Nov 5, 2019, 3:11 PM
Excellency, President Adama Barrow, allow me the honour and privilege of
addressing you through this open medium, perhaps the only means I may have of
getting over to you.
I will begin by congratulating you on your stunning and historic victory in the landmark elections of December 1, 2016. Your triumph is perhaps the most universally acclaimed electoral success anywhere in the world in recent times.
One gets the impression that there is no news network on earth that has not at one point or the other mentioned your name with reference to your assumption of the grand position of President of our dear country, The Gambia.
Your Excellency, it is easy to guess that you already have very qualified persons to advise you on all matters relating to the Economy, Security, Education, Health, Agriculture, Freedom, Justice and Peace, and on all other areas that advance national development.
However, recent experience has shown that, because of their mundanity, certain aspects of the management of the personality and comportment of the Head of State are not given the expert attention and consideration they deserve.
Consequently, the protocol around the person of the Head of State is allowed to comprise an awkward and ludicrous paraphernalia.
Anything now that goes to remind us of, or resembles, the negative things of the past should be avoided during your entire tenure.
Your Excellency, I plead that you consider:
1. Maintaining the short and beautiful name that the entire world already knows: His Excellency Adama Barrow. Do not allow anyone to add any titles to it. The dignity and effectiveness of the President do not depend on the number of titles appended to his name. These are mere distractions and do not in any way enhance the efficient performance of state duties. Some are even awarded with sinister motives.
2. Giving due regard for officially stipulated time. If a function is fixed by your office to start at a given time, please endeavour to be there at that time. Do not listen to your protocol officer who wants you to wait until everyone else is seated before you arrive. If the President makes it a policy to be at functions on the appointed time, everyone else will ensure that they are there before him or risk being locked out of the function, no matter who they may be.
Arriving at functions late even for minutes, not to talk of hours, is a sham demonstration of importance and a blatant show of disregard for those waiting.
Accepting ‘African Time’ or ‘Gambia Mean Time’ as normal is one of the more serious and shameful aspects of indiscipline in our society. One hopes your Excellency will reset our psyche to make us greater respecters of time.
3. De-militarizing your personal security. Gambians have become averse to seeing hordes of armed soldiers surrounding the President during official functions. It would be a very welcomed act if the security around you is certainly strong but much less visible.
4. Listening to the counsel of competent and sincere advisers. You most certainly will not know it all. But in most cases, you will have the last say on matters of governance. Please endeavour to hear out all sides in a case before you act. Be a President of a few but wise words. So that you will not be a flip-flopping President who frequently revokes his own decisions and pronouncements.
5. Opening up the promenade in front of State House to the public. It would be a wonderful confirmation of the openness of the new democratic dispensation if the fortress facade of State House is removed and citizens are given the freedom of getting as close to the seat of government as securely possible. One is convinced that citizens and tourists will not mind going through discrete security checks so as to be able to walk in front of the Presidential Palace and perhaps take photo shots, during specified periods of the day or week. Older folks would recall how as young people in Banjul, they had the pleasure of strolling in front of ‘Government House’ on weekends especially.
Your Excellency, this piece is written as a goodwill message to you. It is also our humble attempt to help in a process that can add a bit more shine to the name of His Excellency Adama Barrow, which will be embossed for posterity in Gambian history.
May the Almighty protect, guide and inspire you during your tenure as President of the Republic of The Gambia.
M. P. Ndure