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GAMBIA: AFTER THE OIC BANJUL SUMMIT: THE FATE OF THE OIC VEHICLES AND THE NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY

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As the curtains close on the OIC Banjul Summit, Gambia finds itself grappling not only with the aftermath of a poorly attended and organised event but also with pressing questions about the fate of millions of Dalasis worth of vehicles procured for the summit. The citizens of this nation, instead of focusing solely on the summit’s failures, must demand answers regarding the use and allocation of these resources.

The acquisition of over 90 vehicles worth millions of Dalasis, particularly fuel-heavy cars, raises significant concerns amidst rising fuel prices and the strain this places on the country’s already limited resources. While the focus might initially be on which government departments or officials will receive these vehicles, the larger issue pertains to the ongoing costs associated with their maintenance and fuel consumption.

The timing of these acquisitions couldn’t be more challenging, given the global surge in fuel prices. The burden of fuel allocations and vehicle maintenance will undoubtedly add to the strain on Gambia’s financial resources. Therefore, it is imperative that the government not only clarifies the allocation process but also devises a sustainable plan to manage the ongoing expenses tied to these vehicles.

Moreover, recent allegations of corruption surrounding OIC funds, including misappropriation, nepotism in employment, and delays in project execution, have eroded public trust. To restore accountability, an immediate and comprehensive independent audit of the OIC Secretariat’s finances must be initiated. This audit should meticulously account for every Dalasi spent, ensuring transparency and addressing concerns of financial mismanagement. The results of this audit report should be made public.

In light of the escalating costs associated with maintaining the summit’s fleet, it is advisable for the government to consider public auctioning these vehicles. This approach would not only generate revenue but also allow for a more cost-effective procurement of vehicles, especially for essential sectors like law enforcement.

Failure to promptly address these issues risks perpetuating corruption and cronyism, potentially leading to the misuse of these vehicles for personal gain or political advantage. Transparently auctioning off these assets through public channels—announced widely on radio and in newspapers—will safeguard against such abuses and demonstrate a commitment to fiscal responsibility.

Ultimately, the citizens of Gambia deserve clarity and accountability regarding the handling of public funds, especially in the wake of such a significant international event. By prioritising transparency and prudent financial management, the government can foster trust and ensure that resources are allocated judiciously for the benefit of all Gambians.

By Matida Jallow

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