The “struggle” has been recently rechristened the “resistance”. Either befits, it all just depends on who is talking; the old school or the young-who would rather bring their message to the street for everyday Gambians to digest. Did I just say “everyday Gambians”? Oh yeah very crystal but please don’t ask me who are they. You see sometimes in the heat of a moment one is confronted by thoughts I often prefer to push and bury in the back of my mind. But the problem is they keep on resurfacing every now and again such that I am now left with no option but to dare the devil once and for all. Two fundamental issues:
- What is the resistance all about?
- What kind of Gambia do we want post-Jammeh era?
Most often when you speak to most Gambians, they unilaterally concur that Jammeh must go. Inferring from such consummating desire for Jammeh’s exit, one cannot help but conclude the resistance is nothing but “Jammeh must go”. They certainly believed that once Jammeh is gone, Gambia’s problem is solved. That is but a desirable wishful thinking. Briefly, our fervent desire to usher or push Jammeh through the exit door has impaired our minds from seeing and tackling the more death-defying malaise abetting the resurgence of other lethal Jammehs. This leads to the second question, what kind of Gambia do we want post-Jammeh era?
Without mincing words, I would affirm a Gambia that radiates each word and every verse of the national anthem:
For the Gambia, our homeland
We strive and work and pray
That all may live in unity
Freedom and peace each day.
Let justice guide our actions
Towards the common good
And join our diverse peoples
To prove man’s brotherhood
We pledge our firm allegiance
Our promise we renew
Keep us great God of nations
To the Gambia ever true.
When Jammeh and his self-anointed “Soldiers with a difference” usurped power from the PPP elected regime, they almost had a unanimous consensus from Gambians to prove themselves that they are indeed “Soldiers with a difference”. Unfortunately, their difference was abundantly manifested in the dishonourable ways they flaunted and mutilated the hopes and dreams of the majority of Gambians who saw a beacon of hope and positive change in them.
Firstly, Jammeh began by undermining the supremacy of the constitution. Furthermore, he systematically transformed the organs of government into institutionalized politics of individuality and empowered the presidency as the supreme alpha and omega of the state functionality. It is common knowledge that governments come and go but technocrats, the civil service and security services stay. Nevertheless, in the Gambian scenario under the guidance ship of Babili Mansa Jammeh, when he goes all these once independent institutions will very likely disperse and exit with him.
Let us take the National Assembly as an example. In many democratic situations, members of parliament take to task their very own party when they are found wanton. What do we have in the Gambia? Elected parliamentarians bending their backsides and tilling the land for the president and as if that is not enough disregard of their expectations but stand in front of national TV cameras and assert, “Farming for President Jammeh is a national duty and obligation”. What is more despicable than that fellow Gambians? Therefore, to expect such members of the national assembly to check and limit the ever encroaching powers of the President tantamount to feeding a pig with gold nuggets. For a post-Jammeh Gambia to free, fair and independent the national assembly must be given a complete overhaul to ban any resurgence of another Jammeh incarnate.
Equally despicable is the president’s use of the security forces to advance his personal agenda. The Police Force is constitutionally instituted as an independent unit to police the society, enforce the law, prevent crime and protect life and property is transmuted into an instrument of instilling fear, harassment and intimidation at best and a brutal force at worst. It can be argued about the NIA and the army.
What is even more laughable and unfathomable is the use of religion and religious clerics to justify the presidential atrocities. Who would have thought in a million years an imam not to mention the supreme Islamic Council will lend a hand at President Jammeh’s farm? Na wahala, my Nigerian mates will call it. But to see these pathetic imams, Supreme Islamic council bending down, and farming for President Jammeh is a double wahala fellow Gambians. In sum, President Jammeh has successfully prostituted everything worth preserving in to Gambia, ranging from family cohesion to national and social institutions, to satiate his power drunkenness. To therefore believe that his mere exit without remedying this viral malaise is likened to wanting a woman one can never have even in the remotest of dream.
Then it is fitting to start thinking outside the box and building foundation for the restoration and preservation of our once upon a time independent and enviable institutions. For instance, the constitution’s supremacy must not only be restored but also jealously guided by independent legislature and judiciary. Equally important is the taking ownership of accounting and probing elected representatives by Gambian electorates. Yes a two-term limit for the presidency will help curb leaders overstaying their welcome at the same time according others to contribute their quotas, too.
Am I within limit to assert the “resistance” is but a festival of formal affairs unless we start thinking and acting outside the box?
Sulayman Jeng, Birmingham, UK