We all thought the message sent on 1st December 2016 was clear. That change was needed. That the country had no future with dictatorship. But, it would appear, our path to self-actualisation is murkier than ever before. From tensed political atmosphere to tribal rhetoric, The Gambia continues to fall behind and the ideals envisioned in the change remain a farfetched dream.
It all started well. The prospects were scintillating. The Janneh and the Constitutional Review commissions set the ball rolling for the much-needed transition. The TRRC followed suit, Human Rights Commission, and the Security Sector Reform, all took off with promise. However, in the space of 4 years, we no longer seem to know where we are.
After spending a whopping D116 million on the draft constitution, critical to the country’s overall transition into democracy, the document couldn’t even pass the first reading at the National Assembly. Politicised or not, that decision has left an indelible scar in our collective national conscience.
In a bid to save some face, following a public outrage regarding the draft constitution, the Gambia Government has sought help from mediation expert Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former Nigerian head of state. Unlike his successor General Muhammadu Buhari, whose arrival into The Gambia during the 2017 political impasse was much appreciated, Goodluck’s visits haven’t been visibly clapped around. You wouldn’t be wrong if you say he literally sneaked into Banjul, thrice; with best intentions though, we must add.
Goodluck is here again, having visited twice in the last few months with less success, to continue to support the process of building national consensus and backing for the ongoing constitutional review process in The Gambia.
Even though he was said to have made reasonable progress in his bid to get the political parties to reconcile their differences and give the draft constitution a fresh chance of being passed by the parliament, the mediation expert has a tough job to restart what seems like a highly politicised constitution building process. Having flown political party leaders to Abuja for further talks, the Jonathan is back again, relentless as always, in his quest to make sure Gambia has a new constitution before the December polls.
We all wish that this noble African statesman could make a difference because without a new constitution, there is no New Gambia. And we all wish him better luck this time!