Blog, Democracy, Gambia, The Gambia

Our Emotionally Charged Nation

We decried Yaya for exactly the same reason, that he ruled based on his whims; a typical Gambian if you ask me. Those he favored or those who benefitted from him never saw him for the monster he was.They blamed his victims.

Reason, logic, process and procedure; these are concepts that are meaningless and it is becoming more and more evident in our daily lives. EVERYTHING is emotionally charged and biased through one personally motivated lens or another. Fairness and justice, upon which truth stands, can never be attained with self-serving biases.

From the president to the police and the National Assembly, this Faraba incident was one giant failure and even to some extent some individual citizens.

In a crisis; any crisis, the first step is to contain the situation, reassure those afflicted and move from there. But what did we see; a slow-to-respond executive, a chest thumping National Assembly and an on edge security outfit.

One thing is clear; however the license was acquired, Julakay acquired it and as far as registering businesses and being granted permission/licenses by the law is concerned, he is within his rights to mine. (See, I just ticked some readers off – conversation dead, reason lost.) Failure 1! By the way the mining should cease in my opinion. Just had to say that for the record, and my reason for that is because the plight and concerns of the women farmers especially is personally relatable.

The National Assembly going out of their way to ORDER him to cease operations seems emotionally driven too. Failure 2! Businesses are registered entities (court granted), inasmuch as the National Assembly should look after people’s plights and welfare; as indeed is the responsibility of any government agency, they should seek a court order to have mining suspended or cease completely for the sake of the plight of the community and for safety reasons. Or better yet, twist the arm of the executive to act.  But no, they gave the order themselves; Julakay must have figured that he was still within his rights legally to continue mining as the National Assembly really could not bar him without the laws having been amended. That enlightenment must have spurred his statement announcing that he will resume mining, which the villagers saw as defying the authorities and they sought to stop him.

The courts interpret the law (granted the license to Julakay); he sees his position as tenable within the law he sought to continue mining. The citizens, who all throughout the lengthy saga avoided falling foul of the law, were emboldened by the National Assembly declaration ordering a halt to the mining and saw their new position as legally backed, they sought to stop Julakay. The police enforce the law (got deployed) and everything went to hell from there.

If I stop here, nine chances out of ten, I will be branded as sympathetic to Julakay and remorseless as to the lives lost, the injured and the community of Faraba as a whole. Far from it, I just want to take an objective look from my vantage point.  Let’s proceed.

The National Assembly select committee is in part complicit here. I may be wrong, so I am open to objective rebuttal and redirection. The laws behind which Julakay can hide to carry out his operations at the expense of the environment and the plight of the poor villagers is complicit, needs revisiting.

The executive has within it, the power to hear the cries of the poor and issue an order (legally binding) to halt operations while the situation is assessed. They are complicit too. The police deployment in any such situation is the right thing to do, it went wrong when they arrived on the scene to not maintain order and defuse the situation but sought to forcefully bar people from exercising their rights. Whoever gave those orders is complicit too. And that final complicity is what led to injuries and the loss of lives. There was no need or requirement to use lethal force and it was used, that responsibility and complicity rests entirely on those who gave the orders and those who carried them out. All in all, the people of Faraba are the victims given the circumstances and the series of events, from years ago to this moment. See, I was getting there.

The outrage displayed in the National assembly is understandable but ill-advised given the circumstances and the timeline. But oh well1

If I were the President’s speech writer, I will keep it simple and reassuring.

“The government (which includes the national assembly) and I, and indeed the entire country are utterly outraged and saddened at the events unfolding in Faraba that led to the tragic loss of two young lives, injured many more and led to loss of property. At this time of justified outrage, I plead with you to exercise restraint and be rest assured that we will get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident and the culprits found wanting will be brought to justice swiftly. Let us all remember the victims, their families and the people of Faraba in our prayers while we seek answers and ensure a recurrence of such never happens in the country ever again.”

THAT should be the goal; to prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy from ever repeating itself in our country ever again. To do that, facts need to be established and the bitter truth faced. Emotions, our preferred line of approach will dissipate and with it the needed remedies to prevent a recurrence; but facts will remain facts from which much could be learned and effective remedies executed.

That’s a better alternative in my opinion, but hey; it is The Gambia we are talking about. So let’s get on the political battlefield and politicize this tragedy for a shout fest shall we? Think I’m already late to the party! Oh well, I’ve been accused of ruining parties before, so guess I was not missed.

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