By Omar Bah
As Gambians observed the first anniversary of the swearing-in of President Adama Barrow as the country’s third president, civil society groups called on the new administration to double up its efforts to strengthen the rule of law, accountability and fight corruption.
They made this call at a press conference organised by TANGO under the theme ‘The Gambia we want’ to further express the decision and desire of the people of the Gambia at the polls on 1st December 2016-a democratic dispensation firmly rooted in good governance and a development.
“It is only through these that the government will be able to fight impunity and abuse of office and set the country on the path for greater glory,” said John Charles Njie, chairman of The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO).
He said TANGO is of the view that the time has come for the era of true change for this country.
“Without a strategic, robust and urgent system change led by an informed and committed leadership, in line with the principles of good governance and human rights, the Gambia will not be able to consolidate the gains of this change,” he said.
Njie added: “We therefore urge government to take advantage of the energy and potentials of our people and optimize the international goodwill currently directed towards our country. We tasked the new government to bring about a complete overhaul of the bad governance system and to cleanse our body polity and create a new foundation of a modern democratic state.”
The initiator of the collective #GambiaHasDecided, Lawyer Salieu Taal reminded the gathering that Gambians defiantly sent a clear message on 1st December 2016 that they voted for a change.
He said as Gambians have graduated from #GambiaHasDecided to #TheGambiaWeWant, “It is time we stand united against any threat to our nascent democracy.”
“As a people, we must define the values that underpin #TheGambiaWeWant. Civil society groups have a huge role to play in facilitating this important discourse and engagement between all the stakeholders.”
Ebrima Garba Cham, chairman of Gambia National Trade Union (GNTU), said his organisation is very much alive to the average workers’ poor working conditions, poor salaries incompatible to prices of basic commodities sky rocketing on daily basis.
“Low income earners can hardly meet their basic necessities of life,” he deplored.
He further reaffirmed Gambian workers’ resolve to take ownership of their country’s destiny by “meaningfully participating in steering the affairs of State to higher heights.”
Meanwhile, Neneh Cham, executive member Gambia Bar Association challenged government on the lack of transparency in the appointment of judges, lack of independence in the structure of one of the most crucial bodies in the system of legal administration-the Judicial Service Commission and the non-adherence to rules of constitutional amendments.
These issues, she said, relate directly to those foundations that hold up a democracy. “It is important that the broader civil society join forces as one voice to amplify the positive and ongoing engagement with this government, in the best interest of Gambians,” she said.