Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) on Friday submitted an Anti-Corruption Petition to the Gambia Government, with the belief that the constitution carries within it an anti-corruption principle, much like the separation-of-powers principle, or sovereignty principle.
“It is a freestanding principle embedded in the Constitution’s structure, and should be given independent weight, like these other principles, in deciding difficult questions concerning how we govern ourselves,” the UDP Youth Wing said in a petition made available to this medium.
“Corruption has been part of our constitutional dialogue since independence but in the last 25 years, and particularly since the Janneh Commission Report, corruption has been highlighted as a scourge and as an undeniable force in enabling and entrenching dictatorship for 22 years in The Gambia. The work of the Commission also exposed the intricate nature of State Capture, and the operations of cartels and monopolies that enabled, aided, and abetted former dictator Jammeh’s reign of terror.
We recall with patriotic pride that just over six years ago, Gambians in large numbers, went to the polls and peacefully wrested political power from dictator Jammeh by electing ‘a Coalition Government’ led by Mr. Adama Barrow. At the time, Gambians genuinely believed his utterances to be credible campaign promises for the renewal of democracy, based on the rule of law and good governance for a New Gambia, with constitutional and institutional reforms.
Unfortunately, the verdict of many Gambians now is that all the campaign promises of political change and socio-economic transformation are far from being realized. The daily struggle for survival is becoming ever more intense for the vast majority of Gambians.
Gambians have been witnessing and suffering from the high cost of living, nepotism, lack of security, especially food security, high levels of corruption, and the abuse of taxpayers’ money to reward the regime’s political cronies and NPP activists and leaders who parade themselves on media to either attack the critics of the regime or stand in the way of policy or legal reforms that advance the interest of all Gambians. This is evidenced by executive abuse and manipulation of public resources which are meant to serve the interest of all Gambians.
Gambians are disenchanted with the frequency of scandals and the deteriorating state of governance in the country. The majority of Gambians are also dissatisfied with the high cost of utilities (electricity, water, and IT services), unending power outages as well as inadequate or nonexistent water supply. Other sources of frustration for Gambians are the alarming rates of youth unemployment, high taxes, the shortage and unreliability of drugs, inadequate 6 medical facilities and personnel, and a sub-standard education system, amongst many other challenges.
Therefore, following a spate of serious fraud and or corruption allegations revealed in several Reports of the Auditor General of the Gambia, We the young people of the Gambia believe that our future is being jeopardized by these corruption allegations.
We believe that to secure our collective futures we must make our concerns known to the Honourable Members of the National Assembly and His Excellency the President of the Republic of the Gambia.
The UDP Youth Wing is calling on the Gambia Government and the National Assembly to commit to making the fight against corruption a top priority. To that end, the President is urged to issue a “Certificate of Urgency” to accompany the Anti-corruption Bill currently tabled before the National Assembly and the latter is requested to pass the said bill as a matter of national emergency.
To step up the anti-corruption drive, E-Government, digitalization of the economy, and systematic use of ICT as tools for transparency and accountability, should be given priority.
For the avoidance of doubt, the UDP Youth Wing adopts the following definition of ‘Corruption’: “it is the abuse of power for private gain, including bribery, extortion, fraud, and nepotism, and embezzlement, falsification of records, kickbacks, and influence peddling”. It affects citizens’ access to basic services, contributes to resource scarcity, impoverishes the country and its citizens, debases the moral standards of our communities, and fuels tensions in society.
For six years, the nation has been rocked by scandal after scandal. These scandals range from the “anonymous donors” of vehicles to the National Assembly, the Banjul Roads Project, Semlex National Identity Card Project, the GMD 35 Million credited to the Fatoumatta Bah Barrow Foundation, Covid 19 Funds, the GMD 400+ million Gambia Ports Authority embezzlement scandal, the GMD 164 million Securiport Affair and GDM 10 million disappearances from the Global Fund, to mention a few,” the petition said.