Madi Jobarteh

(JollofNews)- Section 1 subsection 2 of our constitution establishes the sovereignty of Gambia on the citizens of the Gambia. It went further to establish that the legitimacy of the state and its officers is also derived from the citizens.

Furthermore, it says that government institutions and public servants function on behalf of, and serve the citizens. From this entrenched provision, it is therefore clear that each and every state institution and each and every public officer is legally in his or her position simply because Gambians gave you that legitimacy and authority. These state institutions and officials are therefore servants of the people of the Gambia, and nothing else.

Such political awareness was unfortunately never carried out in the Gambia since we gained independence on 24th April 1970. As Jawara and the PPP regime took over, they merely replaced the colonial regime. The necessary political education was not conducted such that our people merely responded to Jawara as they responded to the colonial regime. Thus Jawara went to live in the colonial governor’s residence, which became State House.

Despite various changes to the laws, institutions and processes, the fundamental fact remains that the people were never empowered to realize that in fact and indeed the president and his government are the servants of the people. No government ever enlightened the people to realize that power belongs to the people.

For this reason, we saw how Jawara was idolized with various songs and praises heaped on him. When he goes for his country tours, the poor masses received him like a king, and donated their meager resources to him. This same trend continued under Yaya Jammeh to the point that he even acquired the most ludicrous titles such as Sheikh, Nasurudeen and Babili Mansa. Thus in effect, what we have seen since independence is that the relationship between the state and the people became one of a slave and the slave master.

Instead of the government being humble and answerable to the people, we saw how the government became overbearing and oppressive. This means therefore the necessary transparency, accountability and responsiveness expected of the government was absent. This has resulted to uncontrolled corruption, inefficiency, and poor delivery of basic services, while the civil and political rights of the people were trampled upon with impunity.

Now that we have come to 2017, it is therefore important to awaken our people to rethink about the very essence and purpose of the government. Above all, it is necessary to make the Gambian realize what is the meaning of citizenship. It is such political awareness that will usher in true democracy and sustainable development in the sense that when the citizen is aware of his or her rights, privileges and duties, he or she shall be determined to play his or her role as a citizen. When that happens, it means instead of the government looking down upon the people, rather it will be the people who will realize that indeed power belongs to them as citizens.

With this knowledge, the people will therefore take steps to put the government under scrutiny for the purpose of making it serve the national interests better. We will therefore be able to ensure good governance, which is the foundation upon which national development can be achieved.

For this reasons, I have therefore decided to refer to the President as the Chief Servant as a means to begin the process of transforming the mentality of the masses towards elected officials and public servants. Our constitution defines the president and all government employees as Public Servants. It never referred to them as Public Masters. I wish to enlighten the masses that they are the employers of the President. We pay him a monthly salary for his services from our tax money. His job is nothing other than to protect our rights and satisfy our needs. Hence the President is nothing other than our employee or our servant or our Mbidan. He is not above us in anyway.

Therefore it is important that all citizens realize that the President is not a king or emperor. The President is not powerful, rather power resides in us the citizens. The President is there to serve us. In this service, we must scrutinize each and every action or decision he takes. We should not be afraid of him. We should not serve him. We must serve only the Gambia. It is We the People who elected the President. If he does not serve us well, we can vote him out in the next election. Because all employees of the State are public servants, the leading servant is the President. For this reasons, I call the President the Chief Servant.

God Bless the Gambia