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Opinion: On His First 100 Days In Office: Letter To The President

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Hon. Momodou Sabally Former Budget Director & Minister For Presidential Affairs.

Your Excellency,

I salute you as you clock 100 days in office since your inauguration for a second second term.

There were hopes from some quarters that you would swiftly rectify your many mistakes and open a new page for a more effective and cleaner government, providing better living conditions for the very people who purportedly voted for you during the disputed December 4, election.

But Lo, and behold; with all due respect, your scorecard is not looking good Sir.

Your Excellency, it is quite obvious that my words would not be music to your ears; and I would not blame you for being suspicious of my analysis of your first 100 days in office. Surely I was a key supporter of your principal opponent during the December battle.

So let me spare you much of my own opinion. I would rather take my cue from sources within your own government, your beleaguered party, the NPP; as well as your trusted development partners.

From all indications, your record has left much to be desired; further taking semblance with the description made by the poet, W. B Yeats in his immutable lines pennned in “The Second Coming”:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”

Your Excelency the most critical issue for Gambians right now is the economy. But what is your record in that matter as at now? The galloping inflation that I have now renamed #Barrowflation is spreading like a cancer. From the mouth of your own Central Bank Governor during his most recent press release published, February 23, 2022, here’s a quick assessment of the real issue:

“CPI inflation increased by 5.0 percentage points month-on-month to 7.6 percent in December 2021 and from 5.6 percent in December 2020. The acceleration in headline inflation was mainly driven by rise in food prices associated with supply constraints and domestic structural bottlenecks.” This is the situation as we speak at the beginning of your new mandate driven by actions taken during the preceding months.

From another source that you cannot dispute or blackmail, the World Bank states, in their most recent assessment of our economy: “The fiscal deficit doubled to 4.4% of GDP as capital expenditure accelerated, mainly for locally funded infrastructure projects, and tax revenues and grant decline.”

Verily, actions within the macroeconomic framework, have real life consequences. As the Nigerian author Ola Rotimi’s play title indicates “The Gods are not to Blame”. The current symptoms of macroeconomic instability manifest the misguided steps you and your Finance Minister have been taking over the past years.

The latest inflation number from the Central Bank’s official website put it at 8.2% for March of this year; against 7.4% during the corresponding period in 2021.

Your Excellency, The National Audit Office has just released damning reports clearly indicating the kleptocratic nature of your government; as exemplified by your own office and the Health Ministry. A news item by the Standard newspaper quoting your own auditor general shocked the nation with this revelation:

“The National Audit Office’s summarised audit report on government’s 2017 financial statements has revealed that government made withdrawals amounting to D669 million without approval from the Accountant General. The report said the money was withdrawn from “Special Security” accounts which were closed on its [NAO] recommendations but were reopened with the same account name but with a different account number.”

As if the financial catastrophes were not enough, your government is also tearing apart our social fabric. With the vitriolic and incendiary tribal remarks that marked your Presiential campaign, spearheaded by your own septuagenarian special adviser, Dembo by Force, one would have thought that you and your team would make amends in the aftermath of the disputed Presidential election. But your adviser doubled down on his incendiary remarks as we went into the parliamentary election cycle and you made no attempt to correct him, indicating your acquiescence.

Our national security situation has also plummeted to unprecedented levels during your this unenviable first 100 days of your second term.

The people of Foni are going through a security nightmare because of your involvement in President Macky Sall’s war with the Southern Senegal separatist forces. Gunfire from Cassamance targeting Senegalese forces stationed in The Gambia has created more than 5000 internally displaced people. Schools were closed in Foni for weeks and National Assembly elections were almost postponed there for the same reason

Mr. President, at 100 days in office you have achieved nothing; rather, you have given us a signal as to how life is going to be worse for the average Gambian during your second term.

Prices of basic necessities are skyrocketing, corruption and crime are on the rise with startling daily news headlines. Consequently, Gambians have manifested their dissatisfaction with your leadership with the poor showing of your NPP during the recent National Assembly election.

Moreover, there is clear internal disgruntlement within your party as members launch what they have labeled “Operation Cleanse NPP”.

Your appointment of a National Assembly Speaker who is clearly opposed to the (stalled) draft constitution, also signals the death of the hopes of the people for a new constitution that is supposed to enhance the democratic space with better system of checks and balances in the national power structure.

Sir, with all these realities staring you in the face, I am wondering if you can sleep at night?

I pray that Allah makes it easy for you to carry this burden; for the old saying is truth “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

God bless The Gambia.

Yours Truly,
Momodou Sabally
The people’s MP

Former research economist and National Budget Director, Momodou Sabally has undergone extensive professional training in macroeconomics and public financial management at the IMF Institute, the Central Bank of England’s Center for Central Banking Studies, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and holds a masters degree in Economics from Georgia State University in the US.

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