Timing of President Barrow’s ‘Thank You Tour’ Not Ideal

23 Mar

It is a waste of public resources, writes FPI Editor Demba Kandeh.

“It is political hypocrisy of the highest order to condemn Jammeh for bad governance only for you to embark on his terrible projects,” writes author (Photo Credit: S.Ceesay/Dec 2016)

President Adama Barrow has announced plans to embark on a nationwide “thank you tour”. The tour according to news reports will help the president familiarize himself with the political situation in the run up to the parliamentary elections, due on 6th April 2017. Needless to say the timing of the tour isn’t ideal, it is a waste of public resources and therefore, unnecessary. Here are five reasons, Barrow should consider to reschedule his tour.

Too much to do! The president is barely two months into his administration and has not even completed his cabinet. There is so much to do in Banjul. And adding on the logistics of preparing and heading out for a nationwide tour at this hour is totally undesirable. In his own words, Barrow has admitted that he inherited a broken system and that he will embark on a system “overhaul”. It is thus wiser for the president to focus his energy on that system overhaul for now.

Waste of resources! A nationwide is expensive, given that the president travels with “the State House”. And if figures from Barrow’s minister of finance are anything to go by, we better spend wisely. Barrow himself during his first tour outside Africa, said that his predecessor wasted about 85 million Euros domestically (whatever that means). I do not need to lay out how much the country’s economy is in distress. We heard the finance minister detailed how GDP is deteriorating, domestic and foreign debts skyrocketing. Inflation is still high, and the prices of basic commodities is unbearable to most of the very people the president wants to go and thank. He can definitely thank people better by fixing their shared problems.

Security situation! There is still a security risk in the country. From the political impasse to the reoccurring events around the border with southern Senegalese region of Cassamance, the security situation in the country is still volatile. Now this may sound as an over generalization and I agree, it could be but trust me, security is one thing we do not want to underestimate.

Timing isn’t great! The parliamentary elections are just around the corner. There is clearly, a conflict between and among some key players in the coalition government. The president has made his stand clear and there is seemingly a compromise. But any chance to link the president to any faction of the coalition will only complicate the conflict within the government. And as parliamentary candidates canvass across the country, Barrow will undoubtedly be caught in between. And as the president endeavors to be neutral in these circumstances, he should focus more on our collective need as a nation instead of what we want. Because we may want a “thank you tour” but we clearly need a robust economy, a functional government with fiscal discipline!

Unfettered media access! The president has all the media access he needs to send the biggest and loudest thank you ever! Some will argue that even former President Jammeh did not have the level of media access that Barrow has now. From the state broadcaster to community and online radios, FM stations, social media and all the others, Barrow can reach the last person in Koina in a single day, or even within an hour. And more importantly that will definitely cost ten times less than a nationwide tour.

Here is a bonus point for the president. A nationwide thank you tour sounds like something former president Yahya Jammeh will do. The Barrow administration is seen as a change, geared toward building a “New Gambia”, (I still do not know what it really means). It is political hypocrisy of the highest order to condemn Jammeh for bad governance only for you to embark on his terrible projects.

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