By Alhagi Touray Mr President, no sane Gambian will be against your National Development Plan (NDP). Development and progress whether for human beings or for a nation is something universally accepted. Human development is never bad. So I disagree that Gambians are against your development plan. Any good development you achieve in The Gambia is going to help and benefit the Gambian people. We are politically mature enough to grasp that. Any development you brought about belongs to all Gambians irrespective of their category or civil status. Remember Mr President, just two or three years ago, you would not have uttered the statements you made and I hope you know why. You are able to do so today because the people you are threatening with firing from their jobs and positions are the same people who employ you and send you to work. Do not be a carbon copy of Yahya Jammeh in the making. Please we beg you, DO NOT. You are what you are today thanks to all Gambians from all walks of life who brought about the change. You came to power through people’s power. A very clean campaign; fair and democratic process with the humble help of your fellow countrymen and women. It is therefore preposterous for you to give such a statement equivalent to a dictatorial behaviour. The barrel of the gun did not put you were you are today Mr President and always remember that. Gone are the days when Gambians were intimidated and fear was their daily bread. This generation, Mr President, is different and you have to adjust to that reality otherwise the distance between you and your people will get wider and wider. Do not abandon the ideas and principles of democracy that brought you to power and make The Gambia the envy of Africa and the larger world. Mr President, it is our democratic right to disagree with you or your administration under the framework of the law, and that does not make any of us a bad citizen. It is rather unfortunate and very sad indeed that a democratic elected president like yourself will look into the eyes of your people and threaten to fire them from their bread-winning employment if they dare speak their mind on the affairs of their country. Silencing a population that is so thirsty for democracy, accountability, probity, the rule of law and freedom is not an option. Who is next in your pipeline? Will it be journalists, civil activists, religious leaders, students, academics and other free-minded people? Mr President, do not create backwardness in The Gambia. You have always said Gambia forward, backward never. When was the last time you utter these statements? Forward for The Gambia can only be achieved through democratic tolerance and by disagreeing to agree. We should accept and welcome divergent views in our society no matter how weird those views may be. Not necessarily should we accept each other’s views, but we must respect each other. No conscious and well-educated youth will welcome Barrow Youth for National Development in its current formation. The reason being it is not in line with the Gambian constitution and values and not in line with universal democratic values and principles. Your youth movement is illegal and unconstitutional because it is your own invention masquerading behind government projects. The politics of deception should end in The Gambia forthright. The Barrow Youth Movement for Development can open the floodgates for corruption and even internal strife. Mr President, it is illegal and unconstitutional to outsource government responsibilities to a personal movement or organisation. Are you and your aides aware of that or you just don’t care? We are young Gambian intellectuals well educated and internationally informed. Presidential youth movements are an African phenomenon seldom seen in democratic societies and well functioning nations. Oftentimes, it is despots that use youth movements and militias to achieve their grandiose and political objectives. You have the likes of Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Gadaffi of Libya, Mobuto of former Zaire, Faure Gnassingbé of Togo, Ali Bongo of Gabon, Sassou-Nguesso of Congo Libreville, Nkrunziza of Burundi and Jammeh of The Gambia, just to name a few. All these leaders are from the African continent. The one thing these despots have in common is either a disastrous legacy or ruining their countries due to creating a cult personality around themselves in the form of illegal movements and militias. These movements eventually terrorise their own people. Mr President, we do know the people or individuals who you are threatening with firing from their employment. These are very humble, dedicated and hard-working people. Since you happen to choose a different route in governance, you are threatening our civil servants to follow your route or else. This is absolutely wrong in any civilised society including The Gambia. The Barrow Youth Movement is not the solution to our youth unemployment and certainly it is not not youth empowering. Gambian youths very vulnerable, frustrated and in complete despair who need opportunities that can give skills and not submission to a self-perpetuating movement. These youths demand better education, good skills, innovation and entrepreneurial skills. They want to create opportunities for themselves and not depend on handouts. Mr President, the best thing to do for Gambian youths is to create business opportunities and start-ups where they can practice their skills to have sustainable income. Digging boreholes, providing milling machines for few and fencing of gardens should be the job of institutions and departments within the framework of governance. Let us not use and misuse our vibrant youths for the selfish interest of few individuals. Mr President, you will not be present everywhere when these youths are given instructions or directives from others other than you. Mr President, we are already a traumatized and polarized nation. We need a unifying figure and peace builder among ourselves. Remember Mr President, you cannot be both democratic and undemocratic at the same time. The choice is yours and nobody’s. Gambians, I mean the majority of Gambians, are captive to poverty, hence those around you are unwilling to advise you about the reality on the ground. What will you do next if words and threats did not instill fear in us? You reminded us that we feared Yahya Jammeh because of the vast military and security powers he accumulated, but your power combined with Ecomig is more powerful than Yahya Jammeh’s. This is nothing but a threat and that is very evident in your speech in Upper River Region. Mr President, what goes round comes round and governments and leaders come and go but nations remain. In conclusion, allow me to borrow your own phrase, Gambia forward, backward never! Thank you and may God bless The Gambia and her people. Alhagi Touray is a Gambian based in Stockholm, Sweden]]>
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