All Gambians must or at least should Support the Minister of the Interior, Mai Fatty in this specific instance of restoring and enforcing law and order that apparently broke down at Farato and Baffuloto villages. Democratic dispensation or dividend does not equal or mean lawlessness or hooliganism of any kind. With democracy comes responsibility toward each other and Property. In an ideal world, a government is paradoxically a voluntary and involuntary association of all individuals and groups within a defined georgraphical area. This is by way of shared and different values, needs, and wants. Citizens agree to disagree, yet live within acceptable social norms that are operationalized in the form of promulgated laws, ordinances, rules and regulations. This is what political and political scientists call “Social Contract”. By Social Contract, it is meant that the Citizens consent to be governed in exchange for the government to provide Certain level of security, and the general well-being of the citizens. However, social contract also have an implicit Understanding that empowers the Citizens to resist, protest and even Remove a government that violates the teneths of the contract, just as much as the government has a legitimate privilege and even right to safeguard the peace, security and tranquility of the country. The tension inherent in this view of government and democracy is that the Citizens’ consent is not open ended, nor the government’s right. They are all constrained by the circumstantial and situational nature of events that both the Citizens and the government have little if any total control over. Thus, it is very important for both Parties to respond to these events in a measured and equally appropriate manner that does not clamp down on dissent or appear to do so. The Law Breakers or Offenders must be responsible for their Acts or Behavior. While the government as the representative entity of the citizens holds Law Breakers or Offenders Accountable Under the Weight of the proscribed laws of the land in a manner that is within the Existing Laws, Ordinances, Rules and Regulations. The Government should endeavor to Articulate, Communicate, Informand Publicise Its Intent with reference to any Action or Deed, for a Reasonable Time or Period, Utilizing all Appropriate and available Means of Communication. Community Meetings or “Bantaba” need to be held at different intervals, times, and over a reasonable period to achieve Maximum Participation or Critical Mass Response from those affected. This is what the Essence of Participatory democracy is all about. It is not just voting for or against, or protesting for or against a certain issue. Nor is participatory democracy the mere absence of Authoritarian or Autocratic and despotic acts by government officials or their surrogates in or outside of the government. Law and order and meaningful broad based participatory democracy and governance go hand in Hand. They are Identical Twins With a difference that should be nurtured and maintained with a deliberate sustained effort and input by all and from all. One Gambia, One People, One Destiny.
Sidi N. Bojang