29 May 2014

Gambia: Transparency and Accountability


Corruption is an enemy of progress and development. In a society where corruption is the order of the day, public office becomes the mother of personal gains as development funds are diverted into channels that satisfy personal interest. Corruption allows inefficiency to persist and distorts the potential for growth.

It discourages foreign investment and corrodes the budgets allocated to public procurement that enable basic infrastructure in poverty stricken areas to be built; such as roads, schools and hospitals.

Such a system only perpetuates underdevelopment. It is obvious that our backwardness in our first thirty years' of self-governance can be explained by the high-level of corruption at the helm of state affairs.

This explains why the July 22nd Revolution was built on the pillars of accountability and transparency. Since taking the mantle of leadership, the need to enhance public trust and confidence among the citizenry has been a central focus of President Jammeh. Moreover, the president realised that nation building relies on public support, on people's willingness to give time to causes they care about as well as their tacit goodwill towards the nation as a whole.

As such, restoring people's trust and confidence in the people who occupy public office is vital to the health of our development process. This means that we can trust our public servants to make a difference, not only in delivering value but also adding value.

Since the birth of a new Gambia, President Jammeh's battle against corruption has been known to all and sundry as every resident of The Gambia, citizens and non-citizens alike, are aware of 'Operation No Compromise'. In fact, it is no exaggeration to argue that our speedy success in development is due to President Jammeh's success in confronting corruption in his government. Today, the country is has good roads, hospitals, adequate water and electricity supply and a host of other development projects because the current leadership has engendered a transparent and accountable government.

Of course, the president did not do it all alone. There are institutions of state that make this a reality. Among such institutions is the National Assembly, which is currently on a retreat in Janjanbureh in the Central River Region. The assembly's stand to ensure accountability and transparency through its public accounts, as well as its ability to scrutinize policies has played a significant part in bringing us to where we are today.

As their retreat therefore continues, we wish them success and hope that after careful assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, our lawmakers would double efforts to make The Gambia a corruption-free society.

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