All this politicking is ok, even if it can also be quite boring some times. However, considering the article…   

The UDP/NRP/GMC assured the Coalition partners and entire Gambian population that they will never relent from playing their part in the Coalition in the interest and well being of the Gambian nation.  Below is the full text of the Press statement etc.

It is important to note that just because something has been committed to paper, that does not necessarily mean that the contents true, or that the ideas expressed come directly from the heart, nor does it necessarily follow that what has been written will guide all future actions in that direction. After all “Action always speaks louder than words”, and “talk is always cheap”. Walking the talk on the other hand can be hard, as that usually requires much more than a little word-smithing. Rather, it requires an unwavering commitment to the greater good of the community, over and above party, or coalition politics.

This coalition government is appearing weak (dangerous because weak governments are more prone to tyrannical rule). Many members of cabinet appear to have little no experience of government, some have also come across as thinned skinned (fancy arresting someone for insulting Barrow), and others have proved to be hotheads. Still a few have been both.

Moreover, the leadership does not appear as strong and appears to use state resources to repay past favours (the appointment of a convicted drug dealer as Cabinet minister is puzzling, or the bending over backwards to enable the circumventing of the constitution in order appoint an already disqualified to office makes little sense, especially, where, clearly, there are equally, if not better qualified candidates on offer within the coalition. My personal beef with Adama Barrow as my president is that he has two wives.

To me, this seems like divided loyalties. I also know that he is widely perceived in some circles as Mr nice guy – a populist – but lacking in the intellectual, or the analytical rigor needed to navigate all the intricacies of running a government. I think however, that this charge is premature and is overstated, because it denies learning. I think what is really crucial to success given the situation is that he is able to surround himself with competent people. But this appears problematic. I sometime wonder if the President has not been a captive of his own success as flag bearer for the coalition, and has thus found himself surrounded by overtly ambitious people who have a track record as “serial failures” in their quest for the top job. (And. It is nonsense to say that those people failed because they competed under a not-so-level-playing-field. Ditto Mr Barrow).

The truth remains that they largely failed because their strategies have been wrongly conceived and poorly executed. The issue for Mr Barrow is that these serial failures failed time and again because they refused to share then, so neither will they share now! If you look at the Cabinet closely, you will see that Ousainou Daboe had poached Amadou Sanneh from the Office of Accountant general to work for him/his party as Treasurer, and Adam Barrow was Assistant Treasurer. That makes the three top decision makers, Foreign Affairs, Economic Affairs, Office of President, occupied by three people from the same office – who think alike so to speak – and where is the diversity in that? This is an issue, even if all three can be described as competent. It’s not very “Coalition”, or is it? And if you add Fatty the enforcer, and the beleaguered vice president to the mix, you are left with a case of all carrots and no sticks! A little bit of tension, or conflict is good for productivity and growth. All carrots and no sticks take us back to the Jammeh era. Even Sir DK Jawara had to content with Sheriff Dibba as a perpetual thorn in his side.

In fact, one proven formula, for development and growth happens to be the “two-sticks-and-one-carrot approach”. When it comes to nation building as opposed to simply coalition building, diversity, and tension is superior to cosiness, chumminess where it’s all carrot for the horse but no stick, – no tension, no pressure, no performance.

Yet it is worrying that none of the coalition Cabinet members, or newly elected politicians have open up in to the public in any way that I can see, (or indeed to each other?). In my opinion, it is important that the public has some information about their rulers both as citizen and politicians. The public need to be able to gauge the honesty, integrity, accountability and probity of their elected and appointed representatives as citizens, politicians, budget, or responsibility handlers. Uppermost in every citizen’s mind is: “can this person be trusted with money, with public resources. And what simple and directly recognizable way of answering this public enquiry than by members of Cabinet, politicians and resources leaders to show leadership by publishing their tax returns, laying bare their tax positions for at least, the past 5 years?

For surely the whole point about the constitutional requirement that “…to run for office of ….one must have resided in the Gambia for five years…., is the implication that one show committed to the country that one wants to govern, and if so, what better way is there to show one’s commitment than by paying one’s share of lawfully imposed taxes – both income tax and VAT (the latter being largely inescapable by the poor, but not so by the rich, or the crafty).

Thus it makes sense for rulers, or people seeking high public office to either, voluntarily, or be made to publish 5 years of tax returns as part of that procedure. That would go a long way to building trust between politicians, and people who hold high office and the community they purport to serve.

Thus to reduce tax avoidance and help government revenue generally, one of the measures that can be adopted, cheaply and directly, is to urge ( and by naming and shaming those who choose not to declare)) all politicians and people seeking high office to put their money where the collective mouth is (government coffers – this very act can increase confidence and monitoring that all taxation money, of course including theirs will be used as intended by them collectively in cabinet) , before they can credibly put their mouth where the money is: before they can vote on any budget measures – it’s a win-win situation for all.

Written By Badou Faal 

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