7 May 2008

Gambia: The President's Tour - A Party or State Affair


Once a person is elected the president of a country, he or she is given full responsibility to form a government which is responsible for the management of the resources of a country.

Since the tax payers are responsible for financing the building of structures and the provision of services, those who are elected become public trustees with the mandate to serve all, irrespective of their party affiliation.

This is precisely why there is need to separate party and state in governance. Those who manage state resources on behalf of all should also be accountable to all for its utilisation.

Needless to say, sixty percent of the population of The Gambia lives in the rural areas, most of whom are members of the farming community.

The Constitution considers it significant for the president to render account to the people of the country. This is why section 222 states under paragraph 15 states that "The President shall undertake a nation wide tour at least twice a year in order to familiarise himself or herself with current conditions and the effect of government policies."

If the government adheres to the constitutional provision to the letter, the president's tour will not have any partisan significance.

In short, there is tremendous hardship in the country with the price of rice soaring to between 750 to 850 dalasi.

Coos have also risen from 450 to 550 dalasi per bag and still rising. Farmers need up to four bags of fertilizer to cultivate 1 hectare. This would cost nothing less than D2,600.

The president's tour should be designed to find out the problems people are facing, which should be followed by concrete policy responses to address the concerns.

What is becoming evident is the utilization of the tour to make announcements of persons moving from the UDP to the APRC, as if the President is on a campaign trail.

The people should take note of the fact that the hundreds of thousands of dalasi, which will be utilised for the tour, is tax payers' money and the sole objective of the tour is to find out how his policies are impacting on the ways of life of the people and indicate the solution he has to address the problems of the people.

Hence, any attempt to transform the tour into an APRC affair would constitute an abuse of public office.

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