Our take with the Barrow government

Monday, December 05, 2016

Congratulations president-elect, Adama Barrow, Friday 02 December 2016 marked a historical event in the annals of The Gambia, for nobody expected the defeat of President Jammeh and were surprised to hear him conceding defeat.

Jammeh should be commended for that move, which stabilizes the peace and tranquility of the country. President-elect Barrow who will take office in January 2017 has a heavy task and challenges before him. Since he is the President-elect, Barrow should now be given befitting security teams, for both his house and himself.

First, his tasks are to nurture peace and tranquility, as well as to ensure national unity and reconciliation among Gambians, restore democracy and respect for human rights, the rule of law, Gambianise the judiciary, abolish draconian media laws, promote freedom of expression, ensure the state media promotes divergent views, restore bilateral cooperation with the EU, donors, and the Commonwealth, ensure better relations with the neighbouring countries, allow Gambians especially the Muslims to freely practise their religion without hindrance, especially for prayer festivities like Eid-ul Fitr, Eid-ul Adha and Yamul Ashura, when the moon is sighted in The Gambia or neighbouring countries unless necessary, and The Gambia should be maintained as a secular state, as stated in the Constitution.

The Barrow government should discontinue unnecessary and unexpected holidays or better still inform workers a few days before holidays are declared.

As regards the national cleansing exercise (Set settal), this could be continued, but during the day people and commercial vehicles should go ahead with their business, but those who fail to clean their environments should be penalised.

Also the new authorities should reintroduce the time of work from Monday to Thursday 8a.m to 4pm and on Friday from 8a.m to 12.30pm.

All political detainees should be released, including journalists such as Momodou Sabally, former DG of GRTS, and Bakary Fatty also of GRTS.

Nobody should be detained for over 72 hours without being charged or released as stated in the constitution, and long detention without trial as well as torture should be abolished.

A commission of enquiry should be set up to investigate if any public servant is doing business.

There should also be a commission of enquiry to investigate mysterious deaths that took place in the previous regime, especially the deaths of Ousman Koro Ceesay, former Finance Minister, Deyda Hydara in 2004, co-publisher of The Point newspaper, the disappearance of Chief Manneh of the Daily Observer in 2006, the killing in broad daylight of Omar Barrow of Sud FM on 14 April 2000 while reporting the student demonstration which claimed 14 lives, the death of Solo Sandeng, youth leader of the United Democratic Party, who died in custody in April 2016, and Ebrima Solo Krummah , who died at the EFSTH hospital, and so many other allegations of disappearances.

For all these the culprits should be brought to justice to face the full force of the law.

With the new government, prices of basic commodities and taxes should be drastically reduced; bills of electricity and water supplies should be reduced and distribution of such essential social amenities as water and electricity should be increased.

There should be rehabilitation of streets of the capital city of Banjul as well as the KMC, especially the feeder roads.

The ferry services should be improved upon with new ferries and landing fees of airlines should be reduced to encourage more international airlines, as presently it is a nightmare to travel by flight from The Gambia to the rest of the world, especially to our neighbouring countries.

In terms of sports, the government should endeavour to invest more in it, finance and develop the country’s sports by training more sports personnel, athletes, technicians, etc to enhance the game.

Sport today is a crucial revenue base for any nation, and The Gambia is no exception.

The government should have meetings with the business community and foreign exchange bureau dealers and bankers, as well as economists to see the way forward to boost the economy.

Government should look into cases of most of the civil servants and officials of parastatals sacked, and those found faultless and competent should be reinstated.

The government should also invest more in agriculture to ensure the country is self-sufficient in food.

The government should build more hospitals and health centres, as well as improve the service delivery of health workers, especially in terms of the availability of medicines and modern equipment.

The new government should improve the quality of education in the country from basic to secondary and tertiary level.

It should be noted that according to the constitution, Barrow was voted in for a five-year term.  Two-term limit should be introduced after his tenure.

If a minister is sacked, the reason should be made known to the public why he has been sacked.

All ministries and parastatals should have a public relations officer to facilitate access to information for the press.

A director of press should be appointed at State House to ensure all government press releases are sent to media houses, as well as organise frequent interviews or press conferences with the president and ministers to facilitate access to information.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Winston Churchill