It is no longer news that acts of corruption – fraud, embezzlement, mismanagement, etc – has reached an extraordinarily frightening levels under the Presidency of President Adama Barrow. Some Government officials, contractors and other third-party vendors have ratcheted up their villainous scheme to milk public funds at a space arguably unparalleled in its brazenness and destructive effect at any time in our history.
Under his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, corruption was centralized which allowed the former President run our government like a cartel boss who only gave out chicken feeds from his ill-gotten gains to collaborators and steady stream of sycophants. With Barrow,tragically, matters of fraud are decentralized as culprits feel both empowered and emboldened with the recognition that nothing punitive comes out of it even where evidence is clear, corroborative and overwhelming.
This may partly explain why even our country’s Judiciary, which is supposed to be a citadel against corruption is mired in a 11 million dalasi fraud investigation by SIU of Gambia Police Force. Although Chief Justice Hassan Jallow has attempted to downplay the saga by stating, in a statement obtained cby Standard Newspaper, that no such cash has been stolen from the Judiciary, the fact that CJ Jallow admitted there was an attempt in December 2021 to defraud the Judiciary of such a significant amount underscores serious vulnerabilities of our Judiciary, entrenched secrecy culture surrounding similar situations in public institutions across the board and general lack of political will to expeditiously and effectively deal with fraudulent practice and harshly punish perpetrators. I am not expecting a perfect system because there is no such thing as perfect but a weakened or compromised judiciary either from within or through external factors presents a substantial threat to the security and democratic values of the Gambia.
Already, our fellow citizens are feeling the excruciating chokehold of Corrupt officials and their kingpins: there is total or near paralysis and dysfunction in our public service sectors. Not only our hospitals and health centers routinely run out of life-saving drugs, health-care employees are overworked and underpaid with depleted resources to protect themselves. Public transportation is almost non-existent and the average Gambian is left at the mercy of Gambia Transport Union and other unregulated commercial drivers. Electricity is not only irratic and unreliable, it’s becoming increasingly unaffordable. NAWEC is going from bad to worse unapologetically! Drugs and other contraband are proliferating and some of those tasked with preventing or even prosecuting serious narcotics offenses are either themselves complicit in the importation and distribution or their efforts thwarted by influential and politically connected class. In some cases, low level dealers are being sacrificed or made to face the law while real barons are left to continue with smuggling operations because they have the money to buy their way out of trouble.
Thus, amidst all of these struggles and despair that are direct derivatives of corruption, we now have a Judiciary, whose job it is to deliver impartial, fair, and just resolutions to societal vices including fraud is itself embroiled in multimillion dalasi fraud investigations. The fundamental question now is: Who Will Save/Protect Our Republic From Damaging Conspiracy of some Gambians? Is There Any Institution In The Gambia that is entirely and exclusively focused in public services?
Zakaria Kemo Konteh