By Madi Jobarteh
Private and Community Radio Stations Defy Closure
I wish to call on all community and private radio stations to collectively and individually defy the so called order to close down. The action of the Government is unconstitutional because it violates the law. You have committed no crime. Broadcast NOW.
The time has come for the owners and managers of the community and private radio stations to join the masses in our civil disobedience against a dying regime. Defy the illegal instructions and continue to broadcast.
If you all keep on the air the dictator cannot do anything. Right now ministers are jumping the ship. Civil servants are temporally resigning. Our civil society organisations and trade unions and religious bodies and communities have all spoken unequivocally in condemning the tyrant. Citizens are displaying #GambiaHasDecided. Therefore the time has come for our radio stations to also join the people in defiance of the dictator.
Let us all stand behind our radio stations to support them to continue operating and defy the illegal attempts to close them down. Let the radio stations conduct talk shows on the issues prevailing in the country. Let them play progressive artists like Killa Ace and Pa Bobo Jobarteh and others.
Defy the ban! No more closure.
West Coast Radio, Paradise FM, Hilltop FM, Star FM, FMB Brikama, Unique FM, Taranga FM, Farafeni community radio, Kerewan community radio, Brikamaba community radio, Kora FM, City Limits Radio, Capital FM and Sen FM.
Let us stand with our radio stations. Now.
Defy the ban.
The Appointment of Seedy Njie as Minister is Gross Violation of the Constitution
First Things First
The Gambia is a constitutional democracy, meaning we are not a monarchy. Rather it means we are all equal citizens with equal rights as Gambians belonging to this republic. Section 1 Subsection 1 establishes the Gambia as a ‘secular sovereign republic’. Section 1 Subsection 2, states that the legitimacy of the Gambia lies in the people of the Gambia. It went further to state that the State derives its legitimacy and authority from the people and that the State functions on behalf of the people. Then Chapter 4 of our constitution identifies and guarantees our sovereign rights as inviolable and sacrosanct.
…Based of Accountability
As a republic under a constitutional democratic dispensation, it means no single Gambian has more power than any other citizen hence the constitution created various checks and balances to ensure that everything in this republic shall be conducted according to the rule of law. This is to make sure no individual takes the law into himself or herself hands. It also means the State is not under the control of one person or a group of people who run things according to their whims and caprices. In other words the constitution created laws, processes, and institutions to restrain individuals as public officers and citizens so that there is peace and stability. This is what is called accountability.
…Based on Separation of Powers
In that regard, and knowing the power of the State, the constitution divided the State into three arms. The first arm is the Executive (which is generally called the Government) headed by a president whose composition and functions are well specified under Chapter 6. The second arm is the Legislature (or National Assembly) headed by the Speaker whose composition and function are well specified under Chapter 7. The third and final arm of the state is the Judicature (or the Courts) headed by the Chief Justice whose composition and function are well defined under Chapter 8. The constitution divided the State into three arms to make sure no one institution or the head of that institution has too much power onto itself. Rather the three arms are to check each other in order to curtail abuse and corruption and ensure efficiency, justice and transparency. For that purpose an Executive member cannot be a member of the Legislature or Judicature, likewise a National Assembly Member cannot be a member of Cabinet or Judicature, etc. This is what is called Separation of Powers, which is the foundational principle of a republican system of governance or constitutional democracy.
Appointment of Ministers
The Executive comprises the president, vice president and ministers. The authority to appointment ministers lies with the president. Section 71(1) states that the president determines the number of ministers. Section 71(2) states who can be appointed minister. Here is what the constitution says in that sub-section 2:
“A person shall not be qualified to be appointed or hold the office of a Minister if, he or she is a member of the National Assembly or if he or she holds the citizenship or nationality of any country other than The Gambia. In addition, a person shall not be qualified to be appointed Attorney General unless he or she is a legal practitioner of at least five years standing at the Gambian bar.”
In light of the above, it is therefore crystal clear that Seedy Njie is a Nominated Member of the National Assembly hence he is not qualified to be appointed as a cabinet minister. This appointment is unconstitutional and violates the separation of powers principle and the very nature and foundation of a constitutional democratic republic.
My Clarion Call
In the heat of the war of liberation in Guinea Bissau against the fascists Portuguese colonialists in the 1960s, the Great African Patriot Amilcar Cabral told the glorious freedom fighters that our people must be led by our best sons and daughters. Increasingly it is dawning on Gambians that we have to become the best sons and daughters of our people in order to salvage our country. In that regard, the blatant misconduct and disrespect of Yaya Jammeh have reached alarming proportions and Gambians must put a stop this nonsense. I therefore remind the Members of the National Assembly that they are under oath to defend our constitution and sovereignty. For far too long Yaya Jammeh has trampled on our sovereignty into the mud and flouted our constitution like toilet paper. I call on our National Assembly Members to demonstrate that they are among the best sons and daughters of the Gambia and completely and immediately abandon Yaya Jammeh and seek his urgent impeachment before January 19. In like manner, I call on the Vice President and all Cabinet ministers to immediately resign and condemn the unconstitutional behaviour of Yaya Jammeh. Failure to take this urgent action let these National Assembly Members and Cabinet ministers know that they are active and direct accomplices in the abuse of the sovereignty and constitution of the Gambia, which is a treasonable offence.
To Seedy Njie
Seedy Njie, return this position and resign. Now! First of all, you are a victim. But you are a very annoying victim. You are a victim because as a young boy who just came out of secondary school, you were thrust into the National Assembly. You lack the required education and experience of life and overall capacity to understand even your purpose of life. A Grade 12 schoolboy is a child. Hence when you were thrown into the national Bantaba, the pomp and pageantry overwhelmed you to the point that you lost your bearings. You saw yourself in the midst of happenings and at the same level with far older Gambians and representing the country at world stages. Your lack of maturity because of your young age has gotten into your head to think that indeed you are power itself. This is not surprising because at the helm of our state itself, sits a man who also was a product of Form 5. Without any experience of life, he was thrust to the highest office in the land. Lacking the capacity to understand and appreciate the enormity of the Office of the President, Yaya Jammeh fumbled as he was overwhelmed by this position and power around that position. But instead of seeing the interest of his people in that power and use it to solve national issues with humility, he greedily went for the goodies of that power and position hence his dictatorship for 22 years.
Thus when we come this far, I wish to tell you that you are damaging your future in your society. You have already raised the wrath of your people to unbearable proportions against you. Seedy, you are too young and most of your life is ahead of you. It is already late for you to cleanse yourself, but better late than never. I do not get angry with you. I feel sorry for you. This is because I see a very tough life of shame and ostracism awaiting you in your society. This is going to be painful because you have many more years to live. I cannot imagine how you can ever more live with rebuke and ridicule in the Gambia having disrespected, provoked, insulted and disappointed so many fellow citizens. I do not envy you, my brother. Resign. Do not allow Yaya Jammeh to take you down as he is certainly going down in a matter of few days!