I would like to join my fellow Gambians from all walks of life who are contributing immensely with great pride in expressing their opinion on the drafting of the new constitution for our dear blessed motherland.
Firstly, let me thank the entire CRC team for rendering such a unique opportunity to our citizens by creating social platforms in order to generate a mighty collective wisdom through public engagement. I have no doubt that a coherent constitution for Gambia is the foundation to establish strong institutions in the country. Participation of each individual is pivotal to attain this goal. Consequently, I hope the CRC will not only listen to a diverse range of people but also have a true desire to give due diligence to everyone, in order to accommodate the supreme ideas which are designed to serve the best interest of all Gambians.
Though I recognise that every single aspect of the new constitution is crucial to enhance progress in the country, in my opinion the following five are profoundly significant.
1. Dual citizenship
In the current constitution, people with dual citizenship are partially restricted in certain areas, particularly in qualification for holding the office of president. As a progressive nation, it might no longer serve our best interest to uphold such principles, which were originally inherited from colonial times. According to a rough estimate, approximately 15% of Gambians are dual citizens. Depriving such decent citizens of the opportunity to occupy the highest office in the land has actually robbed the Smiling Coast of many brilliant minds. It’s clear that there is no evidence of subversive behaviour by people who have citizenship of other countries. The main purpose for obtaining dual citizenship is to maximise their economic advantage, and others, through the virtue of birthright.
2. Academic qualification
The minimum requirement to hold electoral office in the Gambia is that a person shall have at least a grade twelve school leaving certificate. We should not stipulate such intellectual segregation in the new constitution! Most people are of the view that there is no correlation between academic qualification and great visionary leadership. With the advent of home schooling, we have to offer every law-abiding citizen a chance to contribute to national development at all levels.
3. Nominated members
A section of the constitution empowers the president to nominate five individuals to the position of member of the National Assembly. This ought to be increased from five to ten, in order to diversify the selection process to include business people, major land owners, and people from religious institutions and farms.
4. Anti-slavery laws
Although Gambia is a signatory to the covenant of universal declaration of human rights, she continuously fails to adequately address the issues concerning modern day slavery, as well as the culture of customary slavery which is prevalent in the country. The new constitution should introduce anti-slavery laws, which will brutally deal with anyone who promotes or participates in such a medieval human rights abuse in our dear motherland!
5. Presidential term limit
Under any circumstances an incumbent should not be allowed to stay in office beyond the two five year terms. After which, he or she must leave office without delay or excuse.
A conversation in the pursuit of wisdom