Recently, there has been a lot of debate on social media about the mortgaging of the Senegambia Bridge and the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of The Gambia and Africa50, an international organization. The bone of contention, for want of a better word, is that the Honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs should have gone through the National Assembly for ratification of such an agreement.
The minister however revealed at a press conference, that the agreement has not reached the stage of being taken to the National Assembly yet. He went on to say that for now it is just an MoU and therefore does not need to be debated or scrutinized by the lawmakers.
However, it was revealed that the said MoU was signed since January 2023 and the minister recently revealed it on a foreign television interview. This is how the Gambian people knew about it and began raising questions about its legality or otherwise, generating a lot of discussion among Gambians both home and abroad. It was only then that the minister spoke about it at a press conference.
The Government is elected to serve the Gambian people and they have been given all powers to act, following due process, for and on behalf of the Gambian people from whom they derive their mandate. It is therefore necessary that whatever they are doing they should give adequate, accurate and timely information to the people for whom they do their work.
Had the minister informed the public on time and accurately, a lot of the debate could have been done at the right time so that, if it is found that there is a need to go to the National Assembly it would have been done at the appropriate time. This type of debate and dialogue on issues of national interest is very important for the progress of the country.
Therefore, all State ministers must keep this in mind and ensure that the Gambian public is kept well informed about the things that are done, or being done in their name. The Senegambia Bridge and all other State properties and assets belong to all Gambians and therefore care must be taken to ensure all-inclusiveness. Otherwise, it will just be a case where someone is doing things which are somewhat dubious or will seem that way to the ordinary Gambian.
As trust is very important in any relationship, especially the relationship between the governors and the governed, practical steps must be taken to ensure transparency. This will also ensure accountability as whatever property or asset government holds is on behalf of the Gambian public.
If there is no transparency accountability is compromised which may lead to people doing whatever they please with the wealth of the nation. This is not fair to the struggling citizen in whose name agreements, loans and treaties are signed. The Government must be proactive in informing its citizens.