Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Barrow Press Conference on Hosting the OIC Summit

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OPINION

By Musa Bassadi Jawara

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I wish to take this opportunity and record a goodwill message for the host country, the homeland, The Gambia, and the very best of luck and success in hosting the OIC Summit!

I saw highlights of the president’s press conference regarding the summit, and he expressed disappointment in his government’s failure to build 5-star hotel accommodations for visiting heads of state. This was a lost opportunity of mega proportions for The Gambia and it’s inexcusable. How many Gambian youths could have been employed in this facility and the boost to the tourism sector, if it had been built?

Senegal, a binary host of the OIC Summit, which led to the transformation of the infrastructural landscape of Dakar into a modern city: two grand hotels built and a magnificent road network amongst other things of sizable national benefit. Senegal’s diplomatic muscles and intellectual capacity are far superior to their Gambian counterparts, without a doubt palpable, but I don’t agree. Gambian authorities were naive and incompetent to squander the calling of the moment. Period! Why Gambia did not take maximum advantage of this once-in-a-century or millennium opportunity, baffled me!

I’m not privy to all the details that led to the failure of the building of the Radisson hotel in Bijilo, but awarding the contract to a Senegalese businessman with a checkered history and abominable reputation did not help at all.

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How many well-deserving Gambian entrepreneurs whose characters and reputations are beyond reproach did the Barrow government bypass before awarding the contract to the Senegalese? Who recommended this Senegalese businessman to Gambian authorities and under what arrangements? A Gambian businessman dare not dream about winning a contract award for a car garage in Dakar, lest a public accommodation hotel of zero-star!

It’s open public knowledge and tremendous consternation in media outlets’ reports at the time the Senegalese businessman was in Gambian Courts litigating an embarrassing affair with a young woman exposing salacious details. It’s not an area I would like to discuss, but this was the man tasked to build accommodations for the leaders of the Muslim world and you are under the delusion that they don’t know? It’s shameful!

What the Gambian authorities don’t know and have no inkling of an idea about is that the leaders attending the Summit have their embassy staff and agents on the ground in the host country for months and years transmitting reports to their respective capitals about the event. Who knows the headquarters of OIC in Saudi Arabia, has information about the contractor of Radisson Blu Bijilo and, it played a part in the cancellation of the implementation of the hotel project. What a lost opportunity and it was dereliction beyond belief.

The Gambian question is very sad!

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