By Momodou Sabally

Good morning Mr President,

This is the third in my series of epistles addressed to your respected office.
Unfortunately, this one might not be as pleasant as the previous ones, not out of spite but rather the desire to be fair to my readers inasmuch as I want to be nice to you.

The situation of the Coronavirus pandemic has become worse in our country thanks to lack of focus, tenacity and seriousness in your government. While I commended you for the efforts reported by some people who came into contact with our health officials while crossing our borders, I later saw you with a crowd at State House for political reasons even as all governments around the world work to avoid assembly of crowds in their countries.

Do you really care about anything other than your own political goals?
As I write this piece, social media is blaming your government for the inconsistency and incoherence in messaging regarding this pandemic. Shortly after we heard your official statement on national tv denying any confirmed cases of the coronavirus in our country, your health minister announced on the same tv that we have a confirmed case of the disease in our country. Certainly this kind of inconsistency is inexcusable in these very scary times.
It is really heartbreaking to note that while former president Yahya Jammeh took immediate decisive action, including closure of our airspace to affected zones, and kept Ebola away from The Gambia by the Grace of Allah; you dithered on this one and brought us coronavirus.

A credible news report has also emerged that a group of quarantined passengers that flew into The Gambia from London with a Gambia Experience flight have just forced their way out of the hotel and melted into our country. In response to this, a concerned professional commented : “Wow! Amazing. Gambia is the only country right now with weak control measures. Why are the quarantine hotels of such bad conditions?”

Of all periods in our this difficult transition, as a nation, this is the time we need effective and decisive leadership more than ever. As I pen these lines, I have just received my monthly Alumni Newsletter from Harvard Kennedy School, and at least one line is worth sharing regarding the Coronavirus pandemic: “Now more than ever, responsible and adaptive leadership is key as we face this unprecedented public crisis.”

While some voices have called for restrain from pointing fingers during these trying times. I have decided to “call a spade a spade” and will continue to do so until I see your government attach the level of seriousness and professionalism that this menace deserves. So my post on Facebook last night is the following:
“If the Barrow Administration cannot give us a simple #coherent and #consistent message, then what can they do for us in these scary times???”

Your Excellency, there is another brouhaha on social media regarding our First Lady’s mispronunciation of “hand sanitizer”. And while some people have called for restraint in this criticism as well, my position is that if our First Lady must go to our schools to address our innocent children, then she might as well do her homework through adequate rehearsals or else face the brunt of our umbrage for all the right reasons.

Our schools and the education system that shoulders them are bad enough; we do not want to worsen that by further encouraging mediocrity. Mr President, it is sad to note that one of the first promises you made as President-elect was to overhaul our education system. Just like your 3-years promise, you have reneged on this one as well. Yet of all your broken promises, the one on education is the only one I will never forgive you for. Truly and honestly I have forgiven you for breaking the 3-years promise but I will never forgive you for failing to give Gambian children the best asset that any child could be equipped with: quality education.

And in case you do not realise it, you have as occupant in the office of Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, the most incompetent occupant in the past 25 years.
Every person that former President Yahya Jammeh appointed to hold that critical office was many times more qualified and competent than your current appointee. And while we all hoped that your erudite Higher Education Minister would raise the bar, his decision to transform our only fitting vocational institute into a so-called university of science and technology, while the UTG is falling apart, has made him one of the worst to occupy that office.

But let me assure you, Mr. President, I will continue to challenge that decision you and Badara Joof took to worsen our educational situation with a politically motivated decision to give us one more university when our basic and secondary education system is in tatters. Inshaa Allah, I will not stop at fighting for this course through debates and essays. I will actually play a role in undoing this policy initiative when I get back to Cabinet post-2021 and I am confident that will happen.

Your Excellency, I am sure you would be laughing at this point since you have officially banned me from holding public office for the rest of my life; but I am equally baffled at your risible decision knowing very well the incontrovertible truth that Allah has proclaimed in verse 26 of Surah Ali Imran, the third chapter of the Holy Quran:

“Say, “Oh Allah, Owner of the Kingdom, You give authority to whomever You want and take it away from whomever You want. You give honor to whomever You want and humiliate whomever You want. In Your hands is all virtue and You have power over all things.”
I am not relying on any mundane institution or political process or organisation to unban me for my faith lies in the omnipotence of the Owner of Grace, who has taught me these words in Psalm 27: 1-3:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.”

In conclusion, Your Excellency, I wish you Allah’s blessings and protection and may Allah bless and protect our dear country in these trying times. Amen.

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