank coordinator wasn’t interviewed by the auditors. Such an utterance by the Minister is unattainable and a clear testimony of him (Samateh) trying to extricate and save the face of his Ministry from such scrupulous conduct. The most tormenting part is the ministry Doc once labelled uncorrupted has suddenly turned to be corrupt and he is seemingly defending their actions. 

What has changed! If Minister Samateh was acquiesced and true servant of the people, he would have resigned to protect his already tainted integrity. It’s mindboggling for this once most respected Doctor to come up with such gimmicks to distract the masses.

I challenge the Minister to read the entire audit report and stop waffling and grab up with the reality that the audit report was realistic, comprehensive without ambiguity and well guided in the face of the General Accepted Accounting Principle.

As a matter of urgency the government specifically, the Health Ministry should adhere to the recommendations of the auditors to avert future financial leakages. Corruption is a threat to national security and all hands should be on deck to fight this common enemy that is retarding the development of our beloved country, the Gambia.

Own up to the reality Doc, accept your failures and apologize to the nation rather than attempting to deny the obvious. 

Ebrima Jarra,

BSc; Islamic Banking and Economics,

Aljamdou Village.

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