TAT has been reporting on the ongoing Gampetroleum saga, and one pertinent question is – what is the role of the Gambia government in Gampetroleum?

The government recently held a news conference on the Gampetroleum affair, and made a statement on developments at the company, as reported by TAT. TAT also carried a report giving GACH’s response. These most welcomed efforts by them at being transparent was well noted by the public.

They have responded to what is an issue of public interest, as well as a matter with grave implications for national security – thus the govt deemed it necessarily to involved the “security services” in its probe.

A press release inviting the media to the news conference said the ministers of Information, Petroleum/Energy will be there to talk to the press.

The Trade minister gave a statement and, among other things, we learned from him that Gampetroleum is a “private limited liability company”. That has left many asking why then the govt is taking the lead in this matter? Of course, we know that any criminal or national security matter is of concern to the state.

However, one would assume that for a “private” company, its board chairman, CEO/MD or company spokesperson would be out there talking to the press; not our govt ministers.

TAT in an earlier report stated that the SSHFC and GPA are shareholders in the company, and that raises the question – is Gampetroleum a public-private partnership (PPP)?

Definitely, we need clarity here. The onus is on the govt to come out and clarify this particular issue.

This is because the press has its constraints in accessing information, and to then properly inform the public contemporaneously.

In any case, the public has been wondering why a team of govt ministers will come out to talk about, and explain what has happened at a “private” company.

It is obvious though that it was a good move for the govt to come out and talk on a matter of national interest. And, let us hope that the govt continues to give it the seriousness it deserves.

The Trade minister in his statement, as carried by TAT, declared that the police will do their job, and let us hope that is the case.

What is of concern though is whether the investigations will be concluded and findings made public before the election, or delayed until after the election.

That is, will the govt stall or will it let the police do a quick probe, and come out with the facts.

This will depend on whether or not those entities and persons with an interest in the outcome get the upper hand in determining how far and deep the probe goes.

Indeed, considering that we are just days from the crucial Dec4 election, the public must be vigilant to see how the sitting govt steers the issue.

For how things unfold now should influence how people vote; and, post the election, how the new govt continues to handle the Gampetroleum affair will determine how things pan out.

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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