Defending the indefensible


By Musa Bah

Many a time, African governments have been known to be on the defensive. Sometimes, they even try to defend the indefensible. When governments falter, the best thing to do is to eat the humble pie and learn to rectify the error. You see, Mr President, as long as one does not accept one’s mistakes, one is very unlikely to make amends.

Of late, there have been a series of blunders from your government. When democracy and rights’ activists point this out, many run to defend these mostly indefensible errors. This is not the way forward. We must learn to accept when we err; for, it is only God that is infallible.


For instance, a few months ago there was a huge brouhaha when it was announced that you donated vehicles to Gambia Radio and Television Services. Many Gambians raised concerns that the announcement was not properly done as it showed some patriarchal tendency on the part of the president.

Recently, it was again announced that through ‘the president’s personal efforts’ the National Assembly Members were given vehicles for use. Again, people raised concerns. Of late, the rights’ activists have lamented the lack of attention from government on the disaster that occurred in Kuntaur [or its late gesture].

In all these and other instances, there have been people who have consistently risen to defend your government. This is not what we expected. We expected a country that will be united in demanding for the right thing. A country which promotes the asking of the right questions so that together, we move this country forward.
What this says is that we need to be educated [and I mean the right type of] civic education. Government has the first responsibility to educate the society on political issues. As I said earlier, we need the National Council for Civic Education to step up their work so that they can educate people like me on our roles and responsibilities; but also on our rights.

In fact, I have called for this type of education to be introduced early in our school system so that by the time someone completes senior school, you have a fairly good idea about nation building. This will help people participate in the debates for nation building and not just being blind supporters of political parties. This is one way of building an informed citizenry.

When you reacted positively on the issue of the appointment of Madam Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang as vice president, and again on the resignation of Justice Minister Tambedou, we all hailed you as someone who listens to his people; but some of your people are almost always defensive. Let us remember that we all have the same destination: a better, more prosperous, more open and a more democratic Gambia.

Have a good day Mr President.