At a political gathering in Jambur on Saturday, 15th October 2022, the Party Leader and Secretary General of the United Democratic Party, Lawyer Ousainu Darboe called on the National Assembly to ensure that the Attorney General institutes necessary action against all those who failed to retire their imprests. Mr. Darboe further told the gathering that the non-retirement of the imprest amounted to conversion (stealing) which in itself is a criminal offence.
Mr. Darboe’s remarks were carried by newspaper publications on Tuesday, 18th October 2022. Two days later, 20 October 2022, instead of attracting a reaction from the Attorney General’s office, the presidency took it upon itself to respond on their State House social media page stating: “ the alleged un-retired imprests totaling some D31 million” were disbursed during the 2007-2015 period and further stating this was “before the Presidency of President Adama Barrow”.
The Barrow administration is, in effect, disowning any responsibility in relation to the un-retired imprests.
Must we remind the president and the government’s spokesperson of the president’s duties and responsibilities? Does the spokesperson need to be reminded that Adama Barrow was elected president in 2016 to correct the wrongs and/or mistakes of the past regime? Is the spokesperson to be reminded that there is continuity of government?
The 2016 election did not end one government for another, but rather it ended one leadership (administration) of the same government for another. Hence, the government still remains the government of The Gambia. As such, President Barrow’s administration cannot claim that those un-retired imprests related to period prior to his election in 2016. What Gambians expect is an un-ambiguous statement from the Barrow administration that it will take vigorous measures to ensure that the imprests are properly accounted for and not to be dodging from its responsibility in this very serious matter of probity and accountability.
In fact, President Barrow readily takes credit for state funded projects initiated or launched by the previous administration. Two events come to mind – the opening and inauguration of the Senegambia bridge and as well as the inauguration of the Sukuta/Jambanjelly road.
The Barrow administration established the Janneh Commission to look into the financial activities of the former President and his associates between dates that were well before President Adama Barrow’s presidency. And of course President Adama Barrow has committed himself to implementing the findings and recommendations of that commission. The same administration established TRRC to investigate the human rights violations that took place under the previous administration. No sensible person will understand why the government’s spokesperson will want to make a case for the Barrow administration in so far as it relates to the non-retirement of the imprests. The findings of the Auditor General are not allegations, as the spokesperson would want Gambians to believe, but findings arrived at after diligent and professional investigations into matters relating to un-retired imprests.
It is shocking and poor reasoning for the presidency to issue statements that public funds not accounted for were not disbursed during the Barrow administration.
The leadership of the United Democratic Party is not surprised that President Barrow and his administration do not treat the Auditor General’s report and recommendations with RESPECT, SERIOUSNESS AND URGENCY it deserves.
This is because Some of the people damnified by the Auditor General’s report include Lang Tombong Tamba, Yankuba Colley, Mam Mbanick Njie, Njogu L. Bah and Fatoumatta G. Jahumpa. These are President Adama Barrow’s political allies who fought tooth and nail to secure his re-election.
The business of governance is a serious one as lives and livelihoods are impacted by every decision the government makes. Moreover, state institutions exist to help manage the affairs of state. What is the point of having an Auditor General when his or her findings get cast aside as inconsequential? It is thus imperative that this administration takes responsibility and acts like an administration that believes in accountability, and sees the unfinished business of the previous administration as its business.