The recent face to face debate organised by Mr Haronna Drammeh of Paradise TV between Hon Halifa Sallh of People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) and Dr Ismaela Ceesay of Citizens Alliance was very interesting and educative. For the first time in Gambian history, we have two of our political leaders appeared in a public debate on issues and agendas affecting the country. This was laudable and commendable. We congratulate Hon. Sallah and Dr Ceesay for their mature participation. Mr Harona Drammeh must be credited for championing the mission. In my opinion, it was a giant step in the right direction and that Gambians need more of such face to face debates between our politicians, especially in our local languages. Instead of abusing and accusing each other, they should sell us their policies and programs in terms of development strategies.
I seize this opportunity to call on H.E. President Barrow and our honourable opposition leaders, challenging them to emulate Hon Halifa Sallah and Dr Ismaila Ceesay on national debate on ideas and doctrines. Let them sell to the Gambian people their various party philosophies in face to face debates, like Sallah and Ceesay did. Now that these two brave leaders have set the ball rolling, it behoves on the rest of the political heavyweights to enter the ring and convince us with their policies and strategies to enable us make informed choices. Perhaps, from now on, our media fraternity led by the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), should follow Harona’s smart pioneering and commence inviting our party leaders either in pairs or in multiple to face to face discussions. Such open public deliberations can be broadcast over and over to enable the message reach as many people as possible.
This will help promote organised policy discourse and as well as educate our people on agenda-politicking, and minimise unnecessary personal attacks and smear campaigns that is currently ripping into the very fabric of our society. The moderators of structured debates must not allow undue personal attacks as they would always remind participants of mutual respect and focus on agenda. I therefore implore President Barrow and the entire Opposition leadership to answer when called upon to take the platform in such debate of ideas and ideologies. It will be good for our democracy and political dispensation contrary to the unmoderated open campaigns with rampant hate speeches and character assassination.
Thank you, Harona for a job well done. We hope others will follow your footsteps.
Alh yahya Ceesay