#Article (Archive)

Moving Gambia Forward

May 26, 2009, 4:29 AM

Henry Gomez is right to observe that Gambians have to unite in order to move the country forward. In the quest to make The Gambia better and more prosperous, he noted that "having different ideologies should not make us enemies". He praised effusively President Yahya Jammeh for his development efforts, citing the road network in the provinces as well as the ongoing streetlight projects as examples of the commitment of the Jammeh administration to the development of The Gambia.

There is no doubt that peace and unity are indispensable to progress. Where chaos and anarchy reign, real progress can never take place. Despite the heterogeneous composition of the Gambian society, there is peace which makes it the envy of the region. It is this culture of peace that Henry Gomez wants to see nurtured with vigilance so that The Gambia could be turned into the Silicon Valley of the African continent.

One requirement of true and lasting peace though is for political leaders to commit themselves to social justice as well as economic justice. Where there is neither, discontent becomes prevalent and it can find expression in many and various tragic ways, as we have seen in some parts of the continent.

There should also be political tolerance. If The Gambia belongs to all of us, as Mr Gomez has said, then the views of the opposition parties should be taken into account in managing the affairs of state. When the opposition parties are consulted on matters of national importance, they will feel a sense of belonging that would impact positively on our politics and on our national development goals. But then again, being in opposition is not a licence to run down a ruling party. In a democracy, an opposition political party is just a flip side of the governing one. Each has a manifesto, spelling out its beliefs and intentions for a country. It is on the basis of this manifesto that the electorate decides which party to entrust with the management of the affairs of state. When the prevailing needs and aspirations of the people are in agreement with the manifesto of a political party, that party carries the day. But changing circumstances could make the same manifesto irrelevant to the electorate who would then again vote out that same party. Seen in this light, it is the political party that is most responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people at any given point in time that is given the mandate to govern. That is how democracy works.

After all politics is a contest between rival forces for the same end - the control of power. But how that power is used when it is obtained is a different matter altogether. Preferably, it should be exercised in the best interest of the people in whom real sovereignty lies. We support neither the governing party nor the opposition. All we want is a government that promotes the common good and can move The Gambia forward on the path of continued peace, progress and prosperity within the framework of an open society.

"Our objective in the establishment of the state is the greatest happiness of the whole,and not that of any one class".