By Madi Jobarteh

Let Pres. Adama Barrow be informed that Democracy is the best tool to combat corruption contrary to his unfounded narrative that Democracy is an obstacle to tackle corruption. This is what Pres. Barrow said in an interview with EyeAfrica few days ago,

“You know in a democracy is not easy. If democracy was easy nobody will be encouraged to respect democracy. It is because is difficult. If it’s dictatorship you can go and arrest people, jail them, you do that. But now you cannot do that. What you do is you follow due process”.

This narrative shows the President is either totally ignorant about Democracy or he is trying to encourage corruption in the land or both. If the President of the Republic does not understand how Democracy works but thinks that Dictatorship is the solution to corruption then the country is in a dangerous situation.

Can Pres. Barrow tells us which Dictator and Dictatorship anywhere in history that was not corrupt to the core. For example, in the Gambia, it was clear that the most corrupt person was Despot Yaya Jammeh as evidenced from the Janneh Commission and as the ongoing TRRC continues to reveal. It was obvious that Yaya Jammeh only pretended to fight corruption by targeting certain individuals and companies but he was never anti-corruption. In fact, Yaya Jammeh is the incarnation of Corruption.

Around the world, it is obvious that past dictators like Mobutu of Zaire, Idi Amin of Uganda or Sani Abacha of Nigeria were as corrupt as present-day dictators like Idris Deby of Chad, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo or Faure Gnassimbe of Togo just to name a few. So, where on this earth has Pres. Barrow seen a Dictator who is not corrupt to the core?

Secondly who told Pres. Barrow that in a Democracy one cannot arrest and prosecute corrupt public officials? Has Pres. Barrow looked into democratic societies to see how they are fighting corruption? If you go to France, you will find that a few weeks ago the police had raided the homes of the current health minister and other public officials for mismanaging COVID response in France?

Across many European democracies, one could see how public officials and wealthy business people are arrested, prosecuted and jailed for corruption. Yet Pres. Barrow said Democracy is an obstacle to combating corruption. How?

Democracy is designed to serve four major purposes. That is, to promote transparency and accountability. Secondly, to ensure efficient delivery of public services. Third, to promote popular participation, and fourthly to combat corruption and abuse of office and any other violations. This is because Democracy is based on a rule of law that ensures that citizens and public officials always act according to the law.

Hence if anyone violates the law such as embezzling public funds or stealing private property then that person has violated the law and should be arrested and prosecuted. This is what Democracy is all about. This is what the Constitution and the laws of the Gambia say. So, how could Barrow say Democracy cannot be used to fight corruption?

But the fact is that so far Pres. Barrow has refused to enforce the Constitution and laws of the Gambia such that public officials will violate the law without any accountability. That is impunity. Therefore, we should not allow Barrow to ridicule Democracy by hiding his failure to enforce the law to combat corruption.

What Barrow has manifested is that he is protecting corrupt officials and promoting corruption in the Gambia. Otherwise the Constitution and the laws of the Gambia within the framework of Democracy have given him all the powers and tools to tackle corruption. But the President has refused to do that and now wants to blame Democracy. This is why, just like Yaya Jammeh, Pres. Barrow has until now also failed to set up an anti-corruption agency.

Is it that Adama Barrow is telling us that until we have Dictatorship, he cannot fight corruption in his Government? Then why did we remove Yaya Jammeh and voted for him? If Dictatorship is the best tool to fight corruption then why was the regime of Yaya Jammeh so corrupt? Or is Barrow seeking to be a Dictator onto us?

I hereby demand that Pres. Adama Barrow withdraw that irresponsible, misleading, dishonest and horrible statement that Democracy is an obstacle to fighting corruption. I order him to get up and enforce the full force of the laws of the Gambia by arresting all public officials found to be corrupt. He has all the evidence because his Government has set up a lot of commissions so far that have found many public officials to be corrupt.

It is not only Bamba Banja, but what about the other officials mentioned in the recent audit report of the 7 SOEs that found massive corruption in public enterprises? What about the Janneh Commission Report? What about the D35M in the FABB account? What about the anonymous donors? What about the diplomatic passports? What about the fertilizer scandal? What about the corruption in sand mining? What about the contracts for Semlex, telecoms, EU fishing, Chinese fishmeal companies and Banjul road project among others?

The Government of Pres. Adama Barrow is corrupt to the core and he knows it. The laws are clear as to how to tackle corruption in the most democratic manner. Yet Pres. Barrow has refused to enforce the laws but only seeks to blame Democracy and prefer Dictatorship! Let it be clear to all that Adama Barrow does not want to fight corruption because all around him is CORRUPTION! This is indeed disgraceful.

For The Gambia Our Homeland