By Omar Janneh
A leader must lead for good reasons, s/he must be selfless and so must know the spirit of sacrifice and positive legacy. Let us be clear, this does not mean what s/he contributed towards national assembly elections or what s/he gave to his/her Movement, National Assembly members (NAMs), pilgrims, institutions, individuals, promising the District Chiefs a pay rise and so on with the singular aim of entrenching the inept self into power. Like most African Politicians, President Barrow is beginning to master the art of our capacity for apparent collective forgetfulness; of telling us what he thinks we want to hear without any well-thought out policy ideas in regards to how such ideas would be successfully implemented. Although the internet has given rise to the capacity to control the human mind, I think there is the need for us to think creatively, rationally, critically and objectively before we accept the information we receive as the truth and the only truth. Indeed why do we not wonder how he could fund such “goodwill gestures” from his income? Like his predecessor, President Barrow is also beginning to master the art of aligning himself with the District Chiefs, religious leaders, and NAMs so that he can receive their blessings and prolong his stay. It must be known that positioning himself with the compromised religious leaders (within and outside), District Chiefs and elders is significant because President Barrow knows that if we are to have some trust in him, he needs to align himself with groups/individuals we trust. Of the 1200 Gambian adults surveyed, 85% trust the religious leaders a lot or somewhat and 11% trust them just a little. Most will recall that Jammeh was good at this. Indeed he took it to the next level: he changed his wardrobe, built a mosque at State House and possibly directed the building of mosques at other government institutions as well as told us when we could celebrate Eid, etc. In case you have not noticed, President Barrow’s wardrobe is also changing. And for some bizarre reason, it was alleged that he used to pray at a different mosque each Friday. This is a shameless waste of state resources. Is it not true that most well-informed and enlightened Gambians would not list religion as a priority area that need addressing in our national development plan? Why doesn’t the stench in our capital and the poor facilities up and down the country give anyone in that government the kick in the belly to want to fix things? Do they not learn anything on their endless foreign travels? We must begin to expect more, much more from the people who put themselves forward to serve us.
Being the President of a very poor country requires more than being good at travelling expensively around the world, cap in hand and begging funds to “address” the country’s development needs. I think it has become a national duty to hold President Barrow and his government to account for their gross ineptitude. We must enlighten each other about the numerous shortcomings and slip-ups. Our Politicians and President Barrow, in particular, must understand and answer to the rigidities of mathematics. A President cannot and must not take the place of Father Christmas, even if he only makes an appearance once a year. Any leader that pretends to be Father Christmas must be susceptible to flattery, scarcity of ideas as well as being more preoccupied with thoughts of entrenching self into power than national development. In my view, such preoccupations which are now hallmarks of President Barrow, underscore the need for us to rally around, more than ever before, with a view to using the magic formula used in December 2016 and yank President Barrow and his ineffectual team out of office. It should be clear to us by now that our collective capacity to think critically about our current predicament, our attitudes and expressed opinions on it may be able to deliver us from the national humiliation this government is moving the country towards.
We live in challenging times and there may be rougher times ahead. Relying on the contents of a begging bowl to satisfy the running of state systems can only work as long as a leader continues to have no qualms about begging and is ready to compromise the country’s image. It is my view that such acts, apparently undertaken on our behalf, should generate thoughts of dissatisfaction in us, because there is no dignity in begging. If we care enough to take the temperature of any of our Politicians in regards to what they promised to do if/when they get into office and compare it to what they have achieved so far, many would score poorly. If we look at the bigger picture, and not our own individual gains, I think the average score of all of them cannot be greater than 3 out of 10 – they are truly a bunch of ineptitudes. It is probably true to say that we have forgotten about all of the dumb campaign promises they all made and that most of us may not have even thought about measuring/questioning what the candidate promised against what s/he achieved so far. Also, do we ever ask ourselves whether any of them promised to go and beg before they could fulfil their campaign promises? If they had done so, what would have been our reaction to that?
Is it not true that the character of any leader/individual should be determined by their capacity to keep their word? Briefly, President Barrow promised to set up the TRRC if he won the 2016 elections and the TRRC is being set up. He promised to stay for 3 years as leader of the coalition government, but having tasted milk and honey he wants to stay for 5 years, citing the constitutional provision of 5 years as if they were all oblivious to it during their negotiations to form the coalition. Clearly President Barrow is developing an irrational desire for power – he is literally getting drunk on it. The UDP, the Party President Barrow resigned from to become the Coalition flag bearer, is the largest political party in the country, but unless it gets its acts together, its days may be numbered. The alleged bitter in-fighting between the President Barrow and Mr. Ousainou Darboe camps are not helping. This may have contributed to the disruption to the UDP West Coast Regional Congress in Brikama. Interestingly, it was announced on November 27, 2018 that Mr. Ousainou Darboe will lead the UDP in the next presidential elections. I am sure the reaction of President Barrow and those in his camp to this announcement will be known in the coming days. It is my view that we must ditch both Barrow and Darboe; Darboe has made the foreign office a joke and he may be no better doer than President Barrow. We need a competent saviour(s) now, but where is s/he or they? Is/are our potential saviour(s) kept down because s/he or they think that we would rather, for reasons such as gender; qualification; tribe/ethnicity/race; religion; and perceived origin, vote for someone we like/admire, someone just like ourselves even if that means that the potential saviour(s) support(s) issues which seem meaningless, so be it? Our competent saviour(s) must come along soon and tilt the politics away from President Barrow, the empowered inept President, who is steering the country towards humiliation. Timing is important as there is much too much to clarify to the electorate.