By Njundu Drammeh
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
After the issuance of few press releases by the Gambia Government Spokesperson, it is doubtful if we can pause and say “Ebrima G. Sankareh is a great Spokesman who is doing his job extremely well”. From the word go, he has been dropping changers, dangerously dirtying or soiling the name of the President in puerile attempts to do damage control or counter published, aired or uttered “facts” from the seat of power. He jumps in, muddies the waters and increases public suspicion and distrust.
Mr. Sankareh’s latest press release of Friday 11th January 2019 and titled “Clarification on The Lingering Controversy Over The Faraba Banta Tragedy” is, in my view, another of his brazen attempts to obfuscate the truth, to try to pull the wool over the heads of fully alert adults, to look smart. With each attempt, unfortunately, he falls flat on his face, like humpty dumpty,
My dear brother Amran Gaye, has nicely and neatly analysed the said press release and made mincemeat of it, frankly and adequately. I wouldn’t attempt a similar exercise. Let me, however, draw attention to two paras in the press release, which caught my eyes and revealed the bad spinner therein.
In an attempt to vilify the critics of the press release from the Office of the President regarding the Faraba Banta case, the Government Spokesperson wrote:
“In the face of widespread allegations, innuendos and insinuations that the Presidency may have discontinued prosecutions of the Faraba Banta case, the public is hereby informed that the matter has in fact, not been discontinued and that police investigations are on-going…..” absolute daring-do attitude. People merely reacted to the content of that press release but Sankareh regarded such expressions as “allegations, innuendos and insinuations”. As if he didn’t read it.
And to the near end of the press release, in a rather capitulating tone and sharp contrast to the first para, Sankareh wrote:
“Therefore, if the initial press release purported to have emanated from the Presidency had cast doubts as to the state of the Faraba Banta case, it is deeply regrettable. ”
By the use of the verb “purported” is Mr. Sankareh unsure where the “initial press release emanated from” or merely feigning ignorance of the same? If he is sure of its origin, what is the added value of his press release vis a vis the press release from the Ministry of Justice which cleared the air as to who has the legal power to discontinue a criminal proceeding? Is he downplaying the significance of that press release too?
After referring to the outcries against the press release from the Office of the President as “allegations, innuendos and insinuations…”, Sankareh came down his white horse and admitted the doubt created by initial press release “is deeply regrettable”. After the outpouring of invectives or vituperation on people’s opinion.
The press releases from the Office of the President and the Gambia Government Spokesperson show that we have a tower Babel at the seat of power, a situation evident of poor coordination and poor communication and symptomatic of a turf war. But that is an aside.
The Government Spokesperson must know that trust is the foundation of every relationship and which once lost can be lost forever. And trust is lost where there is incongruence or credibility gap or embellishment of the obvious. Dropping clangers will erode public confidence and consequently public trust.
A Government Spokesperson is not expected to strike the iron when it has gone extremely cold, or shut the stable door when the horse has bolted. Proactivity should be the norm.
And yes we are constantly reminded that only the truth can set free . And in deed only the truth can set us free. But in a world where candour is shackled and to be truthful is a dangerous vocation, it would be naive to expect the truth, dressed in heavy makeups and drowning in falsehood, to free anyone.
The truth cannot free us now unless we first set the truth free. And that is a difficult expectation in an environment where the “best lack all convictions while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.