As Gambia’s Constitutional Scholar’s Capacity Is Being Ignored in 21st Century Gambia.
Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: At this time in Gambia’s electoral cycle, we have to make generation-defining political decisions. Furthermore, for the Gambians, it is another season of political circumcision. Gambians decided to take to the forest to fight corruption, tribalism, kleptocracy, and the dangers of failing governance. In this case, December 4, 2021 election will be the most consequential, second to December 1, 2016, Presidential elections.
Fatoumatta: It is a tragedy that the Gambia today is bereft of transformational leadership; we need the Gambia to transform herself; it must find another way for leadership recruitment in political savvy and political skills for creative leadership. This process should not be taken for granted or left at the whims of only supposedly armed-chaired activists and power-addicted politicians.
Vince Lombardi, the great American football coach of the 20th Century, said good leadership would not come cheap. “Leaders are not born. They are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that is the price we will have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal”.
It is a matter of grave national concern. If, as we rightly observe, personal interest is the overriding motivation in the quest for power in The Gambia, what are we, the People, doing to change all that? How do we organize ourselves to ensure that we are no longer taken for granted by myopic, self-seeking power seekers? What are choices open to us to rid ourselves of cynical individuals masquerading as leaders?
There is academic excellence, there is intelligence, and there is wisdom. The only one we get in school out of them is academic excellence. There is no faculty of wisdom or department of intelligence in any university that I know.
The Gambia’s problem is cultural, political maturity, and leadership. The Draft Constitution report, or any report for that matter, will not help us unless we have a sober and honest conversation about our nationhood and what makes us a people. We are balkanized, as it were, and cannot wait for appropriate triggers to disintegrate into our political, religious, and tribal groupings. We need to agree on an organizing ideal before discussing constitutionalism, distributing power, and allocating national resources.
As a nation, we need to understand that we cannot legislate our way to civilization. We cannot make a law constraining us to respect each other, accord each other equal privileges/opportunities, love one another, and such. No, we cannot legislate political morality or ethics and public policy.
Civilization is the sum of a people’s beliefs, attitudes, culture, art, and innovativeness. It must arise organically amongst a people. If an outside force compels the people to adopt a confident attitude, belief, or manner of life, then whatever change is procured will last only as long as that coercive force acts upon those people. To mean that change is fragile, artificial, and fleeting.
The Draft Constitution was enacted through an Act of the National Assembly known as CRC Act 2017. Section 6 (2a)of the Act legitimatizes and empowers the Gambian citizens’ in the constitutional-making process and is not exclusive to a select few civil society groups and any particular politicians and foreign consultants globetrotter the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonanath.
The Constitution, which was a creation of the people, should be returned to the people for another creation if anything arises. What I know is that Constitution is the decision of the people. Any attempt made to exclude the people in any Constitutional building processes fall shots of a Constitution.
Therefore, questions on constitutionalism and attitudes are not and should not be the province of outside influence; instead, any Gambian constitution should be a product of a constitutional autochthony or homegrown nature. These are questions of worldviews that are best addressed by art, literature, and myth-making. Because art, literature, and myth-making work on the soft parts of men and transform them inwardly by reshaping how they see the world, and in so doing, reorganizes a man’s volition so that his choices arise naturally without compulsion.
Fatouatta: When sovereign citizens enter into politics, they make sure they tool themselves intellectually to prove their relevance in their political career or further interest that of their Godfather’s political circle in a brainy and strategic way than in mere bravado. The only input that we witnessed in some of the so-called activists and political opposition leaders is their bravado and shamelessness capacity.
Most of them cannot work on a manifesto, advise on policy, manage their public image, or run strategic domestic and international errands. They are useful as a pretty hooligan that is very willing to abase themselves for their political interest.
Simultaneously, some of them exemplify the proverbial people who surrounded the King for when he farts so that they may take the blame. There is something I love about the misguided optimism of some of the political leaders and so-called activists. Most of them will unquestioningly support legal and public policy changes based on the belief that they will personally benefit from various forms of largesse after December 4 Presidential and next year’s General Election. Never mind that history tells us that most of them and their godsons will not be elected December 4 Presidential and next year’s General Election.
Fatoumatta: I also love how Gambian civil society activists and opposition support controversial legal and public policy changes on the mistaken assumption that their political rivals will only feel the adverse effects of such changes. Although the ongoing political posturing may suggest otherwise, anyone who has a brain will tell you that there is no rational or logical reason why they are engaging former Nigerian President Dr. Good luck Jonathan as a serious player in the Gambian political scene would seriously approve the rejected Draft Constitution. That does not, of course, necessarily mean that the Draft Constitution is either good or bad.
Fatoumatta: No matter how we answer any of the preceding questions, we must not, for a second, ignore the challenges staring us in the face every day and keeping us awake all night. We must start looking for leaders with credible answers to vexing questions, notably constitutionalism, insecurity of life and property, corruption, impunity, crass nepotism, tribalism, inept handling of public affairs, anarchy, and indiscipline, and grinding poverty.
The world knows former President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost 2015 to President Mohammad Buhari’s election because he was an incompetent and ineffective leader who came to symbolize the Nigerian people’s excesses and arrogance. His electoral campaigns and administration were built on lies he never attempted to implement, he openly approved of corruption, and under his management, Nigeria grew from poorly-managed to unmanageable.
What is his mission? Former President Jonathan, and selection of the Gambian opposition and those so-called activists? A scoop for journalists. Deposed leaders should identify with the reality when on international consultancy, prioritize agenda and help transitional regimes with pragmatic ideals of good governance; Not until when they are a deadwood politician lacking credibility in their own country and out of a job then they set up private NGOs to “pursue Africa’s cause” and portray themselves as concerned or sympathetic to Africa’s cause, then attract for themselves donations and grants and new fame generated from poor Africans plight.
Two years ago, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, ‘The Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative,’ was in The Gambia. What was his mission? When did Tony Blair identify with the Gambia or prioritize the Gambia while in office as Prime Minister?
Mediating in the Gambia’s Draft constitution led to these reminiscences by the “peace mission” to Mali. Its doom was foreseeable. The peacemakers, led by former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, were acting more like shareholders concerned to preserve their stock in a tottering holding company at all cost rather than return to basics, question fundamental assumptions, and set the ECOWAS on a new path.
Dr. Jonathan, the mediators, countenance no outcome that did not leave the ousted Boubacar Keita in power. There was a little surprise; Jonathan and most of his team have dubious legitimacy at best and a tenuous to fill their pockets.
In the Malian crisis, and Dr. Jonathan and his team, parroting France and its allies whose overbearing presence in Mali’s affair has been cited as one of the reasons for the seething popular discontent on the streets of Bamako, urged Keita bowed to necessity and accepted his fate. The mediators as if it was not the brazen manipulation of that hallowed principle that has lain at the bottom of virtually every political crisis in Africa.
Finally, December 4 is around the corner. The power seekers are already doing pushups in anticipation of that year. We, the People, should henceforth remain vigilant and be combat-ready. They have taken us for a ride long enough. It is our turn to take back our country.
Fatoumatta: I, therefore, recommend that whereas the Barrow government may not like the idea of a National Conference. In contrast, it set aside the findings of the 2016 Coalition Transition Program, and. In contrast, this same government has shown such disregard for public opinion; the way forward lies in precisely that same direction. The attempt to suppress the people’s opinion or disregard it is in part the catalyst for the state of anomie in which the country has found itself.
The Barrow administration needs to convene a Conference of the Gambian People forthwith. It can be given any other label: Conference of National for a Constitutional Convention and Reconciliation, Conference of National Unity and Constitutional Convention, Conference of National Peace and Unity and Constitutional Making. Such a Conference will take the debate off the streets. It will rescue the Gambian debate from the hands of the so-called activists and the power-addicted politicians and their followers. Is it not disturbing enough that even senior lawyers and other politicians now quote Babajalinding and Domorifoday as national philosophers? The people should be tired of living a lie. Suppose President Barrow wants to make a difference. In that case, he must provide an opportunity for a re-tabling and re-negotiation of the critical issues at the heart of the Gambia question: restructuring, institutional reforms, constitutional review, state police, derivation, and governance.
Fatoumatta: The time is now when Gambians should come together and say, Enough is Enough! We must take our destiny into our hands now or never. In embarking on this mission, we should perish the thought that our problems are caused by any particular political party, ethnic group, or adherents of any religious belief. The battle for liberation will be lost the instant it is viewed from a narrow ethnic or sectarian angle. Gambians from all parts of the country are aching. Even those perceived to be rich are allegedly applying for the citizenships of other nations! They and the rest of us will do better to put our heads together and look for ways of fixing the rot.
As Gambia’s Constitutional Scholar’s Capacity Is Being Ignored in 21st Century Gambia.