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Senegal Balks as President Recycles Predecessor's Pal

[All links forward to French-language articles unless otherwise stated]

The president of Senegal's decision to appoint a local architect, renowned for his work but notorious for his political schmoozing with previous regimes, as the head of a proposed Senegalese cultural house in New York has come under fire.

Pierre Goudiaby Atépa, who was selected by President Macky Sall [en] to explore the creation of a house of Senegal in the Big Apple, is the architect behind Senegal's controversial African Renaissance Monument [en]. The statue, which stands 160-feet tall [49 meters] and cost 27 million US dollars [16.6 million GB pounds] to build, was commissioned in 2006 by former President Abdoulaye Wade [en], who made an unsuccessful and highly criticized bid for a third term [en] in office last year.

Unveiled in 2010, the monument was blasted by Wade opponents at the time as a scandalous waste of money in the midst of an economic crisis in Senegal.

The selection of Atépa, who also served as a special adviser for other major government projects under Wade, for such a high-profile post has some questioning President Sall's promises of a “new era” [en] post-Wade.

Le Monument de la renaissance africaine

The African Renaissance Statue designed by Pierre Goudiaby Atépa, from Wikipedia. CC-BY-SA

Ousseynou Diakhaté wrote on the RNS (Restore our Senegal) Facebook page that the whole affair seemed fishy:

Voilà le premier gros dossier sous l’ère Macky qui suscite en moi plusieurs interrogations.  La lumière doit être faite sur cette affaire au parfum de scandale foncier/financier. Quel a été le rôle de l’architecte ? S’il a vraiment été mandaté par le président à New York, au nom de quoi et dans quelle condition ? Qu’attend l’Assemblée nationale pour se saisir du dossier afin d’éclairer l’opinion publique  ?

This is the first big issue in the Macky era which raises several questions for me. Light must be shed on this matter, which has the stench of a financial/real estate scandal. What was the role of the architect? If he really was sent by the President to New York, on behalf of what and under what conditions? What is the National Assembly waiting for to take the matter up and inform the public?

Fabienne Diop called Sall's appointment of Atépa a shame:

C’est vraiment dommage que le président recycles ce type qui est au centre de toutes les affaires nébuleuses de Wade et compagnie

It is a pity that the president recycles this individual who is at the centre of all of Wade and company's business nebulae

Jiggy, who commented on the subject on the news website Dakaractu, was unforgiving when it came to the infamous Senegalese architect's credentials:

Cette affaire sent encore l’arnaque. Quand est-ce que nous allons arrêter ce pseudo architecte ? Atépa est radié de l’ordre des architectes alors qu’il n’est qu’un simple dessinateur sorti d’on ne sait quelle école

This case smells like a scam. When will we stop this pseudo-architect? Atépa was removed from the Order of Architects. He is merely a designer who graduated from an unknown school

In the commentary section, Deumfatick urged the Senegalese to take action against what he called a misuse of funds:

Une escroquerie publique. Le peuple se tait, se laisse berner. Comment l’argent a-t-il été déboursée dans l’avis ni l’aval de l’Assemblée nationale ou des sénégalais dans leur ensemble ? Goudiaby cherche à valider son aveu. Il est dans une affaire où l’on sent l’arnaque à mille lieues. Il faut une pétition nationale contre ce projet et l’argent qui doit y aller. Ce gré à gré insulte l’intelligence nationale des sénégalais, vole leur argent et va enrichir quelques individus…,

This is a public fraud. The people are silent, they let themselves be fooled. How has the money been disbursed without clear notice of approval from the National Assembly and the Senegalese people? Goudiaby seeks validation from his dubious project. It is a case where one can see the scam from a thousand miles away. We need a national petition against this project and the money that it requires. This accord insults the collective intelligence of the Senegalese, robbing them of their money and enriching few individuals …

Bounkhatab pointed out that the presidency's preference for elaborate and expensive artistic endeavors continues with Sall:

 Que je sache, ce terrain est déjà acheté et payé par l’Etat du Sénégal du temps de Wade au prix fort. Question : Que doit faire le gouvernement actuel du Sénégal ? C’est comme la statue de la renaissance, c’était une connerie mais les héritiers doivent le valoriser. C’est ce qu’on appelle continuité de l’Etat.

From what I know, this land is already bought and paid for by the Wade-era Senegalese State at a high price. Question: What does the current Senegalese government need to do? It is like the Renaissance statue, it was complete nonsense, but the next in charge had to make something of it. This is what we would call the continuation of business as usual.

On Facebook, Cheikh A. T. Diagne accused Sall of employing too many of Wade's associates. He commented that:

 le recyclage des anciens conseillers de WWW (Wade Wakh Wakhète, Wade, celui qui se dédit) est devenu une spécialité de Macky et, pour la rupture, c’est bien dommage .

recycling old advisers of WWW (Wade Wakh Wakhete, Wade, the one who went back on his word) has become a Macky specialty, so much for doing away with the old method, what a pity.

Cheikh Tidiane Khouma wrote there were many parallels between Sall and Wade:

 Notre président recycle par manque de vision. Le programme Yonou Yokouté (Voie de l’épanouissement) est juste du bluff. Il pense nous nourrir avec de grandes promesses et discours comme son mentor. La rupture est devenue un rêve pour nous autres

Our president recycles because he lacks vision. The programme Yonou Yokouté (the path to Development) is just fluff. He thinks he can feed us with big promises and speeches, just like his mentor used to do. Real change has became a pipe dream for us.

 With Sall, it's just more of the same, Fabienne Diop concluded:

On s’est battu pour rien ! Il va falloir retourner au charbon ! Ce que j’ai senti à Dakar c’est qu’il est en train d’enrôler n’importe qui en vu de sa réélection. Il nous gave de discours mielleux et au même moment, il applique les méthodes de Wade.

We fought for nothing! We'll have to go back to the drawing board. What I felt is that now in Dakar, Sall is currently recruiting anyone who supported his re-election. He gave us suave speeches when in fact he reuses the Wade Method.

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