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Isn’t that adding the units together? Certainly it is!
This is what I learnt recently at a very insightful discussion with colleagues on Gainako Live Radio as a strategy being currently pursued. This is of course a strategy for all the ‘schools of thoughts’ of our struggle. It may be the case that some schools of thought may have it as a clearly stated strategy and for others an implied.
What is not clear is what the aggregated Units/Groups will do. The immediate removal and replacement of Yahya as the first order of business is stated several times. This is fine except we have no plan(s) to do it. Elections? Coup d’état?
There are several obvious options that can theoretically or practically end Yahya’s reign. These are through ELECTIONS and/or FORCEFUL TAKEOVER. Another possibility is through NATURAL DEAD
Which of the above is the aggregation (aggregated group) planned to pursue if any? Aggregation for practical purposes not needed in a forceful overthrow and/or natural dead. After such events it is possible and will be wise the emerged leader aggregate his/her support base. That could be done in several ways: coercion, intimidation, and inducements, doing his/her job well and/or some combination of all of the above. That leaves us with only one option – elections.
The elections option needed aggregation. However we’ve already contended (at least most I talk with/to) that winning/loosing elections have very little, if any, to do with political union. It should also be mention downing (election/force/natural dead) Yahya in current Gambia do not necessarily guarantee democracy. Although we seem to agree that it could be a good first step and we also assume it might be easier to work with his successor. I am seriously skeptical s/he will be easier to work with on democracy. S/he may be softer than Yahya how to treat people. However introducing democracy means lowering his/her power and as well sharing power and authority. History is not on our side on that especially in Africa. Democracy is better served and maintained with functioning institutions with a citizenry capable living a life of democracy.
Our call for a neutral/independent (from political parties) aggregation is to create A FACE of the struggle based on democracy. Until then whichever approach the struggle adopt is fine so long as is not a repeat of what has been tried but failed. Either ways or anyways we must define how we are going to aggregate. We should clearly state what the aggregated unit/group is for (what they going to do). Lastly we must articulate how practically that will be done (plan).
These things cannot and should not be left to God nor can we continue to be making blanket statements as if miracles will somehow appear from thin air. We do that at mosques, churches, temples, shrines and anywhere of worships. Managing a nation is human affair and citizens have the right to know what, where, when, how and why.
Unfortunately the use of aggregation as a strategy was never straightforward in our struggle. Let’s look at the efforts to unite the opposition into one camp. The very initial efforts before the 2nd Yahya election – NCP, NRP and PDOIS did not agree to join the UDP-led coalition with faction of PPP and GPP. As I understood PDOIS failure to join was based on lack of certain principles they believe – such as setting a transition period for the coalition, etc. NCP held on to the notion that they were the largest opposition party before the coup d’état hence they should be given the chance to lead. PPP and GPP joined UDP, maybe they honestly believe that was the right thing to do and/or they are too weak to have an otherwise option. Not sure what was the reason(s) advanced by NRP but they were alone. Am not bordered by any of these groups’ decisions to unite or not. I believe in choices and the more the better so long they’re under no undue pressure one way or another. More importantly it elates me if people make informed choices – whether I agree or not to such choices. Nonetheless in this clutter of mess do you see how each party rationalize her position hence a corrupted aggregation strategy? In this instance I would buy UDP argument. We want more people on one side for an election – easier/quicker/faster if the smaller groups join the bigger group. I take UDP to be the bigger party based on previous declared election results. It’s a different matter how valid the declared election results were.
Another example of aggregation strategy went AWOL is at the NADD creation efforts. It took about 3 years to get to NADD. How long did Wade and Nyass work it out to lunch a final push on Abdou Joof in Senegal? Days/few weeks! It was more rigorous putting an inter-party MoU than putting together our 1996/97 Constitution. If aggregation is adding the units – the straightforward is to coalesce around UDP.
At the third try NRP decided to join UDP while PPP broke away. Effectively this time around no NCP and GPP; don’t remember if SM Dibba was still alive and/or past away but Assan Musa Camara carried too much age to carry on. The one after that NRP broke alone for the second time.
As I said before it really doesn’t matter to me how political parties choose to relate to the extent it does not negatively bear on our over all goals of our struggle. That’s one reason I think is critically important we establish what the struggle is about and how we want to take it on. That way the role of politicians and political parties will be clearly projected and so too ours (the non-partisan, non-politicians, Civil Society Organizations, etc).
Looking back at these incidents I am not sure how effectively we use aggregation as a strategy. I was never a fan of one opposition candidate against Yahya. My opposition is not about the 1 candidate instead its based on my believe that arrangements/rearrangements opposition candidature cannot win against Yahya controlled elections where he (Yahya) is the other candidate. However I am hanging on to hope that opposition parties unite and formulate an executable strategic plan to confront government for complete overhaul and/or significant reforms to election laws and elections governance. This is within their legal operational rights. Whether they do that under a single leadership or not is a choice for them – not for us to impose it on them. More importantly such a common front do not require one leader.
Maybe aggregation as a strategy became difficult and confusing at times because there is no clearly articulated purpose of the struggle besides defeating Yahya. Maybe the problem we claimed to be battling is not well defined or explained to Gambians in a way they can relate to it. Maybe people see no reason to join an unwinnable effort…..so on and so forth. Not suggesting by any means these are it, but just so we all take a deep reflection.
There is no doubting or second-guessing the sincerity of all and any in our struggle. Certainly there exist divergence of views on how to approach whole range of issues. In as much as that may sometimes be reason(s) for inaction(s) and/or delay(s) it is fundamental democratic decision-making process. Yet more often than not our backgrounds and interests tend to blindfold our rationalization, choices we make and sides we take. The earlier examples show how each group rationalized her position.
A ‘Citizen Movement for A Democratic Gambia’ is an all-inclusive approach. The only agenda is to work to institutionalize democracy in The Gambia. Certainly democracy may mean different things to different people but we are yet to see who is against this simple goal/vision including Yahya. It is therefore safe to assume ours started with the broadest spectrum of Gambians even if that is just in principle. Political parties can form a leadership council that formulates plans to make demands for electoral reforms/overhaul while using their support base and international community to put pressure on authority in Banjul to yield. Professional Organizations and other Civil Society Organizations can concentrate in their areas of expertise and/or mission statements. We the activists can spread ourselves as far wide as we could to discomfort authorities anywhere they show-up face until our demands are met. The outcome of such coordinated efforts will produce people dictated and maintained democracy.
Our position is not, never have and never will be against any call for unity of purpose in this struggle. What we are troubled with is the fact that many have already submitted elections are not going to defeat Yahya yet we continued to make call for election union. Why?
A call for Diaspora Gambia to take independent/neutral broker stand is not disregarding what political parties and other individuals have done over the last 20 years and beyond. The reasoning is to have A National Agenda that is not house at a party and/or some interest group. Wrong or right we think is easier to sell that message when its not attached to one or few parties and/or interest group(s). Yet we recognize the opposition parties have unique roles to play in such a citizen movement both collectively and individually.
The last 2 arguments against this concept/approach are – its theory and will take long time. We’ve recently share an outline of A Plan of this approach. I don’t see anything theoretical about it or any other plan as practical as we lay out. Is it a difficult task to implement – you bet, it is. Will it take time – certainly it will. We’ve elections since 1962 and are yet to effect any meaningful changes. Half a century is a pretty damn long time – more than my age.
Fellow Gambians our problem(s) is not a simple problem. It is complex. It has being in making for decades. There will be no simple answer. No one answer. No straightforward answer. No quick fix answer. Any choice of the few we’re left with is a matter picking the just-the-sour-pill among bitter-pills.
Please remember we have Teleconference scheduled to advance discussion on some of the concepts and ideas. The hope is to someday agree on A Comprehensive National Vision for our struggle.
Hope you can make time.
July 20, 2013
5:00-7:00 pm EST
Conference Call # and Code: (605) 475-5900 & 416 565 6#
God Bless The Gambia!
Involvement, Comments, Questions, Contributions
Burama FL Jammeh
810 844 6040/810 772 1628