‘They are all to blame.’ This is the fashionable statement being made by those who claim to be representing civil society, some media practitioners and even those who claim to be members of the Coalition.
In short, the blame game has started. The objective is to paint all those who form Coalition 2016 with the same brush so that people will not be able to determine words and practice of each party but would stigmatize all. It is very strange that institutional memory is being lost as to what happened that gave rise to Coalition 2016 and what the achievement was. A state of hopelessness and political apathy prevailed few months before the 2016 presidential election.
Each Gambian should ask oneself the question, ‘Was I among those who believed that change could come through the ballot in 2016?’ Most people would answer in the negative. Hence the Coalition aimed to put aside to political apathy and give hope to the people of a better Gambia. They put party differences aside. Presidential candidates put aside their aspirations and gave support to one flagbearer so that change could come through the ballot box for the first time since Gambia was declared an independent state in 1965.
In order for all to take ownership of the candidate they obliged the person to run on an independent ticket. This is what happened.
The second element is to put an end to self-perpetuating rule by encouraging the candidate to agree to a reduced mandate by agreeing to resign after three years to cut short one’s five-year mandate by two years. In fact, one of the persons who contested for candidature even offered to resign after two years to cut short the mandate by three years.
In order to create a level ground for contest, the Candidate had to commit himself or herself not to seek another term after resigning, in the following election. This is what the nation was told.
Nothing is unconstitutional about these three conditions. Once a person is elected one becomes the president of a republic. That person has no constitutional or legal obligation to be dictated by anyone. One has moral obligation to back words and promises with deeds. If one fails to do so, who then should be accountable for that failure? Is it reasonable to say that Coalition partners should have partners to participate as candidates, serve a five-year term and be eligible to seek another term because the Constitution permits such a thing? Would there have been a Coalition if the presidential candidates of parties insisted that they should be selected on the ticket of their parties?
It is obvious that the success of the Coalition confirms the correctness of the strategies and tactics employed to constitute it. Those who work together to achieve the change have done their national duty, whether they are appreciated or not. That chapter is closed. A new chapter is what is being written. People should open their diaries and start taking notes of the words and deeds of people in order to pass their judgment. Gambians need honest opinion leaders who will tell them what people are saying; not those who want to muddle everything by simply saying they are all to blame. Intellectual honesty demands that each tree is distinguished from the forest.
Punishing a whole family for the crime of a son is not justice. It is called ostracism, prejudice, unfairness. Such a form of justice is unreasonable, unjustifiable in a civilised society.