By Omar Bah
The leader of the Gambia Moral Congress has advised President Adama Barrow to avoid using the Covid-19 response for political gains.
“President Barrow, members of his government and political surrogates should be responsive to community sensitivities, and not politicised people’s misery. It is both immoral and evil to profit out of public misfortune for personal political advancement,” Mai Fatty said in a Standard exclusive.
The former special presidential adviser said his consultations with some senior government officials recently have presented some real prospects for government to provide household stimulus to mitigate the extreme hardship being experienced by the poor and the vulnerable.
But Fatty added that any palliative package to Gambian households from government should not be seen as a donation or an act of kindness from the president.
“It is the property of Gambian citizens that will be distributed to them from their trustee, The Gambia Government. The property of Gambian citizens must not be offered as if it was the property of the president or government. The communication should be very clear that it is a government intervention to ease the burden of poverty during this terrible time,” he said.
He continued: “It must not be politicised as a partisan philanthropy. because it is not. That will look amateurish and negatively discolour the statesmanship image of the President. We must avoid this at all cost. All of us, including the President attacked former President Jammeh for personalizing the State, including applying government resources as his personal estate.
“Such interventions were made in his name, vehicles donated to State institutions in his name, state relief interventions made in his name, local government offices act in his personal name, etc. The State did not exist for him. President Barrow should not continue to encourage such dictatorial tendencies, although this is being condoned,” he said.
Fatty added: “If the trend continues – that is the politicization of the elements of national development and resources including the personalisation of State endowment – he may face the united rejection of Gambians just as we did to Jammeh in 2016.”
“I urge President Barrow not to give in to such subtle megalomaniac practices some of his surrogates and some compromised senior civil servants would encourage him to indulge into. He shouldn’t allow his legacy as a statesman to be destroyed on the analogy of his predecessor,” Fatty added.
The former Interior Minister said no good leader or patriot will use human suffering to advance his/her political interests.
“Throughout history, great leaders who care about their people put the people’s interest first, and not calculated partisan agenda. Those are the leaders who define history and build the national character of states,” he added.
He further argued: “A politician’s calculated personal considerations for political profit may appear to sections of the larger public genuine but crumbles under the incisive scrutiny of history. A prior political mileage achieved would begin to unravel along with all of the self-serving Machiavellian intentions.”
He said COVID-19 has revealed more about politicians and some unscrupulous businesses disguising as philanthropists with the concealed objective of cashing in on a trajectory built for personal profit.
“Gambians are far more politically sophisticated than that. No one will succeed in pulling a wool over the face of Gambians. Lastly, I want to encourage the President to reflect deeply on where we all came from, the experiences that built our character, the moral values we were taught at childhood and the compassionate communities that propped us up to where we all are today,” he noted.
He said the Gambian leader must keep at great distance those who want to serve their personal interests through him, profit through him or relationship with him.
“Ultimately, he is going to be personally and individually responsible for the worst consequences of the actions of his government and those close to him. There is life after the Presidency and it should be a life to live in The Gambia without issues,” he concluded.