Friday, November 6, 2009

Politicizing corruption

Any success in pulling off the desired state of affairs in Gambia is enormously dependent on a genuine disposition to hold all sections of society accountable - accountable first and foremost to our consciences. This is the only sure way through which can be reached an appreciated system of governance that is based on the true aspirations of the citizenry.

Have you ever wondered why, despite the obvious humiliation that awaits appointees into the APRC government, there has always been a pool of readily available people to hire (No disrespect to the very few trustworthy people I have come across who worked/work with the government)? It’s because the same sickness of dishonesty, treachery and hate that plague the top is what abound at almost all levels of society.

To say that Yahya Jammeh is difficult to work with will be an understatement, but it is also fair to point out that he has people who help somehow to justify his ways of doing his things. Thanks to an entrenched fidelity to selfishness, some Gambians, even if they are oppressed, as is obviously the case for most Gambians today, are better-off keeping quiet. The reason? The system in place is a perfect one for them to subsist.

The APRC as a political party is the most corrupt institution in Gambia. I say so because I have seen, heard and experienced some of it. The number and frequency of changes that has been effected by the party’s supreme can also attest to this. Or are there other reasons for those sackings? I’d like to know. Additionally, Gambia’s position at 158 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2008 corruption index speaks volume.

An abhorrent attitude of arrogance within the leadership, unfortunately, has added to the difficulties in tackling this as it has made it impossible to pass on information to relevant authorities for appropriate action. Everywhere is infiltrated by so called APRC bigwigs, actually wielding powerful influence as far as the present government is concerned. A slight demonstration of honesty on the part of anybody is enough reason to get rid of you by all necessary means. Many people, very many people, have suffered humiliation just because they saw counterproductive acts been done, and in their effort to stop it, they were branded as the bad ones.

The son of Momodou Sanyang, ‘Director-General’ of GRTS, is one such person under the protective shield of his father who is sparing no chance in exploiting his deceitful influence over a president who rules with emotion rather than wisdom. Yes, Sanyang, if his own words are to be believed, does have influence over Yahya Jammeh.

Actually this article is not about Sibi, but just to make a common reference, was it not Lamin Sibi Sanyang who got arraigned on economic crimes related charges in Banjul? And all of a sudden we saw him reappeared stronger at the same place where he purportedly committed those crimes? If the APRC government under Yahya Jammeh is actually serious about stamping out corruption, like he stated on his facebook page as his mission, ‘‘Fighting corruption, witchcraft and H.I.V,’’ Gambia’s Washington mission is a good place to work on.

Certainly pardoning someone like young Sanyang and rewarding him in this manner is not a good example at all for some one who really wants to stamp out corruption. Is it not fair to say that it is morally wrong to treat Lamin Sibi Sanyang the way he has been treated? Some other people who have had to be prosecuted on similar or lesser crimes have had to serve their terms and they never got to be reinstated. Young Sanyang r even got to see the inside of the court; he was pardoned under so-called humanitarian grounds and effectively rewarded with another position, probably higher than what he had been assigned to, in the same mission. What kind of message is Yahya Jammeh sending?

But it is obvious that that terrorist of a director general called Momodou has been able to influence many of Yahya Jammeh’s decisions no doubt, and he goes about bragging about it.

But Momodou Sanyang is just one among a club of senior people at high position who use their position to perpetuate their acts of corruption and deception.

Take for instance the Gambia Football Association (GFA), as it is the latest focus of attention, although both the government and the bunch of ham-fisted crooks that run that institution are doing all they can to redirect focus away from it, the reasons being quite obvious.

By the way, I am not one of those fanatical football lovers, but our humiliating performance in Nigeria touched me just like it certainly did all other football lovers, and it has rekindled a lot of thinking in me. In my quest to make a sense out of it, I have established some similarity to the idea of exploiting politics to perpetuate retrogression.

What operates at state level, in many respects, has quite a bearing on what goes on in places like the GFA, GNOC and the many, many other Mafia-like institutions that abound in Gambia today. These unjust people have been able to succeed in their trade by infiltrating the APRC party – most, if not all of them, are by no means loyal to neither the party nor its leadership, but to their individual interest which to them clearly supersedes that of the greater Gambian people. Unfortunately, they will always succeed in their gimmicks because of the excessive pleasure the president derives from praise singing, which many Gambians have become accustomed to.

If anything, the appalling performance of the Baby Scorpions clearly suggests that something is amiss within the sport governing body of the country. The least you would have expected of members of the GFA is resignations – at least from within the executive rank. Hasn’t some one got to take responsibility? That is the way people who have scruples operate, anyway. That way you do not only give chance to others to learn from your obvious mistakes, but you also demonstrate a feeling of remorse and responsibility.

The more I read about the team now, the more it becomes clear that since after our commendable performance in Algeria, we had been set to end the Nigeria tour dismally. And all indications are that the GFA top officials are responsible for this; no matter what they say today in defense of their records. Instead of resigning, all the GFA did was to come up with some demeaning press release, packed with boisterous vocabularies, recounting past glories. As if winning the World Cup twice in the past is reason enough for a team to perform so badly without some one having to be blamed.

My indictment of GFA officials is based on inconsistencies I have realized which apparently stemmed from their reluctance to deal properly with the so-called MRI test.

After Algeria, a responsible football association would have been able to know who among their players were likely to make it to Nigeria. In this day and age, the argument that birth certificates are not reliable isn’t a tangible excuse. Since we are talking about national issue, hospital records can be exploited to establish facts about players concerned. But this is in fact not about not knowing the age of the players; it as about timeliness. Countries like Nigeria foresaw and did what they were supposed to do. There timely action allowed them enough time to prepare their new crop of players for the good job they are doing now. As I write now, Nigeria is beating New Zealand 3-0, and there is every reason, according to the able commentator, that, that they might extend that lead. But GFA would wait for about four months – April through September, before considering wasting money to carry out the MRI test.

Having carried out the test again, GFA officials refused to disclose the result, hiding behind frivolous talks of protecting the image of Under 17 players. What image? Since when did it become a source of discomfort for one to grow older? Could there have been some hanky-panky game by the football officials? Probably that explains report that eventually emerged that the team was forced to send off four players while they were already in Nigeria. Could it be that was why GFA refused to disclose the result of the early MRI test? So that it could include players they know quite well were unqualified?

And after the team had played it second match, it emerged that in fact the fans were still in Gambia. One begins to wonder what went wrong with Yahya Jammeh’s highly publicized offer of ferrying 350 Scorpion fans. Clearly they were waiting to see if the boys would make it far before state coffers would be tapped and the entire credit given to Yahya Jammeh on his so-called humanitarian gestures. This is how he has exploited national gains in the past and made them political capital, all at the expense of a rather na├»ve segment of the youth population. And he has largely been able to succeed in doing so thanks to the corrupt and largely incompetent and shameless officials within these institutions concerned.

So if we are to stem some of Yahya Jammeh’s tricks, we should be able to focus the pressure somehow on some of these people when there is the reason.

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