After twelve months in office, I think it is time for stocktaking. This is a time that we should embark on self assessment. This is to enable us measure our progress so far; and assess our failures.
The starting line in a race, rather than the finish line is the determinant of performance. We started from ground zero, or so to speak, as we inherited a government which was almost bankrupt not only financially, but in democratic principles and the Rule of Law as well.
We fought hard to end it but needless to say that it wasn’t easy. Our aim and objective, at the starting line, was to end impunity, revive the economy, create employment, restore human rights and respect rule of law. All this was supposed to be done under a reviewed and reformed constitution. This was supposed to transform the country from one man rule to democratic and participatory governance.
December 1st 2017 marked one year since we succeeded in ousting the former president and it is time to take stock. We have succeeded in ending arbitrary arrest and the blatant disregard for the rule of law. Furthermore, we have succeeded, to some extent, in ensuring respect for individual rights and liberties [though there is room for improvement as the denial of a permit to the #OccupyWestfield Movement shows]. The media space has also opened up as journalists can now do their jobs without let or hindrance. Ordinary citizens can now engage in the political discourse without fear of being arrested and incarcerated thus many young people now express their ideas and opinions freely.
Notwithstanding all these however, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. For starters, Mr President, the lack of a roadmap is hindering our transformation. There seems to be no sense of direction and we see that many of the things that used to happen are still happening today. Unemployment is still a problem as our youth are returning from Libya to a place that has no plans for them.
Some of the laws that we all fought against so hard are still in our constitution. For instance, up until now, there is no term limit for the presidency. The simple majority rule is still in our books. The law that makes an MP who sacked from his party lose his seat in the National Assembly is still in place. The cost of living is still high and the economy hasn’t really picked up yet
One would have thought therefore that having been in office for twelve months, you would spearhead a national discourse aimed at taking stock of our success and failures so far and outline the way forward. This was what was expected by many Gambians instead of a celebration characterised by singing, dancing and dishing money to griots.
Mr President, ‘Waatoo te jee’, there is a lot to be done yet. Let us not be complacent, the Road to Democracy is long and arduous!
Have a good day Mr President.