Once again I cannot be silent without participation in the mayoral election debate in Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), a constituency that plays the most important role in business and political life of The Gambia. I also felt that it is injustice if I don’t condemn or expose Mr Pa Njie Girigara’s admission of pay to play politics because of so-called past political donations to United Democratic Party (UDP). In his recent article titled “Pa Njie Girigara Calls On The UDP Leadership To Withdraw From The KMC Mayoral Race!”, published by freedom newspaper on 2/19/2018, Mr Njie asked for political favoritism in return when he claimed that:
“I Pa Njie Girigara do solemnly declare in front of all Gambians that if the UDP has an ounce of honor and patriotic blood in their vein, they should simply withdraw from the KMC race as a sign of gratitude for me for what I have personally done for them in the past when help and assistance was needed most whiles many people beating their chest today were no where to be seen”.
The question I have for Mr Njie is:
Did he contribute to UDP for his personal interest or for the supreme interest of the country which he claimed to have loved?
The implication of Mr Njie’s own words indicates that he contributed financially to the UDP’s political struggle for his personal interest which is why the party “should show him gratitude for what he has personally done for them when help and assistance was needed the most”. This statement is also absurd, disgraceful and disgusting, for it bears the hallmark of self entitlement. We do not need politicians who use their personal contributions in political process as means to benefit from back room deals or political favours. This type of practice leads to corruption and mismanagement of public resources. During 22 years of the Jammeh military dictatorship, many greedy politicians and businessmen engaged in political favouritism to enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary citizens. The goal of any political donation or contribution should be geared toward economic and social development of the citizenry but not expectation of favour in business or political interests.
Mr Njie’s statement also indicates the highest level of seeking preferential treatment that any corrupt politician could express and request. Pa Njie failed to remind himself that there were many patriotic Gambians who have lost their lives in the struggle to restore democracy and constitutional rule in the Gambia but their family members never asked for political favours. There are freedom fighters who are yet to be compensated but they are yet to make any noise. Any politician who asks for political favours in return from any past political contribution is not fit to occupy public office which is designed for improvement of the lives of citizenry instead of acquiring personal gains.
I have extensive interactions with Mr Pa Njie Girigara on Kairo News comment section where he used the pseudonyms “Deyda Hydara”. During the course of our debates prior to the formation of opposition coalition, Mr Njie claimed to be a strong supporter of the UDP and he even promised to donate two million dalasis to opposition coalition if the opposition political leaders agreed to work together in the spirit of unity to remove dictatorship from the country. But as soon as the opposition coalition was formed, he not only failed his promise to honour his promise but also abandoned the UDP and joined the GDC leader Mama Kandeh who supported dictatorial policies and laws for ten years in the National Assembly where the ousted Dictator Yahya Jammeh got entrenchment. Here is the link to Mr Njie’s failed promise to Gambia people: http://www.kaironews.com/five-point-recommendation-gambias-opposition-conundrum/
Mr Njie has never been consistent in the fight to remove dictatorship from the Gambia. He was a Jammeh supporter before he had purportedly UDP boat. He changed political party like a political prostitute who is always looking for political recognition and business interest. This is evidenced by his latest claim that “UDP should be grateful and show gratitude to him for the support of his candidacy as a result of past contributions to the party.” Mr Njie’s public request of political gratitude or favour from UDP leadership as a result of his supposed past contributions is a classic case of illegal endorsement and seeking of political favouritism. It is also against basic principles of democracy and rule of law which encourage citizens’ participation in a fair political process.
The use of Political contribution as means to seek favours in business dealings or seeking political office is the highest form of political corruption. Such an irresponsible and illegal political behaviour is called “Pay to Play” which leads to total oppression of voters’ choice. Pay to play enables politicians to award government contracts to their Financial contributors or donors at the expense of taxpayers. In many advanced countries, pay to play is classified as bribery. It is therefore fair to categorically state that Mr Pa Njie Girigara has corrupt intentions and his contributions to UDP at the time was designed for pay to play which he has now publicly admitted. This disqualifies him to seek the position of Mayor in Kanifing Municipality election. GDC should shun anyone with such a corrupt practice. But the leaders of GDC have once again failed to learn from their past mistakes and this time they allowed an individual who publicly admitted his political contributions as “pay to pay” to be their party choice of candidate. Gambian people still remember GDC leadership’s role in the support and advocacy of constitutional entrenchment of military dictatorship in the Gambia.
I want the new administration to formulate legislation that would discourage pay to play politics in the country if there is no existing law to deal with such dirty politics.
The Gambian people have started to enjoy basic freedom and democracy which we were all yearning for in the past two decades. What is amazing is that everyone is claiming credit but no one wants to give credit to the real people (true freedom fighters) who put their lives and everything on the line to salvage the country from dictatorial rule . Many heroes who contributed significantly are today silently observing our political leadership because their efforts was simply based on love for country but not seeking political position or business favor. True freedom fighters are never concerned about benefits of political kickbacks; rather they are genuinely concerned about better living conditions and freedom of their oppressed citizens.
We must instill in ourselves the idea of selfless sacrifices so that young people will recognize that selfless sacrifices bring in freedom, justice and democracy. This will also promote patriotism and standing up for what is morally right for our country. Selfless sacrifice is not the same as Pay to Play. Pay to play politics is an enemy of participatory democracy and economic empowerment of the citizenry. This practice must be damned, fought and won at all cost if we wanted to have decent political space beredt