HELLO MR PRESIDENT…

Among the numerous issues we blamed and fought Yahya Jammeh for was the claim that his government was not transparent. We all claimed that the previous government kept its cards close to its chest and citizens could not get any information about important issues concerning them. Unfortunately, a year and more after defenestrating Yahya Jammeh, the issue of transparency is still a huge problem. Government officials are always reluctant to divulge information to citizens. Whether this is out of fear or something else, the jury is still out on that.

Last week, there were reports that some heavily armed Senegalese forestry officials entered into Gambian territory in a village near Jarra Bureng in the Lower River region and seized some logs from ‘illegal loggers’. The reports said that the Senegalese officials were willing to fight to take the logs, but the Gambian officials caved and allowed them to take the logs to avoid violence.

On receiving this information, I called the man in charge of the Forestry Department in the Lower River Region, one Bakary Dibba and asked him about it. He confirmed that he was on the ground but could not give me any details as he was working under the Director of Forestry who could perhaps give me the information I needed. I called the Director one Mr Muhammad Jaiteh, but he also told me that he had been out of the country when it happened and was not fully briefed. He referred me to the governor of LRR. When I called the governor, she also said that she was still waiting for the report from Forestry officials.

This is a cause for concern. How do we allow security officials from another country to come into our territory with weapons to arrest or seize something (whatever it is) from people? If this is true (and it is difficult to verify if government officials remain tight-lipped) then it violates our sovereignty. Even if criminals enter the Gambia after having committed a crime in Senegal, the right thing would be for Gambian security officers to arrest them and hand them over, but not for the Senegalese to come to the Gambia.

During my investigations, I also learnt that the governments of the Gambia and Senegal have signed an agreement which allows Senegalese soldiers to enter into the Gambia in the vicinity of Bwiam in Foni to pursue illegal loggers. Whether this is legal or not is not the issue here; the issue is that the government entering into such agreements without the public having full knowledge of it. This is the same thing that happened on the issue of the electricity supply from SENELEC. The full details of this agreement are not known to the people of the Gambia.

Communication is very important, and every government must ensure that the communication between them and the masses is as smooth as possible. The duty of government is twofold: protect its citizens and fulfil their needs. In order to do that well, they must communicate with the people. Whatever a government does is – should be – for the benefit of its citizens. It is therefore important that the citizens are consulted and/or kept fully informed, as much as possible.
Have a Good Day Mr President…
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen