A cup of tea for President Barrow; civil societies
Dear Mr President,
As it was rightly put by a learned judge in the USA, who said that “[the] most important office in democracy is the office of the citizens.” This outstanding statement has made it important that for any nation to develop and succeed, it must uphold and respect cogent opinions of its citizens. Therefore Mr. President, it is noteworthy that when groups of citizens join hands in order to remind their leaders/ government about its campaign promises, requests for their rights to be safeguarded and well-being to be judiciously catered for, such prestigious movements or body of people should not be shackled or derailed in anyway. Because it had long been a practiced of greedy and narrow-minded personnel that will clandestinely state that civil societies are enemies of progress, or others will even call them roadblocks to development. They keep thinking myopically that these organizations are selfish, ignorant and nonchalant. This mentality has made it herculean for them to undertake their duty to ensure that the government is on a right track for a better Gambia.
Although they might get registered, and guaranteed of series of rights in the 1997 constitution under chapter IV – but there still lies various executive or statutory orders that stifle those rights such as the Public Order Act, etc. Thus, the status quo remains and there will be no buts or ifs on the acts of the government, albeit them doing wrong. This will on the other way deny them the privilege to listen to the other side of the story when it involves pertinent state issues. This breeds a high tendency of wrong decisions which will clamp down our height of development, economically, socially and even politically.
Above all, the need to have civil societies to freely move within their scope of duties is instrumental; base on the fact that they will echo the voices of the masses on things that are detrimental to the welfare of the populace. Like the current saga on the Faraba sand mining; the Golden-Lead pollution on the beautiful sea of Gunjur; and/or the virtual destruction of the Monkey Park which is a heavenly abode for many wildlife. These turbulence which you and I know will be destructive to our generation and those to come are what they keep protesting against, or discouraging. Because if we are to allow such perpetration to occur and destroy our environments, we shall bite our fingers with regret for donkey years.
To sum up, I respectfully put it to you Mr. President to drink this tea earnestly and bring the civil societies closer as your partners in development. This can be done by your government through the following:
1. Share fora and discussions with the civil societies in order to be well abreast with what the people are facing day in day out. This will furnish you with first-hand information that is not tattooed with any political interest, nepotism or insincerity.
2. Also, during your annual address to the National Assembly as mandated by the constitution by. 77 (1), encourage the National Assembly to come with laws that will uphold human rights; repeal or amend laws that hamper our rights as enshrined in chapter IV of the constitution.
3. Lastly, being the head of the state which makes you the leader of the executive particularly, continually preach diligence, love and respect for human rights to the police and other security apparatus. This will combat and prevent unlawful arrest, torture and any other forms of human rights violations.
Once the above-mentioned practices are implemented, your government will have that positive impact on the lives of people and shape a society that will be friendly to progress.
Remember that your able Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ousainu Darboe mentioned that, “let’s help Barrow’s government in order to prevent another commission”. Thus, I plead with you Mr. President to hug these civil societies with much understanding and commitment. Because they are your constant reminders, friends and partner for a new Gambia.
Thank you Mr. President, enjoy your tea.
Muhamed Lamin Ceesay
University of The Gambia