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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Gambia is comatose and needs cardiopulmonary resuscitation

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By Nfansu Camara

Independence Day should be a period of reflection and reassessment of our dear country. It is the day when we gained our sovereignty from the clutches of British colonial rule. The day should be marked by a soul-searching conversation among citizens of the country to examine and re-examine the plight of the country.

As The Gambia clocked 59 years since gaining its flag of independence from British colonialism, this should be a day to interrogate this country about the things that ought to be interrogated. This country has not been at ease since it was “liberated” because we are still under the traps of the former colonial master. As Dr Kwame Nkrumah once said, the colonial master never changes its character but only the mask it wears and we must remain eternally vigilant because she is not asleep and she might come through other means of interfering in our affairs.

We must be bold and honest enough to pose certain fundamental questions, the main one being: are we truly liberated? An independent nation should not be controlled by external forces. An independent nation’s budget should not be supplemented by external donors and loans. What’s this thing called independence?

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The current state of this country is intriguing and shocking as we are seeing innocent people being threatened, killed and abducted as result of fragile security. Security is one of the key indices of any prosperous country; a country cannot and will not realise her potentials, if the security of the country is not given priority concern.

Gun violence has become frighteningly common in this country leading to the shooting of two security officers and the hospitalisation of another. The Gambia needs to ensure that security is reinforced. In some parts of Foñi, schools are often shut down because of fears due to the overlapping insecurity from the neighbouring Casamance. No one will willingly place his or her head on the chopping board to be chopped. Foñi is part of The Gambia and it should not be neglected in anyway.

Aside from security, corruption in this country is endemic and public servants loot the resources and nothing comes out of it. Audit reports have indicated a lot of discrepancies in many ministries, departments and agencies. It has been argued that Africans have been in the business of punishing small thieves and electing and appointing the big ones into public offices. Commercialised politics is always a threat to the growth and development of any country. Political hustlers have chosen politics as a channel of enriching themselves in dramatic ways at the expense of the people. There’s no need to celebrate independence, when our leaders whom we had entrusted the task of presiding over our affairs, are underperforming.

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In addition, the countless road accidents need to be thoroughly examined. A lot of people lost their lives as a result of dilapidated roads because of potholes. The monies that ought to have been used to construct good roads have been stolen by those in officialdom. The government should understand that, there’s a social contract between the government and its citizens. When citizens refuse to pay their taxes, there is a legal consequence but when the government continues to plunder and squander the public funds, there’s impunity. Development will never come on a silver platter. We must uphold the principles of transparency, honesty, contentment and accountability.

Independence is a day to reassess our health sector. The citizens have been complaining about the inadequate medical care in our public hospitals. When you go to a hospital the nurse or doctor will prescribe medication but the pharmacist will tell you there’s no such medicines in the hospital. What is more ironical is that someone in that health institution will direct you to a special pharmacy to purchase such medicine. High-ranking officials should be corrupt-free for them to have both the moral and legal grounds to fight corruption.

Much has been said about our country and much is expected to be said but we should not allow the so-called flag independence to be a mere jamboree without any efforts from the government. The youths are the fountain of any developed country but our youths have taken the solemn vow that they would rather die in the Mediterranean or in the Sahara than remain in The Gambia. This is rather unfortunate! As someone eloquently and passionately said at the just concluded national dialogue, Gambian youths are not just statistics or numbers as seen by politicians. Joke with the youth sector and the country will begin to go on a downward spiral

Those of you in positions of power and influence, your job is to serve and serve us diligently. The divine Creator did not choose you to liberate us because no human can liberate his or her fellow human being. We are sovereign and power belongs to us, we the people, and ultimately we decide who governs us and how we are to be governed.

In conclusion, I do not subscribe to the argument that The Gambia gained her independence from British on 18 February. It was rather on 24 April, 1970 when The Gambia as a sovereign nation attained its republican status. Celebrating independence on a wrong date should be reconsidered and that will create a new conversation among the citizens. Whatever, independence should be a day of reflection not march pasts and making merry!

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