GAMBIA: EDITORIAL: A GOV’T WHICH OPERATES IN THE NAME OF ANONYMITY IS NOT FIT TO RULE!

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The Barrow Presidency has been shrouded in secrecy. A government, which operates in the name of anonymity to hide financial help extended to the country, by donors, is not a credible government. Such governments are not fit to rule. It is only corrupt and dictatorial governments that are in the business of concealing such crucial information to her citizens.   

So far, President Barrow has demonstrated that he is not to be trusted when it comes finances. He is using the office of the President to close financial deals; receive money in the name of impoverished Gambians, and yet he doesn’t see the urge that he is accountable to The Gambian population.  Absurd, right?

Over the weekend, the government Spokesperson Ebrima G Sankareh, issued a press release, clarifying on the much talked about eleven million and two hundred and fifty thousand dalasis (D11, 250,000,) President Barrow, reportedly donated to The Gambian pilgrims performing Hajj in Mecca. The State Broadcaster GRTS, first broke the story. Momodou Joof reported that it was President Barrow, who donated the funds to the pilgrims. It turns out that the GRTS story contained some “factual errors” per the press release coming from Mr. Sankareh.

“It can be recalled that in June this year, President Barrow accompanied by a high-powered delegation, visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to renew his government’s excellent bilateral cooperation and the Saudi and Gambian peoples’ long-standing historic ties. During that memorable visit, some generous and anonymous Saudi philanthropists promised the Gambian President that they were going to generously consider their Gambian Muslim brethren during this year’s pilgrimage,” Spokesperson Sankareh said.

“Consistent with the spirit of the Hajj and the Muslim feast of Id al Adha, and aware of the associated expenses, a member of those anonymous benefactors, generously fulfilled the promised package to President Barrow and presented to The Gambia’s Saudi ambassador, His Excellency Omar Gibril Sallah, the sum of D11, 250,000 for onward transmission to the Gambian Head of State,” Sankareh added.

Do we hear Sankareh saying that the funds came from some generous Saudi philanthropists ? Yes, he did say that.

Now, it is evident that Adama Barrow is not running a transparent government. Barrow’s failure to disclose the names of the purported “anonymous Saudi donors” will only lead to further speculations by the citizenry. Any democratic and serious government would not enter into anonymous ventures with donors. Even a boys club is accountable to its membership—talk less of a government, which has claimed to be operating under the parameters of democracy, and good governance.

This is a wake up call to Gambia’s donor partners. Barrow is hiding something from Gambians and the world at large.

“Once President Barrow received news of the good gesture, said Sankareh, “he immediately instructed Ambassador Sallah to work with members of The Gambia Hajj Commission and the President’s Religious Adviser, Hon. Dembo Bojang, to fairly disburse the entire funds among all Gambian pilgrims without delay,” Sakareh said, adding: “Acting on the President’s directives, Ambassador Sallah and designated officials rationed the entire gift package among the various airlines involved in the transportation of Gambian pilgrims to the Saudi Kingdom who then shared the charity among the intended beneficiaries.”

The international community—particularly Gambia’s donor partners, such as the European Union, the World Bank, the IMF, and the Saudi government, will soon begin to doubt the trustworthiness of President Barrow and his Government. This is largely because of the administration’s hide and seek games with The Gambian taxpayers. No one has licensed Adama Barrow to be receiving anonymous donations in the name of The Gambian people. His conduct defeats the very spirit of separation of powers and checks and balances. It is only Banana Republics that obtained funds in the name of her people and turn around to invoke the anonymity privilege to keep folks out of the loop.

So far, no one knows how much money, the so called anonymous Saudi philanthropists donated to The Gambian government. Under what bank account were the funds deposited into? Were the funds hand delivered to President Barrow? Are the funds coming from terrorist blacklisted groups or organizations? Just asking.

In this age of money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorism, it is a sin for any legitimate government to accept donations from anonymous philanthropic donors. There is a national security ramification associated with such transactions.

Interestingly, the government Spokesperson’s press release, reminded Gambians about Jammeh’s past financial crimes in an attempt to sanitize Adama Barrow’s questionable style of governance. At least, Jammeh never pretended that he was running an accountable government. But Barrow is one pretender.

“There is therefore, neither moral nor ethical equivalence between President Adama Barrow and his predecessor who looted millions while the Gambian people lived in abject poverty and misery,” Mr. Sankareh wrote adding “Recently, because of the worrisome revelations by the Janneh Commission on the scale of gross financial impropriety at The Central Bank of The Gambia, the Barrow Government working in solidarity with the National Assembly, enacted a new landmark legislation that will end fiscal indiscipline, deter corruption and reckless spending by corrupt government officials and their surrogates.”

This is not the first time that Adama Barrow has kept Gambians out of the loop on some of the donations he has been extending to the state. He extended a similar donation last year to the Legislative branch of government—the National Assembly by donating the MPS 58 pickup trucks. When questions arise about the source of the donation, he said, the funds came from an anonymous donor.

The world is watching Adama Barrow and his secretive government. It is an insult to the intelligence of Gambians for anyone to try to hoodwink us with such deceptive philanthropic anonymity. Rest our case!

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