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Dialogue With the People Tour in Focus

May 6, 2008, 6:33 AM

The Chief Executive of the country yesterday crossed over to the other side of the River Gambia to the North Bank Region as he began his Dialogue With the People tour. We are told that President Jammeh will today hold a mass rally in Kerewan to be followed by other engagements.

We needn't belabour the fact that Dialogue With People tour is a significant constitutional requirement but there's a crying need to hammer home some issues which we should not lose sight of during this overwhelmingly significant constitutional engagement. The tour, apart from the euphoria that it will generate in our villages and towns, will also give the people the rare opportunity to come face to face with their no. 1 servant. Talking of no. 1 servant, one is made to believe that this tour will serve as an extremely important platform for those who elect the President to ask him whether he had made good or is making good his promises before they elected him into office. The tour should not be all about dishing out money or merry-making. Rather it should provide the opportunity for poor, hungry farmers to ask the President as to what his Government is doing about the groundnut trade problem. It should allow the farmers to ask him why they still continue to suffer from government's inability to create the enabling conditions for the sale of their nuts. The tour should give an opportunity for people to ask the President why their loved ones should continue to die on horse and donkey carts for lack of ambulances. The tour should give the chance to people, few though they may be, to ask the President as to why they still live in their villages and hamlets without access to safe drinking water. The tour should be used as a platform for the President to explain to the people the reason(s) for the astronomic rise in the price of rice and what his administration is doing about it.

With claims of the health sector recording significant gains on the other hand, the President should explain to the people about his administration's position, vis-à-vis the rise in the rate of people referred to private pharmacies by our hospitals and health centres to buy life-saving drugs. How about the unavoidable deaths in our hospitals and health centres?

The issue of people sent to Mile II without any recourse to court; the issues of the crater-like potholes on our roads, the power problems are some of the issues that need to be talked about during this important engagement of the President. Indeed, this tour should allow people to sincerely express their concerns and problems affecting them. No praise singing! No flattery!    

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