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.