31st December 2021
A NEW GENERATION IS RISING
A NEW GAMBIAN IS RISING
A NEW GAMBIA IS RISING
A REVITALISED PDOIS IS RISING
Party leaders and members in particular and the population at large, the coming year marks a decisive phase in the history of our party and the future of our country.
For me and many of our members who witnessed the earlier phase of the evolution of our party, the ultimate departure of activists in their middle-ages like Abdoulie Dibba from our ranks as duty bearers for system change marks the beginning of a new beginning for the party and the country.
It is a signal that the generation of young people who answered to the call of duty by turning their back at pomp and privilege; taught in nursery schools and adult literacy night schools to serve the excluded; gathered news, published newspapers and party literature and sold them in the streets to finance the party, pedalled bicycles to cover registration of voters and served as polling agents in all the nook and cranny of the nation without asking for a butut, fulfilled their contract with their nation and people by walking on foot or using bicycles to move into villages to educate, mobilise and organise the people without asking for fish money; established coos farms to support party branches and gave more to party and country than they received; that group that serves as the sacrificial lambs for change, is rapidly fading away and is giving rise to a generation at a crossroads, waiting to carve a path for the future of the party and the country.
It is therefore important, as the transitional Secretary General to explain where we came from, how we got to where we are today and where we are to head to so that all party members would march to the same rhythm of the drum beat of our times and circumstances.
In that vein, allow me to affirm that party building requires the building of instruments, institutions, structures and normative practices, on one hand, and the transformation of mindsets, on the other hand.
In a statement to be delivered to the Central Committee meeting, at its Second Ordinary Session, after the Congress, which is to be proposed to be held, after the inauguration of President Barrow, the strategies, tactics and programmatic policy issues adopted by the party to address the challenges of each political situation, since its inception would be explained, with unalloyed thoroughness and impeccable clarity for posterity to keep in its intellectual treasury for reference and lessons.
In this new year message, I would like to focus on the current situation and where we are to head to from here. I would first wish to welcome the countless number of aspiring members who have filled their application forms for membership despite the results of the Presidential Election. The Central Committee will consider them in its next sitting and will develop a mechanism to speed up consideration to meet the growing demand for membership.
A brief chronology of what happened prior to the election would aid comprehension and ensure clarity.
In 2016, the PDOIS leadership pioneered Coalition talks which led to the regime change under the marching orders of Coalition 2016. We facilitated the management of the Impasse to the satisfaction of the nation.
We had the opportunity to be Ministers, ambassadors, Heads of institutions through lobbying for posts by maintaining close proximity to power. We also risked being reduced to an appendage of the existing power and being ultimately compelled to owe allegiance, obedience or adherence to it. This to us would have been the quickest way to outcast PDOIS away into political obsolescence.
PDOIS did not stand for change only for change’s sake, no matter what the outcome is. We stand for system change.
PDOIS accepted the tactics of staying outside of Government so that it would be able to pursue the agenda for which the party was established.
The party was established knowing full well that this is the era of the battle of policies and ideas and the future must be given the most important weapon for survival, that is knowledge, organisation and experience, thought, unity and practice. Once you negate these, you negate human development and existence.
The PDOIS leadership has remained focused since 2016 in keeping away from Government and safeguarding the party from being a power grabbing instrument without any vision, mission, principle or policy to eradicate poverty, ignorance and injustice.
When it became clear during the National Assembly Elections in 2017 that all parties were on their own, the Party leadership looked inwards to revisit its instruments, institutions, structures and normative practices in order to prepare the ground for its final evolution into a party that could govern the country.
It propagated the tasks for PDOIS to strive to have quality leadership and membership, in order to prepare the Party for Government and consolidate internal party democracy, which is inconceivable without a membership of high-grade quality; one that is, invincibly immune to any form of inducement or intimidation. In short, the membership must be sufficiently knowledgeable to take ownership of the party and its principles and sufficiently tempered to have the capacity to defend the principles and policies as the apple of their eyes.
Hence, from 2017 to date, the party leadership had to assume responsibility to prove that the party is capable of being at the helm of national affairs by demonstrating competence in the conduct of National Assembly proceedings, in particular and in all fora where the party leadership is called upon to represent the party or the nation. We aimed for our leadership to be respected and listened to in all domains of national life and all venues in the international terrain. This tactical objective of endearing PDOIS to the people as a party fit to govern them has largely been achieved. This is precisely why most former PDOIS members and leaders who had gone into other professional domains and academia are back with the party and are playing their rightful roles in rejuvenating and revitalising the party. Furthermore, new prominent citizens have opted to join the party due to the quality of its leadership.
In the same vein, the party is also building coalitions with other partners whose members and leaders are convinced of the quality of its leadership.
A countless number of prominent Gambians in public and private sectors who had never participated in the political life of the country are now motivated to do so because of the quality of leadership of the party.
The party is therefore well prepared to harness from its pool of human resources the talents that could ensure the efficient and effective management of the affairs of the country. Any future PDOIS sponsored President, who is true to principle and policy, would have a readymade pool of experts to tap from, to address all the key problems of Nation building and international politics. Those PDOIS members who cannot see this evolutionary rise of the party, to national and international prominence, must have taken a different path and should be allowed to grope in the dark, until they find their way.
PDOIS has moved too far in handling the key concerns of the Gambian people and the democratisation of its internal party life to retreat into mediocrity in political discourse. Its leaders and members are charged by the demand of urgency to move with phenomenal speed to consolidate our gains.
The party prepared its manifesto for the 2021 Presidential election and beyond and presented it to the people as the instrument that would eradicate poverty, ignorance and injustice. The content of this manifesto is having effect in shaping mindset.
Therefore, history has on record that PDOIS’ vision and mission and its contract with the people and country have never been betrayed. That is the verdict from the judgment seat of reason and it is incontrovertible.
Hence, as we herald a new year, the PDOIS leadership should build an expert bank that takes the form of a shadow cabinet to take up the programmatic policy issues in the Manifesto and transform them into policies, strategic plans, programmes and projects for debate as if the experts are a shadow cabinet preparing a developmental blueprint for implementation.
Such volunteering sectoral experts would follow the activities of the various Ministries on a daily basis and document their opinions on substantive issues for publication and debate on party fora so that our discussions in such realm will be free from mediocrity.
I must take this opportunity to say without any fear of exaggeration that PDOIS is credited by all electoral observers for running a campaign based on programmatic policy issues on how to eradicate poverty, ignorance and injustice.
All PDOIS Fora should be transformed into study cells to expand the horizon of our members. Knowledge must be democratised, then we will have no political saints or messiahs. The battle of ideas is not about proficiency in the use of language but the profundity in the production and application of knowledge. Could we eradicate poverty by the use of a cooperative bank? Could we expand the productive base of the economy and even build partnership with progressive national investors, to expand the economics of scale, to continental and international frontiers, through the establishment of a sovereign wealth investment fund? Could we establish an Academy of Social / Natural Science and Humanities as an apex institution to shape our educational system? The debate should continue for the next five years to seize the narrative. This is how a generation prepares itself for its future by inheriting and assimilating the best intellectual traditions of its predecessors. What is good is never redundant. It is assimilated to create better and more advanced traditions. Those who caricature men and women of knowledge, skills, values and character as messianic, with the aim of downgrading the high esteem in which they are held are not interested in the establishment of standards of quality leadership for emulation by the future generation. PDOIS needs continuity of quality leadership and must not trivialise the knowledge, skills, values and character a person needs, to be fit to be offered to the nation as a candidate for an office of public trust.
In its 2021 Presidential campaign, PDOIS had proven that it has the leadership and the Transformative Agenda to give a new start to The Gambia. We are prepared to serve and shape the future of the country today and will continue to train and inspire the leadership that would be fit to serve people and country, whenever the people are ready.
I will also add that my decision not to participate as candidate in Presidential, National Assembly and Council elections is dictated by necessity. There is more for me to do than to seek a mandate to be in the National Assembly, after showing my worth in that domain and other PDOIS members would still be there to hold the fort. It would not serve the national interest in spending another five years in legislative and oversight work in the assembly to manage or reform the system, when I stood for its change and could be conducting research and educating a generation on the rudiments of changing it for the better.
Suffice it to say, to sit for another five years as an aspiring president in the waiting would transform me into a political careerist. I have more value to add to society than to be an aspiring president in waiting. History now assigns me to prepare the ground for the evolution of the party and the country so that posterity will not find us wanting in clarity and commitment to country and people. A person does not have to lead by physical appearance. One can lead by ideas and force of example. That is the verdict of truth and common sense and it is irrefutable.
On the membership, the party and the way forward
Party leaders and members, having participated in the 2017 National Assembly Elections, the 2018 Council Elections and the 2021 Presidential Elections, the party now has the yardstick to be able to gauge where it stands in the political landscape in The Gambia.
Since 2017, the PDOIS leadership has been explaining the nature and characteristics of the party to all members. There should be no gap in comprehension. For the avoidance of doubt, what should be certain to all members, old and new, is that PDOIS is a General Constituent Assembly of Conscious sovereign persons who have the objective, conviction and capability of creating and leading a conscious mass movement of Gambian citizens for system change. Such members are equal in sovereignty and power which they exercise to entrust responsibility to each other through election of delegates to Congresses and election of officers to conduct the day-to-day affairs of the party.
Let me therefore mention in passing to any person who may need such political pedagogy that the political system in the Gambia is founded on the sovereign person. That is why an Independent candidate could contest in all elections. We are not bound to form and join parties. We form and join parties for a purpose.
PDOIS was formed based on the realisation that Government must exist for the people. This is the social contract. A Government that exists for the people must build a productive base by harnessing the sovereign wealth that belongs to all. It could only meet the requirements of Section 26 of the Constitution if the Government develops a fair mechanism to distribute the income harnessed from public investments, on the basis of the quantity and quality of work done for the abled bodied and need for the needy. This is socialism in its rudimentary form. All PDOIS members join PDOIS after exposure to and endorsement of such basic concepts.
Secondly, PDOIS was formed based on the realisation that government that exists for the people must be based on the sovereign equality of all citizens and must owe its origin from the sovereign exercise of their consent. This is the essence of self-determination and independence.
This is the Republic in its rudimentary form. A PDOIS member joins the party after exposure to and endorsement of the values of the Republic and its highest principles of democracy.
The PDOIS leadership has the responsibility to articulate the programmatic policy framework that would facilitate the harnessing of sovereign national wealth to build the sovereign Republic for people centred development. This has been, is and will always be the trajectory of the party. Those who formed the party did so for such a purpose. Those who join the party do so for such a purpose. The acceptance of such a trajectory for development in the economic, social and political sphere is in fact a condition for membership.
PDOIS’ instruments, institutions, structures and normative practices as well as the mindset of its members are all tempered with such a trajectory of development.
The Party leadership has the responsibility to institutionalise and operationalise the instruments of the party with the active participation of the members.
In order to address the challenges of political exclusion, the instrument of the party has been evolving and will continue to evolve to set standards not only for The Gambia but the world at large.
Hence to address the issue of regional representation, gender parity in the Central Committee now embodies a male and female representation from all regions, elected by members in the region. Another constitutional amendment which is approved is the inclusion of a male and female member of those with different physical features in all organs of the party.
In order to ensure that PDOIS members become a constituent assembly of conscious members capable of educating, organising and mobilising other sovereign citizens to build the conscious national mass movement for system change, the party leadership has facilitated the designing of the structures that would lead us to that goal and are operationalising them.
At the moment, the Party has Regional Bureaus with regional coordinators and activists.
It has Constituency activists and Ward activists. The activists were trained to know the basic principles and policies of the party. Constituency activists, who have been trained, have been working on the election and are to engage in the training of the village activists to complete the organisational chain that should lead to the institutionalisation of the party in each village and ward in the Gambia.
All these coordinators and activists are elected by the members of the party in each jurisdiction without any interference.
This method is adopted to build a conscious mass movement that would be free from all inducement, instead of creating a large grouping of innocent citizens, with diverse interests and contradictory motivations who could be dragged in all directions by sentiments which have provided a fertile ground for egocentric or populist movements, driven by individualistic, ethnolinguistic, sectionalist and other sectarian agendas.
The party structures are intact and more than ever needed to shape the party for the future. We will grease their elbows and address the wear and tear to fine tune to be fit for purpose. The party knows the shortcomings that go with volunteerism in serving the people. We must appreciate the little that each does and make maximum use of it to make monumental impact, while we demand more commitment, efficiency and effectiveness, to work harder to attain the real strategic objective of system change.
As the PDOIS Presidential Candidate who had a late start because of illness I must admit that, visible and noteworthy shortcomings aside, the members, institutions and structures of the party served us well, when they were challenged by a do or die situation.
Within two months, PDOIS assembled all those who are convinced of the need for system change, to contest the 2021 Presidential election, on very competitive grounds.
The Party relied on its regional, constituency, ward and diaspora structures to open up our campaign with a caravan tour, successfully nominated our candidate and conducted a nationwide campaign and finally mobilised polling agents go to the polls.
Our duty is to assess their performance with a view to addressing shortcomings and building on strengths.
I wish to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to non-party supporters who contributed in cash, kind and moral encouragement because of their conviction that we could build a better and fairer Gambia. The appreciation is extended to our Diaspora members in Europe and USA who shouldered a bulk of the financial weight of the campaign. Innovative fund-raising drives in the diaspora and at home kept the wheel of our campaign rolling.
The volunteers who left their other chores to take ownership of the campaign as cooks, mobilisers and animators cannot be disregarded. The drivers, the media personnel, the indefatigable security guards and the singers did much to keep the campaign in high gear and deserve our commendation. Our Coalition partners in the person of Dr Ibrahim Jagne and Alhagi Mamadi Kurang added value to the integrity of the campaign, as well as inject dynamism and credibility to the cause of system change. I chose to conclude my assessment of the election by affirming that “the people voted for us with their hearts and voted against us with their hands.” What we saw and sensed on the ground and what is evident after the declaration of the results are like night and day.
In all fairness we do not need to reinvent our principles, policies and structures. We need to fine tune, consolidate and expand them.
The Future in the making
The future of the party depends on the institutionalisation and operationalisation of the instruments of the party. The party has held a well-attended Congress with delegates coming from wards elected by the members without any interference from any personality of the party. Party representatives have been elected for a four-year term.
The leadership and membership of the party are well aware of the challenges facing all the organs of the party and have every intention to address them to make our party strong and fit for purpose.
What the party lacks are not structures and organs. What it needs are committed members with the voluntary spirit to operationalise them to their fullest potential.
What we lack is not internal democracy. What we need are members who are ready to take ownership of the party. The PDOIS elders have their committee to monitor, assess and give advice on all matters of interest. The former PDOIS candidates, the National Assembly members, the Councilors, the women, The Youth, those with special physical features have their committees and need to consolidate them. The members as a whole need to form member initiated and driven Ad-Hoc committees. In this way they would be able to conduct social auditing of every organ and institution of the party to ensure functionality, accountability and transparency in all our undertakings.
Democracy is not only about offices, office holders, institutions and structures. Citizens must become social auditors after electing their leaders to ensure that they have value in exchange for entrusting their power to them. In the same vein, each PDOIS member must become a social auditor and demand for explanation from leaders on any matter that is of concern to them.
In that way, there will be no information gap among members. Hence PDOIS would never again have in its ranks anyone who would put tactics, strategies, principles, policies and context aside in analysis and focus on personality issues, or try to transform fiction into facts and peddle half-truths into record as history. History could only be written by those who are eye witnesses or those who are honest enough to gather facts from eye witnesses.
The glorious history of PDOIS is waiting to be written by those whose minds are faithful to truth and facts and not those who drink from its well only to spit in it. The golden sun will ever shine. Its rays cannot be hidden by the palm of the hand. Fairy tale will never pass as history. Fiction will never be fact no matter how polished the fabrication.
A new generation is rising! A new Gambian is rising! A new Gambia is rising! PDOIS is rising!