By Tabora Bojang
President Adama Barrow has disclosed that he is privy to the dealings of unnamed party leaders who ‘connived with criminal business men to award them ministerial positions and exclusive contracts to import petroleum products’ if they took over the country. He made these remarks in Brufut on Sunday as part of his ongoing meet the people’s tour.
President Barrow however did not disclose the names of the party leaders allegedly involved in this syndicate, claiming he has all the evidence to prove his assertions when the right time comes.
“I will expose the names when the time comes for politics and by then, they would either go into exile or bury themselves out of embarrassment,” the president warned.
“They are making noises because we did not subscribe to those dealings but we will reveal things when the time of politics comes, so that Gambians understand those who are vying to sell this country. We know a lot of businessmen who are criminals but they are dealing with politicians who are giving them big promises. I have been privy to some businessmen who were promised by these people [politicians] that if they become presidents, they would offer them exclusive contracts to import fuel and petroleum products into the country,” Barrow alleged.
He likened such engagement to what prevailed under the former regime when business tycoon Muhammad Bazzi was given exclusive contracts to import fuel into the country, saying “they wanted to bring back these similar dealings.”
“We have seen some of them who made agreements with businessmen to sell ministerial positions to them. I have those documents with me and its signatories are party leaders. They used to say Barrow does not talk much but it’s not time for politics. When the time comes and I talk (Billahi-wallahi) some of them will have to leave this country or bury themselves in the soil,” President Barrow stated.
The president called on the youths to take ownership of the country’s growing informal sector, which according to him is monopolised by foreign nationals.
He made these comments while responding to remarks by the Sanementereng NAM, Baba Galleh Jallow who urged the government to do more to empower youths of the coastal settlements of Brufut and Kombo South to engage in fishing activities.
Jallow, who described as pathetic how the coastal fishing sites from Bakau to Kartong are dominated by foreign fishing operators mainly Senegalese, said there are over 2000 fishing boats in Gambian waters, none of which is owned by Gambians, which he said is detriment to the country’s youthful population and its economy.
President Barrow too said it is unjustifiable that most of the “bakers, tailors, mechanics and corner shop owners are either from Senegal or Mauritania. Why can’t Gambians do these works”? he asked.
“In Senegal and Mauritania, the majority of all the shops are owned by the natives. The boat owners from Senegal did not come with their boats, their government did not provide it for them but they started it here. I am also a youth and when I came back from the UK in 2006 to start my business, I had less than D 100,000 but with hard work, diligence and steadfastness within 10 years, I had millions by 2016, before becoming president. I call on the youths to be inspired and believe in themselves that they can make it here. The government will do its utmost to provide training but you can only take the horse to the water but cannot force it to drink,” he stated.