By Nelson Manneh
The Youth Wing of the United Democratic Party (UDP) on Friday 10th March 2023, submitted a petition to the Gambia Government through the Ministry of Justice, and handed a copy to the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly through the Clerk. The petition was eventually submitted after a two hour protest organised by the UDP youth wing, regarding an end to the ongoing corruption investigations in the country, by the Government of the Gambia.
Protesters walked from Bund Road to the National Assembly building in Banjul chanting that “corruption kills democracy”. The protesters accuse the current Government of President Barrow as being the worst, since the Gambia attained independence.
“Barrow’s Government is the worst government that ever existed in the Gambia. The Ministry of Health is pocketing public funds and Barrow is not doing anything to put an end to it,” the protesters told reporters.
The petition submitted by the United Democratic Party (UDP) youth wing spoke on things such as the separation-of-powers or sovereignty, that is embedded in the Constitution and should be given weight in deciding how we govern ourselves. The petitioners said corruption has been part of the constitutional dialogue since independence but it has been highlighted as a scourge and as an undeniable force in enabling and entrenching dictatorship for twenty two years in the country. According to the protesters, Gambians went to the polls in their numbers and peacefully wrestled political power from the former regime, by democratically electing ‘a Coalition Government’ led by Mr. Adama Barrow. That at the time, Gambians genuinely believed his utterances to fulfill his 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. That 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, with the daily struggle for survival becoming even more difficult for the vast majority of Gambians.
The protesters said Gambians now witness and suffer from the high cost of living, nepotism, lack of food security, high levels of corruption, abuse of taxpayers money to reward political cronies who attack the critics of the regime or stand in the way of policy or legal reforms that will advance the interest of all Gambians. That this is evidenced by executive abuse and manipulation of public resources meant to serve the interest of all Gambians, who are disenchanted with the frequency of scandals and the deteriorating state of governance in the country.
The protesters further indicate that due to the spate of serious fraud and or corruption allegations revealed in recent reports of the Auditor General of the Gambia, the future of young people is being jeopardized by these allegations.
The UDP Youth Wing calls on the Gambia Government and Members of the National Assembly to commit to the fight against corruption and make it a top priority; That for six years, the nation has been rocked by scandal upon scandal, ranging from the “anonymous donors” of vehicles to National Assembly members, 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 Securicor Affair and GDM 10 million disappearances from the Global Fund, just to menttion a few. The petioners said they hope and pray that the President and members of the National Assembly:
1) hear and consider this petition.
2) direct the Audit General to conduct special audits exercises in view of all the foregoing issues raise in this petition; and
3) directs the Attorney General and Inspector General of Police to investigate whether any criminal offences arise from the facts set out in this petition and take appropriate action thereon.