OPEN LETTER TO THE GAMBIAN INFORMATION MINISTER. Attention: His Excellency President Adama Barrow.
I would like to express my disappointment over the dubious attitude of certain media establishments towards press freedom, I indeed approached four media houses considered to be most reputable to tell my story of persistent victimization, perpetrated by unscrupulous public officials, apparently bend on pursuing unjustifiable agenda of revenge; off course, utilizing position power might to settle scores with an arch rival; the adversely affected media houses showed absolute complacency over such outrageous attitude, involving the Secretary General and Head of the civil service who indeed succeeded in exposing his mediocrity attitude of total disregard for service delivery devoid of affection or ill will; this certainly is a wake up call on the need to adequately scrutinized potential high profile appointees to objectively verify the suitability of identified candidates in line with best practice standards; indeed ,if such an action was duly instituted in the case of the SG, mighty Ebriama O Camara, his 2007 dismissal tag or his previously red carded status and its underlying motive would have been exposed and a wiser decision of not offering him the high profile position due to moral and integrity considerations adapted in the best interest of the Country; certainly ,that would have been the only acceptable and available option ; it would have certainly saved the mother land from the embarrassment of hiring the services of a bully and a rights violator to the honourable position of Secretary General and Head of the civil service, the occupant of the supreme civil service bureau; the Bully had earlier repented for his previous wrong doing towards me in the presence of my family members close to the him as stated in my earlier write-up, he indeed went an extra kilometre to declare his willingness to help me, in what form? A purely nepotistic tendency; however the fact remains that, once a bully ever a bully, it is a mind-set issue, the urged is always there to inflict pain and suffering on mankind, the desire to celebrate and rejoice over human suffering is constantly high on the agenda of the bully, synonymous to the style of a dictator; what an un acceptable infringement of the Secretary General’s own oath of office, which was proudly undertaken with the” Hur anul Karim” holy book in his blood tainted hands; the SG deserved nothing but to be shown an immediate red card to enable the State to restore the dignity and honour that, the civil service highest office deserved; action is certainly due to put an end to the undesired scenario of the Civil Service Head acting in the most archaic manner; the sooner the Government distance itself from this ugly scenario the better for the mother land who in no measure deserved an SG whose administrative land scape is inundated with the desire to misuse position power in pursuit of a hidden agenda; it is certainly inimical to the principle of equality for all human beings; public officials especially high profile position occupants need not to be reminded that, objectivity and not subjectivity should be the guiding principle of acceptable decision making processes ; we are indeed in the 21st century ,the era of enlightenment and information sharing not the stone age era.
At this juncture, I would like to re- affirmed my viewpoint that, the adversely mentioned Local Government Ministry officials in the SG’s open letter which include the former, apparently laid the foundation that eventually crippled the local councils; they indeed masterminded the termination of the LGA Chairmen’s traditional role of council bank account signatories to promote anti-accountability values, this resulted to a financial status black out for the political leaders of council, Badara Joof the current Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology spear headed the initiative, his long term sojourn as permanent secretary at the then local Government ministry can truly be regarded as catastrophic, no wonder the recently and widely reported appalling situation of the Gambia College, a previous centre for Excellent learning; it all boils down to the leadership issue; it was the same Badara Joof whose inaction deprived me and three other colleagues from undergoing training at the Birmingham university, funding was granted through the EU support for Decentralised Rural Development project (SDRD) to pursue post graduate studies, during his long term tenure as PS, capacity enhancement became a night mare, this contributed immensely towards the acute chronic local council capacity gap situation, he indeed presided over mediocrity appointments, a glaring example is the appointment of Tafa Jobe as officer in charge of council affairs in the 90s due to native ties, somebody with neither academic nor professional credentials, undoubtedly a turning point for local Government administration in the Gambia.
Interestingly enough, the implicated in-country media houses aided and abetted this massive abuse of authority process under the disguise of safe guarding the integrity of high profile personalities of their much deserved exposure, the most they are entitle to is the opportunity to defend the indefensible; media houses should be warned to desist from unleashing terror on distant wrong doers and providing amnesty for close associate equally wrong doers; certainly, this action is meant to serve as an AK47 warning shot, a learning point for potential perpetrators; “kudeh marseh yaa tageh sabobo” a wollof term implying that, market place corps adequately carried out self-obituary announcements by taking their last breath at crowded public gathering avenues; certainly any action or inaction geared towards burying what belongs to the surface can rightly be regarded as an endorsement of evil deeds, this certainly remains the irrefutable fact; media houses that were approached and subsequently manifested their reluctance to response to a national call to duty as societal watch dogs should accept the need to abide by the uncompromising principle of disseminating timely accurate information without undue hindrance considerations ,regardless , whose status stands at the firing end; certainly this is what tantamount to absolute media freedom; media censorship either externally or internally influenced should be regarded as a declaration of war against free press; selective reporting or dissemination of information in whatever form should be perceived as a stone age era action that, deserved to be condemned by all those who cherished and fought for absolute press freedom, it should never be taken lightly, it has the potential to promote and perpetrate pro-impunity and anti-accountability values, which would certainly be an infringement to Gambia’s new found democratic press freedom; the implicated media houses should be humbled enough to reach out to the public and apologise for wrong doing; the Minister of information not too long enough, acted in a best practice manner and boldly apologised to the media fraternity, what he described as a misconception of his utterances, he however opted to promote the value and spirit of good Governance , an indeed most commendable best practice gesture applauded by all fair minded people; this time round the recipients of such a democratic divided are undoubtedly on the firing line; the sooner they subject themselves to humility and apologise to the public, the better for the image of the in-country media fraternity; no individual or institution should be exempted from the accountability processes, it should indeed be all inclusive to facilitate the maximisation of the democratisation dividend; certainly any action outside this parameter should be regarded as counterproductive deserving of widespread condemnation; this is the era of all inclusive accountability in the real sense of its meaning, for all duty bearers in the four arms of Governance and beyond , not restrictive to only the National Assembly, the Executive and the Judiciary; the media as the fourth arm of Governance should not be exempted, like their counterparts in other arms of Governance, they should be held accountable for their own deeds too; this is the irrefutable fact; media practitioners should be seen to be practising ,what they preach and not otherwise to maintain credibility and relevance, the essential ingredient for meaningful continuity; to the affected media establishment, the message is clear, “one can run but can never hide”; my determination to get to the bottom of things can never, ever be frustrated by media practitioners who ardour mbokalism, tribalism and kabiloism; their action can certainly be likened to a toad that attempt to stand on the way of a bull dozer, it certainly does not work like that; “sudud fi di feh” if not here, it would be there”, henceforth the need to solicit for a trans-continental solution to address the publication night mare; on that note, I wish to sincerely congratulate the diaspora media fraternity for coming to my aide at a time when many in-country media houses had abandoned me to my fate; I say bravo to you for standing up to the truth, no matter what or who is on the firing line an indeed justification for your relevance even in post dictatorship Gambia, a demonstration of what you can stand to offer; to my comrade Dr. Demba Keita, a PhD medical student in the USA who willing facilitated the process of reaching out to the diaspora media fraternity; I say “li betuma” literally meaning, this is what I expected, your blatant and uncompromising stand against all forms of injustice will never allow you to act otherwise; Keita mansaring, is a positive response to a national call to take up arms against injustice, real knowledge and not the traditional book knowledge is meant to enlightened the mind to positively contribute towards the empowerment of mankind and not to engage in Human destructive endeavours.
On a file note, I would like to call on the Ministry of Information and other relevant stake holders to commissioned a comprehensive case study on in-house media censorship and its impact on the accountability processes; the outcome can certainly inform the formulation of a regulatory mechanism that would serve as an effective check and balance to combat the undesirable culture of selective reporting or dissemination of information; this certainly is the way forward for absolute press freedom in the Gambia and media justice for all, it would certainly add up to the already registered gains in the new Gambia. Aluta continua, no retreat no surrender, the truth will ultimately triumphed.
Written by Omar Ceesay
Planning Director Kuntaur Area Council.