Jan 10, 2013, 9:21 AM
We heartily congratulate in advance President-elect Yahya Jammeh, who will assume office for the fourth successive term as President of the Republic of The Gambia when he is sworn in, which is expected to take place tomorrow at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.
Plans for the event are at an advanced stage with the Independence Stadium and its surroundings given a facelift.
President Jammeh, we all know, is no stranger to running the affairs of this country, having been at the helm of affairs for the past 17 years.
However, so many promises were made during the campaign running up to the 24th November 2011 presidential election.
We have seen leaders reneging on their promises and doing the exact opposite of what they have promised to do. We want to believe that President Jammeh would be an exception.
By voting overwhelmingly yet again for President Jammeh, Gambians want to see a continuity of the plethora of development projects the APRC government has initiated over the past decade.
They want to see the roads rehabilitated not only in the Kanifing Municipality and other administrative areas, but across the whole country.
They want to see an expansion country-wide of the network of pipe-borne water supply systems, and the national power grid, as well as a steady supply of electricity, especially in the Greater Banjul area.
Gambians would like to see good ferries plying the Banjul-Barra and Farafenni crossing points.
They also want to see a government that is more accommodating of all shades of opinion.
As President Jammeh prepares to be sworn in for another term, we want to remind him of the need for national reconciliation, because we believe that it was time Gambians forgave one another and forgot what had happened before.
Irrespective of political affiliation, Gambians would like to see President Jammeh carry all Gambians along towards achieving his Vision 2020 and other set objectives for this country.
To demonstrate his real commitment to national reconciliation, we would like to see him take practical steps towards healing old wounds, and encouraging all Gambians to live amicably with one another as members of one big extended family.
On a general note, President Jammeh will have to set the ball rolling by fulfilling all his promises and, most importantly, forgive all those who have in one way or another offended him in the past five years or so.
He will also have to demonstrate magnanimity in the next five years by extending his development programmes to both supporters and opponents of his government. If he rises above partisan politics and lets national considerations shape his development agenda, then he will be seen as a true national leader.
In all affairs of state for the next five years, President Jammeh should always allow the interest of the state to take precedence, uphold the constitution, respect the rule of law and freedom of expression, and work towards improving on our human rights record.
Talking about national interest, the independent media is central to the success of government’s development efforts. Without the media, government will be at a loss as to how its programmes and projects are assessed by the people.
As the interface between the government and the people, the media deserves a great deal of respect so that they can carry out their statutory role of making government accountable to the people.
As a result, we would like the Jammeh administration to adopt an open door policy towards the independent media.
We want to be seen as partners in development and not as enemies or mouthpiece of the opposition, because we have always maintained our position that we are neither in for the opposition nor for the government.
All that we want is a just society in which democracy will prevail.
Moreover, divergent opinions should be tolerated in all public media houses at all times. As a leader, President Jammeh should be ready to accept criticism; he should not be seen to be tolerating praise-singing, because experience has shown that praise-singers are chameleons who take on the prevailing colour just to alleviate their own poverty.
In the political history of the world, praise-singers are known to have jumped boats mid-stream.
On the other hand, great leaders learn more from criticisms, which, like mistakes, are the standards by which we measure our progress in life.
Furthermore, President Jammeh should use his prerogative to abolish the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill 2004 and Newspaper (Amendment) Bill 2004. Both pieces of legislation are inimical to press freedom in The Gambia.
Finally, as we look forward to mending fences in the next five years, we pray that justice and wisdom should guide all our actions so that peace, progress and prosperity will prevail all the time in The Gambia.
“Always forgive your enemies but never forget their names.”