Gifts and our Credibility

By Njundu Drammeh

My friends were worried and angry that a Gambia referee is named in the Nas football corruption saga in Africa. That for about $600 he would put his name, honour and career up for sale, would throw them away for pittance. (All allegations for now but who can dispute the authencity of the video footages).

Njundu Drammeh

My friends are “worried and angry” and show no pity for the people involved in this saga. “They should be investigated and, if found culpable, punished. FIFA should ‘derefereed’ them” for life”, they angrily shouted.

“But the money was given to each as ‘gift’. Why lose your head over gifts? Gift giving is part of our African culture and an abomination to refuse to accept gifts?” I retort.

I and my friends argued over “gift giving”, my friends insisting those found guilty should face the music, mortified that the good name of the beautiful game of football in Africa is now in the drainage.

But why should my friends be irritated and bay for the blood of these referees? Why cry foul over “gifts” given to Africans in Africa within a culture that accepts gift giving and abhors gift turning down? (In my Orwellian tone)

See why people are angry with the referees and football officials for accepting those gifts? Because strings can be attached to the gifts, unknown to the receiver. Because the giver could be expecting a favour, the gift a debt to be paid in similar circumstances. Because one may not know the real intentions of the giver. Nothing is free in this world, not even the air we breathe. Ask the climate change activists.

The reasons which irked my friends about the gifts to the referees are similar reasons why people want to know who donated the gifts of 57 vehicles to President Barrow; similar reasons why some people think President Barrow shouldn’t have accepted the gifts.

See, few things are involved in gift giving to public officials, to men and women in positions of power, trust and authority. Credibility and character can be lost. Impartiality will be questioned and Respect and TRUST can be lost, especially when your role includes working with diverse, antagonistic, interested parties. And when TRUST is lost, honour is lost and where both TRUST and honour are lost, INTEGRITY is lost.

Gift given to public officers must be declared, gift giver named, circumstances under which gift is given said, gift recorded and gift surrrenderd to the organisation or the State.

And immovable “gifts” must be turned down, reported and recorded. Conflicts of Interests must be avoid. Nothing disturbs than a pricked conscience.

And why didn’t Akon light the village before or after Mankamang Kunda? Or yes, i know the counter argument, he can’t take his project to all the villages. He did a feasibility study and Mankamang Kunda showed the direst need.

Why did the President’s friends wait until he is our President to build that presidential villa for him at the village? Wait, I can guess your counter argument: because that was the most appropriate time for them. Who are these friends? Well, how’s that my business. What are they doing to eke a living and what possible motive could they have? Don’t be a cynic, reading too deeply into the motives of men.

Well, Akon’s is a “gift” to the President. The presidential villa is a “gift” to the President from his friends. If we agree that the President can refuse to name the giver of the gifts of 57 vehicles; if we agree that the President can keep the villa and the electricity because these are gifts and gifts cannot be returned; then my friends, the referees should not be pilloried for taking the gifts. It is Africa and gifts oil the wheels of our friendship or relationship.

Mind these very much: Consistency, Congruence, Credibility and Character. They are all we have to gain and maintain TRUST.

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