The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) joined its partner, Young Men Christian Association Computer Training Centre and Digital Studio (YMCACTC&DS) in the Gambia, to officially launch Barrowmeter (www.barrow-meter.org) on Tuesday 13 February 2018. The Barrow-Meter is designed to measure the performance of President Adama Barrow against the 65 campaign promises contained in the coalition party’s manifesto that brought him to power.
The campaign promises made by the Barrow-led coalition government focuses on economic stabilisation and sustainable development, social services, good governance, democracy and rule of law, human rights and justice, national reconciliation, etc.
According to Baboucarr Ceesay, Barrowmeter’s project manager, “it is imperative for the citizens of The New Gambia to prevent a repeat of Yahya Jammeh’s regime that lacked accountability, respect for human dignity and power that repose in people”. He enjoined Gambians to deeply reflect on the 22 years of Yahya Jammeh’s rule, acknowledge our failure as citizens, and invent innovative and proactive measures to demand accountability from Barrow-led coalition government.
The Barrowmeter, is a tool to hold the incumbent government in The Gambia accountable to campaign promises. The Barrowmeter is available online as a web portal and mobile app can also be downloaded by citizens to keep tab on any advances made by the administration towards fulfilling its promises. Beyond the online platforms, citizens will be engaged through town hall meetings, community radio talk shows and there will be an engagement with parliamentarians and municipal authorities.
Yusuf Shamsudeen, who represented the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa) at the event and project officer of Buharimeter, rationalise the promise tracking initiative as measure to reposition governance in West Africa. According to him, politicians come to power unprepared and spend years trying to understand the problems and possible ways of addressing them.
This is not good for democracy in the region, he emphasized. Voters vote for political parties and their candidates base on their outlined political agenda espoused in the party manifesto. The electoral choice of citizens is mostly influenced by what politicians say they will do, if elected. Thus, it has become imperative to advance discussion around the extent to which the promises are fulfilled.
He however warned that while this has gained popularity around the world, managers of promise trackers should be conscious of the need for objectivity, reliability of sources of data for analysis, and sought for partnership for effective mobilisation of citizens around findings. These are defining factors for successful implementation of the project, he said.
Mr John Njie’s, Chairman of The Association of Non-Government Organisation (TANGO), Gambia, applauded the launch of the online platform and opined that it is timely at a time when civil society in the Gambia are grappling with means of making good governance a reality in the country. He emphasised the need not to forget the political history of the country. In his words “Our political history is our best teacher”. Politicians cannot be trusted to carry their promises through with mass of citizens demanding for accountability. He stated, this is the reason Barrowmeter was launched.
This was followed by entertainment from Black Magique and closing remark from Coordinator of YMCA’s Computer Training Centre and Digital Studio, Mr Poncelet Ileleji.