11 March 2011

Gambia News:Yet Another Questionable National Awards List

By D.A. Jawo
Once again, Gambians have woken up to another long list of people being given national awards, many of whom no doubt have quite questionable criteria for being given such awards.
However, one quite interesting aspect for this year’s award was the fact that the first list of 254 awardees, as published in the Daily Observer of 7 March, was altered the following day, with some of the names being either removed or replaced with others.
This indeed is yet another clear manifestation of the amateurish system of governance being practised in this country, otherwise, it is hard to understand how a serious government can do such a thing.
We expect those in charge of such important national awards to do their homework and carefully choose those who deserve to be given such awards before coming up with a credible list that truly reflects the reality.
However, publishing one list one day and then changing that list the following day is an indication of lack of coherence and seriousness.
Another obvious phenomenon of the awards list is the fact that almost everyone is either a well known supporter of the ruling APRC or someone with some business or other social links with the APRC leadership. It is a fact that anyone clearly identified with the opposition would hardly make it to the list, and even if they do by default, they are most likely to be either dropped on the way.
A good case in point was the inclusion of Sidia Jatta, the NADD National Assembly member for Wuli West whose name appeared on the first list but surreptitiously disappeared from the final list issued the following day.
While all those Gambians on the list deserve being recognized and honoured for their contribution to the development of this country, but there are no doubt other Gambians who have contributed far much more to national development but who will never get into that list because of the fact that their political or philosophical inclinations may not be compatible with those of the regime.
Therefore, from the look of things, one could safely conclude that getting on to the awards’ list depends more on one’s political leanings or relationship with those in power than on his or her contribution to national development.
What is also quite clear is the fact that as a result of such obvious over-politicization, the national awards have virtually lost whatever weight and significance that they ever had. It can now be quite easy to predict with a high degree of accuracy who would get into the list and who would never get into it every year.

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