By Ebrima Papa Colley
This is the twenty-first century, the age of swiftness in everything humans do. This is the era of nanosecond information sharing–the age of fierce competition in all frontiers of human endeavor. This, we know, is the age of prompt thought-processing. Any nation led by slow thinkers will seriously fail! As I type these, imagine what is going on behind the scenes at Samsung, Apple, Oracle, Toyota, Honda, or even Burger King. Picture in your mind another marvel of an iPhone, probably 12 and 13 or Galaxy-something! Great thinkers discuss great ideas. We in Africa discuss stealing from government to build houses in Brufut or marry the next teenager. We urgently need those that can briskly engage such a century for Gambia’s prosperity.
And yes, while we are busy stealing, our hospitals, in dire need, ration gloves for healthcare workers. Our streets are still muddy, unkempt, and disease-welcoming. Water and electricity supply is still a conundrum while we inveterately import the locally-producible. In fact, we can’t guide our youth to pass exams, a scary preponderance of whom recently failed WAEC exams in such a frightening way. Like it or not, that is the kind of generation we are bequeathing dear Gambia to in the next few decades. This is what happens when we have slow thinkers in leadership–leaders who don’t compete in ideas, but stealing, corruption, nepotism, or ways more venal.
At the age of 29, Yahya Jammeh gave us projects, and not mirage. Yes, he later propelled himself to the apex of tyranny. But let’s sift his projects from the rest of his ghoulish adventure for just a moment. At that young age, he charted out his vision of a television station, Arc 22, a university, hospitals, an international airport, roads, new estates and villas, etc. And you know what? He did it! Or shall I say he did them! Gambia is now churning out doctors trained locally. And almost all of them never paid a butut for such an education. Can anybody tell me where to get a free ride in medical school in America or England?
Today, Gambians cry for water during Ramadan. Please think of someone who can’t give us water in Ramadan. Not just one Ramadan–but two, since he assumed office. What kind of prosperity can we expect from such? Or did I forget how long we’ve been without ID cards? Jammeh offended the West who exacted retribution for 22 years. Still, he delivered. Barrow has a pre-ordained therapeutic rapport with such good-will. Yet he chooses to incur a perfunctory ailment that relentlessly metastasizes. And he dreams of going beyond three years? For what? For more episodes of heart-aching ineptitude, gut-wrenching cronyism, or everything that slows down a nation?
Barrow came for a transition–not a continuum of terms. It is only those “jackals with sharp teeth” following a lion’s kill that want him to stay. Why? Because they see office as a source of more houses in Brufut or more teenage brides. Or more per diem from international travel. Please don’t play the bogus constitution-says-card! They all knew well what the constitution says. But great thinkers like Halifa could only agree for a coalition flag-bearer like Barrow for only a three year stint. Only a breach of contract could force Barrow to renege on the coalition’s promise–a word many Gambians, including APRC voters swallowed and voted against Jammeh. But is there anything sweeter than retiring a safe statesman while Gambia invites a more apt leader to steer the ship?
If you dream of going beyond three years, I will leave you with the first verse of Surat Maa’idah. I and many writers warned Jammeh before. I started this article with a special reference to the age of nanosecond information sharing. Please do yourself a favor and google all kinds of admonitions we gave Jammeh. Why is it so difficult to stop wondering why African leaders never learn easy lessons? Wollaahi, type into google, “Yahya Jammeh please listen, by Gambiano,” one of the articles I wrote years ago when Jammeh never thought of losing.