Genuine social media activists, citizen activists, concerned citizens, and the Gambia Bar Association, and other civil rights groups should file a legal complaint to the High Court to prevent these ‘selfish, arrogant and greedy lawmakers’ and others from receiving their recently illegitimate and unconstitutional approved housing and personal loan scheme. 

The loan padding the budget amounted to more than D54 million for the 2021 budget allocation, and these lawmakers prefer to exploit the Gambian public than serve their interests.

Those parliamentarians laid bare their extravagant demands before the hallowed chambers on that fateful Thursday afternoon. The Gambian selfish and greedy lawmakers, in an odd show of unmatched solidarity across political divides, struck a chord of disgust from ordinary Gambians.

The Gambia nation has chosen the path of democracy; our Constitution itself talks of what is justifiable in a democratic society. 

Democracy is often inefficient and, at times, a messy system. 

A dictatorship, on the other hand, might be quite efficient and less messy. That is not the path the Gambia has taken. It has opted for the rule of law, and the rule of law implies a due process. The three arms of government must stick to that path even if the public may, in any particular case, want a contrary thing and even if those who are mighty and powerful might ignore the court’s decisions. 

Occasionally, those who have been mighty and powerful are the ones who would run to seek the protection of the courts when circumstances have changed. The courts must continue to give justice to all and sundry irrespective of their status or former status.

It should come as no surprise that those  National Assembly members and some of their colleagues have feathered their nests. 

They have invented an illegitimate and unconstitutional housing and personal loan scheme for themselves that are not based on any legitimate measure of productivity, effort, or responsibility as a case of self-interest on steroids. 

Furthermore, November 26 has seen a new deluge of revelations highlighting the new breed of selfish, arrogant, and greedy lawmakers with their accomplices eagerness to fleece the public for their benefit. 

The National Assembly’s absurd demand has symbolised the orgy of exploitation for that substantial sum of D54 million to meet some personal housing and personal loan.

Citizen activists and concerned citizens,  the Gambia Bar Association, and the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, including the Gambian Diaspora Facebook republic, should come out of the shadows challenge the action of those greedy and selfish National Assembly members following a public backlash after they voted to approve an illegitimate and unconstitutional housing and personal loan scheme that contravenes the Constitution, the Public  Public Finance Act, National Assembly Standing Orders, and other Parliamentary procedures that has raised constitutional concerns about the ability of parliamentarians who voted for approval of a housing and personal loans.

Concerned citizens and civil society activists should put in a legal complaint seeking to declare that housing and personal loan schemes that those NAMs have awarded themselves irregularly against the Constitution and the Public Finance Act, also other parliamentary procedures.

Citizen activists should also seek the High Court to stop the National Assembly’s Clerk, its speaker, and the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, besides the Director of Budget and the Attorney General, from enforcing those decisions of selfish and greedy lawmakers to disburse the loan.

Entry into politics used to involve sacrifice. Now it is all about self-enrichment. All too many of our MPs would struggle to succeed in the real world of business or commerce. 

However, by greasing their way up the party hierarchies, they can become wealthy individuals with extensive property portfolios and secure pensions underwritten by the taxpayer.

The sense of entitlement among MPs is rampant, reflected not only in the fiddling over government allocated of a plot of land and a housing and personal loan scheme but, just as nauseatingly, in the determination to claim for every possible item, no matter how trivial.

Shockingly, some parliamentarians are educated enough to earn a respectable life without feeding off their parliamentary perks? Should they have had the decency worth of public life, probably they should have been brainstorming on how to donate some of their underserved earnings to some more critical sections of our society? 

No one denies that they deserve some measure of comfort, but the problem is they seem to have got so stuck high in their fool’s paradise; they can no longer see anything around them. If their service conditions are so bad, why are they ready to fight so hard to get back to the National Assembly?

Of course, it is very difficult for anybody trapped in vanity to listen to themselves. Nevertheless, indeed, these well-fed parliamentarians do not live among Gambians. 

They have since forgotten the country they live in and even have the audacity to mock the same people they claim to serve. So the best way for them to solve the low constituents’ problems is by illegitimately approving loans to themselves and more money.

Social media activists and concerned citizens should also be mandated to protect the public’s interest on legal matters petitioning the High Court after the public registered displeasure over the illegitimate unconstitutional approval of a housing personal loan scheme to those so-called honourable members of the National Assembly. 

Under that mandate, concerned citizens should decide in the public interest to institute this legal complaint after the MPs voted by a parliamentary motion, seek the High Court to annul the gazette notices issued by the Clerk of the National Assembly concerning their illegitimate housing and personal loans.

It is no wonder that the Gambia is heading for insolvency when seventeen of our National Assembly members are so personally reckless with our money. However, precious few of them are willing to admit that the political class has behaved disgracefully and dishonourably.

Throughout the never-ending expenses scandal, miscreants have constantly bleated that they “acted within the rules.”

However, such excuses are almost as reprehensible as the claims themselves. 

The National Assembly’s official Code of Conduct, drawn up in, requires that members “must adhere” to the principles of “selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.” Their absence has distinguished these qualities from the hallowed chambers.

According to the 1997 Constitution under Section 112, which categorically states that National Assembly members must defend the National Assembly’s integrity and must, at all times, ensure that what we do defense the national interest.

It states: “All members shall maintain the dignity of the National Assembly during the sittings of the National Assembly. And in their acts and activities outside the National Assembly. 

“All members shall regard themselves as servants of the people, desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or allocate themselves and shall discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation as a whole and in doing so, shall be influenced by the dictates of their conscience and national interest.”

Let forget the intelligent legal and semi-legal arguments from various political quarters and sycophants in defense of those lawmakers’ acts. The conflict of interest is apparent and not too remote to be of any legal consequence. 

However, perhaps what should worry Gambian voters is not the remoteness or otherwise of a conflict of interest. What should worry the electorates is that the political class is ready to vilify and destroy a critical institution, the National Assembly, just for arrogance, greed, and selfishness. 

Moreover, the semiliterates among Gambians cannot see the big picture. Whoever bewitched Gambians must have died. Or is it the melanin?

If ordinary Gambians had behaved the way a phalanx of MPs have done, they would instantly be sacked from their jobs, and many would-be facing criminal charges for fraud or theft.  

None of this has anything to do with democracy, which our politicians have conspired to destroy. Through their surrender to sovereignty empowering non-state actors to govern and protect the status quo, they have handed over much of this country’s governance to the European Union, the World Bank Group and the International  Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Beijing Consensus. Indeed 80 percent of our policies now originate with the unelected machinery of the EU.

Furthermore, much of our domestic life is now ruled by quangos and agencies over which we have no say. Some Gambian politicians have proved useless in defense of genuine accountability, partly because they are obsessed with keeping their snouts in the trough, partly because they are deeply suspicious of public opinion, especially on crime, immigration, and multi-culturalism.  They prefer to exploit the Gambian public than serve their interests.

NAMs’ constituency operations’ real purpose is two-fold: to justify their well-upholstered existences and ensure their re-election. That is why they are desperate to have their beaming faces in the local papers or their sentimental voices on social media echo-chambers. It is all part of a giant ego trip.

How ridiculous! The fact is that being a National Assembly member is a part-time job, so the excessive subsidies are indefensible. Given that politicians are in House for less than half the year, they do not need housing and personal loan payout, and more money. 

When challenged about their truncated Parliamentary hours, our selfish National Assembly members whine about their constituency work. 

However, this is just more special pleading. Just in case one may be misled into thinking that the Gambian lawmakers were looking to shooting a well-intended motive to dignify their servants’ lives; instead, those greedy Gambian legislators were only interested in their selfish ends.

Our self-serving attitude can be seen in those arrogant and greedy National Assembly members’ limited workload. They give themselves far longer holidays and shorter hours than most Gambian workers. 

Our society is already grossly over-burdened with regulations and bureaucracy. The Gambia’s National Assembly members’ holidays provide a respite from all the self-important hectoring and attention-seeking they are so fond of.  

However, while that might be true, the National Assembly’s concise sessions make a mockery of some  NAMs’ boasts about their diligence. Throughout the expenses saga, the politicians have sought to justify their avarice by giving us sob stories about the appalling burden they face in their jobs.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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