Njundu Drammeh

(JollofNews) – Two years ago, on 1st December 2016, we also made a “tyrst with destiny”, to live life as a new democracy, to travel the road less travelled by in Africa. Two years on, while not everything is brighter, one thing is clearer: the people of The Gambia will never allow anyone, any more, to ride roughshod over their hard won liberty and freedom. The optimism about having a home grown, well nurtured democracy on a sub-structure or foundation of good governance, influenced by the possible great outcomes of the CRC and TRRC, is high.

Maintaining and sustaining the small gains with a long haul vision of enlarging the freedoms, becoming truly democratic and fulfilling the dreams which galvanised a brutalized people to take a long leap in the dark or walked the untrodden path, would require more than a wish or reliance on the “commitments” and sanctimonious statements of politicians. Insistence on good governance as the hallmark of our polity, respect for human rights as the enduring ethical standard of all duty bearers, establishment of accountability systems and standards and transparency, independence of the judiciary, abhorrence for corruption in the minds of everyone, and a discipline civil service are sine quo non for entrenching a free and open society.

But much more: every citizen must know that only him or her can safeguard the hard won liberty and political space; in his or her hand lies the fate and future of The Gambia, to squeeze it to death or let in fly to unbridled freedom and the world as its oyster. Awareness of this duty and willingness and readiness to fight for it when directly attacked or when under threat would help greatly. Eternal vigilance, they say, is the price of liberty. It means each citizen is a sentry and must not sleep at the post. It means each must be his or her brother and sister’s keeper, standing up for and by when the other’s rights and freedoms are threatened or abused.

Our democracy would be richer, stronger and better by the existence of these conditions too: accountable leadership, stronger opposition parties, a vibrant press, strong and active civil society, academic freedom, active citizenship, free flow of information, transparency backed by Freedom of Information Act. Our democracy would be in danger when each of these links in our chain is weak or weakened.

A limited government I crave for, one which is empowered to bring about marked progressive changes in the lives of the people and restrained enough not to be able to intrude into the spaces and lives of the people. The Jammeh regime has taught me one lesson: the road to economic security by way of political dictatorship is the costliest thoroughfare that the folly of man has ever created.

I don’t know about you, but I will always suspect whatever the government says, taking it with a pinch of salt. It is the only way to safeguard myself against betrayal.