President Barrow’s tour and our reading of it

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The President will embark on a 10-day tour of the country commencing today through Sunday 2 April 2017.

As indicated by a statement from the Office of the President, the tour will avail the President the opportunity to thank the Gambian people for the overwhelming support given him by the people, as well as to call on the nation to vote for the “Coalition candidates” who form his government.

It is good that the President is going on a nationwide tour of the country to thank the people for voting him into office and for standing by him through a difficult power transition phase from the regime of former President Jammeh.  The tour is quite in place as it demonstrates a spirit of gratitude and respect for the people.

However, what we are ambivalent about is whether the support the President wants from the electorate to ensure “coalition candidates” dominate the National Assembly to enable him implement his policies, would go that way.

Many people would have liked a smooth flow of the coalition parties and their candidates, through thick and thin, and with one mind or focus, for the President and his coalition government to be able to implement their policies and programmes.

But with the swift and very early split of the coalition right from the heads of the coalition pyramid - leaders of the various parties, it is largely doubtful whether the Barrow government would get that cohesive purpose of mind, action and focus from candidates who will emerge winners of the National Assembly elections.

In the first place, the cracks and split in the rank and file of the coalition would discourage many of the people who voted in the coalition government, as well as push some electorate to shun the elections and others to vote for candidates other than the coalition party members.

If things should go this way, it would be difficult for the coalition government to have a smooth run of state affairs in this new dispensation, which also means that the government’s policies and programmes will be hardly implemented as planned.

On the other hand, a government with majority of the parliamentarians in the House also poses a dicey situation, one with no strong or formidable check in the event it wants to go off track, as this has been the case with many governments of similar makeup around the world.

However, the people have the last say on voting day, and can make the crucial decision of who they want to serve as their representatives in the National Assembly, just as they decided in the December 1, 2016 presidential election.

Meanwhile, we wish the President a successful tour. Bye for now, Mr President!

“I know what motivated you was not just a political campaign. It was your love of our country”

Alan Nunnelee