OPINION | Gambia: A Hub for Corruption
By Ebrima L. Dampha
Corruption has been part of social interaction since the beginning of humanity. People have always wheeled and dealed, given and taken, sought position, benefits, and privileges. Even in contemporary academic literature, it has been widely contested, especially in debates around New Public Management (NPM). However, in our country, it is a the new normal. - That is to say, people are proud to be corrupt, fearless of being reprimanded, and happy of being publicly finger-pointed as corrupt officials. Are we going to continue? If we do, then we are trekking a route of an unimaginable quagmire.
Piling and sharing the nations land and resources, bribery, extortion, conflict of interest, public officials hiring one’s own company for government contracts, hiring unqualified friends or family members for government jobs, allocating contracts worth millions to compatriots for kickbacks, and many more is the norm and values in our county. All this is at the top! Mr. President, if your head is corruptly poisonous, the entire country shall be corruptly intoxicated. Is it not going to change? If it does not, then we are trekking a route of an unimaginable quagmire.
How can a nation like the Gambia allocate at least two vehicles to State Ministers, fueled by state resources for what are beautifully called ‘official and utility cars’ when public hospitals are shut of Ambulances? What is been utilized and for what purpose? How can a 14 days perdiem of a Minister be more than the 12-month salary of a teacher, nurse, police officer and other junior civil servants? How Mr. President? Are we trekking a route of an unimaginable quagmire?
How can farmers, gardeners, and natives of a village lose their lands not for social amenities purposes, but to top-level bureaucrats and state Ministers who are already in possession of countless lands and compounds? This is a total insult to the entire country, and a gigantic affront to the realities of our current economic situation. Are we now a true animal farm? What is left for poor citizens, what is left for people who have no relatives in corridors of power, what is left for us? What is LEFT???? Mr. President! Why does the distance between the privilege and the underprivileged keep on widening? Why? Are we trekking a route of an unimaginable quagmire?
Serious economies supply tools for the better understanding of the precursors and distributional effects that flow from corruption, and devise all means to book perpetrators. For example, in some countries, corruption amounts to death sentence, others will name and shame perpetrators thereby forcing them to resign, others will dismiss and terminate their services, but Gambia and Gambians will celebrate them, invite them as guest speakers, place them on high tables and felicitate them as State Ministers. What is wrong with us? Are we happy to throw ourselves in a pool of sharks? But hey, are we trekking a route of an unimaginable quagmire?
But Mr. president, I am happy to inform you that corruption might hurt the governed, but it adversely undermines governance. No serious country can triumph over its development challenges if it does not load its arsenal to fight the worst invincible enemy, corruption. If you do not hold the stirring wheel and abort this journey, you might cannon yourself into an inescapable room. And when that happens, the route will be unceremoniously abolished, and your close passengers will leave you in solo. Before then, man up, and be the Head of state. Mr. President, I am not insinuating but this journey might not be even shutdown by an electoral college. But Mr. President, only if you understand what I meant.
Mr. President, abort the mission! We are trekking a route of an unimaginable quagmire.
Ebrima L. Dampha
London School of Economics and Political Science- LSE