Last week, I wrote a piece which I called Innocent Questions. In it, I asked, #HasBarrowDecided? But today, I will ask #HaveGambiansDecided? This question is still bugging my mind as I observe on a daily basis how our people still treat government and government officials the same way they were treated in the dictatorship. No one asks the tough questions, no one questions anything the government says or does; or you are immediately branded an opposition stalwart!
The time has come for us to endeavor to understand the seemingly complex relationship between the governors and the governed. In a democracy, the idea is that it is the people, the citizens, who employ [for want of a better word] the government and its functionaries. It is the government that has been instructed by the People to do certain things. We gave them all the tools with which to deliver the goods, so to speak.
We have a Constitution which gives the government the power to do certain things. For instance, we all pay taxes and put money in the national coffers and then give the government the mandate to utilize those taxes for the good of all. We authorise them to have a foreign policy which should be used to further the welfare of the people. They are authorised to sign bilateral and multilateral treaties, take loans on our behalf, formulate and enact laws for the protection and welfare of the citizenry. And then, the Constitution has made it such that the different arms of government should hold each other accountable. That is checks and balances.
But most importantly, we, the people of the land, have the final say as to who leads our government, who spends our money, who forms the foreign policy and who works to deliver goods and services to us. These people are serving us and we have the right to hold them accountable at all times. We have the right to know what they are doing and how they are doing it.
But, and this is a big but, we also have a role to play. We should not just give them instructions and then rest on our laurels. We have to work hard to ensure that they succeed. Their success is our success and equally, their failure is our failure. So we have a right/duty/responsibility to scrutinize our officials. If we don’t, then we are helping them to fail. At the end of the day, we would want to sit back and say so and so failed, absolving ourselves of every responsibility in the failure. We would be culpable.
It is disheartening to note that many among us are ready to draw daggers at the mere mention of the Barrow Government. True, we should be protective of our government, patriotism demands it; but that does not mean blindly hailing them for everything they do whether right or wrong. We should hold them accountable. Help them with our expertise, our knowledge, our support, our zeal; but most importantly, our prayers. We should wish our political leaders well and always pray for them.
If our political leaders do well or do good, let us thank them. When they go wrong, criticize them vehemently, but respectfully. This is important for the progress of our dear Motherland, the Gambia.
All hands must be on deck to move this ship forward. Let is all come together and work hard for our homeland.
Are we ready to put personal, religious, regional, and party affiliations in check and work for the good of our country?
Ask me again!
Author: Musa Bah