It’s with great joy and satisfaction I pay tribute to John Njie having gloriously served as Chair of TANGO at the most crucial junction of our history. After six years as head of the civil society, John steered the course of leadership with dedication, vigor and passion. During his tenure marked by intense political turbulence, intolerance and polarization in which individuals were notoriously hellbent on seeking their own selfish interests at the expense of the public, John maintained the integrity and independence of TANGO. He never sold out TANGO to the highest bidder!
Having worked with him publicly and engaged privately I have always heard and seen John take frantic efforts to respond to the demands of the Republic. I recognize and admire his optimism in the possibilities and the future of this Republic. He had shown total willingness to engage just to advance the best interests of the country.
In this struggle I had also come to realize and appreciate his successes, limitations, frustrations and anxiety as he juggled in difficult circumstances between competing forces and interests in order to secure the best for this Republic as he saw it!
With all the challenges and uncertainties confronting the country, John kept TANGO totally non-sectarian and non-partisan, and opened the coalition to all shades of civil society. As the Chair, he was never found wanting in speaking out his opinions on the deplorable state of affairs in the Republic. He had confronted the powers that be to put it in their face that corruption is festering in the Government. He had confronted public officials to expose their inefficiency, infringements and spoke in defense of justice and accountability for victims!
As the Republic decays because the powers that be have shamelessly chosen to bastardize the rights and dignity of the people and plunder the resources of the Republic and subvert the laws as they wish, I urge the incoming TANGO leadership to not only maintain the standards set by John but to also go further to mobilize and organize the civil society even better to stand their ground even more effectively to confront plunder, abuse and ineptitude perpetrated by elected and appointed public officials, aka Sunu Mbindaan.
Elected and appointed public officials must be told that the people owe them no gratitude whatsoever! They must be told that they have a non-negotiable duty to perform and deliver to their best ability, and even their best is not even enough. These public servants in the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and all public institutions must be told that the people have already and are always paying for public goods and services hence it is the sacred duty of these servants to perform and deliver!
The poverty, high cost of living, poor services, the hugely inadequate infrastructure and poor opportunities and the general backwardness in this Republic are caused by none other than the unethical leadership, corruption and incompetence of elected and appointed public officials. No more. No less. Therefore if public officials cannot deliver then let them be honest and vacate public office. Public officials are not saviors rather they are servants! Mbindaanolu.
It’s already 7 years since the end of tyranny yet the system of dictatorship continues to prevail! That’s an indictment of the Government, the National Assembly, political parties and the civil society. Contrary to meaningless rationalizations about gradualism and that change does not happen overnight, it is utterly inexcusable for any serious people to spend so much time and resources to end the culture of corruption and build a culture of efficiency and accountability. But are we serious as a people?
John offers us lessons to learn and standards to maintain and improve for civil society to engage more vigorously in bringing about positive change. If civil society fails to do so then the civil society is no different from the scores of unconscionable public officials who continue to plunder and destroy the Republic.
A song of gratitude to you Sir John!
For the Gambia Our Homeland