The Author: Momodou Njai
Dear Mr President
As we mark the 20th anniversary since you came into power, I thank you and the First Lady Madame Zeinab Jammeh for giving me this opportunity to share with you my concerns and proposals that would benefit the Gambian people and Gambia as a whole. I also thank you and your administration for the developments that have taken place since you came into power. I am willing to take any or all of the criticism that will come my way for actually engaging you to do the right thing.
Even enemies talk to let each other know where they stand but you are not my enemy nor a friend, but the leader of our beloved nation. With that being said, I as a citizen of The Gambia have the right to address our issues and come up with proposals and plans that can save us from further chaos. Take this deal and forever hold the peace or in due time face the people that will have no other choice but to march and claim what belongs to them. Mr President, I am not a supporter of the APRC, nor am I a member of any political party, or organization. Like many Gambians who share the same concerns as mine, I would want to come to Gambia to sit and discuss with you about these proposals after consulting all the opposition parties and diaspora groups by engaging them in the debate.
Mr President, with the help of the First Lady that means dear to your heart, I am hoping that you would accept my request to see me as a concerned Gambian who wants to be part of the solution and not add to any problems; for country’s sake. I am not expecting any guarantees that you would grant my wish for the proposals, but as the leader of our beloved nation, I expect you to do your level best for the interest of our nation. It is your very own words that said, “If somebody is doing something that is bad and is affecting you and the country, stop him and if you cannot stop him, report him to somebody who can stop him. If you are a good citizen and good Muslim or Christian, when somebody is appointed in any position and is doing something bad, your obligation as a human being and a servant of God is to stop the person from doing what is bad.” That is what I am doing today Mr President. I am telling you that The Gambia is not on the right course and we need to change course. Just in case I don’t get to see you and I am either arrested, tortured, or killed with or without your knowing, just simply know that I am willing to take that risk not for anything in reward, but for God’s sake and love of country. I would sincerely ask you to:
1. Show compassion towards the prisoners on death row and release them. I know you have said that you will never forgive murderers and those who have done evil, but may I remind you that if we don’t have the heart to forgive one another, how do we expect God to forgive us! Yes we live in a world with laws, but how many people have gone missing and died in the hands of some officials, and nothing was said or done that justified such! There are also some that have been wrongly accused and he or she says dominates or justifies such arrests without concrete evidence. Please use your pardoning power to set the records straight and release all political prisoners such as Amadou Sanneh, and others that have not killed a living soul. Also, please have the judiciary review all cases of those that are in mile 2 or in the NIA, and pardon them willingly. Compensate families and victims that have been wrongly accused or are victims to any inhumane treatments. You would be seen as not weak but bold enough to fix what is broken.
2. Call the National Assembly into session and repeal laws that are unconstitutional, and threatening to its citizens. The internet bill or law for example gives ultimate powers to the State and government officials, which is abusive. It is too broad that it violates every aspect of the constitution, and what it means to say that no one is above the law.
3. Allow term limits and ask the National Assembly to work on it as soon as possible. Dismiss any claims of wanting to be a King or turn Gambia into a monarchy. Be strong to tell the people that we are living in a democracy that respects the rule of law and that we are not or will ever be under monarchy rule again.
4. Call on the International Community for better relations and rebuild the unwavering relationship with Senegal being our family neighbors. Honor the fallen and their families by inviting them over to settle past differences. Only a good person can give you such advice and good is all the Presidency should be about and the interest of the nation.
5. Call on the Diasporas that are educated enough to build the country but fear persecution. Many Gambians are highly educated but can’t go home because they are intellectually smart enough to know and feel what they might face if they return home, because they simply cannot ignore such when living in a free world. They should not be blamed for been exposed to their individual rights as citizens that every democratic country must adhere to. Having an open discussion and speaking to them without threatening them can bring in highly educated folks to improve our beloved country. Mind you, Gambia is lacking people that really want to develop it but you and your government needs to refrain from words of punishment and encourage its citizens to join the country for its National Interest. They are afraid that you will build more Mile 2’s and even use the firing squad on them. Forgiveness is the key, and reconciliation will open the doors to many opportunities if we mean well.
6. Hold officials accountable that abuse power and give them a fair trial in court. Stop the officials from torture and ban any inhumane treatments. That is not democracy or the way forward.
7. Call for peace, stability, and reconciliation.
8. Call for more transparency and accountability. A commission of inquiry should be set up to verify and hold into account anything that belongs to the Gambian people. Your wealth that is earned legally will be untouched and yours to keep.
9. Have an open debate were citizens are engaged in the process of electing their leaders and make GRTS accessible to the opposition parties. Also, reform the Independent Electoral Commision by giving them the power to strip people that are fraudelent and have violated the rules and regulations of voter fraud. Many a times, young voters that are not eligible are casting ballots because they have the approval of Alkalos. Let us fix what is broken with the IEC and strip the Chairman who is not eligible to oversee the operations of the IEC. The Gambian people deserve free and fair elections with also the monitoring of all opposition parties and the International Community.
10. Last but not the least, I know you are a man of dignity and pride. Please put aside your differences and work with all Gambians who want to work for the sake of peace, prosperity, and growth. It is never too late to try and involve others that mean well, but please refrain from words that keep people away. Also Mr. President, as thoughtful and promising these proposals could be, it can only be implemented if you the head of State make it an agenda. It is all in good will and good faith to ask you as the leader of The Gambia to please reason with us, and humanity as a whole. We can also work on an exit strategy that will keep you in Gambia and be paid your retirement salary with security if exiting would be best in 2016 to stabilize the government. I think now is the time to announce that you will not run for elctions and this is where you can stop. Please do not make the mistake Sir Dawda did by announcing and then coming back. I would hate to see another military junta come in to force you out just like you did to the former PPP government. I know you have your concerns but I can assure you that the Gambian people are often forgiving and if you make the right decision, I am confident that Gambia’s better days are yet to come.
Mr President, your security and that of your families shall be protected if concrete steps like these listed are executed under your presidency. This is not a threat or a command, but a wish that I hope the Gambian people will rally behind. The cost of war, or civil war can be avoided if the right choices are made. Mr President, if you have Gambia’s best interest at heart, it is about time you listen to people that will tell you what you do not want to hear, but need to hear. Too many times, you have been surrounded by people who fear you and are willing to tell you and your family anything just to make you smile. Even though some may mean well, they are overshadowed by fear which eventually leads to poor choices. In this holy month of Ramadan, you would have met an honest Gambian who would tell you the truth even if it means you would frown more from starving, while fasting and that it could lead to my last breath of air. I wish you a blessed Ramadan and may Allah forgive you for your shortcomings. I hope and pray that God the almighty would guide you towards reforms, and to a total transformation of the Status Quo. I pray that God will make you see in me and all of those in the diaspora, that we love our country so much, and that is why we are fighting for reforms. May you be generous enough to accept my request to see you and eventually grant us the peace we desire. Also, even though i realize the discontent you have against the West, this letter or proposal is not influenced from the West or any foreign government, but from that of your own Gambian citizens and the plight they have in love of country. It is time to talk Mr President; it is time to talk!!May God bless you, the family, and the Gambian people!!May God bless the Gambia our homeland!!