The Politics of Change and the Role of Independent National Assembly Members
Friday, April 27, 2012
Even though change is a fundamental phenomenon of life it is frequently a subject of controversy. Some welcome it, others oppose it.
This is more conspicuous in the political arena where the resistance to change is as stiff as the battle for the change, even when it is desirable and in the overall national interest.
So it was with The Gambia Coalition of Opposition Political Parties in their bids to bring about a change in both the last presidential and National Assembly elections of 2012 and 2011 respectively.
Whatever the case, it was wrong for the opposition parties not to participate. If the coalition had become a reality, they would have been faced with a dire situation with the failure of the rainy season, which is affecting many of the poorest people as well as the fairly well-to-do people.
The price of essential commodities are getting beyond the reach of the middle and lower income workers, be they on the pay roll of government, N.G.Os or the private commercial establishments.
Many political observers, basing their analysis on the past national assembly elections, believe the opposition could have won some seats.
But it should be clear that there is no panacea or magical formula for winning popular, free and fair elections, other than to have a good manifesto, convincing policies and more importantly, men and women, with integrity, the caliber and attitude to be seen to be able to implement these policies, when the party is eventually in government.
No government could have popular support if it gets into power through corrupt practices and election rigging.
With the indomitable courage of President Jammeh to go ahead with his recent appointments of men of probity and experience in all public positions ranging from state, local and party, including governors. The A.P.R.C would be seen to have the chance to cross the road, to wither the looming economic gloom compounded by the failure of both food and the groundnut cash crop, on which The Gambia depends for its economic survival.
The boycott of the National Assembly election by the coalition of the opposition political parties has not only shown how indecisive they were but also how out of tune with the unfashionable political language of boycott.
For the word election boycott has been wiped out of the current election dictionary as there are no meanings for it. It might be because of that the learned leader of the N.R.P Amat Bah courageously ventured, with his party, into the National Assembly elections in spite of the risks. What a dauntless politicians!
Politics is an enterprise of risks from start to finish. It therefore calls for determined men and women to undergo the risks. The risks, however, include life, property, positions, passion and so on. For anyone to take up those risks, in the interest of the people makes one a great politician such as men like Kwammeh Nkrumah, Ahmed Ben Bella, and Sekou Toure, Jommoh Kenyatta, and others who brought about the desired change from colonial slavery to freedom, which was not given on a silver platter.
Whatever the case, Amat Bah knew that he and his party were going to face risks and challenges standing for the Assembly elections in the interests of the people.
With its one seat the N.R.P, has made a good political step forward, keeping its image alive in both the National Assembly and with the general public.
Thus, if the independent candidates could make success on the unlevel playing field, what would have been the overall chances of the opposition coalition parties? The Senegalese elections have been a good indicator of how the opposition parties, who chose not to contest the elections, failed to improve their image.
However the independent candidates deserve saluting for their efforts in keeping the democratic process alive in the National Assembly and the country and also in reshaping the political landscape.
As the political attention is shifting from the coalition, it is being focused on the independent members. What will their role be in the National Assembly will they align with government or with the opposition or they would form a block?
But the problematic point for the National Assembly is the election of the minority leader, would he be elected from the one member opposition party or from among the four independent members in the National Assembly?
It is an interesting political issue as to whether the constitutional right or the democratic process will prevail.
The opposition parties, with the exception of the N.R.P have no more game to play. New players, whose characteristics are consummate with determined politicians willing to sacrifice themselves and abide by the will of the people in order to bring about the desired political change, are now in the field.
Author: Alhaji Momodou B. Sillah, a veteran Gambian journalist