‘Good Morning Mr. President' is a column brought to our readers by Essa Njie. Essa currently serves as a Teaching Assistant in Political Science at The University of The Gambia. The target readership of this column is H.E Adama Barrow, the president of the Republic of The Gambia and all Gambians on various issues centering on Gambian politics. It is intended to come twice a week, Mondays and Fridays. This, the writer believes will help in building a better and a New Gambia where the participation, voice and opinion of every citizen matters.
Allow me to first and foremost congratulate you and all Gambians on the democratic victory we have achieved as a nation on December 1st 2016. It was a democratic victory for it was the first time when we changed leadership through the ballot box. Gambians from all walks of life, men and women, young and old, woke up as early as 5 a.m to go and exercise what is mandated to them by the constitution (our country’s Quran and Bible). Our collective desire as a people has always been to peacefully choose leaders through the ballot box (BB) and not the barrel of the gun (BG). It was through the democratic exercise that you were elected by the majority of Gambians to steer their affairs in a democratic manner.
Mr. President, as we are all aware that our country had suffered from a political injury, not necessarily a political amputation, during the period 9th December 2016 to 20th January 2017, the consequences of which halted businesses, the movement of people and more negatively, the psychological trauma many if not all went through during the crisis; the task of healing that injury has just begun. The political impasse was indeed a collective memory that we share as a people.
However, as we ushered in a new government under your leadership, it must be borne in mind that the great men and women of this nation voted for change and nothing else; a change that is expected to positively impact the lives of the children of their country. Our common vision as a political nation is to carve a dignified and prosperous future for the present and unborn generations of Gambians. The sacrifices we have made were done out of good moral conviction that we as a people have a duty to our country. Therefore, the solidarity shown by the majority of Gambians during the crisis was not for you as an individual but the Gambia as a country.
Mr. President, now that we ushered in the dawn of a new era in a new year with a new administration under a new leader and with the hope of building a New Gambia, I deemed it necessary as a sovereign and a concern Gambian to convey to you this message as part of the little I can do in better serving my country.
It must be borne in mind that we have ousted a dictatorship regime where your predecessor was seen by some Gambians as a demy-God with ‘impeccable’ characters. It was a leadership that had never encouraged divergent opinions and views which could better help in fulfilling its mandate of being responsive to the needs and aspirations of Gambians. As a result, Gambians were censored on what to say and what not to say regarding their own destiny. Therefore, Mr. President, as highlighted during your election campaign, you promised to restore democracy in The Gambia where the rights and liberties of every Gambian will be guaranteed irrespective of race, gender, religion, ethnic origin etc. This you have even mentioned again in your inaugural speech on January 19th 2017.
As we ushered in a New Gambia, our expectations as a people are high and key among them is the promotion of divergent views and dissenting opinions. This is one of the fundamental principles of democracy and no nation can widen its democratic space in the absence of constructive criticisms from its citizens. Your government, therefore, must be open to differing opinions and criticisms to better help improve on its weaknesses. Criticizing your administration and its actions does not make one an enemy but a genuine partner in nation building. Your administration ought to be responsible, representative and responsive to the needs of the Gambian people. Therefore, we will not relent in our efforts to put you on track whenever you go off track in your job delivery. Since you are not infallible just like any other creature, you are bound to make mistakes, but the best way to work on those mistakes is to listen to your people. Expect us to disagree with you on some policies you may make with the conviction that they will serve our best interest. Expect us to criticize you and your government on such policies. Expect us to defy unlawful pronouncements and orders if ever you will make them. Do not expect everybody’s love, loyalty and appreciation of all that you will do as a president. Do not consider your opponents in the political spectrum as enemies but consider them as partners in the drive to build a New Gambia.
Do not call them names as your predecessor used to. Be a humble leader. Consider yourself a leader and not a ruler, for the latter imposes while the former consults. Seek advice from and listen to experts on issues of national concern. Listen to what we will tell you as citizens because you don’t know it better than all of us. Wise leaders always listen to their people. We have seen Jammeh criticized Jawara in 1994 but became worse at doing what he claimed Jawara was doing. I hope your leadership will not be a replica.
Mr. President, consider the media as a partner in development and not an enemy. It serves as the fourth estate and a watchdog that promotes accountability and transparency in a democratic society. Therefore, your administration’s desire to build and consolidate democracy will be an illusion if the media is censored and considered an enemy. And since you have mentioned in your first press conference that the media is now free in the Gambia, please go by your words.
Mr. President, you ought to bear in mind that your administration has a lot of work to do in repairing the damages done by the former government, issues I will deal with in my subsequent messages to you. Notwithstanding, we all have a duty to repair those damages in really building a New Gambia.
BE A KEEN LISTENER, ACCEPT DIVERGENT VIEWS AND ALWAYS WORK ON YOUR MISTAKES TO AVOID RECURRENCE IN FUTURE.
Yours in the service of the nation
A sovereign and a concern Gambian citizen.