WHAT IS TO BECOME OF THE APRC PARTY IN THE NEW GAMBIA Ban Or Challenge Them At The Polls? - Saul Njie
I have used the online media to better myself, to be a better writer, student, thinker, debater, reader, listener; to be more accepting of differing views – and most importantly – to be a better person, whatever that means. I have had a lot of debates on Twitter and Facebook – and have learnt a lot from these streets and I am most certainly the better for it. I have also used this medium to express myself, share ideas and to craft ideas and whatnot. Of recent – we have entered a new dawn in my homeland, thus, prompting a myriad of conversations on the idea of justice, of liberty, of democracy, of the state and the demos. These are interesting times – and I am particularly enjoying the fact that we are having debates on the constitution and demanding what we want from our government.
Out of these eclectic and enlightening conversations – one caught my eye – where a discussion about banning the APRC party from participating in future elections – because of what they have wreaked on the populace for the past twenty two years. Some argued that Jammeh did the same to the PPP; coalescing power and lessening their support. The problem with this line thinking is that – if we give the same powers to Barrow and, let him coalesce power, are we not simply creating another Jammeh?
Jammeh, ARGUABLY, from the onset, may have had great intentions for the country; however, power is intoxicating – and in the process – grabbed more power, because the citizenry was at the time okay with him banning some things that were not desirable for his new Gambia. Remember the old axiom: the road to hell is paved with good intentions? I think, especially, after the Jammeh experiment – we should be wary of such; and we need to be careful how much power we are willing to bestow upon politicians, because most of them, are hacks. Because, in politics, who we vote for is not about our souls, it’s just politics, man! Politicians are power hungry.
Personally – I totally understand why people would call for such. Because when all our awesome theories, fancy ideas and philosophies concerning elections and democracy amount to a party, as a case in point, the APRC party led government, hell-bent on corruption, looting and curbing personal liberties – people would be afraid or not wanting a return to the same state – and would want to dismantle the vehicles or outlets that gave us the aforesaid. The idea that the same technocrats, frauds – could run for elections, draft laws, be the face of the country, go scot-free; after two decades of enacting draconian, illiberal laws, should send chills down our spines. It is sobering. It is chilling. It is frightening. It beggars belief.
Notwithstanding, we should not forget that these people were voted in by their constituents, the Gambian people, and the notion that we could wake up one day and ban their party, is also chilling and irresponsible. How are we going to do this? Who is going to do this — the President? Do we want our executive to have such powers? If not him – then who: the parliament – which is almost entirely controlled by the APRC? Don’t see that happening. I think we should leave that up to the voters – come the April election- if they don’t want them – they would vote them out; but banning a political party that lost the presidential elections by a few percentage points is bad policy and sets a bad and – potentially – dangerous precedent.
After all, APRC was not booted out of the State House by a ban – but by a challenge at the ballot box, even when the decks were stacked against the Coalition. In my opinion, the same should be applied to defeating the APRC incumbents in the parliament, instead of banning the party. If they don’t get booted this time around; well, repackage your message, prepare for the next elections.
Democracy is messy, ugly and does not grant us our wishes all the time; but boy, is it sweet when it yields what we want. Ergo, an election where the majority of the populace voted against the incumbent president, where the president, after about 500000 votes, won by 20000 votes, doesn’t have a broad mandate. The system and structure that gave us APRC is still well and alive – for which – banning the APRC would not and cannot save us from.
Studiously, I submit to you that, in the new Gambia, a collective civic awareness and the employment of the humanist approach to governance — as opposed to parading history for condemning, banning or for our collective feel-goodism — is one we should try to emulate. Because we don’t want to create another behemoth, in the ilk of Jammeh, by giving the powers-that-be, unchecked powers to ban one of the biggest, if not, the biggest political party in The Gambia. That’s an affront to democracy. That’s not the way to build a new country. It creates more crisis than it solves. So, to answer the thematic question: what is to become of the APRC party in the new Gambia: ban or challenge them at the polls? I say, the answer to a conundrum in democracy, in essence, is more democracy, not less.
Visiting Professor of Political Science & Geography
Department of Social Sciences, Bluefield State College