Letters: Dr Samateh, the man ploughing a lonely farrow

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Dear editor,

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand” Shakespeare.

Sadly, the worst enemy of this country is not just that politician as we all think; it’s that public servant or officer who has made corruption the very definition of his or her life. He or she is the one hurting the nation more, not the politician. It is that public or civil servant who sees State employment as the opportunity to live on the fat of the land, to pilfer state resources, to engage in self-aggrandizement.

And so Dr. Samateh’s complaints about corruption in the Ministry of Health and his passionate plea before the National Assembly about his frustrations and hopelessness for the future of this country should send a wave of fear down the spines of every Gambian who really cares. Probably for a very long time we haven’t heard, I haven’t, so frank a revelation and public admission from a Minister about the state of corruption in his or her Ministry. It takes courage and persons with courage of their conviction to be this frank. What we have assumed for so long is now evident: that our health care delivery system is dilapidated because of corrupt practices by our brothers and sisters. And where health is bad, wealth cannot be made.

I think Dr. Samateh’s revelations are a tip of the iceberg: corruption is endemic and corrupt men and women are holding to ransom the State and the development of our country. Am sure if we put the searchlight on other Ministries and SOEs, we would have a rude shock about the state of corruption therein.

Dr. Samateh’s complaints before the National Assembly are not a weakness of leadership or a failing on his part. There was a man with the best of intentions for his country and people who are being frustrated by a small group of willful people actuated by nothing but avarice. Dr. Samateh found these men and women in his Ministry and am sure relied on some of them for advice. Can he fire any one of them? I doubt if he can, especially those perpetuating the practice. Can he refuse to work with? That is a personal choice but I don’t think he would be effective then. The venting of the frustration is a cry for help, an appeal to our collective conscience. He has thrown the challenge to the National Assembly.

Evidently nothing is more dangerous to personal safety and sanity than waging a war against corruption. An overwhelming number of people profit from it. So to want to plug all the places where resources hemorrhaged out will be met with stiff resistance and devious strategies.

As they say in Kiang, my body dies for Dr. Samateh. He is one man up against a decadent system. If he succeeds, a tall order though and wishful thinking, it might be at a great personal cost for he will be up against mighty interests.

The parts of our system affected by corruption have been both cancerous and gangrenous. Cutting them off totally and yanking them miles away is our only option. Nothing else

Unless we destroy the current foundation, nothing good will come out of good intentioned actions we may have.

Njundu Drammeh
Fajara

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