Despite Rtd. LtI. Col Lamin Gano`s close shot, I can only thank him for his observations and I believe that he has done his observation not out of malice but based on the information he has at his disposal at this material time. Sometimes different people look at a single thing but see it differently. For example, the three blind men who all touched the same elephant explained their feelings differently.

Since Mr Gano is on the right of the debate I will commend him and add my views to concretize and clarify what I consider his pessimistic position.

 Mr. Gano said: “All we need to do is to rise above our respective party affiliations to identify and rally behind one coalition flag-bearer and Jammeh will be defeated.”

Can any sincere revolutionary object to this above statement? No.

Let me reiterate that PDOIS as a Party and Halifa as a ‘Presidential Candidate’ are not at all rigid on their proposal but let me still refer Mr Gano to PDOIS’ proposal on how to select someone who is considered electable in this forthcoming 2016 Presidential election.

I will not bother you to go through the whole proposal but please see what PDOIS said on the selection method meant to produce an electable candidate:

Selection of a flag bearer

Section 47 of the Constitution makes provision for a presidential candidate to be nominated by 5000 voters with at least 200 voters being resident in each region;

PDOIS Presidential Candidate Halifa Sallah said:

“I, Halifa Sallah, wish to express my preparedness to participate in a primary where each presidential candidate, being independent or a party nominee, would provide a list of five thousand nominators for his or her candidature, and other parties with candidates doing the same to enable a coalition to have a list of voters who will participate in electing one person from among the presidential candidates to be  flag bearer of the coalition; I will further subscribe to each candidate selecting a man and a woman to preside over the election in each region.”

Preparation for the primary

Honourable Sallah added:

“I, Halifa Sallah, do hereby wish to express my readiness to travel throughout the country to promote my candidature, explain the policies I intend to implement, with all the candidates doing the same and enter into debate with any candidate   from April to 30 June 2016, so that the people would be able to compare the calibre of candidates to make an informed choice of a flag bearer. I will be willing to submit my candidature to a primary election to contest with other candidates of other parties or independent candidates, so that a flag bearer of a united front could be selected by 30 July 2016.”

Mr. Gano, unless we go to the people to help us to select someone among all those who feel they are electable, we will continue to speculate but we may never come to conclusion regarding who this electable Macky Sall might be.

Halifa is very much aware of the trend of voting in Gambian elections. He has been part of almost all elections or an observer of all elections since 1987. So he is not oblivious of the short comings or challenges that are inherent in the system.

However, I must continue to emphasise on this point that Halifa and PDOIS are of the view that the country needs a TRANSITIONAL administration which will not carry out a single party’s programme but that would propel the Gambia from dictatorship to a genuine democracy. This is why they came out with a proposal that would help the opposition to know who is more electable under the current situation as to usher us into a ‘Third Republic’.

The Gambian people badly need Change.

This is why PDOIS wants all other parties big or small, new or old, and all Independents, man or woman, to come up with a proposal that would address this specific national agenda which could be debated not only on the online but in the country so as to galvanise the people to come up with one person, who all of us could lend our support to with a view to ridding us from this nightmare of tyranny.

Mr. Gano, before the first round of the last presidential election in Senegal, if the parties in that country were to be confronted with the kind of a constitutional problem that we are grappling with today, and were asked to form a ‘Coalition or United Front’ to select one candidate who would lead, many of the old parties would refuse to allow Macky Sall to be that candidate.

However, since they were not in our shoes in the 1st round it became clear as to who the people ultimately support among the opposition leaders or candidates. PDOIS is simply searching for a free, fair and democratic and a credible method of selection that would be acceptable to all players so that no one cries foul in the process.

The question that continues to occupy my mind throughout is; why can’t people or parties who are confident that they have the opposition majority on their side not willing to play by the just democratic rules to go through a credible process in selecting a JOINT FLAG BEARER but prefer to keep mute about such an important urgent national burning issue at this crucial time?  

 We must clarify and emphasise at this stage since it has been propounded by those opposing PDOIS that they have been here for decades and not change the regimes in the first and second republics, that the protracted struggle waged by PDOIS over the years should be seen as a blessing and an added experience and an advantage for our collective struggle to bring about a progressive democratic revolution in our country. All those who are serious about salvaging the country should appreciate the effort of those parties and individuals who were modest and sincere to struggle within the limits of their capacity and the circumstances that prevailed at each given time.

For example, despite the fact that there were decidedly political groups that were set up purposely to struggle for democracy in Nigeria, examples abound of Alliances for Democracy such as the (ADR), the National Democratic Movement  (NDM) and the Democratic Alternative (DA).

There were also left groups such as the Socialist Working People’s Party (SWPP) and Socialist Congress of Nigeria (SCON). Others like People’s Redemption Party (PRP), which started as a political party in 1978, have continued to function as a political party in 1979.

There were also politicians who set up Pro-democracy movements especially the June 12 debacle, including the National Council of Nigeria (NADECO), National Liberation Council of Nigeria (NALICON) and so on. These groups have contributed in their own ways to the struggle against military rule and for democratisation for five decades and more.

There were also human rights groups such as campaign for Democracy (CD) as well as other Coalitions such as United Action for Democracy (UAD) Joint Action Committee of Nigeria (JACON), (PRONACO) etc. I can go on and on. These among others are the rich history of Nigeria`s struggle for democracy.

It was these experiences that eventually helped the democratic forces in Nigeria to triumph despite all the huddles and or challenges that were placed before them.  

So it is important that we all see this struggle as a collective responsibility where no grouping should be blamed for the failure of not changing the status-quo or be elevated above others should anyone be in the forefront in doing so. All must play our sincere part in it based on our capacities and our times and circumstances.

If a complex country in terms of languages, ethnicities, cultures and classes as in Nigeria could do it after 58 years of nationhood; I see no reason why a country with a population of less than one city in Nigeria cannot do same. We Definitely Can!!!

Thanks.

Written By Sulayman Bah, UK

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