August 8, 2022

December 4: What is at stake?

By MADI JOBARTEH

Five years ago, on 2nd December 2016 when the IEC Chair announced the presidential election results declaring Adama Barrow the winner, I released a congratulatory message to both fellow Gambians and president-elect Adama Barrow and a wakeup call to all citizens.

Here is an excerpt of that message,  “Let us not give space to Adama Barrow knowing full well that we cannot and must not create another dictatorship. Let us track him like a suspect and ensure that we hold him to account for every word and action he says and makes or fails to say or make. Let Jawara and Jammeh be lessons for us to learn from. After 50 years of independence, we must by now be mature, civilized and advanced people. Hence we cannot continue to perpetuate infantile, nonsensical, undemocratic and backward socio-cultural and misconceived Islamic ideas and practices infused into our politics and the management of the state.

I, for one will never call Adama Barrow, ‘Your Excellency’. We know you as Adama Barrow and we will not tolerate any more titles or initials because you were nominated as Adama Barrow. Period. Henceforth, we must stop sowing the seeds of dictatorship. Our musicians must never ever sing praises for Adama Barrow. We must not be sitting down and waiting for him in our events. He must be there first because he is our chief servant. This is the mentality we must approach leadership now.”

Like most Gambians, on this day I had great hopes for the Gambia given the great opportunities that abound. But five years down the line, it is obvious that we have failed as a nation to harness those huge opportunities in transforming this country from a dictatorship to a viable democracy – socially, economically and politically.

As we go to the polls again on December 4, I do not have any preferred candidate or party among the six that are running. Given my knowledge and experience about politics in the Gambia, I am not publicly endorsing any candidate or party, rather I will go to vote my single ballot like everyone else. And when the results are announced the next day, I shall continue to vigorously check the elected president for his entire term, as usual, without compromise!

However, one thing I am certain about is that Gambians should not return Adama Barrow to office because of his abysmal failure. Not only is he stinking corrupt and incompetent, but he has also practically undermined the very life and destiny of this country for selfish interests. Furthermore, he and Mamma Kandeh have expressed without equivocation that they seek to maintain dictatorship. By aligning with Yaya Jammeh and APRC as a party, Barrow and Kandeh have demonstrated that they are not interested in transitional justice which is an indispensable requirement in the peaceful transformation of this country for the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law. They do not deserve a single vote.

Therefore, on December 5 when the final results are announced, I would urge all citizens to reposition ourselves into active, vigilant and uncompromising watchdogs of the elected president and his government. Our experience since Independence has shown that when individuals get elected into public office, they either turn against the people or seek to protect their own personal and party interests at the expense of the nation. Therefore, regardless of which party or candidate you endorsed or voted for, remember that the election is not for them. Rather the election is about you – your life, today and tomorrow.

It is our lives and future that are at stake. This is about the peace and stability of this country. It is about our rights and freedoms to obtain the opportunities and the enabling environment which would enhance our livelihoods to earn decent standing of living. The Gambia is endowed with unlimited resources and opportunities which can be harnessed to provide citizens the best possible living standards on earth, provided we have not only the right leader, but more importantly when we stand up to monitor that leader.

Our national malaise since Independence has been our complacency, indifference and sheer dishonesty such that we take things for granted while aiding and abetting corrupt and inept leaders. Our tragedy is that we allow closed-minded interests to dominate at the expense of national interest.

Therefore, as we go to vote on Saturday, remember what is at stake is our rights and lives. Hence after the vote, we must all become vigorously vigilant and active citizens to check the new president without compromise.

For The Gambia Our Homeland

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Monitor’s editorial stance.

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