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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Road to the State House: No way a cakewalk

Road to the State House: No way a cakewalk

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Thank God that nominations have gone smoothly. The road to the State House to fix The Gambia is not going to be a walk in the park. President Barrow is boxed, sealed, and insulated from the truth and I don’t see the wisdom behind it. He neither has the foresight nor the know-how to break free or jump out of the box. Even though he would want to, he does not know how to escape the entrapment of mediocrity. And those around him who know better either think it’s best to do so, fear him, or do not care because fixing the misnomers that ailed our country would not be in their personal interests. All those who still have some sympathy for Barrow and believe he can make it must band together to see how they can help him salvage The Gambia. I think he cannot. But for him to win, he is going to need their support.

I wish I could have made Halifa Sallah and Sidia Jatta president yesterday, but it does not look likely that Gambian voters will, at this point in time, make them president. If they had taken ministerial jobs in the Barrow administration, especially in education, they could have probably made a difference with the sad and depressing state of our national education. Our education system is unfit for purpose, creating an overflow of half-baked intellectuals. If they had taken the appointment, our political stratosphere and milieu would be 360 degrees different and better than its current state. But they distanced themselves and the citizens have no records to evaluate them on but their thirty-year struggle for the presidency. Undoubtedly, they deserved to lead the country but, alas, it’s not easy math with Gambian voters. They would have been stars after the fall of the dictator had they played their cards strategically well.

The UDP must not be naïve in thinking that because even the flowers are turning yellow, they are going to win this election. It is going to take some heavy lifting, inclusion, or even smooching up to their rivals to uproot Barrow. They must do away with raw insults, anti-immigrant rants, overtly or covert bullying, media boycotts, and so forth. Even voters who don’t trust Barrow are dragging their feet to jump into the UDP bandwagon. So, the yellow brigades must learn how to navigate and earn more friends before December 4th. They must positively be on their toes and do away with the break-a-neck style of campaigns and build a more positive image. They must not settle. Even voters who sympathise with them are fearful of giving them a chance. They must add to their base from diverse groups or else expect a slap in the face. They must be on their toes till the day after the election. Barrow has no idea how to move the nation but he’s not anaemic to the raw ambition to remain president. He is blindsided by the power to a point he miscalculated the embarrassment from the triangulation of stooping too low for the endorsement of Jammeh for his re-election. We should all thank him for the miscalculation that exposed the rifts within the APRC but most importantly brought to the forefront of Gambian politics the impulsivities of Jammeh who has been irrelevant in exile. Barrow has zero wisdom, zero intellect, zero foresight, and zero empathy for the citizens of the country. But all the shortsightedness is a default setting. Alliance with Jammeh, ignoring the poor state of health delivery services, land grabbing disputes, our drug-infested communities, country, sheer greed, and so forth, lost Barrow support from many citizens.

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Furthermore, intimidation of donors for his political rivals, such as Alagie Conteh, will cost him support even among those who love him but will not stand by while he destroys one of their illustrious sons. Too many political blunders close to a crucial election attest to his bland mind. He could still have had the support of the APRC without inflicting such a global embarrassment to himself and to some of us who had given him the benefit of the doubt and mistook his shortsightedness or was it stupidity and demeanour for calm, patience and peace-loving. He is no democrat if he is willing to bring in a dictator he ousted, whose legacy the country has not fully healed from, to help him manage the political affairs of the Gambia. A weak coalition emboldened the APRC party as an opportunity to decide their fate. Form or support any party of their choice, NPP included but for Barrow to specifically chase their leader who is still in exile is not just an epic global embarrassment, but it has caused some international damage to our national image that will take time to recover from. Even our neighbour, Senegal, was startled.  Barrow has zero foresight for the implications, ramifications, consequences it caused him in the history of our country. But alas, he just cannot see. If he can miss the logic of that blunder, that says a lot about him. He did not even know he is a symbolic leader of freedom against tyranny around the world. That says a lot about his shortsightedness, lack of intellect, sophistication, and greed for power. We better brace up. I am sure Jammeh is boasting to the world that Barrow cannot lead The Gambia without support from his predecessor. All thanks to Barrow. What a shame!

This is an opportunity for Ousainu Darboe and UDP to up their game. There will never be a one-party system in The Gambia, and even if they win by ballot, they must get some consensus from the leaders of the other parties to be able to make meaningful changes in the country. Otherwise, they may have to preside over a full-blown dictatorship. They must understand they will never rule in a vacuum. Gambians love their party leaders as they stand by them even irrationally. All the newcomers have shown us they all got some muscle and clout to be recognised. We are impressed with the new pool of presidential aspirants. A very impressive brand. They are relatively young, experienced intellectuals, and I believe very soon we will do away with mediocre and half-baked educated citizens vying to lead our country. Dr Ceesay and Essa Faal have wrangled young voters from older parties, and are very appealing to the youth. Lawyers, accountants, seasoned politicians, and a professor. Very good role models for our young folks. It’s up to UDP to see how it can engage Dr Ismaila Ceesay, Essa Faal, Mai Fatty, Abdoulie Jammeh, Banky, Marie Sock, etc. Congratulations to Sock for being our first female candidate who submitted her nomination to the IEC, not even Dr Isatou Touray’s candidacy advanced that far in 2016.

UDP must try to even bring PDOIS to the table. These are very credible, honest  statesmen, that is Halifa and Sidia. Who would not want them in their corner? UDP must try every way and manner they can the lure and gather friendships. They need it. Not talking about clout chasing, mere job-seeking citizens. Am I missing any names? I wish all our aspirants very well and good luck. Barrow already has a lot of one-man parties rallied around him but the gist of the hopefuls is not with him. If UDP miscalculates for selfish reasons or think they are the “mighty party”, God help them. They are set for a rude awakening in that case. And we don’t want to hear any of them cry foul after 4th December. The playing field is as level as it can be.  We either vote for Barrow or vote hm out in a collective revolutionary spirit. A third camp might be a spoiler or a risk we don’t want to take. Just a thought. Mamma Kandeh of the GDC is a good politician loved by many people in the country but his ego reduces him to a spoiler in Gambian presidential politics. Barrow, our bright shining, example prince of democracy has disappointed us all. We need a collective, revolutionary spirit and muscle to drive him away.

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Note Below: This piece was written before the 15 aspirants were rejected. As the saying goes, a day is long enough in politics. The dynamics can change but I think the base stays the same.

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