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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

What the OIC-G Secretariat did not say

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The OIC Gambia Secretariat’s well-orchestrated press conference raises more questions than answers. First and foremost, it’s puzzling why it took the Secretariat 11 good days to brief the media and, by extension, inform Gambians as to why the hosting of OIC Summit was deferred”.

Gambians have been told that it’s the government that had deferred the hosting of the OIC 2019 summit, according to the official press release, while independent media sources have suggested that it was the OIC General-Secretariat that decided to withdraw the hosting due to the country’s ill-preparedness.

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Gambians were told that there have been precedents when the summit had been deferred, with references made to Senegal, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The OIC Gambia Secretariat’s CEO, Lamin Sanneh, however, did not say why those countries deferred the Summit. He gave this example to back up the decision to “postpone” the summit but when asked to explain why those countries deferred the summit, he said he couldn’t speak for those countries.

Another justification advanced by Mr Sanneh is the “limited time” available for hosting the summit. Incidentally, Mr Sanneh, last November during a closed-door meeting with President Adama Barrow, has given an emphatic assurance that the country was on track to organise the global event successfully. For him to turn around and ascribe the deferral of the summit to time constraint is even more flummoxing, to say the least.

The journalists, who attended the media briefing raised all the relevant questions and got scanty answers. The word “convince” prominently featured in the briefing, which reflects the level and amount of cynicism in that room.

The official version is that the summit has been deferred until 2022. This sounds quite simplistic, given that The Gambia had to lobby again and put in place all the necessary infrastructure to host the summit.

The secretariat must recognise that Gambians are entitled to raise questions, cast doubts, and check facts. People are annoyed because the OIC-G raised expectations only to back down at the 11th hour! This does not, however, mean that those raising questions are in anyway haters. How can one hate their own country? I bet those of us raising questions are not less patriotic? We all have The Gambia at heart. We want our small country to host such a momentous event to showcase our potential. We only have an issue with the way and manner the Secretariat has been functioning because its operations have been largely shrouded in secrecy.

Do we remember when we last heard from the OIC team? During the press conference, Mr Sanneh revealed that he had just concluded a five-nation tour with the Foreign Minister but failed to elaborate where and why they made the tour. Probably, Gambians do not deserve to know that either.

One thing should be borne in mind: Gambians are sophisticated enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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