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President Jammeh Tough On Corruption, Other Critical Issues

Jun 8, 2009, 7:12 AM

President Jammeh has once again pronounced that the time has come when he would no longer allow corruption of any form.

"There would be no tolerance of lackadaisical, corrupt and dubious attitude in government," he said.

"You either work or you go home. I am not going to compromise on anything this time, and appeals will not be accepted," he added.

President Jammeh was speaking recently in an exclusive interview with GRTS.

He said that many would not understand why he fires ministers so frequently.

He said that he has to put his hand in every project that is not under the President's Office so as to enable them move forward.

He said: "Let me tell you how frustrating this is. I go around the world talking to my colleagues, looking for funds, grants and soft loans to change the image of this country, to improve the living conditions of Gambians.

He said for certain projects; he has "to give a deadline that if the project did not start heads would roll". He said there are many who play hide and seek game. He then cited the proposed new National Assembly building project which he said the Indian Government gave the loan for its construction. He revealed that the Indian policy is that it must be through a competitive bidding open to all Indian companies. He added that despite the fact that the Indian Government told them that after a number of months, if this is not implemented, they would not extend it and The Gambia would loose the money. "I have to pass a deadline and threaten somebody twice that this must be done quickly so that we can get an Indian consultant to start to work on the tender documents so that we can start the National Assembly building - Up to now that has not been done," he stressed.

"I have 1.6 million Gambians to choose from. All what I want is people to do their job," he remarked. He added that one of the reasons why he often does spot check is to go and see for himself, for as he put it, if he sits down "they tell him everything is fine when nothing is fine".

"If you have noticed, at no time since 1994, have we given a date for 'Dialogue with the people tour' and it is not postponed once or twice, because when they tell me something is ready, it is not ready. They find technical reasons to postpone it so that things are sorted out".

"What is even apparent is ordinary Gambians even know that most of my officials are not working," he stated.

He said every week at least Minister travels out of the country, so that they would get per-diem. As he put it, "so that if they have to go to a commission they would say they got their things from per-diems".

He said that he knows of ministers that close at 2 p.m. when he is out of the country, adding there are some who work only when he is around.

"Nobody can fool me in this country. My intention for the country is very clear. I did not come to make money. I have come to develop the country at all cost.

"If you want to make money, make money legally; that is your salary and what is your entitlements," he said. 

"I am not saying nobody should not make money. You should make money legally. You must earn it and respectfully," he said.

He maintained that he did not just go on to meet the people because it is a constitutional requirement, but because it is his duty to go and listen to people he works for.

"I feel like I am a servant of the people. And to serve the people properly, to serve them well to their satisfaction, you have to know what they need that's why I go round to meet them," Jammeh maintained.  

He said that public servants should believe in the principles of truth, honesty, loyalty and integrity. He maintained that one's best marabout is one's positive attitude. "Do what is right, God will protect you," he stated. He said the announced imminent government shake-up would not only be limited to cabinet ministers, but all the government machinery.

On the killing of Deyda Hydara, C0- Publisher and Managing Editor of the Point Newspaper, who was shot in December 2004, President Jammeh affirmed his government's clean hands over his killing.

"At that time also I was supposed to be Chairman of ECOWAS when Deyda Hydara was shot. And they said it was the Gambia Government. Ah, Yahya Jammeh killed him. And up to now one of these stupid Websites carries 'Who Killed Deyda Hydara, let them go and ask Deyda Hydara who killed him," he stated.

On reported killings of Ghanaians in The Gambia, which he described as a very sad episode, President Jammeh said that the Gambia is now vindicated over the killings either directly or indirectly by the UN report.

He said "it started with the killing of Deyda Hydara and then the border closure by the Senegalese and when they failed then the killings of the Ghanaians, then the coup attempt. All that was before 2006 when The Gambia was to host the AU".

"It was a combination of factors. Gambia was supposed to host the OIC, they were supposed to host the AU and we were also saying little Gambia can be a permanent member of the Security Council. Because of that a few heads of states, 10 percent of heads of state of Africa, ganged up against The Gambia. So one thing after the other".

He said Mauritania and Ghana were Gambia's best allies in West Africa and those behind the killings of the Ghanaians thought that would create problems between the two countries. He said "all these happened based on a campaign against The Gambia for The Gambia not to host the AU Summit."

He said his government has accepted to exhume the bodies and to contribute towards the funerals out of humanitarian grounds and African sprit of solidarity and not compensation.

"And I made it very clear, once they say compensation, we'll not accept because we are not responsible for their deaths.

"There is no evidence that they died in The Gambia. What we believe is that the bodies were brought to The Gambia and put at Ghana Town," he said.