By Sheriff Kora
This election is not just another regular election, but an election that will pull us from backwardness or push us over the cliff. After five years of ineptitude, incompetence, corruption and buffoonery, every citizen knows that things are not normal in this country. Despite the vain talk and empty promises, the truth known to all of us is that life in The Gambia today is hard. Whilst other countries have improved the living conditions of their people, our country continues to tumble on all meaningful indicators of prosperity and well-being. Today, majority of Gambians lack the basic things a good and responsible government is expected to provide its citizens – reliable water supply, electricity, a good preventative healthcare, decent and competitive education. A vast majority of our population live in hunger and unacceptable levels of poverty. The youth unemployment problem in the country is getting worse, compounded by the number of school dropouts that is on the rise. Drug trafficking, substance abuse and the number of disillusioned and mentally challenged youth in our country is astounding.
As we seek solutions to a difficult past and an uncertain future, it is perhaps fair to question the actions of our political leaders and the direction in which they intend to take our country. In this election, we can choose the direction of deeper division and distrust for one another or we can choose an honest and upright leader that will build the required cohesion and political consensus to replace the hatred and bitterness in our country with understanding, tolerance, love and justice for all.
We do not need further divisions in The Gambia, we do not need hatred in The Gambia, and we do not need lawlessness or violence in our country. What we need in The Gambia in these times of uncertainty is responsible leadership guided by values and selflessness. What we ask is love, wisdom, compassion and tolerance towards one another. What we need is the feeling of justice towards the victims that suffered over the past 27 years. What we need is a visionary leadership that will guide our actions to revive our economy, to create jobs, provide better healthcare, improve our education system, tackle corruption, and fairly distribute state resources. Despite the uncertainties and the deep political divisions that have emerged in our country, we can do better in The Gambia. We must not lose confidence in our ability to build a better Gambia. The vast majority of the Gambians want to improve their living condition. The vast majority of Gambians want to live with respect, love, unity and justice for everyone living in the country.
My fellow citizens, this election offers us that opportunity- the last best chance to rescue our country from the hands of greedy, corrupt and inexperienced leaders that do not have the future of this country at heart. They say that transforming into a lion is not what is hard; it is getting the tail of a lion. Anybody can lead, but not everybody can be a great leader. A great inspirational leadership is what we need. There are undoubtedly a few respectable contenders in this presidential race, but by all indications, it is clear that the United Democratic Party (UDP) is the only viable option with the critical mass to form a government that will lead with dignity and respect for the common good of all Gambians. The team the UDP leader Lawyer Ousainu Darboe is leading is not only a dedicated team, but one that is representative of our diverse communities. A team that understands the need to fix the broken system in our government and to restore our national pride. I can say with pride and satisfaction that in the upcoming election the UDP is composed of experienced and bright young minds with a shared vision of the possibilities of our country to attain excellence in every field of economic growth and human development.
We are fully aware of the steep challenges that lay ahead, achieving the goals we set for ourselves will not be achieved overnight, but we must also have confidence that with the right leadership and vision, Gambians can overcome any challenge. The UDP has presented a manifesto which is an intellectual and practical development plan that aims to bring positive economic growth to The Gambia. The UDP has an ambitious modernization plan for our agricultural sector, which will increase domestic food production, reduce our import bill, and uplift many small rural farmers out of poverty. A strong agricultural economy is vital for promoting industrialization and job creation. The prosperity we want will not overnight, but with realistic policies backed by the hope, creative energy and consistent work ethics of the Gambian, we can secure a bright future. The plans laid in the UDP’s manifesto will certainly generate equitable and sustainable growth to provide our youth and women with opportunities for employment and a higher standard of living.
Over the years, numerous Gambians suffered and died in the cause of restoring democracy and freedom in our country. As a party, the UDP also shared these challenges and suffered hefty losses in this fight. It is a party that is aware that it is because of the solidarity between the party and the Gambian people that has allowed the UDP to survive. In both words and by action, Lawyer Ousainu Darboe and the party leadership of the UDP have consistently acknowledged the support, generous contributions and the debt of gratitude the UDP owes the Gambian people. This is the depth of compassionate leadership and inclusiveness. Gambians should be assured that as a party leader and as a lawyer who has dedicated his entire life to love, compassion, and the pursuit of justice, the sacrifice of every Gambian yesterday will undoubtedly be the obligation of Lawyer Darboe when he is elected president on December the 4th.
Gambians deserve better. In this election, the choice is clearly two: on the left, there is NPP and continuation of the corruption, deceit, deception, incompetence and functional illiteracy that continues to stifle the economic development and prosperity of our country. On the right, there is UDP and the restoration of hope, happiness, dignity, respect and economic prosperity of every Gambian. The choice is yours and the stakes are high. I implore every Gambian to use this general election to vote wisely. Vote for change and vote for the United Democratic Party to lead our country in the right direction.