#Article (Archive)

One more thing

Nov 15, 2012, 8:42 AM

So Bala Garba Jahumpa is now the new Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure - Welcome!

We also welcome his new colleague at Foreign Affairs – Susan Wafa Ogoo. We rejoice with both of you for returning to a familiar terrain - having served in Cabinet before.

We think that these are the two most sensitive Cabinet posts at the moment. Why?

Because with the Gambia’s image being assailed in the international media, government needs some of the most astute minds in the country to fend off the unrelenting assault. Whether Mr Jahumpa and Mrs Wafa Ogoo are up to the task remains to be seen.

Both ministries have to work closely together to formulate a strategy to re-brand our beloved country, whose reputation as the haven of peace and stability in Africa is now under attack in the international media.

And because the Gambia depends heavily on tourism for most of our foreign exchange earnings, we have to be mindful of how we are seen in the international arena.

With all the nasty media attention the country draws of recent, it is time it was ended. This is a challenge for both ministers.

We urge the new minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure to see journalists as partners in development, not as enemies. It is for this reason that we implore him to create the enabling environment for journalists to work without fear or intimidation. This he can do by assisting the independent media to have access to information.

He can also work for the repeal of the Criminal Amendment Act 2004 and the Newspaper Registration Act 2004. Both laws hamper our practice as journalists in this country.

As journalists, we are concerned about the environment in which we operate.

Even though journalists are generally perceived, in some quarters, as troublemakers. It is through our activities that the world gets to know what is happening, where, why and by whom.

Because the truth is sometimes difficult to swallow, those who at times engage in dubious deals brand us as troublemakers or even enemies.

To be sure, there would be chaos around the world without journalists, as people wouldn’t know what is happening next door. And what do we get in most instances for our efforts?

Arrests, arbitrary detention, closure of newspapers and broadcasting stations, harassment, torture and even assassinations!

The Independent newspaper, Citizen FM, Sud FM and now The Standard and The Daily News newspapers, as well as Taranga FM radio station remain closed. This is, no doubt, not a good image for the country.

The more newspapers we have in this country, the better because what one newspaper may suppress, another paper will blow up. In this way, the government and the general public know virtually everything that is going on in the public domain.

We likewise appeal to the new Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to work even harder on our bilateral relations with other countries in the sub-region, especially Senegal, our next door neighbour.

Many cooperation agreements have been signed over the years, but not much has been done to see them through.

“Truth exists; only lies are invented.”

Georges Braque