Can’t We Chase The Fox First…
I have come across a disingenuous newspaper article penned by the 2nd Vice President of Youth Wing of the United Democratic Party (UDP). In the said article, Mr. Hagi Suwaneh blamed President Adama Barrow for the recent flood caused by the torrential rains which affected mainly the Greater Banjul Areas of the country. Mr. Suwaneh blamed President Barrow for failing the victims of the flood because the torrential rains were forcast in advance and that the President could have used the national army to help evacuate the victims.
These immature comments and foolish accusations tell a lot about Mr. Hagi Suwaneh and his party. Mr. Suwaneh expected President Barrow to forcefully remove citizens from their homes in the name of forecast weather report. He said the flood victims would be disappointed if they waited for the government’s support. This also shows that Suwaneh is uninformed or hypocritical in his thinking. Did he not hear the Vice President Mr. Badara Joof’s call on the National Disaster Management Agency to act after he had visited the flooded areas? The effects of the government’s magnitude of commmitment gained momentum after Mr. Joof reported his findings, which prompted President Barrow to tour flooded zones.
I expect the government’s opponents, including Mr. Suwaneh, to hold it accountable whenever the need arises. That is fair game. But for us to become genuine and honest citizens we must extend accountability beyond the borders of the government. As such, I expect Hagi Suwaneh to hold his party leader Ousainou Darboe accountable on why he had directly deposited the funds meant for the victims of 2018 Kuntaur disaster. One wonders why the former Vice President Ousainou Darboe would divert funds that had been collected by the Gambia government and its development partners. I guess Suwaneh will be bold enough to update Gambians about the fate of the diverted Kuntaur disaster funds.
Mr. Suwaneh also proved his ignorance by anchoring blame on President Barrow for not deploying members of the army to evacuate the victims before the floods. He should have told his readers how such an evacuation would be carried out. It could be true that heavy downpours were predicted by weather experts but this falls short of giving specific towns and cities. In that case how does the government begin its evacuation process beforehand. Which country has the capacity to evacuate its citizens of a whole region? Such an evacuation would have been a necessity in situations where people or livestock have been trapped in danger. Does anyone heard about people or livestock being trapped in danger by the floods? What happened was that homes and shops flooded and the government through its national disaster management agency has been collecting data before taking appropriate steps.
No country on earth is spared by natural disasters. Haven’t you seen on television how shops and homes have been shattered by heavy downpours in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates? Even the world’s most powerful and wealthiest country, the United States of America, is not spared by natural or environmental disasters. In fact, as I write this article, more than two dozen people died of floods in Kentucky in the United States. Normally citizens of disaster prone states were given advance notice to quit their homes. Just like in the Gambia, people flout their government’s orders. This could be blamed on several factors, including citizens’ mistrust of their government. With all its powers, abundant resources and expertise the United States government could not do anything to prevent flooding. How do you expect a scarce resource and low economy country like the Gambia to halt floods?
For all to live in peace instead of in pieces, whenever disaster strikes we need to first assess what happen, how and why it happen and what can be done to remedy the situation. Blame games can always wait after a solution has been found. The late father of African literature, Chinua Achebe had it right that “the fox must be chased away first; after that the hen might be warned against wandering into the bush.” I expect the likes of Hagi Suwaneh for once to be honest and stop politics of hypocrisy that hinges on squarely blaming President Barrow for everything. No single person can perfectly run a country. Stop living in the past Mr. Hagi Suwaneh.
Yaya Dampha, NPP Sweden Chapter Coordinator