By Ajong Mbapndah L
With the symbolic first 100 days of the Barrow administration now in the rear view, the general perception of Gambians is that the administration has been slow,says Fatou Camara of the news portal Fatu Network.
Speaking in a recent phone interview, Fatou said Gambia is now under the leadership of President Adama Barrow and everything that happens in the country is on his record said Camara.
For standing by the truth and putting country first , Fatou Camara incurred the wrath of former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh. Initially dismissed from the office of Press Secretary to the President, Fatou Camara a former TV host, was brought back and fired again in 2013. Shortly after that second dismissal, Fatou Camara was thrown behind bars on baseless accusations.
Fatou’s escape eventually turned out to be a blessing for the people of Gambia with the creation of a media platform that beamed a relentless spotlight on the shortcomings of the Jammeh regime and eventually contributed to its fall. With a following of circa 300,000, just on its facebook page, the Fatu network has emerged as a strong voice for the voiceless in Gambia.
As much as people maybe excited about recent political developments in the Gambia, shaking off the hangover of the 22 year Jammeh regime is something that may take time. For Fatou, it was hard work convincing the President to open up the state house to the private media, getting Journalists to interview the President and even convincing him on the merits of following up what was said about his administration in the private press. For all her efforts , the reward was dismissal and arrest.
Letting Jammeh leave the country was a mistake, says Fatou Camara who believes that even as the country struggles to chat a new way forward, the former leader must be made to answer for the crimes committed against the Gambian people. We all know he killed people, we all know the atrocities, and the Justice Department should be allowed to do its work, Fatou Camara said.
“What the government needs to focus on right now, there is no water in Gambia. A lot of people are complaining if you check our Facebook page and our network people are writing to us every day complaining about lack of water, lack of electricity. So what Barrow need to do right now is concentrate on those issues. Make sure that there is water, make sure that there is electricity, make sure that they bring the living conditions down, and make sure that health is working for everyone”, Fatou Camara said.
On her recent meeting with President Barrow in Freetown Sierra Leone, though it was brief, Fatou said the President struck her as a serious person though it is too early to draw conclusions.
“It was me and the staff of the U.N.D.P., the staff from the Justice Ministry. It was about two of us. We met him, you know, he looked like a very collected, calm person,” said Fatou Camara.
Going further in her assessment of Gambia under President Barrow, Fatou said there are a number of actions that have left the people perplexed. Starting with the collapse of the coalition parties that brought Barrow to power, Fatou describes this as a very unfortunate development. It would have been ideal for the coalition to atleast focus much longer on a common agenda to put the country back on the rails before breaking up,said Fatou. With the breakup, no one can tell where the power struggles and selfish political ambitions will lead country or factor in the desires of Gambians on whose back the coalition rode to power.
If the new government inherited empty coffers where is it getting money to fund the vast diplomatic overhaul ? While indicating that there was a lot of international good will from the European Union and the international community, it will serve the country and its people better if the government can focus on basic necessities like providing water.
On the controversial recall of Ambassador Omar Faye from Washington, Fatou said Gambians do not understand why he was singled out.
“Faye was among the first people who actually came out and said that Jammeh should leave. So really, many of us do not understand why some of these Ambassadors are still maintained. The ones who were in the Jammeh’s government and then they are letting him go. It is kind of difficult for anyone to understand but the government did not say anything but I’ve seen people writing stuff about it on Facebook, saying that they think that the government is very unfair to Omar Faye, Fatou said.
For all the efforts put in to oust Jammeh, Fatou said it was disappointing that the government has not shown much outreach to the Gambian diaspora .Some Gambians are even mulling the idea of a party in frustration said Fatou.
Asked if with her growing following ,she is tempted to someday run for office herself, Fatou said while at some point it will be nice for women to have more political opportunities in the Gambia, her focus at the moment was to continue using her platform to speak truth to power and advocate for voiceless Gambians .