Good Morning Mr. President,

It has been a little over a week since I sent you my first epistle in this series. It is tough to maintain a weekly publication of essays but I had to get back to my keyboard because I made a #promise to write to you on a weekly basis and readers would expect to see my letters. Indeed the saying “a promise is a promise” is worth bearing in mind. We cannot accuse you of breaking your “3-years” promise and renege on our own promises.

I must commend you, Sir, for the moves your government has made since my first letter which was focused on the Coronavirus outbreak and the need for your government to up the game regarding this danger.

I have heard about the collaboration between your Tourism Ministry and the health authorities in a bid to keep our hotels safe. This is highly commendable; moreover, I have seen testimonies from people who have crossed the border into The Gambia by land and sea and they have testified that there is a lot of serious activity by our health authorise in screening and preparing people coming into the country and I must commend you for this.
Another important and commendable decision your government has taken is to declare a travel ban for public servants. This is good not only for our health but also the struggling national budget.

However, the timing of the travel ban is a bit suspect. The ban was declared only after you left with large delegation to Senegal (a country that has confirmed numerous cases of the Coronavirus) for a summit. Travelling with a delegation of 44 people into a country with confirmed cases of this deadly virus is not the smartest thing to do Your Excellency. Declaring a travel ban after you and your team received the hefty per diem allowances that come with such foreign trips could be tantamount to the situation described by the Mandinka proverb ‘ali nga tabaa bula; fulehwo bay daa’ (you are calling on people to stop using snuff while the snuff bottle is dangling in your own mouth).

Anyway, at least you have done something and we only hope that there will be no complacency in the implementation of the measures recommended by your government.
I commend you for all the moves made so far and pray that Allah strengthens your hand in the implementation of strategies to protect our country and her people from the menace of the Coronavirus.

But one more thing Mr. President: you would recall that I pleaded with you to suspend your activities upcountry that brought together crowds for your inauguration of projects. Your colleague across the border has just declared a ban on public gatherings for a month just to make sure the Senegalese people are safe. Media reports have revealed that “President Macky Sall on Saturday announced strict measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus, including banning public gatherings, closing schools and cancelling April 4 Independence Day festivities.” Can you take a lesson from that Mr. President.

Your Excellency, I am not in anyway suggesting that your staff at the Presidency should rush to copy Macky Sall’s declaration verbatim and change the address to “State House, Banjul”; but I am sending a hint that, at the very least, you suspend all your activities that would create crowds and expose your own citizens to unwarranted danger.

God bless you Mr. President and may Allah bless and protect our dear country and all her citizens.

Yours,
In the Service of the Nation
Momodou Sabally
Former Presidential Affairs Minister, S.G and Head of the Civil Service