As the campaign officially kicks off today, it is imperative that we remind each other of what is at stake for The Gambia and her peoples. This is especially so for those inclined to maintaining the status quo.
The past five years have added to the list of victims of tyranny; families who never saw the victimization coming, worse some even denied it altogether calling people names for simply daring to speak out against oppression. Falling victim to such oppression themselves gave them a new perspective.
It used to be that the government and its various agencies would deny a certain wrong by feigning ignorance, or pacify discontent with promises to look into a situation of concern to the citizens but not follow through, or simply make up a story in an attempt to ease people’s concerns. Now we see open admission to wrong doing and criminal acts with no consequence because the state has amassed so much power it no longer holds the citizenry in any regard. It is a classic case of I did it, so what? This is a dangerous trend that should make any right thinking person stop and reflect on what such a trend could lead to. It should especially make one reflect on what future will be bequeathed to the next generation, a generation whose lives are being shaped today.
Logic and reason is needed in every human endeavor. What has been promised from July 22nd 1994 to now, what has been delivered on and what has not? This is an assessment that is devoid of any biases and can be done by all. Instead of accusing people of tribalism, or being unpatriotic, use as a yardstick the utterances made by the state against the actions it took. You can come to your own conclusion as to the reason why there are discrepancies, but discrepancies you will find; a lot.
When the current president came to power, he emphatically stated that thirty years is too long for anyone to be in power; that was a principled statement. You could argue that he changed his position based on people’s request, but no matter the reason, compromising on a principled stance is an indication of insincerity. With a new mandate, he will be at the helm for twenty seven years by the time it legally expires, tethering on the thirty year threshold he so passionately spoke out against.
If your reason for voting to maintain the status quo is because a lot of ‘developments’ have been registered compared to the past administration; then there are two critical questions you need to ask yourself. What does ‘development’ mean to you and what is your measure of ‘development’. Secondly, as the president constantly likes to remind us of what a failure the previous administration was, is it logical that you compare this regime to that administration? You are effectively comparing to failure, which needless to say leaves much room for improvement. We have been enlightened enough times as to what was wrong and what needs to be done. Now the measure of success is assessing what has been attained as to what was said need to be attained.
We will be bombarded with new promises of paradise on earth, of milk and honey. There will be some tough talking and display of piety bordering on sainthood, all for a new mandate, but what’s new? Are you going to fall for it yet again? If you trick a child to come to you by pretending to hold something in your clenched fist, you’ll only succeed in doing so twice at the most after which the child will make out the trick. Fool me once…
Take your pick, electricity, transportation, sanitation, healthcare, agriculture (the promise of food self-sufficiency), education, employment for the youth, commerce, and we all know what the streets of the capital city look like when it rains talk less of the rest of the country. What has been delivered in these areas after two decades of promises? What has changed in our condition or his personality that convinces you that the next five years would be any different? We cannot keep hoping and praying that things will change when we know for a fact that there is hardly any indication of that.
It is time to turn over a new leaf; change is the only constant in life some wise guy once said. It is time to give a new dispensation the chance to restore dignity and chart a new path for us. This one has not led us anywhere. We live in fear and uncertainty in our own homes.
All this talk about peace and its maintenance is a tactic to instill fear in you to maintain the status quo or worse, be apathetic and ensure the same result. Peace is only ensured by the collective adherence to the laws of the society you live in; ask yourself whether those being accused of stoking the flames of instability have done anything to break any laws? Sincerity is the hallmark of a true believer and we as a people like to pride ourselves in our faith even though we know very little about its requirements. Whether one is of faith or not, sincerity is a most noble human trait.
Now that that is settled, go out and vote for change. If you are undecided as to who to vote for, look at the composition of the two camps and decide for yourself. Do you choose a novice who just landed on the political landscape and is running a smear campaign against the other opposition coalition instead of laying out his plans for the future, or do you vote for a coalition of the seasoned politicians that have ploughed the field for decades, refused to be silent in the face of tyranny and even lost their freedoms in the process?
The coalition has the right minds to deliver us to safer shores; their unity alone is reason enough to earn your vote. They campaign on substance and lay bare the misdeeds of the regime for you to be informed. Whatever their ideological differences may have been, they have put those aside and coalesced to salvage our sinking ship; all they need is your support in whatever capacity you can, but most importantly your vote. Give them the mandate and you will have a say in the direction your country takes for the sake of your children and posterity.