Njundu Drammeh

(JollofNews) – Dear Honourable Members

I send you this letter not knowing whether you would see it or even if it would be worth your reading. I observe no pleasantries but would be courteous in my way.

So let us jump in medias res. Our nation is faced with an extraordinary situation which requires ordinary men and women with extraordinary determination and conviction to rise to the occasion and face it like it should be conquered. The group you belong, our National Assembly, is no ordinary place; it is held in high esteem. It is the house of the representatives of the people, an honourable house. This is the group you belong.

Our nation is standing on a cliff, nay sitting on an egg, nay walking on a knife edge. The time is nigh that you rise to the occasion and do the most honourable thing, a total desideratum in your entire career: to tell the outgoing President to peacefully handover the rein of State and government to the incoming President. This single, unequivocal demand has been the clarion call of the people of your constituencies, all civil society and professional bodies, the international community and all friends of The Gambia. It is public secret that an overwhelming majority of voters of your constituencies, except for few, voted for the coalition. Those votes are not just a ‘no’ against the President as a candidate but also a rejection of the APRC and by extension a protest against their elected representatives in the National Assembly. It seems you people do not seem to understand that part of the protest votes, those who voted for Mama Kandeh and the coalition, its ramification for yourselves.

As honourable members we expect you to act honourably, in both your words and needs. Unfortunately, you are not helping the situation; you are not calling upon the powers that you have; you are not listening to your constituencies; you are not acting in the best interest of the people. You are pushing the nation down the primrose path; you are abrogating the rights of your constituents. We expect more from you, we who elected you to serve our collective best interest, we who put our trusts in you. We expect that when the nation is at a crossroad, when the stakes are high and dark clouds looming over the horizon, you would come to the rescue and act honourably.

We expect that at this moment, when the chips are almost down, you would consult with your constituents, feel their pulses and act according to their dictates. We expect that you would think about the children and posterity and, because they do not have any vote, you would act in their best interest. We expect that when the Constitution is being ‘maligned’ and ‘misappropriated’, you honourable men and women would come to its defense and act honourable. For what is the constitution but the collective wishes and aspirations of your constituents, the sovereign will of the people you claim to represent. We expect that when the electors honestly expressed their opinions with their votes in the presidential election, you would defend their wishes for these are your constituents, the people you represent.

Unfortunately, honourable men and women, at this time when the nation is on its knees, when rights are being curtailed or violated, when justice is caged and made prisoner, when the verdict of a majority of the people is pooh-poohed, when the weak and the vulnerable are fleeing for dear life unsure of what the morrow will hold, when law and order are quickly and quietly becoming casualties, when your constituents are being bullied into submission and absolute silence, you are busy ‘playing on your lyres’ and acting to subvert the will of your constituents. You are not acting honourable, you who we have placed much responsibilities and given much privileges. We expect a lot from you, including that you would act honourably when the nation demands it and when the hour is nigh.

We have worked with most of you. I can attest that amongst you are honourable men and women. I can vouch for the sincerity of those we have interacted with. I cannot therefore understand why in this trying moment, when our country needs honourable men and women to act in her defence, most of you have preferred to turn your back on the values and principles I so much admired in you. This is no time for party or partisan politics or pandering to whims and caprices or being blinkered to the truth. This is the time to stand for the truth, to defend the truth, to be true to one’s conscience and above all to act according to the dictates and wishes of one’s constituents. This is the time to stand tall and be counted. This is the time to be with the people. This is the time to be the lengthened shadow of the true representatives of the people. This is the time and it is nigh…..

Honourable men and women, your constituents are watching you every word and action. Children are watching you and you cannot but be exemplary in your conduct, in how you legislate their parents’ lives and the environment they are living. History is recording your acts of commission and omission and you can be rest assured that these would be replayed and recounted. You have a choice, to be with the people or serve your personal interest or push someone’s agenda. Whatever your choice, you will be held accountable, you will pay the price. It is not too late, in fact it is never late, to rescue whatever vestiges of dignity is left to do and act according to the right. This is you moment in court and I hope you would not fail to act honourably.

Lest you forget, due to the enormity of the problem on your hand, I wish to remind you about Section 122 (b) of our Constitution which in no uncertain states one of your responsibilities as members of the National Assembly:-

“all members shall regard themselves as servants of the people of The Gambia desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people, and shall discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation as a whole and in doing so, shall be influenced by the dictates of conscience and the national interest.”

In the aforementioned paragraph is written our expectations from you, the values you must uphold and how to act honourable. I am not a lawyer and I have no pretensions to such and arrogate not to myself to interpret what the paragraph means or to even have an inkling of the intention of the framers of the Constitution. However, this is my daft opinions and you are obliged not to read them. I think our National Assembly Members must:

Be Servants of the people or regard themselves as such: So they are not masters or givers of orders/commands or eaters of the best part of the food. They are ‘servants’, to receive orders from the people, to be at our beck and call, to run errands for the people; to serve, to obey, to work, to fulfil the orders….. Which servant is or regards himself/herself as more powerful than the people on whose wishes she or she should serve? Which servant would act without first consulting the masters? There is something wrong with the order of servant-master relationship. Someone’s power and authority is or has been subverted. All is not well.

Not alienate themselves from the people…..: A servant alienates himself or herself from the masters when he or she refuses to take orders from the people, fails to seek their views and opinions in key national matters, hides key information of national interest from the masters, does not connect with the people, removes himself or herself from the sufferings, troubles, fears and aspirations of the masters, disengages himself or herself from the social realities of the masters. Alienation comes about when people insulate themselves from society and its realities….. Alienation leads to disconnection and eventual disempowerment of the people.

Discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation as a whole…… Interest of the entire nation, not just an individual or one tribe or a group. Discharging these functions would mean that the functionary knows what these functions are, the obligations placed by these functions, the accountability measures which accompany the fulfilment or non-fulfilment of such function and the beneficiaries of these functions. Having known these, the functionary must discharge these to ensure everyone benefits from his or her actions, to act in the best interest of all, to ensure none is excluded from the enjoyment of the benefits that come from his or her action. One cannot know if one is acting in the interest of the nation unless the whole nation is consulted or provided the opportunity to have a say in all matters that affect their lives. So the interest of the nation is intertwined with the voices of the people

Be influenced by the dictates of conscience and the national interest…. Dictates of conscience…. One then must follow what is true, act according to what is true and defend what is true. It means that at all times one should be ‘true to thy self’. This responsibility leaves no space for partisanship, for furthering another person’s agenda, for acting against the interest of the collective. It is axiomatic that anyone who acts against his or her conscience sins, against God and man. Unless we engage in distorted rationalisation, as we are wont to doing when the game is not going our way, the conscience is never false to us. So please listen to your conscience……

As honourable men and women, you have the choice to take the high thoroughfare or the law road. You have the choice to serve the national interest and act according to the dictates of your conscience or throw all principles and values to the wind. There are choices….. We expect more from our honourable men and women…. History and time will be the judge of your actions and inactions. And Allah is watching and the Angels are recording…..

May peace reign in The Gambia…. May justice guide our actions

This too must come to pass…..

Your’s elector