By Madi Jobarteh
It is high time someone put it to both the Minister of Information Ebrima Sillah and the Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou that indeed they are being hugely rewarded for serving as ministers. It is therefore untrue, dishonest and condescending for them to create the impression that they are sacrificing for the country at great cost to them. That is utterly false, misleading and dishonest.
At his press conference last week Tambadou made the ridiculous statement that he is not getting the attention at home as a minister as his counterparts receive in other countries. He went on to say that while all other citizens are taking care of their private businesses the ministers leave their personal matters just to do public service.
These misleading comments were further buttressed by Ebrima sillah in the Coffee Time With Peter Gomez show today. Sillah went on to even give the unthinkable impression that the salary and incentives for ministers is paltry! He went further to the ludicrous height of claiming that a large chunk of that salary is taxed! Both ministers even stated that ministers are not just any ordinary citizen hence deserve special treatment! SMDH.
This is utterly unfortunate and worrying that such false and condescending statements could come from none other than young and modern intellectuals like these ministers who should have been among the people in that Cabinet to speak about cutting the wastage and unproductivity of ministers. The leadership provided by this Cabinet is so weak that every week the Government is plunged into some weird scandal!!!
Until now the Justice Minister has failed to conduct the necessary legal and institutional reforms in order to enhance law enforcement and justice delivery in The Gambia for the past 3 years. Similarly the Information Minister is yet to conduct the necessary and urgent legal and institutional reforms in order to strengthen and enhance freedom of expression and freedom of the media in the country. It is not enough to continue to narrate your good intentions or even claim some processes and actions are being taken yet results are hard to see!
Gambian ministers get nothing less than fifty thousand dalasi as monthly salary, not to mention other benefits such as vehicles, fuel and others that are not public. Daily perdiem rate of ministers are enough to lodge in any standard hotel in Geneva or New York or Hong Kong. Above all Gambians accord huge respect to ministers such that I even call these two ministers ‘Honourable’ out of respect for their positions and nothing else. Hence it is false to claim that ministers are under rewarded and unrecognized in The Gambia.
For the information of the general public ministers are getting far more than majority of Gambians yet they produce less! Ministers are public servants and already the benefits they enjoy are beyond what the multitude of Gambians receive. Because of their positions they are able to enjoy a quality of life that most Gambians don’t have.
Therefore these two ministers must not try to bring themselves to the level of the majority of the poor public servants at the lower ranks who are underpaid and overworked. Making such misleading claims can only be described as an attempt to fool the people hence cover up illegitimate and illegal benefits and corruption. We know that some ministers spend more time in planes and foreign lands than in their offices all in the interest of collecting perdiems.
We have seen numerous cases of corruption and inefficiency attributed to Ministers and their ministries yet there has been no accountability. We expect Sillah and Tambadou to rather address these issues than to cover them up by defending each other as ministers. We expect these ministers to pursue the creation of the necessary system change in order to ensure that we have an open, honest and accountable government.
Let me put it Sillah and Tambadou that public service in itself is the highest honour a citizen can obtain. By being ministers they are indeed in a very privileged position of comfort and success. Therefore let them stop the condescending attitude and realize that they are already more than rewarded by the poor people of The Gambia. If being a Minister is harming them in any way they have an option to resign!
By being ministers did not stop them from pursuing their personal and family wellbeing. Rather they are being handsomely rewarded to give comfort to them and their families that majority of citizens don’t have. Therefore they are not making any sacrifice as ministers more than any other public servant or citizen yet they gain more than the majority of public servants and citizens! So let them be humble, honest and truthful!
For The Gambia Our Homeland