Gambia

Take It With A Pinch Of Salt

Akin to the boy who cried wolf, when the wolf actually shows, help would’ve long gone. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, we get hit with another bombshell of speculations and blatant untruths. One is left wondering; are we so determined to see our country fail just so we can turn around and say we told you so and feel good about it?

Our self-appointed journalists and commentators for the most part take to speculative reporting and over sensationalizing of issues so much so that their lack of logic in argument escapes them. With time, people stop listening to you and when you finally have something productive to say there will be no one to hear it because you have misled them enough.

Take for example the article in www.gambia.smbcgo.com on the allegation that “Gambian Minister Spends D1M to send four people on Hajj”. The article is full of aspersions on the person of the minister (Hamat Bah) and insinuations that he is dipping into public coffers. One thing that the article failed to do, deliberately it seems, is to reach out to the minister and ask for clarifications. How many times do we read a paper and see a statement at the end to the effect; “so and so could not be reached for comments.” Or “Mr. X declined to comment on such and such.”? Nowhere in that article was made mention of the attempts made to reach the minister or his representatives to shed light on the allegation, but rather the editors saw it fit to run to press with it, for what? Your guess is as good as mine.

Then there is the case of Mama Kandeh and the allegations of misappropriated public funds. All his defenders (who would claim they are defending his rights and democracy) claim that he made a political statement and that the police have no business getting involved. Some wrote that the accused persons (no names mentioned) should use their platform and denounce his statements or attack him in similar fashion (jungle law anyone, no?)

Here is a man, who is seeking public office, and is brazenly, willing to lie his way to it and we see no problem with it? Calling out a political opponent and smearing his name, as despicable as that may be, is not the same as broad brushing a gov’t and accusing them of the serious crime of embezzlement of public funds. Such claims should be backed by evidence, which he did not share. The police did their job by inviting him to substantiate those allegations; a standard procedure in order for them to be able to open an investigation and bring those culpable to book. How did that turn into a witch hunt or intimidation? Should our public officers not be held accountable? In this case they are accused of misappropriated funds. Who has information to that effect, well Mama Kandeh made the claim with so much confidence and certainty in his delivery, so what better candidate to start the investigation with than him?

We cannot cultivate a political atmosphere of lies and deception and then turn around and treat those lies and deceptive tactics as “just politics” until the damage is done. The police did what is expected of them, PROTECT PUBLIC INTEREST! In this case the supposed missing public funds need to be recovered and culprits brought to book, that’s not politics, that’s a matter of social welfare and theft of our common wealth, and like any theft it is prosecutable, any prosecution starts with a police investigation to gather facts and build a case. What we should be doing is calling Mama Kandeh out for trying to deceive the public to gain political capital. It is dishonest, it is callous, and it is inconsiderate of basic decency, yet we defend his “rights”, right to lie to us? Kudos GPF!

The same Mama Kandeh and his GDC claim they have been denied a permit because of that statement, again, here we go calling out President Barrow and his ministers for being Yaya Jammeh wannabes by trying to stifle dissent and repress dissenting voices, what an insult. We do not need to be that desperate people. Even though public sympathy would be on his side if he barred the APRC from gathering to celebrate Yaya’s birthday so soon after  his departure as if rubbing it in the faces of his numerous victims, they were free to do so. Where is you praise for that move?

First off, we call for democracy, then turn around and expect the President to micro manage the operations of the police. True, the buck stops with him, but will his interference in police matters not have tantamount to a worse betrayal of our trust? Before casting blame at his feet, find out conclusively what happened from both sides to determine if the police acted within the bounds of the law or if they acted arbitrarily based on “orders from above.” But that wouldn’t be sensational enough, would it?

Secondly, all of you crying out about how unfortunate it is that a registered political party should seek a permit before conducting a rally, are you really that prone to amnesia? Remember when you unlocked the floodgates of hell because the President dared to even consider a certain person as Vice President? all the noise you raised about how unconstitutional it will be to appoint a vice president whom the constitution bans because of age? That debate was not lost on anyone. The claims from the other side that we should not uphold or enforce immoral laws was brushed aside vehemently and you preached on the mountain tops that the constitution needs to be upheld until reforms are made. News flash; that same constitution requires a permit be obtained before a political rally, so what is unconstitutional here? Oh you want to talk about morality, now? Remember when you kicked and screamed that the country is not ruled by the Bible or the Qur’an? Well the constitution deals with legality and not moral codes, so save it; until changed, it is the law! See how the tables turn?

It is amazing the level of disdain held towards this government in certain quarters for no justifiable reason. Miss us with your claims of holding the government accountable and nurturing democracy. Those two are premised on reason and logic, not sensationalism and impulsive rhetoric devoid of any logic.

I’d suggest that some take a step back and familiarize themselves with what democracy truly entails and what constructive criticism looks like, but who am I to recommend that. Ego and blind hatred is the driving force behind most of the rhetoric we hear and reason has no relationship with either of those and so cannot share the same space. Defiant militancy works only where laws are deliberately disregarded, not in a democratic space, for then it falls within the realm of the outlaw.

Policy approach and strategy are different from arbitrary actions that are in conflict with stated laws. No one can defend a clear unconstitutional act. But how the government seeks to implement its policies is based on their own assessment of what is feasible and cost effective. You may disagree, but until we get the results, we can only speculate as to outcome. A constitutional breach on the other hand is a different beast all together. Know the difference!

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