By Omar Bah
The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources (MECCNAR), Alhagie Nyangado, has expressed concern over the handling of government resources and advised officials, especially those dealing with procurement, to be transparent and accountable.
Addressing a stakeholder validation workshop on a draft management plan for Sardinella Bonga Fisheries project in The Gambia yesterday, PS Nyangado said Gambians, especially those entrusted with public resources, should reflect and change their attitudes.
“In this country, people will grab projects for their selfish interests and not for the interests of our community. I want to ask all of us not to be like that. Let us make sure that anything that is not in our area is facilitated for the person who can do it. Nobody will change this country for us. We will have to change it ourselves,” he said.
The former Gambia ambassador to Russia said from the Office of the President to the last person, people think what belongs to the government belongs to nobody.
“That is what I realise in government. Once it is government funds, if this mobile is costing D500, you will sell it for D1000 to the government without realising that you are cheating on your son or daughter. Before my appointment as ambassador, I was director of strategy, policy, and delivery, reporting directly to the president, and because of my work, most people don’t like me, so I was quickly redeployed as ambassador,” he added.
He recalled telling the president before he left that he should ensure that he looks after government resources like he looks after his earnings and daily spending.
“That he should know the total money finance is collecting with customs, the spenders, and which ministries are getting the chunk of that money and where that money goes. He asked me, ‘How do I do this’? So I established an economic council for him and advised that the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) will sit before him and tell him what they have collected for every month, and the accountant general will also tell him the ministry with the highest spending, while the central bank will tell him the status of our account balances and our relations with international authorities, and the ministry of trade will explain to him how international trade is working and how it is affecting us,” he added.
PS Nyangado said he had also informed the president that the procurement department should be able to inform him that he cannot buy anything from a single source or restricted tender.
“And after the first meeting, the president was shocked by the amount of information. I told him the biggest threat to this country is economic security, not soldiers. I told him if people go to the market any day and buy bread for D500 in the morning and D1000 in the evening, the next day, no matter how strong the army is, we will remove him from the state house,” he noted, adding that a similar thing happened in Sri Lanka and the president was forced to leave office.
“But because I was so close to the president, the people who are bent on stealing the money went and told him, ‘Alhagie is very good, but he is bad for your politics, and that if I continue there, he will not win,” he said.
Nyangado recalled stopping certain people who would come with their fictitious proposals at the state house.
“So, it is like we are cursed as a nation,” he said.