On December 2021: We Are Reclaiming back Peoples’Power

On December 2, 2016, elections became a proven fact, a historic and symbolic moment for the Gambian people. It was phenomenal, inspirational, and fulfilling to had ousted a two-decade sitting dictator through the ballot box. As critical as that was, if we could muster the courage and wield our powers as electorates, at that uncertain time, I have no second thought that we would do better come December 4th, 2021. Since elected representatives consistently prove their disservice to Gambian masses, elections are prime moments to hold them to meaningful accountability. By this, our vote would spea vehemently loud. This is how we reclaim back the peoples’ power

Voting is far by and large one of the primary pillars of democracy. In all democracies across the world, elections remain a catalyst for change. While voting in many constitutional democracies, The Gambia inclusive, is a civic and political right, it is also a democratic principle. Hence, every citizen who is eighteen years or above can vote and be voted for. It is a decision-making process, through which citizens exercise their franchise as a sovereign nation. Electorates, however, reserve the freedom to choose any candidate of their choice. In as much as politics is about the competition of ideas, in the Gambia, our choices are mostly not informed by ideas.

To understand the choices, we confront as civic actors, we need to understand the political communities we live and choose within. A political community is a human grouping organized around making collective decisions and maintaining a way of life or set of values. It is important to note that, wherever and whenever human beings have lived together, they have lived in political communities organized around families, tribes, villages, and governments. In the Gambia, political parties are the form of political communities we have, and each citizen either publicly or privately supports and subscribes to a party, share their ideologies and values.

Our votes are our voices, our votes institute political power and authority. We vote to elect Presidents, Parliamentarians, and Local Government authorities. Further to that, in a democracy, almost three-thirds of the decision-making process involves voting. In the assembly, in the council, and even in the cabinet. We earned this power to decide under our citizenship, and therefore must utilize it for the greater good.

For far too long, we have exercised this power for all the right reasons with wrong choices. Some sold their votes, some became discouraged and ceased voting, and others just succumbed in the face of unchanging circumstances. In fact, it went to a point that majority Gambians doubt if votes will ever oust the then President. But just as the old saying goes “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. Whether or not votes are powerful enough to oust a dictator, came to light when Gambians mobilized themselves and spoke with one voice on December 2, 2016.

On December 2, 2016, elections became a proven fact, a historic and symbolic moment for the Gambian people. It was phenomenal, inspirational, and fulfilling to had ousted a two-decade sitting dictator through the ballot box. As critical as that was, if we could muster the courage and wield our powers as electorates, at that uncertain time, I have no second thought that we would do better come December 4th, 2021. Since elected representatives consistently prove their disservice to Gambian masses, elections are prime moments to hold them to meaningful accountability. By this, our vote would spea vehemently loud. This is how we reclaim back the peoples’ power.

The 2016 victory had only been a success as a result of our unanimous efforts, collective desire for change, and nihilism of living in a dictatorship. December 4th, 2021 election is for the change effected in 2016 to come into fruition. It is a call to action to restore sanity into our governance by voting for transformative change agenda. To combat craft, plunder, and incompetence and install meritocracy into the public service. Fundamentally, youth empowerment, employment, and inclusion must top the agenda of any potent candidate vying for the presidency. It is peoples’ power, our power – thus we would decide.

FOUR YEARS GONE WITHOUT MAJOR REFORMS: GAMBIA AT 2021.

I hope we reflect and reason as election approaches. Because it’s our fate that hangs on the balance. Our children lack quality education, our pockets are often empty, our roads are horrible, hospitals lack equipment as basic as ventilators, oxygen machines and even gloves. This is appalling to say the least. In the autumn, we’re the judge in our own case. So how do we want the verdict to be?

The goal is to transform from what all men of good conscience detest & dispel, of whom all patriotic Gambians stood up to – a dictatorship, tyranny and authoritarianism. With the objectives of mending a broken system that rendered Gambian people helpless, hopeless and some homeless. Inspired by the need for change, democracy and development. Today, the aforementioned goals, objectives and inspirations don’t reflect any actions of the reigning government but the exact opposite of December 2016 elections aspirations.

In the course of this four consecutive years, we as a nation and people hold on to this single intrinsic human strength ‘HOPE’ for reforms, system change and a rebirth of Gambia for better. But only for these hopes to remain beautiful promises and assuring verbose speeches. Ubiquitously, major reform agendas potent of system change and the lifeblood of a progressive nation have been but disregarded – dwindling the entire transitional process. Critical is to not be oblivious of the fact that 2021 is the year that marks the end of one social contract and the commencement of another. The year we would make another most important decision by electing the next president, install the next government and certainly it is the year of reckoning for the incumbent.

Let’s take a brief review of this tenure so far so good. To begin with, at 2021 the Janneh Commission’s recommendations remain unimplemented to the letter. At 2021, the Security Secotor Reform is still without results, at 2021, the Anti-Corruption Commission is yet to be instituted and at 2021, the maiden Constitutional Building project trashed. Clearly, this government derail all the reasons it was voted into office for. Shamelessly, the same government keeps allocating itself unearned credits, claiming appraisals and bragging about its gross incompetence. Thus, this 2021 December elections, results not rhetorics we must vote for – ideas not sentiments. And importantly, merits not personalities should inform our choices. As I speak, voter registration for the 2021 December elections has been “postponed until further notice” according to an official statement released yesterday 4 January 2021 by Independent Electoral Commission(IEC), yet another setback. The salty thing is, reports have it that the postponement is a result of logistics problem. How flimsy an excuse is that? It is therefore undeniable that our president is more interested in consolidating power and prominence than doing the needful – the reason he’s voted into that office.

Finally, i would like to draw our attention to the pandemic. An unprecedented crisis that have the world most giant economies reeling and overwhelm health facilities across the globe. Thus, it affects the entire world in one shape or another. Notwithstanding, the pandemic has exposed structural deficiencies, dysfunctional leaderships and systematic corruption by governments and public officers alike. Gambia in particular has been tested and proven weaked in the face of this crisis. Monies had been pumped in to curb the adverse socioeconomic effects of the pandemic. As in April alone IMF and the World Bank had approved millions of dollars to the Gambia Government. Added to that were the subsequent emergency relief packages approved by our parliamentarians. Ironically, three third of the masses neither see nor feel the impact of these monies. Does this government earn our trust and loyalty? I bet you of all people know the answer to that.

The situation of our health sector is dire; dilapidated infrastructures and unequipped hospitals. A serious government in a third world country like ours would have thought of judiciously using these monies to improve the existing myriad challenges facing our health care sector, since covid-19 hasn’t hit our health sector that hard compare to other nations. Rather they do the obvious, squander everything. But what more to expect from a government that pride itself in power grabbing, gross incompetence and sheer guile? I hope we reflect and reason as election approaches. Because it’s our fate that hangs on the balance. Our children lack quality education, our pockets are often empty, our roads are horrible, hospitals lack equipment as basic as ventilators, oxygen machines and even gloves. This is appalling to say the least. In the autumn, we’re the judge in our own case. So how do we want the verdict to be?

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Gambia: Youths must not allow to be Political Pawns

No wonder Bakary Badjie came at this eleventh hour as youth minister, once known to be an ardent youth empowerer, to galvanise youth support and votes for the presidency

Unequivocally, it is a given that young people of the country have been sidelined for far too long in both political participation and decision making in this country. For over five decades on, youths in Gambia have been only a tool for amplifying political entourages, supporting and rallying behind politicians and what they represent – in the fury of ambience and fanfare. Young people consistently render support to parties to gain victory. In return, all we get are assurances and verbose promises of empowerment – but seldom are those promises kept beyond deceptive campaign manifestos.

Reality Check: Our youths are left to languish in mile 2 for cannabis, arm robbery or burglary because man has to put food on the table or man has to fill the stomach when employment is scarce. Youths are working for businesses and companies (the Lebanese and the Indians) and they’re being exploited beyond measure, yet they’d to endure – as there isn’t much of a choice either. Youths gain them momentum & victory – like Jammeh had used them to advance his political career and garnered their support, their votes and their loyalty: The Green Boys, whom of most ended up in our security.

Barrow came and introduced a similar trend; Barrow Youth Movement and Barrow Fans Club. After a while, realizing that young people of this country, especially those eligible to vote are gaining political consciousness by day, hence large chunk of Gambian youths aren’t the least impressed by his presidency. He has indicated determination to explore myriad ways of canvassing youths support. His government is not a government of, for or by the youths.

Gambia is predominantly a youthful population, yet young people of this nation are the most disadvantaged; face with a deeply rotten education system that produce few assets and many liabilities, limited employment opportunities, centralised job market coupled with poor wages.

The common adage that “there are no permanent friends in politics, only permanent interests”, it’s alive and kicking. Hadrammeh, the predecessor of Bakary Badjie wasn’t a youth and not as if Barrow cares until he does. Informed that most Gmbaian youths have confident and trust in Bakary, he seized the opportunity to use him entice youths’ support for him, come 2021 election. Clearly, he’s determine, no matter the cost, to stay president for the next term and beyond. And that should be youths utmost responsibility to dispel, and stand against such an act by our minister.

Truth of the matter: Apparently, he’s using the youth’s minister to get to the youths because, Barrow is desperate, power agitated and willing to device any means, just stay in power come 2021. No wonder Bakary Badjie came at this eleventh hour as youth minister, once known to be an ardent youth empowerer, to galvanise youth support and votes for the presidency. To this effect, we are utterly disappointed in Bakary Badjie of all people – in going so low in propagandizing for President Barrow, instead of focusing on youth development and empowerment as a youth minister which Gambian youths direly desired.

We need a non-partisan and development driven youth to protect youth’s interest at national level (highest echelons of decision making). Bakary Badjie is not the kind Gambian youths can trust to promote and protect their interests without being compromised. So youths must not allow to be political pawns.

On a final note: Gambian youths must not get into politics in a bid to secure an opportunity, job or status. There’s no job as sacred as that of a public office job, yet it is the most difficult and unlucrative business for anyone haunting treasures. Thus, be it Bakary Badjie or any youth into politics who’s sole aim is to grab opportunities, political and economic upliftment – you’re not fit into our public office, for you’re not genuine.

Gambia is predominantly a youthful population, yet young people of this nation are the most disadvantaged; face with a deeply rotten education system that produce few assets and many liabilities, limited employment opportunities, centralised job market coupled with poor wages. And we bear the brunt of this sufferance, Gambian youths.

Gambia: Time to Reflect and Reason as Election Looms Pt.1

The series of promises the president makes to Gambian people during the 2016 campaigns and the terrain of the government apparently, are two opposite realities. Unequivocally, they were meant for political gains, pre-meditated and intended to canvas votes. Thus, this only shatter hopes at the end of the day. Therefore, Gambia, is time to reflect and reason for whom to entrust power to again come what may in 2021.

I have concluded that there cannot be anything as sacred as honesty as far as leadership is concerned. Honesty is a commodity most of us claim to possessed, in reality only few can purchase this hard-earned currency. Being honest in any situation is a hard-choice many people find intrigued in making. Yes, it is, because apparently in Gambia we have people as significant as our leaders who cannot be honest. If our leaders can say anything while they seek our votes, and retrieved it upon getting into office, or act in contrary then ‘being honest’ is indeed a hard-earned currency – and our leaders cannot just afford it. Just as Oscar Wilde put it, “the truth is rarely pure and never simple”.

The series of promises the president makes to Gambian people during the 2016 campaigns and the terrain of the government apparently, are two opposite realities. Unequivocally, they were meant for political gains, pre-meditated and intended to canvas votes. Thus, this only shatter hopes at the end of the day. Therefore, Gambia, is time to reflect and reason to whom we entrust power to again 2021.

Time and again, they make promises they can ever fulfill, introduce policies that aren’t the least realistic, what follows are embezzlement – While Gambian people extantly suffer in poverty, pain, agony and distress from the political and economic class; those entrusted with state power, authority, resources and integrity. They are the “ambassadors of poverty, who’s heads, are abroad and anus at home, the corrupt masters of our economy”. We must not repeat the same mistake of voting out of desperation – we must make an informed decision 2021. We have seen the traitors, the demagogues and the political impostors. Their ungrateful beings and greedy wings are hard to unnoticed as they ‘grab while their time last’ with no remorse, shame or morale.

President Adama Barrow, sometime in Janunary, 2017

It therefore begs these questions, why must we continue to vote for such inconsiderate human beings and cunning elites? Why must we continue to ride with these politicians on the pretext of lies and deceptive policies? When our miserable lives of poverty, injustice and inequality deteriorates. This is neither inherited nor destined but invested in us by our so-called politicians. Don’t we learn? Should these continue to define our reality as a nation? NO! it shouldn’t. We need a meaningful change; by this, not only a change of leadership, government or regime. But a change that will transform the system and institutions of the state. To begin with, we must first teach ourselves, peers, colleagues and most importantly our children about patriotism and core values of a civilized, liberated and informed citizenry – homes, schools, traffics, market and in the streets.