Although I wished for more, I thank God for the rising independent wins in Gambia’s parliamentary elections. A parliament with the most Independent MPs is more likely to have more conscientious voting and less partisanship; one is a certain blessing and the other is just a probable blessing. Foni seems to realize most of the independent candidate victories and thanks to the controversial partial marriage of convenience between NPP and APRC. When the ruling party (NPP) and ex-ruling party (APRC) join hands and were defeated by Independents in the strongest region of the ex-ruling party, that requires a study. Twelve independent candidates won, out of fifty three constituencies. Compare our number of Independents versus u.s and every country, but quality is another thing and not all independent law makers are like Bernie Sanders of the US.
Many frowned at the partial marriage of convenience between APRC and NPP, but the spin-off seems good at the parliamentary level– it brought more independent candidates. Barrow cannot be totally credited in dividing APRC, Yahya Jammeh’s late refusal is another spin-off blessing to the Gambia. Jammeh helped divide his APRC in many ways. Individuals in marriage of convenience did yield some good at times, so I am not too surprise if God repeats it between parties or even nations. Still, I prefer marriage of love or remain single like an independent candidate, who must now have “one night stands’ or ‘marriage of convenience’ through their voting. So the Independent candidates that always vote with one party must be scrutinized and dealt with.
Caution: How we end up with many candidates must also be studied before we celebrate. Some of the independent candidates were actually angry rejects, they belong to a party and were rightly or wrongly rejected by their parties. Did such win or the ones that were always independent? The media have an important role to play, especially with independent MPs. Teaching them and covering them enough with still tough questions will help.
Like many countries, the Gambia lacks ideal political parties, so we need competent independents. The highly raised MPs salaries are part of the reason to more seekings? Not sure, but I oppose the intolerable raise. President Barrow has questionable advisors who tell him ‘huge salaries’ will attract highly ‘educated folks’ to parliament. That is a theory or assumption that must be gauged against better theories and its effects. How many highly educated people Barrow or xyz replaced as candidates? The liars (advisors) will give excuse or tell you in 15 years, while we over pay. A decent raise is not bad, but gauge the salary difference between lawmaker, cleaner at court , and law enforcer (police) in every country. Even in companies, the worst of them have huge pay rate difference. All work cannot have equal pay, but the lowest should make at least ten percent of the highest salary in an ideal company or government… A lawmaker making almost $2000 a month may seem small, but how can I say a law enforcer should appreciate $100 a month? The highly educated and conscientious deserve pay, but money will never be the primary attractive reason to start or stay. Ideally, the conscientious are ready to sacrifice 5 to 10 years for country, set records and train others , then move on… Good allowances and special working arrangements are more ideal to attract thinkers, not just highly educated folks who over value money.
Jarga Kebba Gigo
Activist and transformer