Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A clean break from the past is still possible

Sidi Sanneh 

The Barrow administration may be paving the way towards disastrous failure if it does not start, immediately, to dismantle, brick by brick, the corrupt and incompetent governance system that was purposefully designed by Jammeh to personally enrich himself and a few of his favored friends by defrauding the Gambian while, concurrently, consolidating his power into the absolute and formidable dictator he had become. 

If there were doubts when we made these claims years ago, the Commission of Inquiry into Jammeh’s illicit wealth is slowly etching a much more compelling picture of such claims on the public consciousness.

Signals abound that the Barrow administration is headed the wrong path, led by some of Jammeh’s most loyal and prolific old hands that can be measured in the number of trips they can make in a day to visit the Central Bank to escort bags full of millions of dollars back to their handlers at State House.  Populating the length and breadth of the civil service, these characters have moved quickly to become a formidable bulwark in a very short time to form Jammeh’s 5th column.  Trained to move only when instructed, they can easily be spotted for their lack of initiatives because they’ve been wired to take instructions and therefore cannot think independently and make individual judgments - the hallmark of a good manager.  To these people, the single person that mattered was His Excellency, Sheikh Professor Alhagie, Yaya Jammeh.  Gambians must never let them transform Adama Barrow into another BallilliMansa.

All indications are they are gaining ground.  You can feel it.  The most dreaded phrase invented by Jammeh “executive directive” is slowly creeping back into the administrative lingo.  Thanks to the hangers-on and hold-overs from Jammeh’s rotten regime who have infested the new government of Barrow.  Replicating a totally discredited and reviled system of governance poses a real existential threat to the new government.

More pointers abound that the threat is real.   For example, Foundations of the Jammeh era are being replicated under Barrow with the formation of a Foundation for the new First Lady, ostensibly to help the young, the vulnerable and less fortunate members of society.  As we are witnessing during the Commission hearings confirming our long-held view that these Foundations are vehicles designed to divert public funds and private donations solicited from rich Arab countries that are then diverted to private use.

Knowing what we know now about Foundations operated by the First Family, whoever advised President Adama Barrow to agree to the setting up of a Foundation for the First Lady made the wrong and inappropriate call for the First Lady.   To emulate Zeinab Suma Jammeh is not a good idea. It is a very dumb idea if you ask me.  First Ladies in dirt poor countries like ours can still engage in ‘good works’ in support of the weak and vulnerable in society by being their Advocate-in-Chief and a formidable one at that, in and outside government without creating a Foundation and the attendant administrative structures associated with such ventures that usually end up relying on government for budget support.

These are just a few of the examples that can be cited as disturbing trend that is both unsettling and unnerving because it threatens to roll back the gains the ferocious opposition achieved against the tyrannical and corrupt rule that forced Yaya Jammeh into involuntary exile.  The Gambian people must never allow the Coalition Government to take this destructive path.  We must not allow it to happen.  What we need is a clean break from one of Africa’s most violent and corrupt regime, ever.

The revelations to date at the Commission of Inquiry into the illicit wealth of Yaya Jammeh should serve as a warning that embracing the Jammeh’s corrupt system of governance will be suicidal to a new government that is already losing its gloss and luster barely eight months into a 3- to 5-year transition period.  It’s time to make a mid course correction while there is still time.