The need to fulfil election promises

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

“One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are,” Carl Thomas, America journalist born in 1942. Thomas did not know that such a quote would be as relevant to the political life of a different country like The Gambia as it was to the U.S. over 80 years ago.

We have said it before in these pages: the security sector reform and Truth and Reconciliation programmes would either make or break this country. They were key promises made to voters many years ago, when some of those officials riding ministerial positions today hardly want to be associated with opposing the dictatorship. Gambians paid dear for standing up of these principles. Adama Barrow and his team must not let their sacrifices go in vain.

Failure to respect these values of the struggle against dictatorship will only succeed in downgrading the score card of this administration, at least based on conjecture and the word on the street. When they came to power, they rode on promises that motivated the people to see through them, a chance at redeeming the country destroyed by two decades of injustice, bad governance and economic one-sidedness.

The people had hopes that this transition government, led by President Adama Barrow, will not be one of just empty promises like those of Sir Dawda Jawara and Yahya Jammeh. The expectations are high!

Lest we forget, Jammeh promised transparency, accountability and probity. He promised freedom for all – including the press; promised reforms. Has all these not been promised by Adama Barrow, again? How many have been fulfilled so far? Of course, one-year would be a short term, but deliberate efforts must be seen to be done to send the right signals to the people.

Today, the Cabinet wields so much power and voice over the population that they are beginning to renege on the promises made. Instead, they use these powers for personal gains, political maneuvers or survivalism, that can be best compared to Yahya Jammeh’s first years in office. Do not test the patience of Gambians!

The recent reports about members of the military engaging in behaviours only go to confirm the need for decisiveness and leadership by this administration. Those are just the tips of the ice bergs. There is more unsaid and undone. They must be contained in time. The security sector reforms promised must be fulfilled.

Members of the army who committed crimes against our people, helped entrenched dictatorship and are today dressed-up as disgruntles have no place in our new democracy. You must root them out, even if we have to hold you by your general’s uniform-collars, or the top button of your suits and under gowns of the grand boubas you wear to your offices daily.

The Gambian Army needs standards in order to be professional and capable of being seen as reformed. It needs to be composed of competent, decent Gambian citizens with love for serving the country, and not those enrolled based on tribes or political… affinities.

“Honour and fulfill your promises made to voters, but not just empty promises like those of…  many years ago.”
The Point