OPINION: ROLE OF GAMBIAN DIASPORA IN NATION BUILDING

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Gambian diaspora are strong pillars of The Gambia economically, politically, socially, and culturally.

It is to be acknowledged that Gambians in the diaspora continue to contribute to the economy with over USD200 million annually. The diaspora in no small measure played an energetic, vibrant, articulate, financial, moral and sustained efforts to end dictatorship in The Gambia in 2016 and brought about democratic dispensation. The diaspora had the capacity and political consciousness to influence the electoral process towards regime change. The argument is always that those on the ground made the changes possible in 2016, forgetting that the roots cannot be separated from the trees in a political situation. The contributions of the diaspora to the welfare of most Gambians have been remarkable and rewarding to the extent that their voices matter in the affairs of the nation.

For a people who have remained steadfast in national development, they should be accorded the right to vote in national elections and presidential in particular. If neighbouring country can make it possible for their citizens to vote in national presidential elections then why not The Gambia. It is all in recognition and appreciation of the contributions of citizens living abroad to national development. We continue to see projects of various types brought to Gambian communities by Gambians in the diaspora.

Despite the negative tendencies of some in the diaspora towards their fellow citizens and those who served in the Jammeh Government, they remain proactive in terms of supporting their families back home through remittances and home visits. Some of them do engage in housing projects and other investments. In the new Government some of them were rewarded with appointments in the civil service for their support to the change of Government in The Gambia in 2016. It must be stated however, that most of the said appointments were one-sided, politically and tribally motivated.

There is so much talent, expertise, skilfulness and connections with Gambians abroad that is widely acknowledged. This government should endeavour to reach out to them and to encourage them to further assist their motherland with rebranding our image and to excite trade investment possibilities to enhance socioeconomic development. It will be political miscalculation for the Government or any party to give its back to Gambians in the diaspora.

It is advisable and very right for this Government to create the office of the DIRECTOR OF DIASPORA which will facilitate the return of those Gambians willing to resettle home to pick up employment in Government, in the private sector and to engage in enterprise development. This creation cannot be based on the political agenda of any party or presidential aspirant. The location of the Office of the Diaspora shall be in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Rebuilding the New Gambia calls for coequal responsibility between the Government and the people. In this regard, Gambians abroad will have a say in the affairs of their country. It is their rights and that we are all under obligation to sustaining democracy in The Gambia.


Author: DM Badjie