Resignation is a crime

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By Alagie Saidy-Barrow

I have seen people saying that the minister of health should resign. Others say those in charge of the medicine control board should resign. Some have even gone to the extent of asking Adama Barrow to resign. We may all call Gambia home but we live in very different Gambias. When I see people asking government officials to resign, I can’t help but wonder which Gambia they live in because in The Gambia I know, resignation is a very serious crime. And since we claim to be peaceful and law-abiding people, few of us dare commit the crime of resignation! More so when they become ministers! Ministerdom is where consciences go to die.

You see, for people to resign on their own, their sense duty or service to the people must be anchored to values, principles or ethics. And if this were the case, no one should be asking Gambia government officials to resign when innocent children die as a result of their negligence. Their conscience, the values and ethics that undergird their service, would make it impossible for them to continue calling themselves public or civil servants. But look around you and tell us which government institution’s work revolves around demonstrated values and ethics or taking responsibility for our actions. Ours revolves around blame shifting. Those at the medicine control board will shift blame elsewhere. They will not take any responsibility. No one will be held accountable there. The importers will shift blame elsewhere. None will be held accountable. Ditto the ministry of health. In the end, the president will deliver a speech he didn’t write, struggle to pronounce a few words that we will take more interest in than the banality of the whole speech. And we the people will default back to helplessness and chalk the death of these children to the will of god and soon enough move on to other burning issues. Not even the death of 66 innocent children is enough to prick our collective conscience as Gambians!

Ours is not a society where values and ethics matter as much even though we love pretending otherwise. We admire false humility as a virtue. We deliberately conflate our prayerfulness with uprightness. We believe in a God but don’t trust Him enough. We think lying to the people and deceiving them is a sign of our intelligence. We allow politicians who mislead us to dictate our lives. We claim to abhor public corruption but embrace it in the dark. We conveniently abandoned accountability way back in 2017 and championed canonizing our own while demonizing others.  We shield our family and friends while throwing the families and friends of others to the wolves. We thrive on duplicity. Arguably, our culture used to revolve around shame and honor but we have since adopted dishonor and shamelessness as badges of honor.  So I wonder what would motivate or inspire anyone to resign when values, ethics, morals, principles, honor and shame have all since died in us. 

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I’m not saying resignations will suddenly bring the children back to life or that it will solve our problems. I know very well that our problems are systemic and unless the foundations the system is built on are dismantled, our problems will remain. 

Those asking Amadou Samateh to resign have a difficult task ahead of them. The audit reports on the health ministry should have pricked Amadou’s conscience if it wasn’t already in a hospice. Amadou’s own vaunted appearance before our comatose parliament where he decried the acute corruption in his ministry should have awakened his conscience. But nothing shakes him. Ministerdom is where consciences go to die. Remember Amadou campaigned for Adama Barrow. Amadou has since turned himself into a politician. And no need to tell you what we think of our politicians but I can tell you that by continuing to remain minister of health, Amadou Samateh is fulfilling his duties as a politician. And for a politician, that means never taking any responsibility for anything even when sixty six innocent children die under your watch. May the souls of innocent children find eternal peace since we Gambians denied them a chance at life.