We all admire people who keep their promises; people who mean what they say and say what they mean. We admire people who are honest. We admire people whose words match their actions. Generally, we don’t like people who can’t keep their promises. Most of us don’t like dishonest people. We like people whose words match their actions. On the contrary, I don’t think too many of us like people who preach one thing but practice something completely different. But most of our politicians are exceptions to these likes and dislikes because we have been conditioned to accept that politics is a dirty game and so it is okay if a politician lies to us or break their promises. That brings me to a letter forwarded to me and said to be written by Yaya Sanyang, a member of parliament for Latrikunda Sabiji.
Reading the letter, I didn’t know who the author was until I reached the end. And despite the exaggerations in the letter, I was sympathetic to the core of the message but when I got to the end and saw who the author was, I started scratching my head in perplexity. In his letter to President Adama Barrow, Mr Sanyang, like many of us, took issue with the budget that the Barrow government is proposing. I am not an economist but you don’t have to be one to realize that the budget is doing exactly what it is supposed to do! That is, to first and foremost serve the people in government and the people will get whatever those government cannot put in their pockets. It has been and remains my contention that government exists to first and foremost benefit those in government! So self-serving budgets will always be the norm so long as we maintain this hustler type of political governance. I understand the general sentiment in Mr Sanyang’s letter. Gambians are suffering and poverty is everywhere. I get it.
But two things gnaw me about Mr Sanyang’s letter. The first one is some of the wild statements Mr Sanyang alleges. For instance, Mr Sanyang claims that since coming to power, Barrow has created more poverty than Jammeh and Jawara combined! It would have been so educational if Mr Sanyang provided numbers or some evidence to back his claims but his letter is long on political platitudes and devoid of specifics. Lots of political grandstanding if you ask me. And that brings me to the second point that gnaws at me.
Mr Sanyang is part of the Tombong Jatta-led parliament that decided to buy themselves luxury Toyota Prados. Who is paying for these luxury vehicles? The same taxpayers that Mr Sanyang is supposedly standing up for today. It is okay for Mr Sanyang and his fellow parliamentarians to benefit on the backs of Gambians but it is not okay for others to do so seems to be the message he is sending. Certainly, Mr Sanyang doesn’t think that a parliament that increases its own personal benefits every year is the way to alleviate the poverty he decries. Had Mr Sanyang insisted on parliamentarians not giving themselves benefits that they force Gambians to pay for, I would have been more sympathetic to his letter. But sadly, his words do not match his actions and those of his colleagues in parliament. As our African ancestors say, when deeds speak, words are nothing. At the end of the day, Gambia will continue to suffer so long as government service is meant to serve those in government first and foremost. If you are personally benefitting on the backs of poor Gambian taxpayers in any way, perhaps you should not be the one to be pointing fingers at others doing the same! All of you have a role to play in eradicating that poverty and buying yourselves luxury vehicles, and increasing your own personal benefits at the expense of those poor taxpayers are certainly not ways to decrease poverty.