The New Gambia, a hijacked transition

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September 22, 2020 will go down as one of the darkest days in our country’s transition history, when a cabal of egocentric and myopic minds colluded to orchestrate the biggest coup de tat on the collective desire and will of the overwhelming progressive Gambian majority.  While we all acknowledge that there is no perfect system of governance other than the Quran which most of us so loathe to govern our lives, this draft constitution is so far the best our country has ever produced since independence.  The cornerstone of every thriving modern system of governance is the existence of strong institutions to nip in the bud dominant personalities, corruption, self-perpetuation, greed and other such menaces.  Public service is not a door to enrich oneself or self-esteem but rather a call to duty to serve, thus inconceivable for the peoples so called representatives to give precedence to personal selfish interest over national interest.

The salient motivation of the change in 2016 amongst others was the building of a new progressive and fair constitution that would stand the test of time.  Make no mistake, there is no new Gambia without this new constitution and our people will not accept any other alternative, worst an amendment of the 1997 constitution.  Posterity will judge all those short-sighted MPs who betrayed the trust and confidence reposed in them by their constituents in exchange for gratifying one person’s inflated ego and worst enabling the self-perpetuation of a dishonest and incompetent leader.  By the way, lately, I have heard so many comments about reaching a compromise politically even if it means amending some of the so-called clauses of contention raised by these detractors, however, that would be a great travesty.  Personally, I have serious problems with the clauses implicitly declaring our country as a secular state but in the interest of national unity and the principle of utilitarian theory, I had to come to terms with it, acknowledging that this was not meant to satisfy every Gambian in absolute terms.  Therefore, it is my conceived opinion and unwavering commitment that any attempt to dilute or even amend any part of this constitution by the National assembly would be irresponsible and out of place.  We all should accept it as it is for the greater good of our country and stop bidding the selfish, greedy, insatiable desire of a select few; drunk in the stupor of power.  I encourage all genuine and sincere parliamentarians to avoid entertaining any idea of reintroducing this draft with amendments, we either get it passed as it was originally presented by the CRC or stay with the 1997 constitution without amendment.

Interestingly, I am still struggling to come to terms with the reasoning of some of the folks who narrow this down to sheer politics between two opposing entities.  This constitution is bigger than any particular entity, person, political party or office and therefore very disheartening that anyone would put forward such a weak and irresponsible argument.  Any attempt to amend this constitution or the 1997 constitution will be equally met with very strong resistance, therefore the only compromise is adopting the former as it is.

As to some of their shallow arguments including the term limit for the current President, focus should be given to spirit of a term limit and not the letter.  The introduction of the term limit is basically signifying the resolve that Gambians collectively made in ousting Jammeh at the 2016 polls and ending self-perpetuating rule.  We have decided that post 2016 no President will serve in that position for more than a decade and it is indeed very disheartening that a small minority of selfish individuals have shoved every value and principle they hitherto represented in ensuring that self-perpetuation ended.  A President who blatantly misrepresented himself and reneged on his promise to serve for only three years has now shifted his goal post from five years as he claims is his constitutional mandate to 15 years, what a shame!!!  If allowed to amend his term limit to 15 years, what on earth would stop such a dishonest leader like him to amend the constitution again for a life term?

In conclusion, I urge all to prioritize the overarching goal of a new republic that so badly needs a strong and balanced constitution like the one provided by the CRC.  We have all witnessed the insurgence or coup de tat on the American constitution recently and how the foresight of the founding fathers envisaged in building strong institutions and processes that would curb such human excesses prevented a total collapse of the system.  The dictatorial tendencies of our leaders are still too high to allow the status quo to remain and thus now more than ever, it has become imperative and urgent for the country to usher in the new constitution without amendment.  I hope sanity prevails and national interest takes precedence.  In any case, this is a just a testament that the only perfect system of governance is the book of Allah (food for thought).

Thanks!

B.B Sanneh
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