Madi Jobarteh

(JollofNews) Prevention is better than cure. This is an old adage that has stood the test of time in all spheres of life. When you stood up and spoke out that you are prepared to give your life to ensure that the Gambia is free, I had never felt inspired.

For a long time, you and I have consulted and exchanged ideas privately. I had told you that if there was one reason I needed to stand up for my country, that reason was you, who I call Mommy. How could a young man like me sit at home when an old woman like you is prepared to go on the street ready to sacrifice her life just to see that I live in freedom?

My sense of justice and honesty could not allow me to remain indifferent. I found more inspiration, encouragement and justification to stand up for my country because of you. Just like me, many more Gambians, your children and grandchildren became inspired and energized to stand up to fight dictatorship in our motherland.

We fought against dictatorship because we want our humanity to prevail and to be recognized and cherished. We wanted change because we want our rights and dignity to be restored in our own God-given country. The hallmark of that dictatorship is the constant abuse of power through the blatant disregard of the rule of law as laid down in our Constitution. Even when Yaya Jammeh and his APRC NAMs butchered our Constitution to suit their whims and caprices, yet this despot still continued to violate those same bad provisions he inserted into our supreme law with impunity.

It is because of these bad provisions that I am writing to you this open letter to humbly urge you not to violate them as Yaya Jammeh did. Your reported appointment as Vice President has elated our citizens, and rightly so because of your distinguished role and contribution since the Kalama Revolution in ousting the Dictator. Most Gambians would wish you to occupy that position and I have no doubts that you will fulfill your role to the best of your ability. But Mommy, I hereby urge you to decline that appointment which in itself would be a great service to the Gambia. You would have validated this democracy and the New Gambia and justify the noble reasons why we had to end dictatorship in the Gambia. But also by taking this position, you would justify 22 years of APRC violation of the constitution. You would make it meaningless why we should oust Yaya Jammeh in the first place. Do not do that.

Our Constitution clearly stipulates the requirements for who can be appointed a Vice President and one of these is that such a person should be between two age brackets, i.e. at least 30 years and above and at most 65 years and below. There is genuine concern that your age is above 65. For the purposes of political accountability and legitimacy, yourself and Chief Servant Adama Barrow bear primary obligation to inform concerned citizens that indeed you are within the limits of the law. The burden to proof this lies entirely with the two of you. You must be seen to fulfill that obligation which speaks directly to the heart of our sovereignty as a nation. It tells us the quality of democracy our political leadership intends to build of which you are an integral part.

Your integrity and reputation are at stake with this position. With this position, the future of the Gambia is in your hands – to make or break. With humility and honesty, I see you playing a bigger role in our society other than this position. I see you play the role of sanitizer for Adama Barrow and his administration. I wish to see you accorded a respectable and rewarding position in our society in which you provide guidance to the government and serve as an intermediary between the people and their elected servants.

Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang

To promote good governance, and serve as a bridge in building hope and reconciliation in the months and years to come. I see you serve as a promoter of truth and justice as we go through the laborious journey of healing the nation after 22 years of tyranny. Your role in this transition is huge and significant that it will lend credence to the claim by many that you are indeed the mother of the nation.

Even when the laws permit you, I caution that holding public office such as position of vice president in a coalition government immediately following a 22-year tyranny carries lot of risks. The Gambian people are traumatized and broken and their expectations are high. Our people will be impatient and unkind because they want quick fix solutions. One cannot blame them because the pain has been too much. Hence this administration shall have indeed a rather turbulent three years from now. For this reason, I fear you might become a casualty of the impatience of the masses that potentially would reduce or extinguish the love and respect that you currently enjoy with the people. You should care about that love and respect that we have for you.

This is why, Mommy I would admonish you to stay out of Government but to provide a greater national service by supporting Barrow to encourage and guide him to avoid pitfalls that would generate the wrath of the people against him. You can play the role of the pacifier and unifier of the people by managing our expectations and consoling our hearts and emotions.

I foresee a lot of rancour ahead of us for which the Gambia needs a personality and a voice that will pull us back together from aiming for each other’s throat. I see you play that role, Mrs. Fatoumatta Tambajang. The bigger role in our country and government is not to be played by the president and the vice president, but by those respectable senior Gambians like yourself who would become faces and voices of unity, reconciliation and hope for our people. This is why I prefer you remain out of government even if the law permits you. Our time and circumstances demand such a role player because it will be a very acrimonious period.

In that view, I wish to reach out to our Chief Servant Adama Barrow and our people to therefore consider a fitting role for you as the one you played in the coalition talks that brought our parties together. Similarly, in these trying times, we need such a role by a person who is non-partisan and one who is not a politician, but playing a national service that is beyond and above the president. To speak truth to power and restrain the government to be law abiding, transparent and accountable. Do not let your person become a source of division and rancour among our people as we are already seeing. You deserve more than that.

Every society needs independent personalities outside of government who go above partisan politics and are not constrained by sectarian considerations. They are considered the Conscience of the Nation. Such personalities are usually religious or traditional leaders. But after 22 years, we know that Yaya Jammeh had corrupted, discredited, neutralized or extinguished most of such decent, respectable and independent voices in our country. But in you, we should find the Conscience of the Gambia. To speak truth to power but also to admonish we the young ones who become irate. Be that person, Mommy. For us. Let us criticize the government but let us not criticize you. And indeed we will castigate the government and Barrow. We will get to a time when our people will get angry with the government and they will insult and despair. But let us have a person, an institution occupied by you with similar respectable citizens to whom we can turn for hope. An institution and a person who will wipe the tears of our people because they are frustrated by their leaders and government. Do not let us miss that institution and personality. We need that more than ever before, to embolden and energize us.

This is my humble appeal to you: Decline the appointment. To defend our constitution. To preserve your integrity. To be the Conscience of the Gambia. To be the unifier of our people. To serve as the guide for our new Pres. Adama Barrow and his Government.

God Bless You. God Bless the Gambia.

by Madi Jobarteh