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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Don’t be scared

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It is not bad to see from where you sit. This story was told in some ancient book from the Arab world, the area where lived a man we would come to know as Muhammad—peace and blessing of Allah be onto him.

Muhammed is not just for Muslims a prophet, a messenger and a righteous man. He attained a mythical status in the religious tales as the only man who, from Jerusalem, where the Dome of the Rock now stands—with Jibr?l— ascended to the heavens to meet the Exalted.

But even before this, some old scriptures say the man was a gift to his generation: righteous, truthful and enlightened.

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One day, after he was granted the honour of being a salvation for humanity, of course from Islamic perspective, a man who had faith in him, came to him for help. He had a stomach ache he had hoped the ‘Rasul’ could help cure.

‘Go and take honey,’ old manuscripts quoted the Rasul to have advised the man. ‘Allah puts cure in it’. He did and came back the second time. His predicament was not solved. ‘Go and take honey. Allah put cure in it,’ old manuscripts quoted the Rasul to have said again.

It would not be the last time he would say that. The man would come back again with his pain. ‘Oh, Ya Rasul, I took honey but my stomach is still hurting,’ the man said for the third time. Rasul would not be deterred. ‘Your stomach lied. Go and take honey. Allah put cure in it,’ Rasul advised again.

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When he came thereafter, he announced my ‘stomach is not hurting’ this time. Rasul said your stomach told the truth. This was IT—faith—that Rasul was perhaps told to teach.

Sometimes, it is totally a matter of where one sits: individual biases, experiences, knowledge and much more—all feeding into one’s perspective of what is and what is not. A Rasul with total faith in his god and its cure and a predicament of a man in pain.

Sometimes—and I hope this becomes most times as I grow older in knowledge and wisdom—I like to just marvel at the ideas and forget about the WHO, even with far less faith as Rasul.

It may be hard to take in, but even if you put my ways to test the claims of the Good Dr. that the coalition has failed—that is if one sits where he was sitting—you could just marvel at the claim and forget about the WHO.

So, was Muhammad reasonable? That will depend on the side where one sits. If you ask me—never mind I came to name myself SWANDI (loosely translated as the CHOSEN ONE, a Mandinka name for Rasul)—I would say Rasul was right.

The Dr said: The entire COALITION FAILED us by either DEVIATING from the national agenda to promote PARTISAN AGENDA and/or by failing to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

The coalition failed? What was that failure? Certainly, from where I sit, I don’t consider it reasonable to assume that the Dr. was saying they did not win the election and that Jammeh and all his wrath are still here. The Dr. knows the election was won, Jammeh defeated with all his forces of terror, thanks to Coalition 2016. The defeat of Jammeh is an established historical fact no sane person would deny.

So, like Swandi the ‘Rasul’ asked the man to go back and take the honey again, go back to the statement and check, but read within a context. To measure the Coalition, one would need to know first what its goals were. First was to defeat Jammeh and they did it. But defeating Jammeh was designed to be a vehicle to change the country.

This is why the drafters of the Coalition MOU have an elaborate manifesto as to what would be done. The following were intended:

2. The Goal of the Coalition is to

a) Put an end to impunity and Self-perpetuating rule by establishing constitutional and institutional safeguards and propagate normative values and practices that would ensure the consolidation of participatory Democracy, Good Governance, Rule of Law, Substantive Justice and Human Rights.

b) Institutionalize term limits, strengthen checks and balances by consolidating Judicial, Parliamentary, Media and other Civil Society oversight in order to hold Government officials accountable to the people.

3. The Strategic Objectives

The Coalition aims to

a) Educate coalition partners and supporters on ethics of electoral conduct prior to, during and after the National Convention so as to promote exemplary display of mature citizenship during the entire 2016 electoral process and beyond.

Promote tolerance of ethno-linguistic (tribe), religious, gender and other diversities in promotion of national unity and peaceful co-existence.

b) Uphold and defend the secularity of the Republic and will not entertain any discrimination based on ethno-linguistic origin, religion, gender or political opinion.

c) Respect and uphold human rights as provided in the Constitution, ECOWAS and AU protocols and International Conventions.

d) set up a truth and reconciliation commission to enhance the healing of wounds that have caused pain and trauma through a cycle of confession, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation and remedies for injustice including payment of compensation by the state , as it deems fit.

e) Reconstruct a new Gambia free from extreme poverty, persecution and impunity where democracy and the rule of law will thrive and dissent and free expression of divergent views tolerated.

f) Extend an olive branch to all Gambian in exile to return unconditionally without fear of being prosecuted for any allegations against them.

g) Propagate legislation to revoke all provisions of law criminalizing speech including libel, sedition, false news and false publication.

h) Set up a Commission of Inquiry to look into any claim of seizure or damage of any legally acquired property without just compensation to protect the right not to be deprived of one’s property.

i) Promote the right to fair hearing and speedy trial by respecting and protecting the Independence and Impartiality of courts and judges.

j) Oversee the establishment of a Judicial Service Commission that would enable the judiciary to carry out judicial oversight in protecting and enforcing respect of rights.

k) Establish an independent National Human Rights Institution as an oversight institution empowered to order the release of persons detained unlawfully and having unlimited access to all places of detention to stop unlawful practices at detention centers such as torture.

4. Composition

The Coalition shall comprise all stakeholders who are signatories to the agreement establishing it and or are parties to this Memorandum Of Understanding

But all the above are not the most problematic parts, as some would see it. The most fragile ones are parts that seek to prevent having an EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT, wielding all powers of state that comes with such.

First was the issue of 3-year transition which is workable but only with the cooperation of the President-elect Adama Barrow. So, to prevent having an executive president, ensure a 3-year transition was possible, the drafters created what you could a shadow government.

You would imagine the president-elect to assume power, select his cabinet and go about other state businesses. But based on the model envisaged by the coalition, cabinet position will be allocated in consultation with each signatory stakeholder in the Coalition Executive Committee (CEC). All Presidential appointments and removals shall be done in consultation with CEC.

In the event of the removal of a Minister the President, will consult the signatory stakeholder affected for the proposal before the appointment of a replacement.

Basically, the COALITION EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE is the Principal Policy and Decision-making arm of The Coalition. It is the Governing arm of the Coalition.

Its composition should have comprised the Flag-bearer, three representatives from each of the signatory party stakeholders, the independent presidential aspirant, and each non -party signatory stakeholder.

Functions of the CEC:

a) The Coalition Executive Committee is the supreme decision-making body of the Coalition and will serve as an Advisory and Consultative organ to the Flag-bearer and the Government.

b) The Transitional President shall constitute the transitional Cabinet to form a Government of National Unity in consultation with the CEC.

c) In making recommendations on Cabinet Composition after mutual consultation among CEC members regard should be given to the dictates of Section 72 of The Constitution which emphasizes the desirability of ensuring that Cabinet responsibilities’ are entrusted to competent persons with relevant qualifications or experience.

d) The CEC has powers to establish Standing /Permanent and AD-HOC- Committees to investigate and provide recommendation for its approval on all issues of importance to the Coalition

The drafters went ahead to then create bunches of AD HOC Committees of The CEC, focusing on various areas.

However, the most significant thing to note, as far as I am concerned, the CEC was to be a decision-making body and an accountability mechanism to ensure the reforms agenda of the transition does not derail. A restraining force in avoiding what later became apparent: EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT.

Of course, we know how impactful Ousainu Darboe’s remarks encouraging Pres. Barrow to ignore the 3-year agreement was. We also know that if Barrow had the intent to honour the agreement, he would have.

Unless if someone comes with an evidence contrary to what I know, there was no CEC to monitor the implementation of the Coalition agreement. The president-elect went on assuming the powers of an executive president, calling coalition members and appointing them. Perhaps, there was a voice of reasoning at this time but I have not heard any reminder to Barrow, from any coalition member, that there should have been a CEC.

I did know there were people who were not happy at his first cabinet appointments, in their compositions. And NRP was one of those. Those saw what they said were apparent biases towards the UDP.

Was the failure to have a CEC not the beginning of the collapse of the coalition? Was the failure to have the CEC constituted not the beginning of having an executive president? Didn’t the failure to have a CEC not reduce the implementation of the Coalition MOU to the mercy of the president-elect? Or could we say the coalition members were overwhelmed given the impasse and all the drama that came with it? If there was a CEC, wouldn’t that have made a difference, or not?

Not long ago, there was a particular political leader who told journalist (s) that the then president-elect Barrow called him and offered him a position. Did he say he told him this decision was to be made in consultation with CEC? If no, why?

So, if you critically analyse these claims by Dr., you may come to see some sense in it. Or may be not. Like I said, sometimes it is from where you sit.

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