I mentioned few weeks back that Barrow needs to surround himself with good advisors, technocrats, whatever that would mean in applicable context in today’s Gambia, as I fully understand that what is applicable in the outside world might not be applicable in the Gambia, or rightly so in developing countries. I would believe the recipe to do it right is there, and that is only if the custodians of power wants to do it right, from hiring, engagement of citizens, provision of basic amenities, application of the law, respect of citizens, and being humble topnotch leaders, who will focus on country, uniting citizens, and development, rather than being divisive, showing seeds of discord, and exercising power arrogance. There are some of the decisions being taken since Barrow’s coming to power that shows ineptness and poor leadership skills; most of it quite unnecessary. If you want to rule today’s world, you have adjust yourself to meet arising demands. I hope Barrow will take heed, dust himself quickly, and adjust to arising demands.
Barrow and any leadership in the Gambia going forward will have the challenge of the new forum – social media and its many activists. How you respond to socio economic needs of citizens is what will in fact determine your stay in power peacefully. The reason is that you are a “servant” of all Gambians, paid from Tax Payers’ money, and the advent of technology on the side of social media will shame any leader that exercises heavy-handedness, lawlessness, corruption, nepotism, divisiveness, and a lot of the threatening societal vices.
It is healthy for both the current governor and the governed especially the other political parties/supporters to have political blows, heavy ones at that. I recently read some Facebook pieces mostly dealing with Gambia’s recent trends of intolerance to opposing views, divisiveness, and setting wrong precedencies for Gambia’s future. The pieces are a must-read. It is not possible to properly lead if you use “divide-and-rule” and it might buy you just a little bit of time, and it fires back so quickly. We are seeing trends of intolerance to views, divisive tone, and others hiding behind covers in the name of identity/association. There are instances where torture/wrong doing is being denied by some citizens, who seem to be beneficiaries someway (power, position, status, material, showing, friendship, etc…). You are encouraged to find out things before defending blindly, especially complaints about human rights violations, nepotism, corruption, etc. You are thinking that you can just neutralize those raising genuine concerns by neutralizers, insults, and some of the divisive tactics, good luck, as it is entirely on your head to carry. Like Aba Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” By the unnecessary divisive tactics, a leader will quickly loose his support base and will be constantly exposed to society’s defiance especially on the power excesses.
The most important part is putting the Gambia first. Leaders and parties will come and go, and the Gambia will stay. Forced leadership, terrorizing of citizens by insults, and some of the gagging has shown to be a recipe for failure and in fact bad image, the easiest way to write self or one’s political party/leader off. No one will say don’t support a party, a leader, or even association. You are better engaging healthy politics than divisive and dirty politics, a trend that is creeping and wrecking society so quick. Doing it right or trying to do it right, might not be so easy, but that is just the sure way of making it.
Think of something as little as holding a rally on NAWEC, which is constitutionally guaranteed. Think of the recycling of former enablers from the top down, (Ditto), appointment of Magistrate Buba Jawo who was one of Jammeh’s pit bulls. Think of the recent press release said to have come from Barrow, the way the Foni incident was handled, car gifts to lawmakers by anonymous donor(s), and some of the heightened buddy-buddy (Dogo-dogo) type of groupings. Is there a reason that it is not done right? Yes, probably the shortcoming, probably the ineptness, probably the power arrogance, probably is being defensive because the person doesn’t have much to offer, or that one’s mind is blurred by dirty politics. If there is anything Barrow should keep an eye on is uniting citizens. If he fails to unite citizens, he will risk losing his support base and getting into more national problems. Like observed by one Zakaria Kemo Konteh (Facebook 11/01/2017), there is a heavy divisive and hate tone taking comfort within a section of Gambians, and to my surprise, many are taking it as “entertainment” rather than seeing the danger that it might bring to Gambians.
Barrow and the powers that be: Please allow those that want to rally/protest peacefully to do so. Added to that, provide security to ensure it is done in an orderly manner that doesn’t lead to any escalation on the side of Gov’t forces and the protesters. Any denial of permit is in fact a reason for political disturbance and disorderliness as observed in the Student demo ( April 10/11th 2000), Solo Sandeng et al (2016).