It is not only insulting to the intelligence of ordinary Gambians but it is also regrettable that some of us live on alternative truth. As weeks go by, the first commission of inquiry set up in the “New Gambia” to look into the assets of Jammeh Kanilai and his close associates made revelations of how the former president diverted public money into private bank accounts and used the funds as a piggy bank, a few names were mentioned. Some of these names were associated with the operations of the accounts while others were mentioned as beneficiaries in one form or the other of the funds withdrawn. This has sent some sectors of the Gambian society on fierce defensive mode.
What we need to know and brace ourselves for as Gambians is that a lot of evil happened during the past twenty-two years of dictatorship. Jammeh was not single-handedly responsible for all these crimes and evil but had smart and willing partners whether in their official capacities as government employees, businessmen, security officials or ordinary citizens. This is only one commission looking into only one small part of the darkness of the past two decades and it is in its infancy stage, meaning more revelations are coming and more surprises involving people we never expected.
The question for all of us is: Are we going to face the truth impartially irrespective of who is involved or are we going to be selective in accepting and punishing certain people for their ugly roles in the perpetration of the evil and let others off the hook because they are part of us or ….
Zooming on the issue at hand, when Yaya opened and operated these private bank accounts and diverted tax collections etc. into them and used the funds as he wished, there is no gray area. Whoever played a part in the scheme is as guilty as Jammeh himself, period. For anyone to justify Yaya Jammeh using looted Gambian money to do good or to be charitable, whether by giving scholarships to his handpicked sycophants or sponsoring his chosen people to perform Hajj or buy publicity by giving away free money to foreign entertainers is simply wrong.
Based on testimonies so far provided by our educated elites ranging from secretaries-general, ministers and very senior government officials, we are being told whatever looting they did with Jammeh, they did it out of fear. They are blaming the “Man” for everything as if he put an atomic bomb on their necks to force them to continuously loot what belongs to the 1.8 million Gambians. I have not heard from anybody apologizing to the Gambians for their crimes or expressing remorse. Rather, they continue to justify their evil deeds, claiming that they had no choice. It would be interesting to imagine what Jammeh Kanilai would have said in front of this commission. Probably, he would say that he was not aware of all the withdrawals from the banks and blame the so called educated officials for stealing. He will swear to his god that he never authorized any withdrawal from those accounts because he is a Muslim and believe in God!
This is a defining moment for our country. We can either ensure justice is done once and for all and this kind of blatant corruption and impunity never happens in our country ever again or we can whitewash everything and be hypocrites and let the culprits get away with slaps on the wrist by simply hiding behind so called “Unity, forgiveness and reconciliations”. If we take the second route, then we are doomed as we will become like Nigeria. Corruption and injustice will become part of our Gambian DNA and fabric and we can safely say bye to national progress and development. We all see what corruption and impunity has done to Nigeria: A giant country that is the laughing stock of the rest of the world. It is therefore imperative that at the end of this commission all those who are found wanting, not just Jammeh Kanilai, but all his enablers and co-conspirators including those currently serving in the government, pay hefty price for their actions. They need to forfeit all ill-gotten wealth and go to jail. This will send very clear and unequivocal message to all of us that corruption and impunity has no place in our collective future. Anything less than full and undiluted justice for the 1.8 million Gambians will have irreparable damage on our future. “Let justice guide our actions.”