A leading Gambian University Lecturer Dr. Ismaila Ceesay has accused the Barrow State House of distorting the Afrobarometer survey report on Gambians trust in the office of the Presidency, as an institution, for propaganda purposes. The State House claimed in a press release on Friday that: “overwhelming majority of The Gambian population said President Adama Barrow is the most trusted political leader in the country, a national survey sanctioned by Afrobarometer reveals. Almost 7 out of every 10 Gambians rate the President top ahead of a host of national political institutions and officials, such as opposition politicians, national assembly members, the army, electoral commission, judicial officials, the police.”
Dr. Ceesay, who teaches Political Science at the University of The Gambia, told Freedom Radio Gambia, that the survey report in question, was grossly distorted by the State House to portray President Barrow as a trusted leader, while trying to diminish the credibility of Barrow’s opponents in the opposition.
“ The Afrobarometer findings on trust of public institutions were distorted for propaganda and to score cheap political points. The findings never indicate that President Barrow is the most trusted political leader in The Gambia as contained in a press release from state house. The distortion of the findings is very dishonest and its aim is clearly to misinform Gambians,” Dr. Ceesay remarked.
Afrobarmeter is a pan-African, non-partisan survey research project that measures citizen attitudes on democracy and governance, the economy, civil society, and other topics. It started in 12 African countries in 1999, expanded to 36 countries in Round 6 (2014/2015). Round 7 surveys have been completed in 2018.
Afrobarometer’s goal is to give the public a voice in policy-making by providing high-quality public opinion data to policymakers, policy advocates, civil society organizations, academics, news media, donors and investors, and ordinary Africans.
“A national partner in each country conducts the survey. In the Gambia, Afrobarometer Round 7 survey was conducted by the Center for Policy, Research and Strategic Studies (CepRass),” the research survey revealed.
Dr. Ismaila Ceesay was among one of the lead investigators tasked to oversee the research. Ceesay said President Barrow as an individual, or person was not the subject of the survey. He tells Freedom Radio Gambia that the survey centered around the Presidency as an institution and not President Barrow.
“It is dishonest for anyone to try to distort the Afrobarometer report for political propaganda purposes. Gambians trust in the Presidency, including the opposition parties as institutions were surveyed. None of the party leaders in the opposition were surveyed. Therefore, it is misleading for the State House to distort the Afrobarometer survey report by claiming that President Barrow is one of most trusted leaders in the country,” Dr. Ceesay said.
The Afrobarometer poll revealed that 67% percent of Gambians trusted the Presidency as an institution. Ceesay said this is not the first time that they have presented a survey reports to the State House. He recalled one of the polls that was handed to the President’s Office, which called for the withdrawal of the ECOMIG troops in the country. But he said, the State House, never shared that report with the media. He said the Barrow State House is apparently cherry-picking on what poll reports it will share with the public.
The Afrobarometer survey featured different demographics: Gender, Residence, Education, and Religion.
Dr. Ceesay said the survey was based on people’s perception on issues. He said his job was to gather the research and forward it to the Afrobarometer offices in Ghana.
“If you ask me, about my perception of The Gambian Presidency as an institution, I will tell you, I do not trust The Gambian Presidency. But the respondents are entitled to their opinions. Perception is not a fact. It is one’s opinion,” Ceesay said.
Dr. Ceesay said the Gender survey contained some errors. On the male front, 51 were polled, while on the women front 49 were interviewed. Past National Census reports revealed that there are more women in The Gambia compared to men.
The methodology applied during the survey
- Nationally representative sample of adult citizens
- All respondents are randomly selected.
- Sample is distributed across regions/states/provinces and urban/rural
- areas in proportion to their share in the national population.
- Every adult citizen has an equal chance of being selected.
- Face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice.
- Standard questionnaire allows comparisons across countries and over time.
- Sample size in the Gambia of 1,200 adult citizens yields a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.
- Fieldwork for Round 7 in the Gambia was conducted between 23 July and 12 August 2018.
The Afrobarometer survey report also said corruption is on the decrease in The Gambia. Though Ceesay said there is no documented empirical evidence available to suggest as to whether corruption is on the increase or decrease in The Gambia. He said the respondents’ views were based on perception. He called for more public awareness campaign to raise the citizens awareness on issues relating to official graft, among other issues of national matters.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai