Halifa is a true statesman and no amount
of criticism can deny him his statesmanship
My lecturer at the University of the Gambia once said “most Gambians listen to respond, but not listen to comprehend.” This is clearly manifested in the misrepresented statements and comments directed to Hon. Halifa Sallah by the state and some people in the social media in response to Sallah’s statement captioned “The next change, is system change.” Don’t we need a system change as sovereign people? Of curse yes! We need to end governance of self-perpetuation, a mechanism that Jawara and Jammeh used to rule for decades at the expense of the taxpayers and the sovereign citizens of the Gambia. This self-perpetuation can only be ended with a system change, if not the wishes and aspiration of the Gambia sovereign citizens cannot be represented.
Let’s take just one example of self-perpetuation of H.E Barrow and his administration: The Gambia despite complexity of governance in their early days in office, Barrow had to wait almost nine months for the constitution to be amended, to accommodate Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang in the vice presidency, second top job in the political executive, despite unending calls by the citizens and parliamentarians to appoint a vice president. Does that represent the wishes of the people; was she the only person capable of running that office?
Further, it is not a distortion of facts in my humble opinion and interpretation of Hon. Sallah’s assertion that “nothing seems to have changed to have improved the living standard of ordinary citizens,” considering the current catastrophic and disastrous power supply in the country under the leadership of H.E Barrow. This undoubtedly affects the living standard of the ordinary citizens either directly or indirectly. Many Gambian businessmen and women involved both in small scale and big scale businesses, rely on electricity for their businesses to work in order to earn money to pay their rents, send their children to school, and put food on their tables. Does that improve the living standard of citizens, especially the ordinary?
As the mandingo saying goes “Naako baa jataa, amangfoo gii tijii” meaning, when he says the river is dried up, he does not mean there is no water in it. Barrow and his coalition associates should be applauded for “giving the citizens their voice”/ freedom of speech and expression, but again democracy goes beyond freedom of speech and expression, but also devising policies and programmes that represent the wishes and aspiration of all Gambians, regardless of their party affiliations and place of residence.
In addition, the statement from the office of the president that “it is easier for Hon. Halifa Sallah to criticize than take responsibility which he can be accounted by the people” does not represent a statesman like Hon. Halifa Sallah hands down!
In facts, Sallah’s statement in question, is more than taking a responsibility which the people can account him for as a statesman, head of a political party, and a parliamentarian as well. Among his work as a parliamentarian, is to critically scrutinize public office holders and the political executive to serve the best interest of the country. He rejected the cabinet post as he once told the journalists that the decision was base on party principles and the fact that at the National Assemble, he can scrutinize in all areas of development pertaining the state, it does not mean he does not want to rule or take responsibility or be accountable by the people.
Editor, Madi Jorbateh, “a leading Gambian activist” called for the prosecution of Fabakary Tombong Jatta in one of your publications in connection to FTJ’s work as a parliamentarian in Jammmeh’s presidency and made a lot of allegations against the APRC and their MPs. Whether a citizen can call for the prosecution of his fellow citizen, it is left to Madi. What I can say is nobody can escape international justice, let the justice department do their work. Mr. Editor in essence, is to tell people that Sallah is already in a position to be accounted for by the people as people’s representative.
I can assure that Sallah’s public enlightenment cannot be stopped by a human. Only Allah can do that because he was doing it in what many describe as a very brutal and dictatorial regime through his work entitled “the young should be told the truth” which awakens many Gambians and erode the parochial political culture of the people to stand up and fight against self-perpetuating and self serving governance.
Finally, we need people like Hon. Sallah and strong civil society whose democratic and constitutional activities can deter monopolization of power and self perpetuation.
Political Science student,
University of the Gambia