By Olimatou Coker
The Standard newspaper, The Gambia’s leading daily newspaper, yesterday presented a certificate of appreciation to the former finance minister for the outstanding role he played in backing the media during his tenure as minister.
Lamin Cham, the editor-in-chief of The Standard, said Mr Njie has always demonstrated professionalism and humility when dealing with the paper.
“He has tremendously helped in the growth and development of the media especially the newspapers during his tenure as the minister of finance and economic affairs. The newspaper industry was struggling a lot economically but when he came in, he was able to harmonise and help the newspapers to be able to access whatever they needed between them and the government offices…,” he explained.
In presenting the certificate of appreciation, the managing director of The Standard newspaper, Baba Sheriff Bojang noted that Mambury Njie contributed more to assisting newspaper companies and other media houses in the country than any other minister in the last cabinet.
He said many newspapers were crippled by millions of dalasis of unpaid debts owed by ministries, departments and agencies but through Mr Njie’s “proactive personal intervention and mediation” most of the bills were settled enabling the businesses to pay their dues to government, pay salaries on time and invest in expansions.
“He had an open-door policy and anytime we want to see him as a collective – Newspaper Publishers Association (NEPA, Gambia), he would welcome us, summon all the senior officials of his ministry and even pick up his telephone and call parastatals on our behalf. He granted us an exemption from paying education levy, helped us access Covid-19 hardship assistance and even consented to zero rating duties if we import our printing materials. He knows that newspapering in The Gambia is about social entrepreneurship and not about maximising profits,” Mr Bojang, himself a former cabinet minister, stated.
He explained that despite all these help from Mr Njie, The Standard and other papers would publish news articles and opinion pieces highly critical, harsh and condemnatory pieces against Mr Njie in their columns, week in and week out. “Not for once has he complained or turned us away. He merely regarded them as hazards of his job. We highly commend him for that magnanimity of spirit. We called him here to thank him for all his help over the years and to wish him well in all his future endeavours,” Mr Bojang said.
In receiving the certificate, Mr Njie said he was aware of the “robust coverage” he received as minister of finance and that he sees the media as a pillar of governance and that any minister who does not treat governance as a major development priority must be missing the point.
He gave a lecture on the challenges of being the bearer of the country’s purse as head of the exchequer of a country with minimal endowments.
He said his actions were guided by the desire to build the country, aid businesses to become resilient and expand so that they would employ more young people and generate personal income and taxes for the state.
He lauded The Standard for being “one of the best newspapers” in The Gambia and thanked the staff and management for honouring him with the certificate of appreciation.
The Standard general manager, Salla Jeng, senior staff member Mam Sait Ceesay and friends and family members of Mambury Njie including Mr Mam Sait Njie, Mr Musa Sise and others thanked the former minister for his help to the Gambian media over the years and The Standard for recognising his unique efforts.