There is no doubt about the difficult transition that the country went through in the last five years. The controversy surrounding the term of the presidency had to be resolved by a protest that was, according to President Barrow himself, violently suppressed with teargas and other high-handed state tactics. Enjoying the trappings of power, President Barrow disregarded the terms of a painfully negotiated coalition MOU; not only extended his term of office to five years instead of the stipulated three years but also offered himself as a presidential candidate, again contrary to the Coalition MOU.
While Gambians are glad that we no longer live in fear of the brutalities of the Jammeh era, many are equally concerned that the transition government led by President Barrow has been the most administratively challenged in terms of competence, capacity, corruption, and general governance practices. Even our development partners are apparently beginning to express concern about the government’s indifferent attitude towards corruption and bad governance.
Ministers and ministries have been accused of outrageous corrupt practices. The health sector is on the brink of collapse, the economy faltering badly and, the high cost of living has put the majority of the population below the poverty line. Environmental degradation is threatening our future generations. Simply put, President Barrow has presided over the most embattled cabinet that the country has ever witnessed.
The challenges facing Gambians and the Barrow administration are immense. The recent energy/petroleum crisis, which has caused untold public suffering, and incalculable loss to the Gambian treasury, remains an apparent criminal enterprise. These challenges have been further heightened by the recent escalation of tension between ECOMIC’s Senegalese troops and rebellious Casamance combatants on Gambian soil; posing a threat to Gambian sovereignty and Gambian citizens alike that cannot be ignored.
Taking all of the above together, one would have thought that President Barrow would take advantage of his declared electoral mandate to refresh and renew his administration, with a view to addressing and meeting head-on, the challenges of a second term. Unfortunately, Gambians were on Thursday, January 27th 2022, treated to the surreal spectacle of a transitional/interim cabinet swearing-in ceremony, that looked more like a validation of all the bad ways of the last five years. Gambians deserve better!