The Social Contract – Towards a Healthy Democratic State

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When the renown French philosopher, Mostesquieu, coined the term ‘separation of powers’ between the executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government, little did he knew centuries later the inbuilt checks and balances mechanisms would tame a billionaire American President fun of dictators & penchant for shiny things. Similarly, never would it have occur to the academic ilk of the time that a neo-patrimonial African leader obsessed with the spiritual underworld with an unhealthy appetite for young girls shall be overthrown by the rigours of democracy.

 

The social contract, in short, is an agreement with which a person enters in to civil society. John Locke, the renown liberal theorist interprets it as ‘’an individual consent either explicitly or tacitly by surrendering some of their freedoms & submit to government in exchange for protection of their remaining rights’’. In political science language, it is a political contract between citizens and their government based on tacit consent. It is about a relationship allowing for ruler to exercise power over ruled based on accepted norms. In all democracies, the contract is contingent, to be renewed via periodic elections where politicians who violate or fail to live up to the terms of the agreement shall be voted out of office.

 

The contract though is two-fold anchoring on double-pronged dictates as specified in the constitution on the role and duties of both government & citizen. Ladies and Gentlemen, We, The Citizenry, agree to give up some powers to government in return for certain benefits. In view of the agreement, we, for our part, will obey good laws & work towards the development of the state, pay taxes, be loyal & defend the country, its institutions, identify with the flag, customary symbols & insignia with respect to good citizenship. The government in return is under obligation to provide national security, protect the lives & property of its citizen, guarantee free expression of thought, print & regulate the flow of money, and create the necessary conditions for the pursuit of one’s dreams, conduct external affairs & sign contracts on their behalf all under the banner of national interest. What the government cannot do, however, is take you to heaven. That, I’m afraid is between you & your heart’s desires. To each and to their soul!

 

To ensure of a flourishing democracy, the administration has to make sure the rule of law is the playbook upon which both ruler and ruled subscribe to with each side fulfilling their obligations and duties with regards to the constitution. This mean the rich & wealthy in society must play by the same rules as the poorest amongst us. It also means equality before the law, and for appointments & contracts to be issued on merit. But it also means something else, which is, that citizens are obliged to be loyal to the state. I was barely a teen in 1994, when events took a dramatic turn for the worst resulting in a brutal dictatorship. As for the loose cannons out there still wishing for Jammeh’s return – I call them the bullshit crowd full of idle talk. Ask them to say a good thing about the coalition government, then watch their bastardised reactions gasping for faults. How unfortunate the Gambia to have produced evil mechanics as those APRC souls lost in their wicked ways.

Dissent in of itself can have health benefits for a democratic setting as a referendum on politicians. It is an oversight mechanism too because a rational leader would feed off public outcry and change tact or work even harder to satisfy those demands being shouted at. In a society of competing interest and wealth in the hands of a few, our politics should be viewed through the eyes of everyday Gambians by looking through their needs and respond. I will go out of my way to thank all the ministers for recognising the dangers to praising the president at every turn. That is a welcome change, in fact better for the President’s own legacy. The Gambian people have further called on all civil servants to exercise high ethical standards in their everyday roles, and to stand confident, and show genuine love for that beautiful land we call home. Take it from me the trajectory shows – Africa is the future despite its politicians’ obsession with overseas bank accounts or else. A move, universally welcome, by the President demanding all his ministers declare their assets for accountability purposes.

 

To that end, true democracy allows for economic development. It also allows for an educated citizenry which equates to a better informed one – thus a progressive state. In my view, better informed citizens will compare and contrast their economic position to citizens of other countries around them, and are more inclined to partake in the democratic process. As long as the coalition government remember to reflect on themselves as servants of the Gambian people, we be alright. For a prosperous Gambia as vision in a city-state utopia, every public servant should ask themselves this simple question everyday – what have I done today to help advance the country that better the lives of my fellow Gambians. Honesty begins with oneself, hold oneself accountable to high ethical standards- with that we shall soon surpass Senegal & every country on the continent on a sustainable path towards development.

 

Clearly reform is in effect towards a credible Judicial system the citizens can buy confidence in. That said, Justice should be accessible and affordable to every citizen. And although we welcome the fact that appointments are premised on recommendations of the Judicial service commission, in the same breathe appeal to the Ministry to listen to concerns put forth by the Bar association to weed out the three (3) scandalous Nigerian Judges still enjoying tax payer funded luxury. What an insult to our intelligence! And what a seeming trend continuance sic. I cannot help but call for investigations into the affairs of Amadou Samba, the Lebanese cartel (Bazzi, Tajudeen, Tarik Musa) and all those who manipulated & milked the Gambian economy for selfish ends. On the issue of foreign travels, former president Jawara described the dilemma his government found itself at the birth of a republic. Against the wishes of advisors and foreign interest to hire private planes on overseas travels, he refused, instead flew economy class on ‘strategic’ foreign trips. As things stand, the administration should deeply reflect within itself for the fact that we have envoys abroad to represent government at those meetings. I further call on the Presidency to start holding weekly cabinet meetings on the opportunities & the many challenges therein in ensuring effective administration.

 

Gibril Saine, LONDON

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