Dr. Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe, Former Minister Of Foreign Affairs .
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By Fatou Sillah
Dr. Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe, Former Foreign Affairs Minister and Diplomat, in an interview with Kerr Fatou, said that the Gambia is not ready to host the OIC summit scheduled for December 2023.
“To be very frank with you, we are not ready for it, and we bungled it all up right from the start. And the OIC is in the know. When they first started with all these great ambitions for the Gambia, initially, we had even a greater opportunity than Senegal with a smaller country, and OIC would have built all these things for us—roads, infrastructure, hotels, and so on and so forth, and even more than that if we were rigorous.
“The bad signal that was sent to the OIC was when the first director of the entire project was told to leave for the simple reason that he wanted to be able to do the job and to be in control of the contracts that were taking place so that he could also be able to keep to the timing. But then they requested the funds should come through the ministry of finance, and he is not a naive person, so he thought there is something wrong somewhere. And there, again, unfortunately, is the bad type of information or misinformation that is given to Barrow, and he trusted the people around him to guide him badly,” he said.
When asked about President Barrow’s assurances to the OIC assessment team that The Gambia is ready to host the OIC summit, Dr. Jobe said that the government was wrong to give such an assurance, as most of the infrastructure needed to host a successful summit is not yet in place.
“The hotel that was to be built should have been completed by now, but from now to 6 months, they cannot build it. It was wrong for the government to assure the OIC that we were ready for this. We are unfortunately losing a lot of our clout and our influence in the international field, and for this reason, we shouldn’t add the OIC to it,” he warned.
Dr. Jobe said that if he were advising the president, he would recommend that the president inform the OIC that we cannot host the summit this year. He would also ask the president to request that the OIC give us the opportunity to host the summit a few years down the road, when we have the necessary infrastructure in place. Dr. Jobe would further suggest that we seek the OIC’s assistance in helping us to get the necessary infrastructure in place.
“If I were the one advising the president, it is now that you can save your honour by telling them, unfortunately, we have got part of the infrastructure. It is the intention of the Gambia to hold the summit, but as a small country we will be very grateful if for the next two years you could be able to go elsewhere, that will give us enough time to train our staff, to have all the infrastructure that we need so that we could hold a memorable OIC meeting in The Gambia. We have to say it and we have to say it now, otherwise it will be a source of a lot of embarrassment” he said.
Dr. Jobe made these comments during an interview with Kerr Fatou, which covered a wide range of foreign policy issues, from the expulsion of four Gambian diplomats from the Gambian embassy in the United States to the recent appointment of the former chairman of Brikama Area Council as protocol and welfare officer to the Gambia’s embassy in Turkey.