By Kemo Conteh
It is laughable the way UDP is weaponizing the Auditor General, and Transparency International’s reports against NPP in this high political season of crucial local government elections.
The more UDP comments on corruption in the government, the more they endorse my earlier public statement that their party is the single greatest obstruction to Gambian democracy and political clear thinking. The UDP is so angry, and so depressed, being out of government, and so empty and devoid of ideas that their entire electoral campaign strategy is driven only by an illusive and unquantifiable issue such as “corruption”. With the aid and collaboration of the media, it is easy, and cheap to play a mind game on people, and through massive misinformation and disinformation, create an imaginary state of vast corruption in the government in the national political dialogue.
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It’s not rocket science to see that this may work in the short run, but in the end, for any political party, especially the one that calls itself the “government in waiting” in the Gambia, championing a national dialogue process on alternative ideas in the transformation of education, delivery of health care, modernizing agriculture, the revitalizing the economy, protecting the environment, and diversifying tourism, etc., is a more productive and more progressive approach and contribution to national development and the political environment.
I am not condoning corruption by any means, and I am not saying that there is no corruption in the Gambia government. But check in your dictionary if you have a good one and inquire into the sociological concept of corruption. It is a complex, and highly contentious construct. In a literal sense, it is a core element in the fabric, structure and process of human society. Human beings, anywhere, will always try to get more than what they deserve.
There is no human society where there is no corruption. There is corruption in your family, in your village, your town and your city, and there is corruption in your company. There is no government or any such bureaucracy anywhere in the world, where there is no corruption. But everywhere they have tackled or are tackling the menace of corruption, the best weapon they have is democracy, the rule of law, freedom of expression (free speech), freedom of the press and access to information. None of these is in short supply in the Gambia today and that is why so much information is now available in the public space, which hither to, was not the case. Instead of building on this enviable environment that we have all toiled so hard to create in New Gambia, the main opposition is fixated on creating an illusion of misinformation and disinformation, to poison the minds of the Gambian voters against the government.
They are bent on peddling a corruption perception index, which they fed Transparency International over time with their excessive daily propaganda and wide media coverage. Transparency International only gave a global corruption perception index and placed the Gambia in a ranking based on their method of calculation. The data does not suggest the reality of corruption in the Gambia anyway. Read between the lines, what T.I. indicated there is simply a measure of the height of the national dialogue on the perceived incidence of corruption in the country. In the same vein, the UDP must stop politicizing the reports of the Auditor General as evidence of corruption in the Gambia government.
The Auditor General’s reports may have revealed some human element in the mismanagement of public funds, but with a more positive and forward-looking mind, the reports have shown more of the limited and inadequate institutional, legal and human resources capacities in the system and that is more a question for development. In the course of their work, the Office of the Auditor General highlights loopholes, and weaknesses in the financial management system of an institution, they indicate amounts of money that could not have been accounted for, as a result of weaknesses and gaps in processes and procedures, they demand for explanation from responsible officials, and they make recommendations to strengthen the system and improve operational efficiency and effectiveness. The reports of the Auditor General must not be trivialized and politicized against those in power. Those who want to be in government must work for it genuinely, they must think deeper, and offer viable solutions to the problems of our time. The Gambia is a country of laws, government will not jump on people just because their name was mentioned in an audit report. That is a recipe for chaos and disorder, which is what UDP wants. In any case, prescribed legal steps will be taken, no matter how long it takes. In the end, those found wanting will pay the price as provided for under the law.