By Musa Bah
On the 19th of July, 2017, you will have been in office for exactly six months! Mr President, after these six months, we have still not had a Vice President. We have repeatedly called on you to appoint a substantive vice president but our calls have fallen on deaf ears, or so it seems.
About a month or so ago, we were told that you have instructed your ministers to declare their assets. But up until now, we have not heard anything about it. This is an extremely important practice though it is not binding as at now.
Declaring assets increases the public confidence in the public servants. It will show to the citizens that these are honest and scrupulous people who are willing to do anything it takes to ensure that the country moves forward.
In a democracy, Transparency, Probity, Accountability and Rule of Law are important ingredients which intensify progress. Without these, there will be speculation and rumours which are not progressive. When there is lack of transparency, people are tempted to use their imagination and some people have very active and potent imaginations.
I know of one particular example where one individual accused one of the ministers of embezzlement without a shred of proof. This only happens because the ministers did not declare their assets.
Currently, the talk on people’s lips is whether or not your minister of Justice, Ba Tambendu connived with his brother Sheriff Tambendu to undermine the court case of the Solo Sandeng murder case involving the former director of the Natii Intelligence Agency [NIA]. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant here. What is relevant is that our government cannot take any more heat resulting from scandals like this. We have a nation to build – rather rebuild – thus we cannot afford to be entangled in one quagmire after the other. Let transparency be the order of the day!
Your government has a lot of goodwill, both within and without the country; and the citizenry are willing to actively participate in governance. The youth of the country are ready and willing to take ownership of the development agenda. So we should therefore capitalize on this and make sure that our progress is rapid.
Mr President, everything has a way and manner of doing. For development, the best way is through proper, appropriate and progressive laws which take cognisance of the needs of the country at a particular point in time.
At present, Mr President, nothing is more important or urgent than Constitutional Reforms. We must hurry to draft a progressive Constitution. This is the bedrock of all the developmental efforts.
This is difficult but urgent work, we have to consult as widely as possible to ensure that no needs or requirements are left out. For instance, we need a Constitution which sets Term Limits for the presidency. The twenty two years of dictatorship has taught us that we must use the law to ensure that no one will overstay in that important office. I would even suggest that it be an entrenched clause when the new constitution is to take effect.
There are so many other things we need to put in place but for today, I will simply reiterate the need for your ministers to declare their assets and be more transparent. Now!
Have a good day Mr President….