By Sulayman Jeng
One of the most visible markers of President Barrow’s selling points for a re-election is his tolerance rested on the respect for the rule of law. A classic example is the Ya Kumba Jaiteh’s case against him. He lost to her by an independent judicial verdict and accepted it wholeheartedly. Imagine it was Jammeh’s era? Our judiciary has now regained its trust and respect to a point most Gambians are now taking to the courts to seek justice. 90% of the Judges are Gambians unlike the mercenary ones implanted by Jammeh to run kangaroo courts for him.
Barrow, on the other hand, is not only several political streets ahead of his colleagues but on pace to transforming Gambia’s road networks to acceptable and safe standards for motorists connecting long isolated communities. URR, as a fitting factor amplifying Barrow’s selling points for 2021 presidential election, has certainly areas completely cut off from basic necessities due to bad road networks. The Wuli-Passamass road, Basse-Fatoto road and bridge turns URR into one regional hub. When completed, they will give impetus for economic as well as infrastructural advancement for her children.
Refreshingly, President Barrow unlike Jammeh and Paul Kagame does not punish his critics and opposition leaders with spurious charges for instance the former did to UDP executive and latter to Shima Diane Rwigara. Most of some Barrow leadership critics reference Rwanda to demonstrate failure to lift the small West African nation from economic decadence. Rwanda’s development under Kagame did not sprout out of tolerance, respect for the rule of law and dissent. If Barrow was to implement Kagame’s method of leadership, hell would break lose and many Gambians will return to exile.
Furthermore, freedom of speech is flourishing unperturbed under Barrow. A quick stop at Kigali under Kagame unearths his clampdown on political freedoms which dampened checks on his power. Political activism and a truly independent civil society are almost non-existent for fears of prosecution. According to Rwigara, certain “organizations…which are responsible for seeking justice for survivors—are too afraid to stand up to the ruling party.” Same was true under Jammeh. It pleasing to note in new Gambia under Barrow, civil societies, activists and ordinary citizens speak openly against Barrow and his government without being persecuted. Some even go overboard by insulting his person yet he never personally orders for their arrest.
When many of Barrow’s opponents are asked what has he done to them, they go blank diving deep to fish for an answer. Unsurprisingly, some will advance “he is a betrayer” while others housed him as “corrupt”. What is mind-boggling though, non will substantiate evidence as to their accusations. If Barrow is guilty of a betrayal then so does all the 2016 Coalition leaders. Therefore, to protect Barrow as a Betrayer only to bury the heads of the rest of the 2016 Coalition leaders is disingenuous and a flagrant political hypocrisy. Barrow was ready to honour the Coalition agreement until Hon Darboe publicly declared and rubbished the MOU as unconstitutional threatening to sue anyone who challenges Barrow to step down after 3 years. That wasn’t a betrayal to Gambians.
Most importantly, leadership, apart from influencing people to follow you and support your agenda, entails doing what is right even at daring circumstances to give hope and assurance that despite all odds you will deliver. A key enhancer of such is an emotional intelligence that energises you to not only listen to but being sensitive to your people’s needs and fears. This President Barrow manifested in abundance. Many a times his leadership will make certain choices but once Gambians showcases their overwhelming disapproval, he will humbly rescind. Thus, it did come as a surprise that he timely intervened in the Gorgi Mboob’s saga to place him on an administrative leave while investigating allegations of torture and corruption levied on him. Jammeh used to threatened our community and religious leaders not to intervene for certain senior officers he unlawfully incarcerated.
On the issue of corruption, we all heard Ba Tambadou in his farewell address to the press highlighted government has a corruption bill to be subjected to scrutiny and approval by the National Assembly. If such bill has passed into law, corruption will be contained to a bare minimal level. Same was mentioned of torture and police brutality. President Barrow is doing his best to put our country on the path of progressive development and viable democracy built on political and economic freedoms. Their only unwitting postulation is Barrow has built mansions in his home village. Why haven’t any of them brought forward evidence to demonstrate Barrow built those mansions from looted taxpayers funds? Here I am consoled by Alagie Yerro Jallow in one of his references adduced, “The inner life of The Gambia is a dark and oftentimes incomprehensible mystery”. We tend to discredit anything and anyone not advancing our personal interests. That is cruel.
Most laughable of all is the claim “President Barrow has deviated from the NDP”. Like the Wolof proverbial “ku demut ganarr sa hamnane gudi la nyue rere”. How could these people fail to see the projects that his government is rolling out to urban and rural Gambia? The electrification of Kiang and Jarra, the roads networks in URR and north bank are all part and parcel of the NDP. How about the recent new equipped ambulances? I guess they are not part of the NDP.
On a personal note, his humility and compassion are laudable. Barrow is very humble as a person and leader. His position has not changed his persona a bit as recounted by many of his childhood friends. There is battery of evidence illustrating people abandoning their childhood friends as their fortunes changed.
Similarly, no one challenges his religiousness. He is God-fearing as such he respects and upholds what is right and disregards anything perceived as haram. He is trustworthy too. As treasurer of UDP and property manager, Barrow never embezzled any of their funds. If he had especially with the UDP funds, even the dead would have been sorry for him today. That amply illustrates he is not corrupt.
All of the above indicate Barrow is the one for 2021 as the most electable presidential candidate. Voting him means voting development continuity. Voting him means enhancing peace, security and stability for Gambia. Voting him means entrenching freedom of speech and democracy.