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City of Banjul
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Some extra income?

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Who says no to some extra cash especially if you are short of it?
A little here and a little there and at the end of the day you have some nice money in your pocket.
There are different ways of making money, some of them more qualified than others but as long as you make an honest living everything is fine.

 

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It’s when you cross that line and more or less force people to pay you some extra for your services when it has gone too far.
In a way I can understand the system, because that is very common in poor countries, but you are digging a deep hole for yourself.

 

Everyone is expecting everyone else to pay them some extra for their services and suddenly you find yourself as a victim of the system you have helped to maintain.
If you expect someone to pay you extra money for something that actually is included in your job; how will you find the extra money to pay someone else for their job?

 

The wages are low in the Gambia and as long as people can’t earn a decent living it is hard to get rid of a system with bribery but this must come to an end as soon as possible.
This is corruption and it’s illegal.
It doesn’t matter that this is what people are used to, and it’s almost considered as normal in the Gambian society, but the fact is that bribery and corruption is illegal.

 

I realize that it’s not easy to get to the bottom of it, as it is so widely spread on all levels of the society, but nevertheless we need to speak about it and begin to do something about it.
Each and every one of us has to begin with ourselves – what have we done to maintain the system? Have we expected someone to pay extra for our services? If they have refused or haven’t been able to pay some extra – have we been doing a worse job or even refused to do it?

 

Have we been forced to bribe someone or are we willing to do it to make sure that the service we need is going to be done?
It’s not easy for common people to handle this problem; we expect our politicians to create laws that are preventing bribery and corruption, but what happens when those who are supposed to be our role models are using the same system? It’s only spreading like rings on the water.

 

The president must be very clear that this is not a system that is accepted in the Gambia, that it’s illegal and the consequences of it will be severe.
Corruption and bribery is not a new phenomenon in the Gambia so it can’t be hard for President Barrow to speak out about that subject.
The problem is that it seems hard for him to speak out about anything at all and as long as he is quiet people will go on as usual.

 

There is a saying: “When the cat is gone the rats are dancing on the table.”
There are too many “rats” in the Gambia and our “cat” doesn’t seem to have sharp claws!
The reason why I chose to write about this topic is an article I read and that made me upset.
This article tells us about Jaha Dukureh, a native Gambian living in USA. Mrs Dukureh is, according to Time Magazine, one of the 100 most influential people. She is a winner of L’Oreal Women of Worth Award and a gender activist. Jaha Dukureh has done a great and important work in mostly the north-western part of the Gambia.

 

Mrs Dukureh has recently been on tour, visiting several schools and been educating young women about the dangers with Female Genital Mutilation, FGM.
As many of you have heard about and seen the police in the Gambia has lately been stopping cars with tinted windows.

 

The car Mrs Dukureh was driving had factory tinted windows and that is allowed by a permit fee of D 2000 dalasi annually.
Obviously the two police officers who stopped Mrs Dukureh’s vehicle in the evening, together with another car, wanted a piece of the pie themselves so they told her to pay them D300 dalasi and then she could continue her trip.

 

The other driver paid the bribe and went on but Mrs Dukureh was courageous enough to refuse.
The police officers, who refused to tell her their names, began to harass her, took her driver’s licence and insurance card.
They even forced her to drive to the nearest mobile police station where they continued to harass her and were abusive.

 

After a while the police officers told her to go out from the police station and to wait outside because they were going to close the station for the night.
Now remember that all this happened in the evening and it became night time.
This poor young woman was there alone with these two male police officers who acted abusively! What could she expect from them? Imagine her fear!

 

Mrs Dukureh finally managed to get hold of a male friend who came to her rescue. The police officers didn’t stop their awful behaviour, instead they began to harass this friend too.
At 2am Mrs Dukureh finally managed to leave the police station together with her friend.
She was in shock and felt so humiliated by the treatment she had to endure.

 

This is scandalous; these two police officers are an embarrassment for the whole police force in the Gambia!
The police should be role models, they should be the ones who are making sure that the laws of the Gambia are followed by the citizens. They should not place themselves above the law and in broad daylight commit crimes of which common people are too afraid to protest against.

 

This must come to an end immediately, police officers must be informed about the importance of their behaviour against civilians and also what consequences it will have if they break the laws themselves. The laws of the Gambia are for all citizens, without exceptions.

 

I want to go back to all the people who have some kind of power in the Gambia; ministers, other politicians etc.
How can those who rule the Gambia expect the citizens to be law-abiding when they put their own hands in the cookie jar?
It’s like in a family – the kids might listen to what their parents are telling them but they act as the parents are acting. The parents must be role models and show their kids how to become good people and our politicians must be role models in the society. Corruption is a part of the normality in the Gambia but that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable.

 

Imagine what Mrs Dukureh will tell about the Gambia when she returns to the US. She is a well-known woman with a lot of influence.
What kind of reputation do we want the Gambia to have; that the society is as corrupt as ever and that nothing has changed on that level?

 

When we finally have got rid of Yahya Jammeh and are standing on our wobbly feet trying to build the new Gambia – do we want bribery and corruption to be the image of the Gambia?
I know that the police force has low wages and that police officers are even forced to pay for their uniforms and wash them at home.

 

This is a huge problem but it cannot be solved outside the law by those who we expect are the ones who are protecting the law.
Bribery, harassment, threats of violence and imprisonment seem to be much too common among many of the police in the Gambia. We should be able to feel secure among the police. We should know that if we don’t have anyone else to turn to at least we can trust the police to help us. We should know that even if others are not trustworthy we can always trust the police to follow the law. Instead people are afraid of the police because too many has been maltreated and you never know when it is your own turn.

 

Please forgive me if I make it sound as the whole police force of the Gambia is corrupt, that is absolutely not the case but even one rotten egg destroys the cake.
I don’t want to be unfair but it can be hard to understand that at the same time as civilians are supposed to follow the law the defenders of the law are breaking it in front of our eyes. What are we supposed to think?
The one who has been the worst criminal, who completely used and refined the system of bribery and corruption for his own purposes was Yahya Jammeh.

 

According to the laws of Islam, a man who is in peace with Allah and in the belief of the other world, who believes in Heaven and Hell, is not rushing around in the world in a crazy search for money and wealth. He is not falling for the temptation of using injustice to fulfil his own selfish needs.

 

The morality of Islam forbids and rejects all forms of luxury and levity that will be the inevitable result of an enormous wealth in the hands of few. Islam also forbids underpayment and injustice for workers. Because accumulation of wealth is an injustice for workers. This must be rejected, Islam is instead telling us to spend our money in Allah’s way, even if this should lead to us losing all our money.

 

It is because some people reject the laws of Islam that so many others must live in poverty and humiliation. So how could Yahya Jammeh refer to himself as a faithful Muslim? How can those who have gained a lot because of Jammeh refer to themselves as good Muslims?
How is it possible to rule a country and completely go against the laws of Islam in a country where 95 % of the population are Muslims?

 

How is it possible that the former president, who was a great performer in his own show could go on like that for 22 years? Was it only because so many were afraid of him or was it also because so many gained from him?
Will it ever be possible to turn things around, get rid of bribery and corruption if we don’t get firm signals from those who are on the top of the society?

 

It will never be possible if not our president is very clear that he will not accept that this corrupt system will keep on.
There must be laws and rules and these must be followed.
Those who are in service to defend our laws must be well educated and be payed enough to avoid the temptation of finding some extra cash by bribery.

 

It’s hard work to change old habits but it is possible, bribery and corruption has no place in a democratic society- it’s a disgrace. We know better than this so let us act better than this!

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