It is very refreshing to witness a unique era in our political evolution when we The Gambians are actively questioning the motive, rationale and benefit of every decision our government makes or step it takes. One of the lessons we learned from Yahya Jammeh’s 22 year decadence and dictatorship is to shun complacency and never allow our government to work for and on our behalf without robust citizens’ oversight and/or public scrutiny.
But, in our tasteful or appetizing demand for the government to do more and our restless efforts to keep its feet to fire, we sometimes manifest impatience, inconsistency and lack of understanding of bureaucracies associated with government functions.
This brings to mind the age-limit bill recently tabled by the Hon Justice Minister and amended by National Assembly members which has generated quite a spectacular or thrilling debate among political observers, civic educators and legal experts.
While the Coalition Manifesto contains clear intent for various constitutional amendments, it is the responsibility of the government to prioritize which comes first in line with the overall reform agenda. Just because other relevant sections of the constitution are not tabled or mentioned in the National Assembly for procedural amendment today does not mean they are not going to be taken up next week, a month or two from now. The insinuation that age limit amendment favors one or two executive members of the cabinet is not only a preconceived negative opinion, it is also a mockery to the intelligence of men and women in the National Assembly who have had the time to study the bill before voting on it. I bet some of the NAMs who voted in favor of the bill would not have done so if they believed its purpose was to serve a few individuals at the expense of country.
A wholesale constitutional amendments would require a referendum. A comprehensive review of the 1997 Constitution and draft of the next one could take months. Our governments cannot proceed with democratization agenda relying on the many bad laws in our book hence the need for piecemeal legislations or amendments to support the process. The order of precedence in this piecemeal approach has to be decided by the government before the referendum. Important election-sensitive legislations such as term limits for who and for what category, 50+1 victory margin among others can all come up later in the referendum before Gambians go back to the polls to elect new President and National Assembly.
So, my advice to fellow Gambians is to genuinely hold our leaders and government to account but let us not be perpetually cynical, let us give benefit of the doubt and let us be a bit trusting of those we put in charge of our affairs.
Corruption or dangerous driving
Can we please take a moment to reflect on the tragic accidents that occur in the past months? Brikama Nyambai forest: A truck collided with a passenger car. At least three people dead.
Kabakor Village, Foni Bintang Karanai: A Mercedes Benz intruded into a container truck: Three dead others seriously injured.
Somita, Foni Berefet: A truck ran over a police officer resulting to his dead.
Kafuta Forest 26/07/2017: A pickup truck hit a truck loaded with Timber resulting to the dead of a man and his wife.
Brikama Castle 26/07/2017: A truck hit a taxi near the castle petrol station. And many more….
If this was because of a crime, the streets would have been infested with patrol teams trying to apprehend culprits and put this madness to an end. A truck park on the road without any reflectors installed that results to collision and deaths cannot be called an accident. I call it “intent to murder”. A speeding truck approaching a police station just to see a driver got his head out the window screaming “AMUT BRAKE”!!! Having the police officers running to safety is “intent to murder” since he failed to stop as soon as he can. A truck loaded with timbers without a back light is intending to commit murder. A car with one head light on speeding in the night is intending to commit murder since it only seems to be a motorbike. The point is, so long we see accidents as natural, more people will continue to die.
We live in a country where thieves appear in the newspapers daily on trials but hardly do we read of drivers being charged with murder or manslaughter.
What is the interior ministry and the police doing about this? If a car can travel from Kalagi to Brikama with no back light in the night, then I am tempted to say the police are not doing their job. Stop taking bribes and do your work! In fact, I dare say the corruption in Gambia is not only the officers but the people. It is us who when an officer stops our driver on the highway for neglecting traffic rules jump out appealing to them to release the car. We sometimes call them names, accuse them of doing this because they want money.
To the interior minister, IGP and Gambians in general, let us not assume nothing is happening. The lives you save, can be your own. Entering a car now to work is as if you are going to a battle field. You only hope that you come back safe.