Opinion: Presidential Running Mate
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Over the past twenty-five years, with a few exceptions, the position of vice president of the Gambia has been all but vacant. In the previous regime, we have seen how for twenty long years, we have had one individual as vice president who was just a tool used by the president.
She did nothing; said nothing, had no clue what was going on, at least if we are to take her word as she claimed at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. With all what was going on, she claims to have been unaware. She either forgot, couldn't recall or was in total darkness about goings-on in the country.
The vice presidency is a very important position in our governance structure. In fact, if the vice president is good and doing his/her job well, it can cover many - if not all - of the president's shortcomings if s/he has any. The vice president is effectively the captain of the team of the president and his/her charisma and leadership style can make the difference.
It is the vice president that provides - or should provide - the needed leadership to the rest of the cabinet members. S/He should keep all of them on their toes to ensure that they do what they are supposed to do and that they do not exceed their bounds. If any of them wants to go wayward, it is the vice president who should deal with them and bring them back to the fold.
It is the vice president who goes to the National Assembly in place of the president to address the Members of Parliament and answer any and all of their questions and then report back to the president. This means that the vice president should always be on top of things and shouldn't be in the dark about issues.
Yet, in our governance system, we don't seem to accord the appointment of the vice president the scrutiny and attention it deserves. As a result, presidents have been choosing people they believe will just be there as decorations and saying yes sir, yes sir as we have observed from Isatou Njie-Saidy. The lady wasn't even reading the newspapers in the country and took everything at face value.
Or the other type, the sycophantic praise singers who will go to any length to be in the good books of the president, let the nation be damned. We have seen this in Isatou Touray. I said Isatou Touray leaving out that covetous title of Doctor as I believe that a person with a genuine PhD will never say that opposing a president in a democracy is opposing God.
We should have learnt our lesson when we saw that for two decades, with Yahya Jammeh's penchant for sacking, not even once did he sack the lady nor did she ever attempt to resign. This should tell us that she was an obedient puppet who did as told, no questions asked.
It is high time we started scrutinizing the running mates of presidential aspirants before voting for them. The Constitutional Review Commission should put this as a strict requirement for anyone running for office to name his/her running mate. This will accord the citizens the chance to know who they are voting for. Thus, when we vote, we will be voting for a team and not just the president.
The benefits of having a running mate include having politicallegitimacy where the vice president would oversee the office of president in the absence of the president. It also means that wherethe office of the president becomes vacant for any reason before the end of the term you would have a legitimate person to replace him or her. Furthermore, an elected vice president gives lot more power and confidence to the vice president knowing full well that he or she was equally elected with the president. Therefore, such a vice present does not have to serve at the pleasure of the president but would recognize that her own legacy and reputation is on the line if he or she allows poor leadership to prevail at the presidency.
Editors note: Views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Gunjur Online. Got an opinion article? send it to us at GunjurNewsOnline@gmail.com