Now that the official campaign periodic for the December 4 election is ongoing, it is important that citizens understand the meaning and value of elections for our present and our future. To me, this election is the decider between detaching from a culture of dictatorship, political patronage, corruption and weak institutions to a new era of democracy, good governance and accountability.
To defeat poverty, ensure justice and equality, and enlarge our freedoms and opportunities, detachment from the past and accountability are indispensable and non-negotiable.
For that matter, we must look at all presidential candidates in terms of their willingness and ability to make this detachment happen within the shortest possible time, efficiently and in a fair, just, transparent and inclusive manner. Therefore, as voter’s we must abandon all partisan and sectarian interests and focus on salvaging The Gambia. This means to critically realise the dire conditions in this country which need a certain amount of madness to fix.
This is to say that we need a leadership that is utterly aware of the challenges and opportunities facing this country. We need a leader who has the ability to mobilize and organize the opportunities and strengths of the people to bring about durable and sustainable change and development. Very importantly we need ethical leadership which has integrity. Without ethical leadership, everything is zero because preaching and practice don’t match hence our country will be sold to the highest bidder!
The Gambia needs to transform. Very seriously. Our sociocultural, economic and political systems require a review in order to truly change them for the creation of a robust democratic society situated on and guided by republican values and human rights. In this regard, we do not need a president who is afraid to make the tough decisions or is compromised. We do not need a president who is selfish such that he will succumb to parochial interests and political expediency. Such leadership has been the bane of our country hence the unacceptable state of affairs.
The Gambia is definitely well endowed with the necessary natural and human resources capable of generating its own independent development. The only missing link in our progress and growth has been the lack of effective leadership that is visionary and uncompromisingly committed to accountability. Therefore, if we wish to detach from the past and build a future we want and deserve, then the solution lies in seeking the right leader. Not just a president who can beautifully articulate our predicament and identify solutions as all of the six candidates do very well, but also equally important, let’s look for the president who can deliver and deliver effectively and efficiently.
So far Pres. Adama Barrow and GDC’s Mamma Kandeh have amply demonstrated that they do not want to detach from the past hence they are not the leaders we desire. By seeking electoral alliance with APRC and Yahya Jammeh means Barrow and Kandeh wish to maintain that same old culture of dictatorship and patronage. They demonstrate their total disregard for the terrible experiences and despicable history of our nation caused by the APRC and its Misleader Yahya Jammeh, who continue to deny their crimes and ridicule the TRRC and victims with disdain. Hence a vote for Barrow and Kandeh is a vote for Yahya Jammeh and a definitive vote against system change, against reconciliation and against the building of a future of democracy, good governance and human rights in The Gambia!
Left with Abdoulie Jammeh, Essa Faal, Halifa Sallah and Ousainu Darboe, our choice must be right if we are to salvage this country today and tomorrow. We must scrutinize these candidates objectively and bluntly devoid of any iota of emotions and unreasonable attachment. We are voting for these candidates not for their sake but for our sake and for Gambians under 18 and for generations yet unborn!
Therefore, the registered voters must realize that their decision on December is not just for the 962,157 of them. Rather their decision is for the 2 million Gambians including the over 200,000 of our compatriots in the diaspora. This means those who will decide on December 4 bear a heavy burden because they form a minority compared to the majority of citizens who will not vote because of their limited age, place of residence or imprisonment. We are voting for all of us.
Since Independence we have voted for Jawara and Jammeh multiple times yet our social and economic conditions never improved. We have voted for Barrow and still the terrible conditions persist. Therefore, we have no excuse, and we cannot blame anyone if we make another wrong choice today. The world around us is going through seismic transformations that are hugely impacting on us. Ultimately our survival in this unkind and tough world yet also hugely opportune depends on the kind of president we put forward.
Remember, we are faced with climate change that’s ravaging us. There is the specter of terrorism, not to mention drugs trade, human trafficking while global completion over depleting natural resources is becoming a matter of survival of the fittest. Already our state is weak as it is captured by a few elite thanks to the corrupt and inept leadership thereby giving rise to debilitating corruption and disregard of the rule of law. This is what is further undermining our personal security in our homes and streets.
Meantime, high cost of living, economic deprivation and unavailability of basic public services are widespread thus threatening the peace and stability of this country. We cannot forget the intense polarization and intolerance in our society in which justice and accountability are at stake.
Gambian voters, you face a historic decision to make on December 4. Will you salvage or damage the present and future of ourselves and our children? The ball is in our court. Let us kick this ball with conscious responsibility and patriotism in order to score a goal for Mother Gambia.