Accountability, transparency and probity are fundamental hallmarks for fostering democracy, justice and sustainable development. As such, any public figure is subjected to scrutiny by both genuine allies and sceptics to ensure abuses of office incubating corruption are kept afar.
However, holding a public figure accountable is decked on ethical and professional principles marking a rigid contour segregating public from private matters. Oftentimes, not every critic is mindful of such delicacy in the heat of a moment. As a people muzzled and coerced to endure all forms of horrific abuse by a brutal dictator for 22 years without an opportunity to hold it accountable, when an opportunity arises, we slip and trip in holding our new leadership to account. Thus, it is not uncommon to bump on instances where public figures’ personal and intimate issues are taken to the launderette in an attempt to expose supposedly an abuse of office.
Furthermore, to be the only female Mayoress in the pantheon of a patriarchal political landscape the humps one has to cross are numerous and exhausting. Such is the fate of Rohey Malick Lowe, often revered as “Burr Banjul”. Anyone that is conversant with the campaign leading to her election victory knows her journey was bumpy and coloured with bullying. But in an era of free press nestled on scrutinising and holding public figures accountable, Burr Banjul had no choice but to brace herself to ensure her survival in a Male-chauvinist society until our political consciousness makes her male colleagues learn to live together, levelling out national distinctions and taking steps toward inclusive governance, she would continue to be an easy target for patriarchal sceptics.
To all of this, ‘Burr Banjul’ showed up with a bucket of cold water refusing to disappear within water-carriers for male politicians. Demonstrating her leadership with a difference that she welcomes divergent views and positive criticism, she opened herself and the council to public scrutiny by introducing a suggestion box for the general public to send in their views, suggestions and reservations about what they think of the work of the council and its staff.
This amplifies she never weighs in on rumours about her honesty and passion to dismantle the political patriarch oftentimes reducing her likes to water carriers and that proverbial woman behind a successful man. Admirably, despite repeated attacks on her person and leadership by her critics, her steadfastness and proactive leadership rose several octaves in brandishing her as an au fait tolerant, transparent and democratic leader.
As a leader who does not pull out a rabbit from a hat at the last minute, she is proactive in planning diligently for strategic sustainable development. Hence, in taking stock of grounds gained under her stewardship, Rohey Malick Lowe deducted, “I personally feel my expectations are little bit higher than we have achieved but I am happy too that it was not because of lack of trying. I have taken a vow to deliver on our manifesto and as much as I can look back on some solid tangible achievement, I still think we could have done better as I am not one who gets easily satisfied.” Perhaps, this explains her leadership style and governance in transforming the very institution of the BCC.
She kick-started with the restructuring of the Council by establishing the Office of Deputy Chief Executive Officer and the Records Office to properly handle the institution’s daily transactions to ensure an efficient and functioning council. Another colourful feather on the Mayoress hat was the rejuvenation of the council’s finances from insolvency by settling all its bank debts, restoring of electricity and water supply from NAWEC. As a goodwill gesture, she benevolently increased the salary of her staff by 50%. Furthermore, to combat and minimise fraudulent schemes shrouding tax and revenue collection, she introduced the provision of risk allowances to all her revenue collectors followed by spontaneous checks on procedural adherence.
Her resilience and resolve to give back to Banjulians, ‘Burr Banjul’ appreciates the decaying city infrastructure needs a facelift to fit the scale of a modern city. As a starter, she projects that the population of her city will grow by multiple folds in coming years. Additionally, the century old Albert Market remains the most sought-after place especially during feast days when thousands would flood the capital city to shop.
As the market’s infrastructure desperately needed rejuvenation more than ever before, naturally, the BCC directed funds to upgrade the market’s facilities to make life easy and comfortable for both traders and visitors. The Council embarked on a massive upgrading of facilities in the market through the construction of an abattoir and modern toilets as well as stores and vending slabs for the women. The BCC also prides itself in not only building a modern facility for its head quarters but also the construction of the multi-purpose Excellence Centre for the youths of Banjul.
From the aforesaid, it is not blasphemous to assert Rohey Malick Lowe deserves support from all genuine Gambians and friends of the Gambia. Surprisingly, Burr Banjul had never hid behind the gender seal to galvanise support and sympathy. She carries her head shoulder high as an equal competitor with her male counterparts in executing her job role as ‘Burr Banjul’. In sum, if you cannot support her, please don’t throw a spanner on her wheel of achievements. To Burr Banjul I will remind with what Mufti Menk tersely said, “Understand that your success will bother some people. In fact, it will offend those who want to control you. They will go out of their way to tarnish your reputation and spread untruths about you. Don’t worry about them. They have no power over you. The Almighty will see to it”.