It carries life and death responsibilities. It is the most crucial position in the state in which the lives and destiny of all citizens lie. It is the office that has the highest accountability responsibility to ensure that all organs of government function to protect the rights and lives of citizens and deliver efficiently and responsively to citizen needs. It is the position that is responsible for the individual and collective security of each and every citizen.
It is the position that ultimately determines if our natural resources and tax money will be well utilized or wasted. The office of the president is the place that determines if our security institutions will be protectors of our lives and territorial integrity or will become weapons against citizens. This Office bears the responsibility in ensuring that the peace and stability of our country is assured or not.
Ultimately the quality of our democracy and governance depends first and foremost on the kind of person who holds the office of president. That president holds the key to the unity or division of our society.
Reading through the pages of history one can see how heads of states in various societies have either been catalysts for progress or agents of destruction. Societies fail or succeed largely and primarily because of the leadership they have, at the head of which is the president as the most critical and crucial.
United States has become a world power and a success case today because they had a president called George Washington and Abraham Lincoln whose believe in the rights and progress of their citizens was unquestionable. On the other hand DR Congo failed because there was a president called Mobutu. Today Trump has shaken the foundations of 240 years of American Democracy within 18 months because he holds the office of the President.
Therefore the person who assumes that position must be severely scrutinized and tested. The president cannot be any other citizen. That office must not be for free for all.
We have many offices such as ministers or directors or CEOs or Executive Directors all of which require high standards and requirements. But we have only one President of the Republic and that person cannot be any Samba or Kumba with a Grade 12 certificate!
The office of president is an envious, prestigious and heavy position in which lies the development or destruction of the nation. The poverty and underdevelopment of The Gambia since Independence lie squarely and primarily at the feet of the presidents we had since then until today. Singapore is a first world country today because they had a president called Lee Kuan Yew!
Hence the qualification for Office of the President must be a level that is fit for the Office in view of the duties and impact of that Office on our lives.
Whatever requirements are set for president it is to ensure that the best son or daughter assumes that position. While that qualification is not a foolproof against corruption and inefficiency or abuse it is however assuring that whoever assumes that position has the requisite technical capacity to hold that position.
To further safeguard against abuse and ensure efficiency the checks and balances in the laws suffice coupled with active citizen participation, a strong free media and a vibrant civil society. But let those checks and balances find the right person in post in the first place.