You may have heard of the “Singaporean Dream” of Sir Dawda Jawara and his PPP. It wasn’t a plan to develop our nation but a telling of whom Jawara truly is – the lust for glittering towers. Surely you must have heard Yahya’s Vision 2020. Is it any different? The guy sees the world as flashy vehicles or some cement blocks put together into arch, school or hospital. Certainly, the Gambia needs all of those but we have already paid in excess for those to be in place by now. These are no visions and certainly not one that will make our nation better place for her citizens. They were simply political pandering to a politically passive populace with an ‘educated bunch’ that will scramble for the favor of any leader for their personal gains. In fact, who told Jawara we want to be like Singapore? Do we want to be like that nation? Why not be like America, Arab Emirates, Dubai, Saudi Arabia or you name what? We want to be ‘A Democratic Republic of The Gambia – period! Should I even mention Vision 2020 that was abandoned or forgotten? Wasn’t his latest promises anchored on the so-called Gam-Oil Exploration?
Our Struggle! On one hand suffered and continued to suffer for seeing the problems as ‘Differences In Political Ideology’ rather than ‘None Existence Of Democracy’. A good and recent example of that deep-seated belief is the current re-constitution efforts of PPP. I have no problems with reconstituting PPP but I am simply making a point. What will they offer different from the current parties? Do they have better plan to throw out Yahya? Why not start the ground works with voters as opposed to non-voters? Even if PPP could bring down Yahya – so what? ‘Yai-kompin’ 2.0/Looting 2.0/One-Party state 2.0? On the other hand we lack both ‘Identity and Cause’. The latter’s are serious and largely the reasons of our ineffectiveness against Yahya’s tyranny. We failed to establish a cause and identity because we have no ‘defined problem’.
For any effort to work – we must define our problem that will dictate the solutions. These two will give us identity. The combined credence of those variables will give us the platform of building the necessary political leverage that can cleanup the political mess created by Jawara/PPP and compounded by Yahya/A(F)PRC.
This fight is our fight! This fight is neither about a new government nor the removal of the current. This fight is truly about reclaiming the founding dream of The Gambian Nation – A Democratic Republic. This is a given and non-negotiable! The absence of our collective abilities to freely exercise our sovereignty (not a republic) and the inequitable citizen participation in governance (lack of democracy) are our core problems. Why can’t we exercise our sovereignty? Why we don’t have democracy? The answers to these questions should have been our problem analysis. I numerated the elements of the problem in my last postings – of course as I see it.
‘A National Democracy Vision’ is anchored on the founding promises of our nation that the two administrations denied to the citizens. That vision recognizes the people are sovereign but our governments deny the unfettered exercise of such ownership. That vision will seek to institutionalize a political process to demand through people’s participatory processes to demand institutionalization of democracy. That vision will seek to incorporate built-in people-centered safeguards to ensure desired functionality and protection against abuses.
This is contrast to the campaign for who is our next president and/or occupier of any elected office. This is an effort to make every citizen equal at state. This includes all. A citizen may only opt out because s/he mis-understood/mis-informed and/or sitting on an unfair enterprise against all of us. The planning shall therefore factor in enough time for citizens to voluntarily learn through concerted appropriate education/sensitization but also through obvious interaction with benefits of earlier gains. Our sovereignty and democratic governance (equitable citizen participation) is what common to us all as citizens of The Gambia. We’re and will remain different on everything else including who should be the next president – that’s simply being human.
Hereunder I listed the key elements of such ‘A National Democracy Vision’. This is abridged to enable followers to understand what I mean a democracy vision. The actual document will show details of each element of such vision. As a reference these ideas were elaborated in the draft copy of ‘The Working Paper’ which copy can be email upon request.
Demand/Goal/Vision 1: Overhauling The Constitution
Lack of a binding constitution may not be our first problem but an important problem in that it contains the set of rules that dictate the conduct society. Our constitutional problems are into 2 main folds – inadequacies of what obtains and the disregard of constitutionality. The former is usually easy to deal with but the later is a problem almost everywhere. We must therefore stand as a nation and demand a constitution that is ours and that hold no matter how, who, what, when and/or where.
That constitution is ‘Not Establishing A Republican Nation State’ but simply ‘Recognizing Its Existence’ hence can’t be change. This is establishing the fact that no administration and/or legislature have authority to make us into anything else – theology, socialist/communist, kingdom, etc. The Gambia as a Democratic republic is a given – period. Our legal minds will help to put that in legal language.
That ‘The Citizens of The Gambia Are Sovereign’ with ‘Rights Derived From Nature’ and not from government.
That constitution ‘Establish The Defense Of The Constitution’ – how violation and none adherences to the provisions are handled and punished.
That constitution shall establish ‘Our Forms Of Governments’ and the ‘Seat Of Such Governments’. A National Government seated at the administration capital of the nation and in no presidents birth home. Defining the administrative capital is not a matter for the constitution but through a legislative process. However the constitution may include a language that helps such determination by legislatures such as some defined national interests.
That constitution shall also recognize self-determination of people at all levels hence governments at Regional levels and below. Each of such governments must demonstrate undiluted democratic characteristic of separated powers – 3-Coequal Branches – ‘Executive, Legislature and Judiciary’. The number and type of advisors a president can have will be a job for the legislature to approve and not a constitutional matter.
That Constitution shall ‘Define The Scope and Limits of Each Branch’
That Constitution shall state ‘The Qualifications Into Each Of The 3-Coequal Branches’.
That Constitution shall establish ‘The Limits Of The National Government In Relation to Regionals/Localities’
That Constitution shall ‘Define Citizenship’
That constitution shall numerate our ‘Rights and Civil Liberties’
That constitution shall state what ‘government can and can’t do’
That constitution shall ‘NOT INCLUDE THE PARASTALS’ as the establishment and/or divesture of such bodies will be done with the Acts of the legislature. The powers that the legislature can enact such law shall be part of the ‘can dos and can’t dos’ provided by the constitution.
The final and most daunting challenge is upholding constitutionality. That will be process management reinforced with capacity building of individuals likewise institutions. It will take very proactive citizen involvement. It will take time to perfect it. That’s a reality!
Demand/Goal/Vision 2: Capacity Building of Citizens/People Living In The Gambia
This is properly the taproot of all problems in The Gambia. For democracy to be practice and have any chances of holding the people concern should be democratic beings in the first place. That is majority of our citizens has to have the requisite capacity to live a life of democracy.
Our nation will need an unadulterated education and enlightenment about the republic and democracy as a lifestyle rather than a government in Banjul. Free citizen advocates better handle this rather than making it a mandated government task – politics will eventually hijack it. A well-elaborate curriculum to be part of school (Primary, Secondary and Undergraduate studies) graduation shall be a requirement – an Act of legislature. A curriculum can be develop for other educational institutions that licensed through the state/regions. The general public should be educated by encouraging NGOs, CSOs, Parties, etc. through their various programs.
Notice that I did not mention a role for Radio Gambia and GRTS – because in my democratic Gambia those institutions and parastals will be divest to private ownership. History suggests such private entrepreneurs will have good economic reasons to allow their medium to air carry good civic education programs.
Demand/Goal/Vision 3: Rule of Law/Impartiality Of Law Enforcement/Due Processes
The base of these 3 aspects of democracy dispensation starts with the constitution. The details are elaborate through legislative process. The judiciary arm of democratic government exists to ensure the legality/conformity actions of other parts of government to the constitution. The laws of Gambia shall be made to uphold our values and moral believes. They shall be created to afford all citizens equal opportunity environment. They shall apply equally to all at all time. They shall be enforced with the assumption that citizens and people living in the Gambia are innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law. Hence there exist standard/universally-accepted protocols of treating suspects and/or conducting law enforcement.
Demand/Goal/Vision 4: Maintenance Of An Unadulterated Social Data
For a nation to be effectively/efficiently managed we have to be able to measure and quantify. Nothing about Gambia should be done because some individual(s) is ether in good/bad mood. Employment/deployment of any national resources should be base on facts. Such facts are deduced from data. Such data is collected, processed and managed. Tampering with such data outside of permissible statistical manipulations is as good as no data. Working on the results of such manipulated data is as good as guessing or feel good/bad mood. We can be neither be a functioning democracy nor an impartial nation without documented facts.
With several Acts of legislature both governments and businesses shall be required to generate and store certain information either for eternity and/or stipulated period of time. There should be other Acts that require independent verification of all such data/information. Such information shall be made available for public use so long personal/individual privacies are ensured.
The Gambia (or custodian(s) on her behave) shall maintain registers in the following (not limited to) Birth, Death, Passports, National Identification Cards, Vehicles, Production, Rainfall, Standard Accounting Reports, etc.
This is ‘A National Democracy Vision’. This is what we need to demand from whoever is in power and should require those seeking power has it central in their plans. These citizen demands/goals/vision should be elaborate in a document and given a name synonymous to our identity. That will be the core of what we stand for and demanding.
With such a well thought-out vision, we should be able to identify qualified people (The Vehicle/Organization) who can draw up ‘A Plan of Action’ (Programs). That plan of action shall include but not limited to – Advocacy/Influencing the Global Community of Freedom on our plight, Fund Raising to finance our activities, Organization and Mobilization of citizens both home and abroad.
For the Vehicle/Organization that I called ‘A National Face’ we can debate our best options for maximum inclusion of all/most political spectrum. My only criterions are purposes and expertise. The location, tribe and other attributes that sometimes crop-up into our national discourse are no concerns of mind especially when the goal is simply creation of level playing field for the sovereign people of The Gambia.
Far too long we’ve convinced ourselves on choices of election, natural death and/or military coup. The notion that catapulting someone to power for such a person to make us a functioning democracy hasn’t work anywhere and won’t work in The Gambia. Yahya will die soon is fantasy, but even if that happen – so what? I think is desperation to think a military coup is going to get us out of a dictatorship brought about through military coup.
From our current position, our best chances of effecting desired changed is A People Centered Demand that amasses Globally Recognized Political Leverage. Certainly that is not going to remove and replace Yahya tomorrow. The removal of Yahya is not The Goal, making Gambia ‘A Functioning Institutional Democracy’ is. Expecting democracy by employing undemocratic means doesn’t work. More importantly we will have to come to terms with the reality of our situation for us to craft a realistic solutions……………..I hope we get to such realization sooner rather than later.
Burama FL Jammeh
The Founder/General Secretary
The People’s Movement For Democratic Gambia
810 844 6040