|Cherno M. Njie|
By Guest Blogger, Cherno M.
pardon my naivete: I have been insufficiently cynical of the UDP-controlled
National Assembly and the Barrow administration. The recent shenanigans surrounding passage of
the 2018 Supplementary Appropriation Bill (SAB 2018) and the contents of the
2019 budget have confirmed my worst fears about the erosion of democratic
accountability. Whether inducements
played any part in this travesty, we may never know. But a legislature open to strangers bearing
gifts will be difficult to wean off.
attention has focused on the late-night parliamentary maneuvers and the
credible questions raised about the legality of SAB 2018, the real questions continue
to be the unknown or unstated position of UDP, the dominant party in the
National Assembly, and that of Vice President Darboe. The Vice President is not an ordinary cabinet
member, for he occupies a position of influence in the executive branch, and, as head of the UDP,
influence in the legislative branch as well. The UDP’s dominance ensures that no
legislation is enacted without the
support of its members. The division within
its ranks in the National Assembly concerning the passage of SAB 2018 was not a
sign of nascent parliamentary democracy, but that of policy incoherence and
disarray within the party.
brings me to the specific issue of the Vice President’s position on the SAB
2018 and the national priorities reflected in the 2019 budget. While we have heard statements from the Vice
President extolling his judicious use of state resources in recent days, and it
is reassuring to know that he conducts party politics after office hours using
only party funds, the public has a right to know where he stands on the SAB 2018.
Did the Vice President have reservations
about SAB 2018? Was he consulted about
budgetary priorities? If not, how does he justify continued service in a
government that disregards his views on the most consequential matters
affecting the nation? The Vice President’s
remarks, which have been interpreted as
veiled criticism of the fiscal profligacy of President Barrow, are simply
inadequate in addressing the misguided priorities of the Barrow administration. To have any credibility, his rhetoric must be
aligned with concrete action on his part and that of the party he heads. This
means that he must salvage his legislative majority and deploy it as a bulwark
against the President’s misplaced priorities.
a heart-beat away from the Presidency, the Vice President, absent evidence to
the contrary, is presumed to endorse the
SAB 2018 and the 2019 Budget which his party enacted. He simply cannot signal that he stands apart
from an administration in which he is a key member, indeed second in command,
yet credibly maintain his position within that same administration. He cannot have it both ways. There is a fine line between distancing
yourself from the President’s excesses to enabling and validating them. The corruption and misplaced priorities of
the Barrow Presidency are in full view. They
will not lessen. We have seen enough to
know that President Barrow represents infinitely more peril than promise to the
Gambian political culture and national well-being. By serving dutifully, the Vice President
becomes inextricably linked to that legacy.
If we are to believe that his positions are at odds with the President’s
priorities, chief among which is to elevate his reelection above all national
concerns, and he cannot in good conscience serve the President’s agenda, he
should do the honorable thing and make a clean break now. This is what I mean when I say that the Vice
President has reached a definitive moment of clarity. I have a suggestion: Resignation. This is the strongest rebuke he has at this
disposal. But, are the perquisites of
power too great to give up? The Gambian
people deserve better.
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*NB: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily represent my views or those of the sidisanneh.blogspot.com