Madi Jobarteh

(JollofNews) – In today’s Africa, the only president that is showing the right leadership and compassion for his people is the Chief Servant of Tanzania John Mugufuli.

Since November 2015 when he became the leader of his country, this man has been consistently consistent as a man of integrity who truly came to serve his people selflessly to change their lives for the better. He is nicknamed the ‘The Bulldozer’ since when he was the Minster of Works many years ago because of his honesty, no-nonsense and results-driven attitude to work. He is reported to be keen on details and when he embarks on an assignment he pursues it to completion.Thus since assuming office, Mugufuli has vowed that he would not tolerate corruption. To demonstrate that he practices what he preaches, on the third day of coming to office he banned all foreign travels by public servants. He stated that all tasks that necessitated government officials to travel abroad would now be done by the country’s ambassadors abroad.

Next he called on all public institutions to cut expenditure on refreshments during meetings. He also said lunch would be served only in meetings that are expected to last from morning to evening. Mugufuli has also banned sitting allowances or what we call transport allowance in the Gambia for public officers attending workshops or meetings since they are merely doing their job for which they are paid a salary already.

The culture of transport allowance for workshops must be severely discouraged in the Gambia. It has only contributed to corruption and uselessness as many workshops are organized only to make money for some people. Others attend workshops not to gain or add knowledge but to receive transport allowance. In fact the most shamefully part was with the APRC NAMs. These people used to refuse to attend meetings if they were not to be paid transport allowance at a minimum of D500 per day! This is why some people have sarcastically but rightly called it ‘Work Chop’.

President Adama Barrow

Furthermore Mugufuli keeps government workers on their toes by making unannounced visits to institutions see for himself and take immediate action. He once went to a public hospital only to find very deplorable conditions and faulty equipment. He ordered that all equipment that were not working to be repaired in two weeks. He then sacked the hospital director and the board. Interestingly the repair of equipment was completed within three days! He has also instituted stiff measures against late coming to work such that everyone now rushes to work in that country on time.

Compared to the Gambia, Tanzania has a population of 54 million and ranks at 151 on the United Nations human development index, which is a least-developed country status. The Gambia on the other hand ranks at 173, which means we have a lower human development status even though both countries are in the poorest category of the world. Poverty rate in Tanzania is 66% compared to Gambia’s 60%, yet Tanzania has 80% literacy rate while the Gambia has 55%. These figures merely show indeed that the Gambia and Tanzania are in the same hot soup of poverty, deprivation and inequality. Hence a leader like John Mugufuli is what any society needs. Therefore if there is any leader that Chief Servant Adama Barrow must emulate and visit to share ideas, that leader is John Mugufuli.

In that regard, I would want Barrow to also look at the terrible social and economic situation at home so that he takes urgent steps. For example, Barrow could reduce the income tax rate from 30% to less than 15% to enable workers earn a bit more. At the same time he could also raise salaries but making sure that there is a cap on what public officials could receive in order to close income disparities. For example, in Tanzania, Mugufuli closed the wide income gap between public officers when he found out that while some public servants were receiving hundreds of thousands of shillings, yet others were only receiving few hundreds of shillings a month.

In the Gambia it is very sad to realize the chicken change that junior staffs receive as compared to the fat salaries of their senior colleagues. The gap between drivers, cleaners, secretaries and clerks on one hand and those of permanent secretaries, directors, MDs on the other is incredibly huge. Secondly these senior staffs in addition also receive huge incentives in the form of allowances, phones, vehicles, fuel as well as travel perdiems that the junior staffs do not get. Therefore Barrow needs to balance the equation.

Secondly there is a major tax injustice unfolding in the Gambia thanks to Yaya Jammeh, i.e. the Gambia’s Income and Sales Tax Act is being applied discriminatorily. Not all workers in the public, private and civil society are paying the 30% income tax. This is because few years ago, Yaya Jammeh’s Finance Ministry exempted some companies, organizations and institutions from paying the full amount. This must be corrected.

President John Magufuli of Tanzania

Barrow must also learn from Mugufuli to reduce government delegations in international conferences. In the 2015 Commonwealth conference in Malta, Mugufuli reduced his government delegation from 55 to 4 persons thereby saving millions of dollars for his country. Again in 2015, Mugufuli cancelled Independence Day celebrations because of the outbreak of cholera in his country. While the Gambia has no such outbreak, but the severe economic conditions in which we are makes it imperative that Barrow also cancels the 2018 independence celebrations. By doing this, he will have saved so much resources that could be channeled into our social services. In fact for me, we should celebrate Independence once in every five years!

Apart from those expenses, the fact that Independence Day is also a public holiday is in itself expensive. For that mater, it would also be good if Barrow would reduce public holidays. Let us realize that public holidays do not only deny the government, the private sector and individuals much needed revenue. Rather public holidays also slow down the economy because there is no work hence slowing down the overall productivity of the nation.

In light of the foregoing, I wish to therefore submit to Pres. Barrow to realize that the Gambia is a least developed country which is coming out of a bloody period. At this moment, the country needs to save each and every butut. We need leadership that is conscious, honest and compassionate to put the supreme interests of the country at the top of everything. I wish Barrow would use his leadership to make a difference that would be deep, long lasting and liberating for the advancement of our people.

God Bless The Gambia.