Gambia's Misplaced Priorities

photoWhile all serious governments around the world are controlling their national spending and eliminating waste where possible, the Gambia government went on ten days of a celebration aimed at wasting national resources. Such a celebration is not adding any value to the livelihood of Gambian people.

How can we as a country be so proud of 20 years of one man rule with no ending in sight? We are rather calling for change than celebrating 20 years of misrule with so many missed opportunities.

Millions wasted on celebrating this unlawful event of a coup that dislodged the Gambia’s democratically elected government could have better used somewhere in the economy for the benefit of the people. It would have been better value for money if funds were spent on providing improved healthcare for the people thereby bringing healthcare closer to people rather than families having to spend hours on the roads to access healthcare services. When the population is not healthy, you don’t have a productive workforce and students not learning properly to produce an educated workforce. With the Ebola outbreak in our sub-region spreading like wildfire, what is our government doing to protect Gambian people in the face of this advancing threat?

The funds could also be spent on the provision of better and affordable education for Gambian people including better library facilities in helping university students who are struggling to get the right materials for purpose of their studies. Other uses of public funds include building skills training centres for technical people the economy requires. The availability of technically competent and highly skilled workforce is a good attraction for foreign investment among other things. This will create so many employment opportunities for our young people. People will have a chance to participate in the economic activities of the country and families can easily move from the lower class to the middle and upper class.

Investment in agricultural education programs can help build the skills and capabilities of small scale farmers. Improved agricultural productivity can bring about transformational changes in the lives of our farmers. Our farmers are only growing to consume but with the right investments, small scale farmers can grow to become medium and large scale farmers with increased commercial gains.

As citizens, it is our responsibility to assert our rights in demanding that our government acts responsibly and not waste public resources. Without active citizens you can’t expect to have responsible governments. Civil society needs to speak out in order to influence the government and influencing is not the same as seeking to take power but rather the judicious use of power to do the right things for the people. Wasting millions of taxpayer money in celebrating an illegal coup that has not made our lives any better is not the solutions to our many problems.

Nfally Touray



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