By Tabora Bojang
Former Wuli West lawmaker, Sidia Jatta has argued that The Gambia is not only confronted by lack of good leadership but decent patriotism because “good citizens create good leaders” capable of changing the fortunes of a country.
Addressing a symposium on patriotism at the YMCA last Wednesday, the veteran politician charged that Gambians are compelled and driven by personal considerations instead of being patriots, saying this is why the country has been sinking for 56 years after independence.
“There is a need for Gambians to come together and speak to each other with honesty. Nobody cares about this country, nobody talks about it, nobody is unhappy with whatever happens here. That is why it has been going down the drain for 56 years. Once you have your money in your pocket, your job, your vehicle and you have your wife and children going to schools where you want, you don’t care about what is happening in this country. So that is why I say we don’t have Gambia in our heads because if we did and do, this country would have gone up with development. It is not just a question of lacking good leadership but it is also a question of lacking good citizens because good citizens create good leaders since they make sure that the person who is going to be in charge of their country has the capacity, the commitment and has the honesty to do the job in the interest of the people,” he said.
Mr. Jatta said contrary to other beliefs, Gambia is not poor as a geopolitical entity, but the people are ‘poor in thinking,’ citing that River Gambia alone if properly utilised, can make the country food sufficient and create abundant wealth for the citizens.
“But have we ever even attempted that? And we are here begging for food when we should be giving out food to people.”
According to Sidia, if Gambians are really patriotic, they would question everything that goes against the interest of The Gambia, such as stealing of their wealth and other conducts that undermine the creation of decent public service.
“We pay huge taxes in broad daylight, it goes into their coffers and no services are delivered to us and we are happy and when elections come, we put the same people in office again. The essence of periodic elections is to assess the persons entrusted with office to see whether what they promise commensurate with what is on the ground and if it does not, then you look for somebody else who can do the work because you want development, but no, we don’t do that. And what is more surprising is that when somebody steals money from our coffers, they clap for him, forgetting that such a person has denied you your fundamental rights to good health, education, job, good roads, and clean water. That is why it is important that we have a national discussion on what it takes to be a good citizen. Simply put, a good citizen is a patriot. When you are a patriot, you are a good citizen and you don’t sit down and see the country going down the drain and fold your hands. We are going through all these problems because there is nothing like patriotism. Nobody is committed to the well-being of this country and that is why from 1965 to date, all the projects that came to this country, none continues after the project phases. They all died,” Sidia claimed.
The symposium was organised by Sulayman Junkung Sawaneh, a native of Baddibu Njaba Kunda based in Denmark, who has been rendering humanitarian services to Gambian schools, hospitals and needy families for over 4 decades.
Sawaneh called on Gambians to unite and work for development and ensure our actions are guided by national interest.