Commemorating December 1st: Marching for democracy and good governance and sustainable development

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By Madi Jobarteh

I wish to bring to your attention that December 1st is fast approaching and that we, as citizens and civil groups, must commemorate this day to further validate, strengthen and uphold the spirit and objective of that huge change that Gambians registered when we decided on 1st December 2016 to end autocratic leadership and corrupt government in the Gambia. We must commemorate this day to send a clear, unequivocal, direct and blunt statement to all political parties, all political leaders and the Gambia Government that Gambian People will not ever again accept the politics of tribalism, division and hate and the perpetration of malpractices and misrule in our country.
We must commemorate December 1st by ‘Marching for Democracy’ in all of our cities, towns and villages to remind each and every citizen as well as the Gambia Government and our political parties and leaders that the Republic of the Gambia must be a democracy that thrives on good governance practices in order to achieve sustainable development.

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Since this change came two years ago the state of affairs in the country clearly indicates the limited, if not the total lack of real system change and socio-economic progress for which Gambians yearned for. Rather it is clear that national objectives have been subjugated to the back bench while our elected public officials and political leaders across the board purposely focus on their own individual and partisan political objectives to the detriment of national interest.

I do not think we must satisfy ourselves with the fact that we can now freely express ourselves today more than before. I believe the purpose of December 1st was not just to enjoy civil and political freedoms but also to enjoy greater social and economic wellbeing in an environment of inclusive and accountable politics. This means to put an end to a political system that is characterised by patronage, corruption, deception, self-aggrandisement, abuse of power and plunder of public resources by the Government and political parties.
As citizens and civil groups, we cannot and must not ignore the policy and institutional environment as well as the prevailing political culture thinking that change will come without our active engagement and participation. If that is a true proposition, then we could not have had a brutal dictatorship in the first place for 22 years. Rather the system would have changed itself for the better since Independence. But our history and experience has shown that the system never changed itself until citizens decided to effect that change by themselves on 1st December 2016.

Since Independence we endured excruciating poverty, deprivation and underdevelopment for 30 years only to be followed by 22 years of brutal dictatorship simply because of our failure to engage in public policy and political processes in order to monitor and influence public policy, policymakers, political parties and their leaders. We failed to hold the State and political parties accountable by going to court or protesting on the streets or petitioning or exposing corruption, maladministration and all forms of malpractices within the Government and political parties.

I wish to therefore call on TANGO, Gambia Bar Association, Gambia Workers Federation, Gambia Federation of the Disabled, Gambia Medical and Dental Association, GCCI, GPU, GTU, and all trade unions and CSOs that you need to lead this process. I wish to call on the young people’s groups, women’s groups, farmers’ associations and children’s groups among others that you need to lead this process. I wish to call on each and every citizen that we need to lead this process.

Those that are interested, let us engage and convene to begin the preparation for the commemoration of December 1st in a grand fashion to remind the Government, political parties and political leaders that the people are fed up, disappointed and frustrated at their poor leadership, poor performance and the overall poor quality and slow rate of system change being registered in this country.

When Gambians decided on 1st December 2016, we decided to bring into being a government that will uphold and practice true democracy, good governance, transparency, accountability and ensure efficient and responsive use of public resources and effectively deliver quality public services. We decided against poor leadership, autocratic rule, corruption, unaccountable leadership and poor performance of public institutions. We decided for unity and national cohesion and peace. We decided against politics of tribalism, bigotry, division and hate.

The time has come to mobilise and organize the people to ‘March for Democracy’ to ensure that the Gambia enjoys true democracy and ensure good governance and sustainable development. Let’s engage.
Let’s March for Democracy!
For the Gambia Our Homeland!

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