By Madi Jobarteh
The remarks by Pres. Adama Barrow at the opening of the NPP regional bureau in Wassu (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efJPKF-9p8U) should get every Gambian highly concerned and ready to confront this president from bringing back dictatorship into this country. It is indeed highly worrying that Barrow is speaking about silencing and detaining citizens simply because in his mind people are engaged in empty talk while he is working. It is important for one to put it to Adam Barrow that he is neither the lord nor the owner of the Gambia hence he has no power to silence any citizen. Similarly, he has no authority or powers to order the IGP to arrest or detain any citizen.
At the rally Barrow could be heard acknowledging that he is the president of all Gambians which no one disputes. But what is frightening is his claim that “the democracy in the country is getting too much.” For that matter, he went on to say that he will now change his modus operandi because in his opinion “yabateh’ is “getting too much” and empty and foolish talk are destroying this country. He noted that he will not tolerate anyone insulting people working in the government, and therefore he will talk with the IGP to begin arresting and detaining anyone seeking to burn down this country.
These are indeed nothing but a bunch of irresponsible, dangerous, and self-delusional gibberish that must be confronted. Therefore, I hereby urge the Minister of Justice as the government’s chief legal advisor to guide Adama Barrow about the contents of the Gambia Constitution and other laws as well as the Gambia’s international obligations. It is pertinent that Minister Dawda Jallow advised Barrow to understand what a democratic republic is and what are the rule of law and human rights. Jallow needs to educate Barrow to realize that his comments violate his oath of office hence contravene the Constitution which are grounds for impeachment.
Similarly, I call on Vice President Muhammed Jallow and all the members of the Cabinet to impress on Barrow to humble down and submit himself to the dictates of democracy and the rule of law. VP Jallow and Cabinet ministers must realize that they collectively are responsible for the decisions and actions of the President since they are the primary advisors of the president. The Cabinet needs to awaken Barrow to realize that this country is a multiparty democracy in which political opponents are bound to criticize each other rightly or wrongly. Therefore, they should help Barrow to develop a thick skin, have an open mind and be bold enough in receiving divergent and dissenting opinions from citizens without fear, anger or sadness.
I also call on the National Assembly to invoke Section 102(e) of the Constitution which gives them the power to advise the President on matters under his responsibility. The primary responsibility of the President is to uphold and defend the Constitution in which lies the rights of Gambians. Therefore, the National Assembly must advise Pres. Barrow to realize that he has a duty to protect all the rights of all Gambians as set out in the Constitution. These rights include the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of Gambians. Therefore, he must not take any steps or actions that will undermine or destroy these rights hence threaten the peace and stability of this country.
In essence democracy is about the exchange of ideas which are drawn from information, perceptions, knowledge and even ignorance and the feelings of individuals. This is why democracy is also described as the marketplace of ideas. Hence in this marketplace there will be divergent and dissenting opinions, which can be pleasant or unpleasant, that people receive or share, to agree or disagree with. But these ideas or opinions all fit within the democratic space as the right to opinion and expression. Thus, Barrow needs to be educated about the nature, scope, and processes of democracy so that he does not confuse a disagreement with an insult or take a criticism to mean burning down a country.
After all, who told Adama Barrow that he is truly working well for this country? That may be his opinion, but every other Gambian also has a right to have his or her own opinions as to whether Barrow is doing well or not for the country. Secondly, whatever he thinks about his work, let him realize that it is Gambians who elected him and gave him the resources, tools and powers to work for them like a Mbindaan. He is not giving charity to anyone, and he is paid 255 thousand dalasi every month for that work. So, who is he that no one should criticize?
If he thinks he is working hard for this country, let us put it to him that since he took over the leadership of this country, poverty has increased in our people according to a joint report by his own Government and the World Bank. The incidence of corruption has increased under his watch. The poor delivery and cost of utility services and poor healthcare have increased under his leadership. Performance of students in basic and secondary education continues to fall woefully. Under his presidency, unemployment and the cost of living have all increased. There is more insecurity under his watch today than ever before. Public institutions and officials are more inefficient and incompetent today since this country became independent. Therefore, where is his so-called hard work? If he denies I hereby challenge him to a public debate!
I wish to urge all citizens to stand up and speak out against the dictatorial tendencies of Adama Barrow. Since 2017, he has always been inching towards abuse of power, and citizens must not allow that. Every time he stands in public to speak, he gets into unnecessary and unprovoked infantile quarrels with attacks against his political opponents, journalists, activists, and all other citizens who do not support him. He accuses everyone of insulting and trying to burn down the country. But the fact is Barrow himself and his own party surrogates, supporters, ministers, and advisors are the most notorious agents of insult, provocation, and division in this country. The evidence is glaring!
My advice to fellow Gambians is to never again take things for granted or assume that the president is just engaged in empty rambling and paranoia. You see, dictatorship does not erupt in one day just like that. Rather it grows from a distance in very simple, inconsequential things which can be far in between. Remember that Hitler was a candidate and elected with a majority in a democratic election. Within five years, he transformed from an obscure local politician to become a global tyrant.
Therefore, I urge Gambians not to take the immature rantings of a president for granted. Barrow may not fully comprehend the power and impact of the position of a president, but citizens must exercise enough sense of responsibility to realize that they will not allow a president to plunge this country into dictatorship and conflict as Pres. Adama Barrow is doing. The Presidency is not a place for comedy, nor is it sport or picnic. The Presidency has real power and impact whose single word or action can save or kill lives. If Barrow does not understand that then the citizens should understand that and not allow him to damage our lives, our society, and our future.
For The Gambia Our Homeland