By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
This week former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair touched down in The Gambia for the second time in less than a year to hold closed-door meetings with President Adama Barrow. According to Mr. Blair’s official non-profit charity, Africa Governance Initiative
(AGI) “over a billion people in Africa need their governments to provide hospitals, schools, sanitation, jobs and much more…. That’s why AGI’s mission is to support effective governance in Africa – to make government work for the world’s poorest people.”
For a leader who collaborated with George W Bush to implement the Iraq war and well known for his close acquaintances with despotic African leaders who overstayed their welcome such as Gaddafi, it may come as a surprise that Tony Blair has indeed turned a new leaf. This article examines the public proclamations of Tony Blair in the context of his actions. Is Tony Blair a genuine good Samaritan assisting the New Gambia powered by Adama Barrow or is there more to it than meets the eye?
Tony Blair in September 2018
In an interview shown below Tony Blair spoke to the media briefly about his close door meeting with President Adama Barrow. “The important thing with the government is first of all its stabilised the situation. I mean the country went through a difficult process. The recent donor conference in Brussels was a very important landmark because it said on behalf of the outside world we appreciate what’s happening in the Gambia we want it to continue.
And secondly, talking to the President its very clear what the priorities are around electricity and power, agriculture developing the poor, making sure that the tourism industry here develops making in a way that makes it a key center globally for tourism.”
Tony Blair in November 2017
“It’s a big moment to come to The Gambia because of the change that’s happened Politically. You’ve got a new president it’s a new start for the country. What my work in Africa is about supporting governments particularly new governments since they come into power. How do they do the difficult business of governing because campaigning is one thing governing is another.
And so we support Presidents throughout the continent and you know am going to come and have a discussion with the President today and see how we can help him. So this is all through my foundation and, so I have an initiative the Africa Governance Initiative that works with governments throughout Africa to help them promote change. So now is the moment.”
What doesn’t Tony say?
Since Tony Blair visited The Gambia last November, President Barrow embarked on an official trip the United Kingdom and attended a public event in Chatham House in May 2018. During his trip, President Barrow made a memorable appearance at Chatham House when he wrongly answered
a question on the succession of the Commonwealth and instead responded on the success of the Commonwealth.
However, what Tony Blair doesn’t say is that his wife, Cherie Blair runs an international law firm and recently represented
The Gambia in a court case against Africa Petroleum over license agreements for Gambia’s offshore oil blocks A1 and A4. It remains to be seen if Cherie Blair is indeed successful in wrestling the license agreement for these oil blocks or if The Gambia will have to pay the hefty price for losing this legal tussle. Unfortunately, Africa Intelligence reported in an article last month of “How Africa Petroleum saved its arbitration.”
At the end of the day, Gambian public servants especially the Attorney General and the Petroleum Minister will need to explain to The Gambian public when the final verdict of the court case between The Gambia represented by Cherie Blair and Africa Petroleum is delivered.
Africa Intelligence Article
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