By Abdoulie Sawo university of Ankara turkey
The removal of Jammeh from power, in an unprecedented manner, without doubt, was the first and foremost foundation for all these phases I will point out. These phases, in my humble opinion–I hope it will be respected–will catapult and hold The Gambia on a path it has designed for itself. These are the paths to success, progress and development. However, for the leadership to manage and esemplastic this trailblazing country on track effectively, they need to understand the nature of the changes needed to transform The Gambia. And if they understood, they need to be reminded by the citizenry, always!
To begin with, the first phase is stabilization. The security of the country must be the fundamental priority of the country. Security in all aspects, comes before democracy. Basic necessities of the citizenry must be made available and affordable. The current government, in all their efforts, should improve and ensure the availability and affordability of basic services such as electricity, healthcare and transportation–social safety nets. Besides, jobs, a central role in people’s lives and identities, must be created, especially for the youth. The government’s efforts towards these will not escape the attention of the international community. Hence, they will obviously play a crucial role in the process, though such cannot be sustained. ECOWAS and EU could be an example to draw this point. This phase will fertile the Gambia for social, economic and political developments. Its success is The Gambia’s success.
The Janneh Commission and its kinds is the second phase. Accountability of the leadership must be entrenched in the system. Addressing mismanagement, corruption, political exclusion, collapsed economic system, private exploitation of the country’s resources would be indispensable to Gambia’s progress and success. If they are left unchecked–an iniquity that will chase the leadership forever–will impede and eclipse progress, success and development of The Gambia. Though unravelling the evil deeds of the past can be ignominious. Notwithstanding, the young population needs to be reminded of the morals of public offices. In this way, we can keep our moral compass upright and above all our morale unshaken. Holding former players accountable will also increase the trust and reliability on our institutions. In short, no proper reform without accountability.
Fixing the already broken institutions is third phase. The paralyzed and inability of the different state institutions, manifested in the Janneh Commission, needs to be fixed! The judiciary is already on that path. GOOD! The availability of robust and well-functioning institutions is a sine qua non for The Gambia’s progress and success. There is need for amending of the draconian and anachronistic laws and policies of the past. The parliament must WORK, wisely! Policies, laws and institutions must be built anew to be concomitant and reflecting the needs of the country. The constitution needs to be rewritten (if this is the right word!) to underpin ‘power to the people’. This can be challenging but attainable! It’s a process. Reliable and effective institutions are bedrock for any development. In short, The Gambia needs strong institutions not strongmen that depletes its resources. Achieving this will carve and chisel the Barrow Government on the hearts and minds. Without this, it’ll be a continuation of the former regime. Thus no system change.
I draw my final point from the #OccupyWestfield types. The citizenry must be awaken and be ever demanding what must be provided by the state. An effective demands from the governed helps shape the policies and programs of the state. It promotes accountability which will avoid the past deliberate ‘mistakes’. Civil societies must help educate the masses. Civil societies must charge the authorities. Demand, demand and demand! Question, enquire and follow up. This will strengthen the democratic institutions and help keep the government on track. The government must give a ‘good’ ear to the public opinions. It’s part of officials’ honesty. In this way, public confidence in the government can be achieve. The media, balanced, can help in this. The efforts of the media, without doubt, can help foster The Gambia as a vibrant democratic country. In the words of a colleague, information(s) must go viral!
I am not circumscribing the developmental process of The Gambia to these four phases. It can go beyond. They are not the endpoint. I choose this four because I see them as long term. The diaspora is also forever important. Their analyses and suggestions are paramount but at the end it’s those living in The Gambia that feels it. If only you know what I mean.