Commentary | Is Brikama Area Council Complicit in Corruption?
By Ebrima Janneh (EB):
Is Brikama Area Council Complicit in Corruption?
One of the besetting infirmities of the Gambia is corruption. Corruption, unfortunately, becomes a way of life accepted as a means of earning a living.
Brikama Area Council "BAC" is the story that goes to the heart of Gambia's scale of corruption and exposes our shameful failure to combat the pandemic.
BAC, the biggest, wealthiest, endowed with tremendous natural resources is a celebrated example of Gambia's story of corruption. A Council where millions of dalasis seemingly disappeared into a vortex of suspicion spending and brazen corruption.
I was going through the 2019 and 2020 Capital Expenditure budget of the Brikama Area Council and I am stunned to discover what appears to be a cesspool of corruption.
The level of casualness dealing with public finance, potential mismanagement, and seemingly corruption manifested on the document is beyond belief.
According to BAC 2019 Development Expenditure document, about 71,400,000 dalasis "D" was budgeted. And out of that amount, only D17,845,741 was spent. There were 32 projects identified in the 2019 budget, but only 14 were completed according to their expenditure budget.
The rest of the 17 projects planned in 2019 were not executed - marked on the document not done. The cost of the projects that were not done amount to D53,554,259. One will be tempted to ask what happened to the balance of D53,554,259 that was not spent in 2019?
And of course, why out of the 32 projects listed on the document, only 14 projects were completed according to the Expenditure budget in 2019?
On some of the identified projects on the budget, for example, Water & Electricity/ Solar - D1,000,000 was budgeted but only D285,869 was spent. Also, Recreation Center/Sports, out of D500,000 budgeted only a paltry D57,500 was spent. For the youths empowerment/skill Center - D1000,000 was budgeted but D455,800 was spent. Communities Ward Project Allocation - D14,000,000 was budgeted with only insignificant D2,500,000 spent.
Yet again, D45,116,000.00 was budgeted for the Financial Year 2020. What is spent and/or not spent, or which projects are done or not is not mentioned on the document.
We have to grasp the real significance of the evil of the seemingly corruption highlighted on the documents and to inaugurate its comprehensive exposure.
I am upset, juxtaposing the degrading poverty in my hometown - Gunjur, and seeing our tax money and resources being mismanaged by corrupt people of BAC whose only aim is to feather their own nests at all costs.
The taxes, natural resources of Gunjur, for example, if managed and distributed fairly, will go far to improve the well-being of the people. This rings true to other equally natural resources endowed places under the umbrella of the Brikama Area Council.
These are some of the reasons the Gambia government must be tough on corruption, and tough on the causes of corruption. Otherwise, the Gambia will be robbed of resources, potentials and drive wide the chism of inequality and resentment.
Corruption, I argue, should be treated as a human rights violation in the Gambia. Because it 'corruption' fuels injustice, inequalities, conflicts and deprivation and is a major catalyst for backway migration.
Corruption often barely grazed Gambian consciousness because it set in and became a way of life. But the implications are huge special on poor Gambians. In addition corruption is a major threat to our social, economic, political stability and a major cause of our failure.
Alas, most of our leaders are too willing to benefit or sit on the fence doing nothing in the face of injustices of corruption. Therefore, fighting for and building a responsible, accountable government is an absolute priority.
We pinned our hopes on the current government to fight corruption. However, the president, undercuts the promises of a 'new dawn' in the country after the removal of Dictatorship and withdrew into the carapace of habitual reticence. Thus, I am thoroughly disillusioned with the system but I cannot afford to lose hope.
Brikama Area Council should come out and respond to the issues highlighted above to clear the air. If BAC failed to adhere to talk to us, then, the people should demand for not only explanation but better management of their taxes and natural resources.
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