The agenda to revisit the 1997 Constitution is not the affair of any individual political party. It is a national issue which was demanded by the Gambia Opposition for Electoral Reform (GOFER), before the Jammeh administration lost power.
Constitutional reform is about innovation. Let us look at the proposed composition of the National Assembly in the draft constitution.
The Schedule states:
‘‘For the purpose of election to the National Assembly, the members shall be elected from the following constituencies:
a) 53 persons elected from single member Constituencies as demarcated by the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission;
b) 14 women, two elected from each administrative area, and
c) 2 people elected by persons with disabilities from amongst members of the Federation representing such persons.’’
At no time in Gambian history have women had 14 seats in the National Assembly. Those living with disability had never been guaranteed seats in the National Assembly.
Hence there are positive provisions in the draft Constitution to give it merit for consideration. The former Nigerian President has been given the impression that there is a crisis which requires mediation.
The actual fact is that some National Assembly members simply voted against the principles and deprived the Bill from being endorsed by three quarters of the members. How to get them to rescind their decision and proceed to the Committee stage and review the details of the Bill clause by clause, without any string or interest attached, is the way forward. Since the President of Nigeria has not focused on this option, the negotiation is off target.