Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who is Frustrating Prof Kah?

In the face of the massive brain drain that The Gambia is grappling with, the few that shun better pays and the so-called better life available elsewhere, should be treasured. Their efforts towards the advancement of our motherland should be recognised, hailed and rewarded. In their sacrifice, these people should be provided with the environment and support to put their ideas into practice for our common good.

This does not however say that they should be given a carte blanche to do whatever they feel like doing, nor should they be accorded any non merit based preferential treatment. Like any other person under the tax payer’s bankroll, they should be accountable to the public. They should be transparent in their operations and must not tower above the law. They should be scrutinised and criticised. Their performances should be checked and evaluated.

Fortunately and unfortunately – depending on how one sees it – the first Gambian-born Vice Chancellor of The University of The Gambia, Professor Momodou Kah, has for the past few months, been at the receiving end of those exercises. Undoubtedly, neither Kah’s qualification nor his desire to raise standards at the University can be questioned. His character is good, his vision is impressive, his goals are lofty and his achievements, phenomenal.

After taking the affairs of the University of The Gambia from a non-Gambian, his efforts resulted in the University registering remarkable achievements. More than ever before, The Gambia looks up to the University of The Gambia as a vehicle for the realisation of its aspired goals as that institution continues to pump into the country’s professional market the critical mass of professionals in dire need. Today, the products of UTG are contributing their quota in their various ways, to the development of the country.

Yet, we know that there are rooms for improvement. We know, for instance, that there could be administrative as well as academic buts. We have no doubt that Gambian journalists have the capacity to unravel them and put them on the limelight. But none did. We know further that even after the investigations into alleged administrative malpractices on the part of Prof Kah, was done, the details of that investigation, which indicted Kah, is not beyond the reach of the journalists. Yet, none bothered to make it an issue. The Gambian press generally gave the University’s leadership the benefit of the hindsight.

Now that the details of that investigation are presented before a court of law, the public’s right to know can no longer be compromised. Reading between the lines of the press release from Gambia government, it is rather confusing what the government wants. It cautioned the public against frustrating the leadership of the UTG, but who is frustrating the UTG leadership? Who did the investigation? Who presented the report in court? Is it the government, the press or the public?

It is worth mentioning here that Prof Kah has been leading the University for years without being an issue. Why or how did he all of a sudden become a subject? Answer: It started when a former acting Vice Chancellor instituted a legal suit against the University leadership for refusing to grant her, her allegedly deserved professor status. In one of the sittings, the court demanded that Kah be present to explain why he should not go to prison for contempt for failing to execute a court order. The matter is sent into a limbo after President Jammeh inferred that the court’s decision will not be respected.

Is this not contempt of law? Is this not an attack on the independence of the judiciary? Is this not capable of influencing the decision of the court when the judge knows that like many others that sat where he was sitting, he could be sacked for doing what he thinks is right? And if Kah believes that the woman’s claims lack merit and that he has a reasonable ground for not granting her a professor status, why did he not make himself available to clarify, for the courts?

Then, came the controversial case of Gumbo Touray, former director of international affairs of UTG, who was suspended by Prof Kah and later dismissed, allegedly. His alleged crime was that he accused that Prof Kah is bent on appointing relatives and friends, has gross disregards for University authority, and lives lavish life style that the poor University cannot sustain. This is what landed him in trouble, resulting in a court saga that is seeing the state proving its charges against him, whilst the defence is trying to establish otherwise.

Justice, it is said, should not be done only, but should also seen to be done. The judge might adjudged as he deems fit, but it is important for the public to see that what his decision is just. This is a situation, which more especially calls upon the Press to give a fair and balanced coverage of events as they unfold as courts. This is what the Press has been doing, telling it as it is, with a view to ensuring that justice is not only done, but seen to be done. No one casts aspersions on the person of Prof Kah.

Unfortunately, now that such a statement comes from the government while the trial of Gumbo is ongoing, we hope that this time round the course of justice will not be affected. Gumbo’s right to fair trial must not be compromised. No one is allowed to comment on a case that is before a court of law. This paper will not make the mistake of following government’s suit. However, it is important to point out that the protection that is accorded to Kah should be extended to all deserved Gambians, including Mr Gumbo Touray.

Source. The Daily News Paper