Following the coming to the fore of the Three Years Jotna movement, many citizens spoke out to call on the president, Mr Adama Barrow engage citizens in a frank and honest dialogue so that any unpleasant consequences can be averted.
The president however remained mute for a long time only to announce in a series of meetings with different people that no one can force him to step down before 2021.
He said that whether folks like it or not, he will be president until 2021 and that whoever wanted to be president should wait for that time and run for office.
The president failed – and continues to fail – to mention and acknowledge that it was he and his coalition partners that promised the Gambian people that they will serve for only three years to implement reform agendas for the country to heal and move forward.
If therefore, for various reasons, they think that it is not practical for him to step down, the best way to go about it, in the eyes of many Gambians, is to engage in a frank and open dialogue with the citizens. This dialogue must be broad and seek as much consensus as possible.
However, the Director of Press at the office of the president was seen to have initiated a dialogue on national television in which she hosted security chiefs in uniform saying things which could be interpreted as threats by people.
When dialogue is to be used, then it has to be in such a way that people will understand that it is geared towards creating a consensus with the people and thus retired security chiefs with impeccable character, opinion leaders and influential Gambians should be the ones to invite to such discussions.
In this way, opinions can be swayed and the country come to an understanding that it is better to allow President Barrow to complete five years or step down after the expiration of the three years as promised.
It is hoped that the government will realize that using threats and intimidation is not the solution to this problem; but, also that it is not insurmountable.
Proper planning of the dialogue and consistent consultation can defuse the tension and everyone will breathe easy.