Wednesday, July 24, 2024

An open letter to President Barrow

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Dear Mr. President, 

If I write to you about the current situation of our country, will you read? If I speak to you about the direction our nation is heading, will you listen? If I tell you what our people are going through, will it soften your heart? If I tell you about the pains and sufferings of my people, your people and our people, will it be enough for you to do something? 

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Greetings from this nobody who voted you into office from where it all began – at a time when we knew so little. We could not see beyond salvation from tyranny, bigotry, tribalism, dictatorship, torture, and extra-judicial incarcerations and killings. We went to the polls and entrusted you with our nation because we had little a choice but to trust you despite how little we knew you. We looked up to you and hailed you as our messiah. You gave us your word that you were just going to be a transitional president; you told us the three years was what you would stick to, but little did we know you would never be better than your words. You took our power and use it against us; you chose the Constitution instead of your moral duty to keep the promise you made to us. Despite all that, we remained calm and supported you to complete the term. After five years of struggle, we put you back in office because of circumstances beyond the control of most electorates. We sat hoping to see the trend change, but unfortunately, it kept escalating.

Let us face it now; Mr. President, your silence is killing; your inaction is unconstitutional, and [the way] you handle the suffering of innocent Gambians. Gambia has become a country where the cost of living is penetrating the skies. Imagine waking up one morning and discovering that the prices of bread, rice, oil and other basic food items have sky-rocketed by over 40%. Imagine waking up one morning and finding out that your transportation cost spiked by over 100%. Imagine waking up one morning and your landlord tells you from the distance, “hey! I have doubled the rent of this house. If you cannot afford it, you look for somewhere else?” As a father, who is employed by your government on wages that can barely get him food for a month, he must meet his professional obligation of reporting to work even if it takes spending 50% of his embarrassing salary on transport, he struggles to feed, shelter and school his children while the tax he pays is used to pay you handsomely, clothe you elegantly, feed you nutritiously, protect you highly, house you heavenly, and school your children lavishly. The same system that is supposed to be regulated by your constitutional orders and powers is affecting his mental health badly, taking away his happiness completely, frustrating him uncontrollably, depressing him deeply and killing him slowly. He would have no choice but to beg or worship people just to survive. If that fails, he will inevitably steal from us as a nation just to make a living. Hence, corruption and bribery become institutionalized. If no one is informing you rightly, Mr. President, I am doing it for absolutely free.

Moving to the road traffic accidents causing countless untimely tragic deaths of people, it saddens me to know that almost every week a person suffers, in The Gambia, from road traffic accidents. The last time I checked the literature, it was indicated that the Gambia’s roads are safer than that of only seven out of the 195 countries in the world today. Mathematically, this means that approximately 96% per cent of the world’s population is safer using roads than Gambians are. A lot of manly men and industrious women lost their lives, and their only crime was using our roads. Your Excellency, this is another urgent matter that needs timely intervention to flatten the curves on the statistical graphs of this undesired data.

Your Excellency, the current state of our nation, is affecting our productivity. High attrition rate: all the talented young people of this beloved nation are moving abroad to use their knowledge and skills for better pay and enhanced conditions of living for themselves and their families. This emanates from the lack of hope for meaningful employment opportunities with above-average job satisfaction. As a result of the poor quality of life, the number of senior citizens developing hypertension is escalating; and the figures of working group people that die preventable deaths are alarming. These effects put further pressure on our health system and depress our economy. Your Excellency, your effective intervention, will serve as a beacon of hope for our beloved nation, The Gambia.

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Your Excellency, I do not intend to disrespect you even though writing to a person in power about serious national concerns in this country is considered disrespectful, what I want us to achieve together is a better Gambia- a Gambia where the government governs the people, and not a few groups of business owners ruling and exploiting the masses; a Gambia with not just a constitution, but enforcement of the law; a Gambia with price control, rent regulation and traffic monitoring; a system that will make you leave a legacy, rather than a miserable history. Therefore, I am your well-wisher.

Your Excellency, the situation is becoming increasingly unbearable, and the opinion of the public is swaying fast from your direction. I understand you are a peaceful person, but if your definition of peace is to leave every citizen to do as he or she pleases, then there is a fundamental problem. Therefore, it is time to put a stop to the looming household ‘foodlessness’, national ‘youthlessness’ and societal ‘houselessness’. These devastating situations, if not mitigated, have the potential to break people, rob them of their sanity and patience, kill their hearts of humanity, and reform them into ruthless revolutionary movements that no power in the world can tame. Your Excellency, prevention is better than cure. I wish these words do not run down the drain. Long live!

Yours faithfully,
Ousman Sparo Touray.

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