#Article (Archive)

Our Fear

Dec 8, 2008, 5:08 AM

The news of the withdrawal of the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) Mr Abdoulie Jallow from the Nianija by-election is a rude awakening. It is so because it has shown that the opposition is in no shape to take on the ruling APRC now or in the distant future. This is a very disturbing development for our democracy, because a democracy needs a formidable opposition to keep the ruling party on its toes. Why did the NRP candidate have to wait until the last minute before throwing in the towel? He and his party owe the Gambian people an explanation.

Not too long ago, Omar Jallow apologised to the Gambian people on behalf of the opposition for failing them on two occasions.

The occasions are the UDP's boycott of the parliamentary election in 2001 and the fragmentation of the National Alliance for Development and Democracy (NADD) in 2006. When he made that public apology, it was widely believed that the opposition had learnt its lesson the hard way and was ready to make amends.

But with the unexpected withdrawal of the NRP candidate from the Nianija by-election, the OJ apology now counts for nothing; the opposition is yet to learn anything at all from its past mistakes.

The opposition is like a toothless bulldog that barks but does not bite. This is not the sort of opposition that the country needs right now - the country is badly in need of an opposition that barks and bites, always forcing the ruling party to do its homework thoroughly for the benefit of the people.

We are concerned about what is happening because we want our democracy to flourish, with an opposition that lives up to its statutory responsibilities. We crave an opposition that is not easily frightened; we yearn for an opposition that can pinpoint shortcomings in governance and offer a better remedial action plan.Lamentably, our opposition, given the way it has been carrying on, portrays itself as a group of colourless people who are bereft of ideas, pragmatism and a fighting spirit.

Our fear is that the country will eventually slide into a one-party state, as the governing APRC is very likely in the next legislative election to take complete control of the National Assembly.

When this happens, there will be no such thing as the opposition in our democracy any more.

"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

Reinhold Niebuhr.