GMC Wants Clarifications
Sunday, May 13, 2012
In a government where transparency reigns, rumours would have no place to hide. An informed citizenry is the best insurance against misinformation, supposition and conjecture in matters of public policy. Governments exist as servants of the people and not their masters.
A servant remains at the beck and call of its master. In The Gambia, this is codified into law – The Gambia Government derives its authority from the consent of the governed. One of the implications of this constitutional principle means that whatever government conducts for and on behalf of the citizenry, must be fundamentally in their exclusive interest.
In the same spirit, government must be transparent in its conduct, which requires that citizens be consulted and informed at all times of policies and their implications. These include international treaties, bilateral protocols or multilateral conventions.
Parliament, in a democracy has the constitutional role to subject the Executive to task, and opposition parties equally have the duty to hold government accountable. Civil society’s role is indispensable in this process.
The State does not exist for those who work in government or design and implement policies or laws. Those are servants of the State, from the highest paid to the lowest paid public employee. The conduct of the State should not be shrouded in perpetual secrecy.
Invariably, certain matters bordering on public security as defined in our laws may be exempt, in so far as they may be inimical to sovereign stability, public order or peace. Agreements with private businesses should not be conducted in secrecy. The Gambia is full or rumour mills. This is avoidable.
Transparency is the cardinal principle of democratic governance, and those who wield authority are enjoined to practice it. A free press is the bastion of transparency, without which even the press itself may become an unwitting vector of rumour mongering. That is why I support press freedom and also advocate for the legislation of Freedom of Information Act in The Gambia.
Reports in various media have it that The Gambia Government has mortgaged or sold substantial parcels of land in the CRR to Bangladeshi mercantilists for agricultural purposes, for export to Bangladesh. GMC requests clarification from government. If indeed these reports are true, I urge the Government to render the details clear without delay.
Every inch of Gambian soil belongs to Gambians and can be redeemed at any material time. Persons and governments may come and go, but The Gambian State shall remain. What one government may put into operation could be taken out of operation by another government. No regime is eternal.
For us at GMC, the use, protection and preservation of State lands and other natural endowments for Gambians yet unborn is a fundamental national security interest. Our land area shall not increase, while our population continues to explode.
Our increasing demand for food security is at crisis point, and the protection of our flora and fauna must be taken seriously. For a very small country like The Gambia, with a rising young population, these are matters of grave concern to me.
We have the superior obligation of protecting The Gambia’s future. We urge the Government to clarify the Bangladeshi land deal and put rumours to rest.
Author: Mai Ahmad Fatty, GMC Party Leader