By Sait Matty Jaw
I know many young people are indecisive or decided not to vote in this upcoming election. Some will tell you that all the candidates are the same. “They will lie to you, you vote for them and that is it. They will make promises and never fulfil those promises”. Some will argue that is even better to sit at home and not vote at all. My response to that has always been that you will maintain a system or help a system that you totally disagree with. I am not sure if this is working anymore. I think I need a new response.
See, there are more young people in UK and the US today. Most refused to vote or felt exactly the same way most of you are feeling right now. What did they get in return? Brexit and Donald Trump right in their faces. So, who should be blamed?, The people that voted or those that had the power to change things and refused to take action? We cannot afford to miss this opportunity for The Gambia our homeland. Not voting or voting otherwise, you are risking another five years of Jammeh and of economic and political regression. We cannot afford that.
I want to tell you exactly why you should vote. You might not see it now. But deep down inside you, you know exactly it is what you want to hear. You know it is the fact and nothing but the fact. Many of us, will want to vote for a candidate because he or she is good looking, throws the biggest campaign with hired musician and drummers to sing songs about them, to glorify their names and personality, to mystify them as saviors and people that know more than the hundreds that dance in their names. Sadly, this is what comes to be of our politics. You see it all the time everywhere. For me these are all distractions.
If any party or politician promises you jobs, security, free health care and free tertiary education or even economic super power they are lying to you. They are distracting you from the real reason why you should vote. They see you as cheap, hungry and desperate. The real and only reason why you should vote in this election is to uphold the rule of law and the only body or organization campaigning on that platform is the COALITION. That is where we are right now and it is the most fundamental issue that we should look into. Job, security, free this or free that are all tied to your right as a citizen and how the state creates that environment for you to pursue those rights. We are denied this basic right by the current regime and I don’t see such with GDC leadership.
What is the rule of law? Simply put, “no one is above the law” or “the law rules” and not individuals. In our case right now, it is an individual that rules even though the law exists. Our laws meant to promote our rights as citizens are meaningless as the current regime rule base on the emotions of the president. The absence of rule of law threatens everything and everyone. Our jobs, our personal freedom, our right to complain and to get justice, our survival in terms of service provision and jobs are all threatened by the absence of the rule of law. People are arrested and detained beyond the 72 hours stipulated by the law. People are fired from their jobs and denied retirement benefits no matter how long they have served the government. People are abducted; some killed others you never heard of again. Think about this, your work for the government all your life and one year before your retirement you got fired for no reason, you directly lose all your retirement earnings and what do you do from then, start fresh?
This election we must vote not because a particular party or group organizes the best campaign with drums and dance, but we must vote to have a system in place. A system built on rule of law. Where everyone is treated equally before the law, where our jobs and livelihood are protected, where our freedoms to complain and to seek remedy without been sanction is respected. A system that put aside ethno-linguistic and religious differences aside and threat everyone the same. No one is a minority in The Gambia. We are all equal. We indeed need a system or a group that portray that image. And for me this is the reason why the coalition came into existence. This should be our reason to vote.
Both the GDC and APRC are birds of the same feather. You may talk of Kandeh attracting crowds and all that, but it is done on a divisive line. GDC is not a peaceful party. A peaceful party is one that does not discriminate or attack other opposition parties. Our concern in this election is Jammeh and his APRC party. We must focus on that. Both APRC and GDC are making promises of jobs, and making Gambia economic super power or free education etc. They are not talking about the rule of law and democratic governance. Why? It would not serve their economic and political interest.
For Kandeh, everything is about him. My party this and my party that. He funds the party definitely he owns the party. It is the same with Jammeh and APRC. So, who will stand up to them within the party and say we should not do this or say that? If you do so, you risk been kicked out of the party or even arrested in the case of Jammeh. We have seen this time and time again. Kandeh is a great example.
On the other hand, Adama Barrow cannot just wake up and decide for the coalition. His participation in the election is sanctioned by all the parties that signed the MOU. In fact, the agreement within the MOU is that he leads for three years, create the needed environment for all political parties, and restore the rule of law and democratic governance for all. For me this is exactly what the country needs right now. We have come a long way and each year we risk under Jammeh or possibly clueless GDC, we might be risking our lives and properties for no good reason.
Young people of Gambia, the next five years and beyond should be your concern. Forget about the t-shirts, the drums and music, the crowds and think about your future. Think about your sustainable jobs, think about the good quality education, but most importantly, think about a free country. A country were you are treated equally not because of your religion, ethnicity, but because you are a Gambian.
Let us go out and Vote and not only vote but vote for change.