By Sulayman Jeng
Some of the concepts trending on social media portraying President Barrow as “failing Gambians”, “incompetent” and “untrustworthy” are erroneous fallacies based on personal rather than general view of him. Albeit some of you may know this but I will still reinforce that there is no leader who has graduated with a degree such as Bachelor’s of President, Master’s of President or better still PhD of President. In short, the presidency is an on the job qualification honed by experience. So to assert he is not fit for purpose is nothing more than what Wolof proverbial refers as “wahi doff”.
As a starter, let us revisit what some think of President Barrow. Here:
Pa Laity Senghore believes, “leadership is leading people to lead you. Academic competence or management prowess is not what Barrow lacks as he has a team. The man has no emotional intelligence which keeps on resurfacing its ugly head over and over again”.
Bakary Bah argues, “But the truth is President Barrow definitely failed us and he demonstrated time and time that he can’t lead especially when things required leadership from his end with his little effort. What’s stopping him to come and speak to Gambians in any languages he chooses to about the scary Covid-19 situation for months now?”
Lamin Tamba points out, “He has destructive academics around him and they are not helping him. They see this as an opportunity to enrich themselves before he is kicked out and they’ll flee after his fall. They will not escape.”
Prince Sam Jaiteh reveals, “Mr.Jeng your take is fine and very cleared but it’s matter of fact that you just don’t know whom you giving piece of advice to. This guy wouldn’t listen and don’t want to know whatever you getting at because he is always informed wrongly and his own perception in leadership is vague and ludicrous. “
Mo Jagne respectfully admonished, “Sulayman Jeng, with all due respect but it seems you’re trying to complicate a simple issue. By any yardstick, Barrow has failed. This isn’t about perceptions, it’s about results which we all can see and measure. He was elected to lead and serve neither of which he has delivered upon. I will not insult your intelligence by going into where he has failed but if we lower our standards to the point where anyone can even dare to think that Barrow has done ok, then that is the issue Bakary Bah is highlighting.”
Dodou Jawneh, “This idea that Barrow needs to come out and speak so as to create an atmosphere of reassurance in the face of uncertainties resulting from Covid, to me is an exercise in futility. Barrow has betrayed too much of the trust of too many Gambians to be able to inspire the country. Trust runs at the core of leadership.”
Summarily, they mirrored what some Gambians are thinking out loud on the social media. Two key factors have escaped their attention or they have been deliberately obliterated by these people. Firstly, no leader can equally serve all his people at the same time just like not everyone has voted him in the first place. While some can rightly argue he is not serving them, others are equally sing-songing his praise for meeting up their needs. A clear manifestation is the electrification of Jarra. When completed, will the Jarrankas say they have not been served by Barrow? Therefore, to assert that Barrow is not serving Gambians is an erroneous fallacy with an intent to misinform. Second key point is, even whereas, we are all looking at the same object on a certain place by virtue of our varied positions towards the object, each will only see what is before you as vividly captured by Alhagie Jammeh who sees it as, “Gambia wooo Gambia, he was competent, no he is not competent, he was God sent, no he is iblis sent, he was Moses, no he is pharaoh. OMG some are even saying that they have regretted to change Jammeh for Barrow after Gambia has decided. There will be no ending site to all these DRAMA above even if Barrow is gone as long as the new leader is not our individual and party preferred candidate. We need to change our selfish behaviour for a flourishing society. Gambia is all about “fankungfankung.”
Yes, Barrow is human as such has limitations just like any of us sending him to no good land because he has not measured up to us. Aren’t we metaphorically stairs? Each step either ahead of another or below one. Barrow is capable to lead. Despite all efforts generated to make Gambia ungovernable under him, he is holding on in pursuit of the NDP realisation. Each country has its peculiar stressors and ours is not an exception especially emerging from a very brutal dictatorship. Yet he doesn’t lose sleep that he will get us there. Like ThioneSeck said to AbdouDiouf in his numero 10 song with all these challenges on your head, if it were me and some others we will run into hiding. But Barrow is one who runs away from his leadership challenges. This is amply evident in his acceptance to become UDP flagbearer while all its executive were incarcerated.
While the political consequences of Jammeh’s dictatorship were suffocatingly damning, the road to ousting him was treacherous and the personal consequences were more difficult to predict making the build up to 2016 presidential election scary under a desolate political landscape. Jammeh, on the one hand, confident of a landslide victory was rumoured as intending to unleash carnage not only on perceived opponents but civil servants considered as distractors to his insatiable political ambition. His proverbial electronic broom was fully charged waiting to clean. But first he deliberately incarcerated most of the UDP executive to weaken its ability to pose an insurmountable challenge. Kandeh was side-lined as a Jammeh’s dog in the political ring to boost the election’s credibility as been free and fair. This was clearly accentuated by his blatant refusal to join the 2016 Coalition. PDOIS has never been a political threat to Jammeh as they never won more than two seats in parliament prior to 2016.
Gambians, on the other hand, wanted to see Jammeh gone at all cost. Fearful of another five years of Jammeh, galvanised all and sundry to vigorously campaign for all political parties to put their party interest aside and form a united front to challenge Jammeh. At the beginning, it appeared that was unattainable especially when Hon Sidia Jatta came out refuting Hon Fatoumata Tambajang had consulted PDOIS. As if that wasn’t enough a wet blanket, Dr Isatou Touray threw a spanner on the wheel asserting her desire for contesting as an independent candidate. Notwithstanding, the determination of a resolved people finally triumphed.
The search for a flag bearer ensued. UDP with most of it executive including party leader behind bars began scouting for a flag bearer. Some of the most educated were approached to lead but turned down the offer due to perceived consequences from Jammeh. Finally, Barrow took up the challenge despite knowing fully what shouldering such a role can yield under Jammeh. Barrow was presented against Halifa Sallah, Mai Ahmad Fatty, Ahmad Bah and Omar Jallow. Albeit Barrow was the least politically known candidate, he won against household names in the race. Many, including myself, were disappointed that Barrow instead of Halifa Sallah was chosen as the Coalition leader.
The political campaign wasn’t rash as many anticipated. Perhaps the only explanation for this may be Jammeh’s overconfidence of a landslide victory. He was so confident that he introduced counting on the spot of votes at polling stations. Similarly, he wanted the whole world to see that he was a Democrat that oversaw a free and fair election. Additionally, one can infer his fervent enemy was behind bar. These perhaps were the factors which led to a campaign unlike that of 2001 presidential election. When the results declared Barrow as the winner, the jubilant crowds on the streets spoke of Gambians excitement of bringing the wall of 22 years dictatorship down. But the triumph and jubilation were short-lived.
Jammeh rescinded his acceptance of the election results. Dubbing it fraudulent as he declared it null and void. A chilling numbness descended on the jubilant nation.
It is nothing but misfit flagrant political salesmanship that President Barrow is not electable by sinning that he is “incompetent”, “clueless”, “untrustworthy”. Will UDP entrust their treasury to an untrustworthy person for ten good years? That can only be possible if the devil had repented.
In sum, you can say he is not serving you but he is not serving everyone is a fallacy. Same is legit in his competence and leadership. Speak for yourself but not for everyone.