The Gambia

Democratic Governance?

Political problems of Gambia are numerous and many are deep rooted. These problems ranged from who we are as a people to the creation of modern nation states from colonialism to present individual (and/or collective) endeavors to improve livelihoods, and as well many in-between factors. Undoubtedly, these complex sets of circumstances present challenges to finding the right solutions – more specifically the right beginning of the solutions. Hereunder I proposed 2 things that would ‘make Gambia a highly functioning institutional democracy’:

Break up Banjul – move most of the ‘POLICE POWERS OF STATE’ to the Regions and below

Build ‘REQUISITE CIVIC CAPACITIES’ of citizens to be able to rightfully assume custody of state

By definition democracy is ‘people self-governance’. This is not simply electing someone or group to dictate over our lives. Neither it is ……. ‘if you don’t do anything, nothing happen to you’ as sing by Jaliba Kuyateh. As a practical matter it is sharing governance authority along geographic delineations, cultural/traditional boundaries, economic zones, etc. as socially feasible. In The Gambia this could be done by breaking the Banjul hegemony and reassigning some of that authority to The Regions/Divisions, Districts & Municipalities.  The tables below proposed such ‘National Power Sharing Democratic Governance’:

National Government – Banjul

Branches

Executive

Legislature

Judiciary

Functions

Territorial integrity, Immigration and naturalization

International/foreign relations and trade

National policies – education, etc.

Essential national infrastructure – main roads, some bridges, River Gambia, etc.

Regional Governments – K/St. Mary’s, Brikama, kerewan, Mansakonko, Janjanbure & Basse

Branches

Executive

Legislature

Judiciary

Functions

Police Powers – safety, health and welfare

District Governments

Branches

Chief

Councilors

Regional courts

Functions

2nd tier police powers – safety, health and welfare

Municipalities – cities, town & villages

Branches

Mayor/Alkali

Kabilo Heads

Municipal courts

Functions

3rd tier police powers – city/town/village ordinances

The Draft CRC Constitution disappointingly did not move governance authority out of Banjul executive much less such decentralized governance. This proposed democratic reorganization of governance should take away 80/90% (ultimately 100%) police powers of state from Banjul to the Regions and below. Hence Banjul will be right-sized and right-structured for its limited roles.  National revenues (taxes and non-taxes) will be annually apportioned between Banjul and the Regions on a preset formula. Furthermore, Regions, Districts and municipalities could levy additional taxes to improve their finances.

This will streamline the ever-ballooning overheads and transform this burdensome public cost structure. The proposed reorganization has inbuilt up/down (or down/up) vertical accountability the current structure lacked. Horizontally, each level of government will not only account to the people but also self-measure against peers. Such healthy competition is a win-win. The ‘present imperial/colonial structure’ disguised as a democracy does not only disenfranchise citizens governance but as well wasteful, inefficient and above all unaccountable. The table below proves government legalized theft of Gambia’s meager resources.

Abridged Budget Numbers (GMD in billions)

Year

President

National Revenue

Cost of government

Left Over

Debt Interest Servicing

Actual Budget Deficit

1994

Jawara

0.68

1.11

-0.43

0.13

-0.56

2017

Yahya

8.53

5.48

3.05

3.7

-0.65

2018

Barrow

9.50

20.09****

-10.59

4.0

-14.59

2019

11.8

9.80

2.0

2.7

-0.7

2020

13.6

25.50****

-11.9

2.89

-14.79

Notice the anomalies in the overhead costs of 2018**** and 2020****. Something is not right……The table demonstrates how government of The Gambia impoverish Gambia while few live large. The selected years between 1994 to 2020 – 1994 – Jawara’s last budget, 2017 – Yahya’s last budget and Barrow’s 3 budgets.  Gambians pay taxes to procure common-welfare needs/wants. Overheads are incidental to that purpose, hence should be as low as possible.  Ethically, overheads should range 10 – 25% of national income/revenue. Instead overheads eat up 100+% of national revenue leaving negative balances. In almost every year since independence we have to either beg (and/or contract loans) to satisfy overheads. To compound the problem interests on outstanding loans are legal liabilities to be paid when due otherwise serious economic and/or legal consequences may ensue. Paying for these 2 obligatory costs always leaves us with negative balances before a single common-welfare need/want is procured. This is why even the water we drink is not tested for safety much less 24/7 electricity nor daily collection of domestic refuse. Combination of these factors placed us among world’s poorest, sickly/low life quality and lowest life expectancy.  Over-sized and paranoiac government is as well affront to civil liberties. How many Police Check Points encountered on your daily commute to Banjul? Doesn’t that border you on your own land? Fixing these issues would 1st require structural changes such as one proposed.

Additionally, for democracy to work would require people taking charge. For citizens to functionally assume civic roles/duties, they’ll need to have ‘Requisite Civic Capacity’. Hence, to culture and institutionalize democracy should not only be important but be a national default-task for governments. Educators, social scientists and other stakeholders should develop comprehensive curriculum on ‘Governance and Politics of Gambia’ to be made ‘certification requirement’ in the formal education sector (Arabic/French Schools included) from Grade 1 to Undergraduate School in The Gambia. None school going population should be reach through mediums such as CBOs/CSOs/NGOs literacy programs, Radio, Television, etc.

Notice that no political party (old /new) proposed such holistic democratic reform. Why? Maybe they don’t know and/or greedier for Banjul than their predecessors or little of both. In fact, aside PDOIS with somewhat philosophically different political ideology the rest are different only in the personalities of their leaders – all else are the same. Yahya and Barrow are no different in governing. Of course, two very different personalities.

For The Gambia Ever True

Burama FL Jammeh

Ends

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this section are the author's own and do not represent the editorial policy of Kairo News. Kairo News will trash any comment that inflames tribal, racial or religious hatred.

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