So far so good

Monday, February 06, 2017

Since President Adama Barrow took over state affairs of the country on 30 January 2017 and formed a cabinet on 1st February 2017, he has taken some remarkable actions that warrant some recognition.

First of all, he has formed and announced a major part of his cabinet, since 1st of February 2017, to effectively steer the affairs of the government and the country.

He also made a major decision by renaming the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the notorious institution under the regime of Yahya Jammeh, as the State Intelligence Services. This intelligence institution will no longer arrest or detain people, according the new powers that be. We, therefore, welcome this initiative of the new president.

Furthermore, we would like the new government to set up a committee to investigate the tortures, disappearances, and killing of people that took place under the former regime of Yahya Jammeh and appropriate legal measures should be taken afterwards.

We commend President Barrow for freeing all political prisoners and religious detainees. And a full explanation should be given by relevant institutions for those detainees that are still missing or could not be found in detention.

Investigations should be carried out to ascertain the truth about most of the civil servants and employees of parastatals who were sacked under the Jammeh regime. And those who were wrongfully terminated should be reinstated or adequately compensated.

For those still detained at Mile 2, their cases should be reviewed, including civil servants who have cases against government.

We should continue to pray for freedom, peace and prosperity for the nation.

We also feel that workers and the business people should thank President Barrow for bringing back the five-day week working schedule – which is from Monday to Thursday 8am to 4pm and on Friday 8am to 12:30pm.

When it was four working days - Monday to Thursday 8am to 6pm - people used to close very late and would always get home very tired. Business-wise, it is always better to work 5 days a week like in other countries. Therefore, the Barrow government deserves some pat on the back.

Since President Barrow assumed office, the dalasi has gained some strength in the parallel market. Whilst a dollar was D48 before he assumed office, it is now D45. The Euro was D49 and now D48. The Pound was D68 and now D66. It was 5000 FCFA for D400, but now it is D375 for the same amount of FCFA.

Under the new government, we can expect more tourists, an official of the tourist sector has told this paper.

It is also gratifying to note that the EU is about to release 37 million euros for The Gambia. This money was blocked during Jammeh’s regime.

The World Bank on Friday allocated for The Gambia 7.5 million USD as a grant to the health sector, and the African Development Bank is ready to assist the New Gambia in its projects.

As these developments take place, the new government should continue to invite investors and tourists with lots of incentives for them, since we are competing with other countries in the sub-region.

Now the new task of the government is to tackle, for good, the problem of electricity and water supply, ferries, and communications, and should ask friendly countries to help in these areas. Since Ramadan starts May 27th this year, the electricity supply should be improved.

Sport is also very vital. A national conference should be held to invite stakeholders, sports administrators, athletes and sports journalists to discuss our problems, and make recommendations to revitalize the discipline.

It is essential that the new government considers that all the assets of the former president should be evaluated, and frozen where he is found wanting such as the sources of his income and wealth.

Under the new regime, we can say So Far So Good regarding relations between the press and the new government.  This cordial relationship should continue by inviting us to regular press conferences, sending us press releases (including copies of official speeches) on time and abolishing the draconian media laws.

The press should, for our part, also be responsible and professional. The government and the press need each other; we are not enemies, but partners in development.

Once more, we thank President Barrow for liberating Gambians and promoting democracy, freedom of expression and of the press. People now are sleeping well without stress of a security threat. We would, therefore, continue to advise Mr President to continue to tread the right path.

With the new government, let’s set aside our political differences, and work for a better Gambia!

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. ”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery