OPINION ON THE DECEMBER 1ST 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS two outgoing students of The Gambia Law School (patiently awaiting Call to The Gambian Bar, hopefully, as soon as the current impasse ends).
Jan 16, 2017, 12:11 PM
I feel compelled to send this message to add a little bit to the thoughts that must be occupying your minds at this critical period of our history.
Having suffered corruption and brutal tyranny for 22 years, it is reasonable to expect this victory to herald a new beginning illuminated with the realisation of the preciousness of our civil liberties, the rule of law, transparency and accountability.
Much like someone having a near-death experience would likely cherish life much more afterwards, and will tell you to live everyday like it is your last. At least for a while immediately following that experience. That is why I, and many people expected this transition period to be completely free of party politics.
After our near death experience I thought everybody in the country would be focussed on rebuilding our institutions, reforming our security services, and equally if not more importantly, get on immediately with Truth, Reconciliation and Justice.
Within every bad experience there is a silver lining, a benefit you can get in return. It is not always accepted, or taken but it is there nonetheless.
The truth is important because it is only by knowing exactly who, what, when, where, and how, can we hope to gain the benefit of what we have gone through.
The undisputed truth, backed by evidence and witnesses, will also serve to bring the nation together against Jammeh and ensure he is banished forever from our collective psyche. Reconciliation is important because all the guilty are Gambians, our neighbours, brothers and sisters.
They live among us, we went to school together, they are married to our cousins, and we cannot lock up the entire country. Justice is also important because some crimes are so severe, the victims so aggrieved, that justice must be seen to be done.
Unfortunately, the politicians do not seem to be living in the same world as us and I imagine many will be dismayed at the haggling and party political manoeuvring that we have been witnessing.
My views on how the coalition should have proceeded are well known, but we are where we are and must move forward. These national assembly elections present the first chance to let the politicians know how you feel. The message to them should be ‘If you won’t put Gambia first, we will!’
You now know how powerful your vote can be, please use it wisely. The National Assembly is the body that scrutinises governments and passes laws, and its members represent us the people of their constituencies. Please do not vote on political party lines, do not vote because of someone’s tribe, do not vote on family ties, or friendship.
The most important quality for a NAM member is integrity. Intelligence is not a bad thing, or ambition, but the most essential is someone you feel is trustworthy.
Of course, you could turn out to be wrong about someone, in that case do not vote for them next time! When you are in the polling booth your vote is indistinguishable from the other thousands of votes, it is a secret ballot so it is impossible to know who you voted for. Honesty, love of country, knowledgeable, good character, INTEGRITY.
Who you vote for is a matter of personal conscience. Please put Gambia first because we will end up with the Gambia we deserve.