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Monday, September 21, 2020

How to help President Adama Barrow and the Gambia

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By Madi Jobarteh First of all, each and every Gambian citizen must bear in mind that we did not vote out Yaya Jammeh just to install another president and another government. When we went to the polls on December 1, we wanted to change the AFPRC/APRC hegemony in order to restore true democracy based on the rule of law founded on the supremacy and sovereignty of the citizen as espoused in Section 1 subsection 2 of our constitution. More than two-thirds of the electorate voted for Adama Barrow and Mama Kandeh combined to reject Yaya Jammeh and his tyrannical regime. For two decades and more Yaya subverted our voice and power and transformed our sovereignty into his personal property to bastardise as he wished. Hence it must be clear to all Gambians that indeed the verdict of December 1 was not merely to replace Yaya Jammeh. The purpose of our verdict is to restore our republican values and standards based on constitutional democracy. In that regard, the task of restoring the sovereignty of the citizen and upholding constitutionality lies not only with our Chief Servant and his Government, but it is both an individual and collective responsibility of each and every Gambian. Failure to restore democracy and then build this democracy further, beyond and above the pre-APRC levels would be a discredit of the December 1 verdict. This would be an indictment against all of us, and not just Adama Barrow. We must therefore all take a self-conscious effort that we are indeed determined to restore and defend the sanctity of constitutionality and sovereignty. For that matter, if one is a police officer or a ‘SIS’ agent, to show one’s support and contribution is to go back to Section 19 of our constitution to read and understand it’s true meaning. This is because of all the work that the law enforcement officer does; the heart of police duty lies in Section 19. Any police officer or ‘SIS’ agent who is not aware of, or lacks the proper understanding of Section 19 then you are a security officer without political education hence a potential criminal. Therefore any security officer who wishes to help restore democracy and uphold the sanctity of the sovereignty of Gambian citizens, this is where you should start. This must be a self-conscious effort for you as an individual police officer or ‘SIS’ agent. Any police officer who therefore wishes to support Barrow succeed, Section 19 is waiting for you to act on it. Similarly, any civil servant who wishes to help Adama Barrow, your first task is to enlighten yourself about the true meaning of Section 1 subsection 2 and the entire Chapter 4 (Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms) and Chapter 21 (Code of Conduct for Public Officers) of our constitution. Secondly, as a public officer, you must take a self-conscious effort to ensure that you go to work on time and perform to the best of your ability. It requires that one takes a self conscious effort to refrain from corruption in all forms and demand efficiency in public service. But if you still continue with the same APRC work culture where one goes to work and close anytime anyhow, then you are still perpetuating the same APRC culture and thereby undermining the Barrow Administration and the development of the Gambia. If you are a journalist, especially working with GRTS, you need to go to the constitution and read Chapter 19 (Role and Responsibility of the Media) to realize that you have a constitutional responsibility to hold the Gambia Government accountable on behalf of the people. The constitution requires GRTS and Gambia Info newspaper to ensure that they provide coverage to all shades of opinion in the Gambia. If you fail to do this but continue as usual then you are not helping Barrow in the positive transformation of the Gambia. As a journalist, you must not only report whatever is taking place, but you must engage in investigative reporting, honest analysis and the search for the truth to expose corruption, abuse and wastage in our society. If you are an ordinary citizen like me, our best shot to help Barrow is to be vigilant and jealously guard the rights of citizens as set in Chapter 4 of our constitution. We can further help Barrow if we honestly advise and alert him and his government to abide by the separation of powers principle, adhere to the rule of law and demand transparency and accountability in the public service. It is our voices and participation that provide the best guidance for President Barrow. If we fail to speak out, but condone his mistakes and errors then we are not helping him. We will be damaging him if we delay or ignore in showing him where things are not going right. We must also be alert to counter any individual, opinion or organization that is seeking to distort the facts and to perpetuate fake news with the aim of derailing Adama Barrow. We must bear in mind that if Adama Barrow succeeds, we succeed. Therefore if President Barrow fails, we all fail. As a citizen, let us counter ideas and actions that seek to perpetuate tribalism, nepotism, division and bigotry. Let us dispel insinuations that seek to tarnish the image of the new government unfairly and maliciously. The new government has so far not demonstrated any tribalist and nepotistic tendency. It has created a cabinet based on the coalition membership hence it is unfair to characterize such a cabinet as tribalist. To dispel misinformation and propaganda is not to engage in violent name-calling. The best disinfectant in dispelling malicious misinformation is to target and expose the illogicalities and misconceptions in the propaganda. This way you turn the piece of misinformation on its head and disempower the malicious propagandist. In other words target the message and not the messenger. For Barrow himself and his ministers, the way to help themselves and us is to communicate, always, on time and in full. As a modern democratic state, governments control the narrative and dominate the space by communicating with their citizens. It is necessary to institutionalize a periodic weekly or monthly national address and press conference conducted by both the Chief Servant and the Servant Ministers. They need to speak on issues, incidents and actions in the country. Failure to communicate gives rise to rumours and disconnects the regime from the people, which means the government loses control. Hence it is in Barrow’s interest to be seen and heard all the time. God Bless the Gambia]]>

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