I looked at The Gambia’s Covid-19 expenditure list. I had to take a seat to comprehend it. I wasn’t shocked by the total amount, albeit dismayed by the millions allocated to such flimsy and inexcusable expenses.  

Conveniently, I was dismissive of the list. I assumed it was a made up, a concoction of lies by the “I-do-not-like-Barrow” mudslingers. I was wrong. In confirmation of the unnecessary exorbitant expenses, I watched the video of Dr Samateh, health minister’s narrative of how inept his ministry is, riddled with corruption and greed. 

I won’t hail him a hero, but it is commendable of him to come out and mentioned these wolves in sheep clothing entrusted with the health welfare of our people. That is called transparency. I will give credit him credit for being bold enough to stand before the National Assembly and lay bare the level of corruption within his ministry. 

Not many of his predecessors can brag of such transparency achievements. My sole critique is, why allocate remuneration for few frontline workers (only in Emergency Department and sensitisation team)? Pay increase or bonus should be allocated to all healthcare workers during this period. 

All healthcare staff are frontline workers. They are all exposed to COVID-19. There should not have been discrimination. I am not surprised he mentioned many healthcare staff wanted to work in Emergency Department because of the bonus.

Notwithstanding, in the wake of this corruption revelation, the question we should now ask is; what steps will Barrow and co take for such ugly practice to be nipped in the bud especially in other ministries? I believe the Health minister’s revelation should serve as the inspirational wheel for other ministries to follow suit and for Barrow to take swift action. 

It is about time the status quo is changed to effect system change. The enigma of how insensitive government officials are to their own people is puzzling.  How else can one explain pocketing millions whilst a million Gambians can’t afford proper healthcare? Is government re-employing old hands ? From Jawara to Jammeh to Barrow nothing has changed. Why so? 

The recycling has to cease. Corrupt hands needs to be stopped. You can’t strengthen dried twig but you have an option to get rid of it. Get rid of corrupt employees. That is the only sound measure Barrow and co can take to have an effective education structure and a reputable and reliable healthcare system.  I think people are tired of having to complain day in and day out about the same thing. It is exhausting. Sort the mess or step aside please.

If you need guidance, you don’t need to look far. Seek inspiration from counterparts within the continent. Tanzanian President, John Magufuli sacked 9,000 employees to drive a point. Remove corrupt hands now or lose billions in the expense of the masses. You won’t be re-elected then I promise you this.

By Musa Krubally 

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