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President Barrow Shortchanges Gambians’ Lives And Their Religious Freedom For Political Purposes…

Zakaria Kemo Konteh
Zakaria Kemo Konteh

When the State of Emergency was declared by the President, we applauded him for recognizing the seriousness, contagion and lethal effect of Covid-19 pandemic. We were cautiously impressed that Government was taking necessary measures to protect our people while mobilizing and freeing up resources to help ease the attendant economic burden. In a small economy like ours, we anticipated some of the scorching financial implications our people would have to endure. But we were prepared to live with than than losing hundreds of our fellow citizens to the deadly virus onslaught.

To compliment government’s efforts in such a critical and dire time, Gambians took it upon themselves to seek funds and deliver needed assistance directly to the people. The evidence of Gambians’ inherent care and generosity was on full, unmistakable display. Within weeks, hundreds of thousands of Dalasi was mobilized and young men and women volunteers led the honorable and inspiring efforts to reach out to the individual households for distribution. Communities came together to help each other in any way they could. Some political parties, notably UDP & GDC undertook active steps to support municipalities. It was truly a Gambian affair driven by our collective desire to be there for each other in uncertain times.

We again gave the President the benefit of the doubt when he disagreed with the National Assembly to extend the State of Emergency. He told us that he could not sit by , with clear conscience, and not act when the lives of our citizens were at stake. He is empowered by the Constitution to unilaterally act. He did. The National Assembly’s opposition was arguably valid. Enforcement mechanism of the State of Emergency was almost non existent and the Frontline workers were neither being protected enough nor paid enough. The mounting financial strain on the alreay struggling population was never factored into nor cared for by the government. The president ultimately had the last laugh and extended the SoPE.

But the President, as he has demonstrated numerous times, is incapable of offering serious leadership required of a Commander-in-chief. Instead of thanking Gambians for their individual and collective endeavors, his administration regarded them as political competitors out there to outshine him. The consequence of a sitting president competing against his own people is far reaching! Not only was it unnecessarily slow to put things together due to various mechanics of politics, it took them forever to deliver food aid to people. Established protocols and non partisan avenues were by-passed to give prominence, latitude and overall command and control to the President’s political allies in every chain of the distribution. Had Gambians been relying exclusively on their government, we would have witnessed unprecedented cases of hunger related deaths in our communities.

Truth is, Barrow’s conduct and his political maneuvering during the crisis starkly pales in comparison to the flowery scripted speeches and feigned care and wisdom for Gambians he peppered our ears and eyes with. He has committed public resources to out campaign and outnumber his political opponents in almost all every community. His emissaries are canvassing places and conducting community meetings in violation of his own proclamation.

After weeks of underground preparations, President Barrow is set to open two newly constructed police stations in his native URR. To ensure maximum turn out for this unnecessary political event, the President is moving on to relax measures on public gatherings this weekend in a fast, deceitful, insulting and depraved ploy that unfortunately characterize his kind of politics. Agonizingly, we had to obey the President’s directive by canceling or not congregating in our Mosques to observe one of our holiest days in a year after a whole month fasting. We closed down our Mosques and Churches out of sincerity, genuine concern for each other and out of respect for authority but our President but he has failed to reciprocate any of that. It’s clear today, more than ever, that Barrow simply cares about his reelection than the culture, religious freedom and well-being of our citizens. He puts politics above any and everything that matters to our people.

We shouldn’t let him get away with this utter insult!

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