By Alagi Yoro Jallow
Fatoumata: They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger.
But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late.
That is because the frog’s survival instincts are geared towards detecting only sudden changes.
The Gambia is a democracy but what we’re looking at, all too obviously, is Gambian Kakistocracy because of the waves of scandals around the executive conclude that we are experiencing it first-hand.
Fatoumatta: Kakistocracy regimes are uninterested in, and often incapable of understanding, nuance, complexity and difference.
They perpetuate themselves through constants drama and never-ending crusades against internal and external enemies that are perceived as existential threats to the nation. When real enemies cannot be found, they are invented.
Fatoumatta: President Barrow’s capricious and arbitrary decisions, listening to those so-called advisors or hawkish around him show how their personalities around him affect his government, power to keep their courtiers constantly on edge.
The instability fuels the vicious court intrigues that characterize all absolutism Barrow’s inner circles, aware that the only criterion to remain in power is an exaggerated and obsequious personal loyalty acutely attuned to their mercurial moods and temper tantrums, base all decisions on appeasing and pleasing President Barrow.
Kakistocracy leads too extreme mismanagement and corruption.
Fatoumatta: The Gambia National Army and the Gambia Police Force as well as other law enforcement agencies should stay clear of politics.
The Gambia’s civil authorities should make it clear that the involvement of security forces in political affairs is unacceptable at all times, not just when they align with a particular faction.
The security forces must be clear of politics provides an opportunity for the authorities to begin fundamental changes to end State Security Services partisanship that has contributed heavily to the country’s disastrous human rights situation during the previous regime.
Fatoumatta: A system where a group of people have arms that refuse to obey their brains is a truly dangerous outfit for our future and current aspirations – political, economic and intellectual.
Condemnation of violence is not enough – bringing to book all those suspected or involved in agitating and sponsoring instability including their political masters and background commander(s).
Fatoumatta: Security sector reform is fundamental to the restoration of normality and respect for human rights, not just in political affairs, but also in the lives of ordinary Gambians.
The country’s state security forces, notably the Gambia National Army likewise the republican guards that used to protect the President have for several years interfered in the nation’s political and electoral affairs in ways that have adversely affected the ability of Gambian citizens to freely exercise their civil and political rights.
This was particularly evident during Yahya Jammeh’s tenure when section of the army played a major role in widespread and systematic abuses that led to the killing of civilians and state-sponsored political violence, entrenching impunity within the security forces.
Fatoumatta: And that begs the question: do you people realize that threats, sophistry as well as modern use of propaganda to persuade people’s attitude on national television by security chiefs and presidential aides by suppressing civil disobedience is an essay by the Adama Barrow regime to normalize civil disobedience as a way of responding to opposition demands ahead of December 2019? Of course, they understand that if they arrest, assault, or otherwise harm protestors all of a sudden, there will be clashes and violence in various parts of the country.
That is because there is a widely held belief that the Public Order Act is irrevocable. So, what do they do? They dent the government enchantment of tear-gassing protestors, silly, subtly sending a message that Adama Barrow is really indefatigable as earlier assumed as a feeble leader.
If there is another essay to storm the Independent Electoral Commission offices for electoral reform, for Diaspora enfranchisement or do something else as bold and daring, the Barrow regime will escalate the response: it won’t just be tear-gassing.
Fatoumatta: All this while, they are testing the waters as well as normalizing threats and intimidation. They will be subtly sending a message that civil rights groups are also vulnerable; that they can be apprehended, too.
Incident after incident, the regime will escalate the responses with an aim to slight pro-democracy activists perceived invincibility as well as making them susceptible to authoritarian schemes. In other words, normalizing them. As you would cook a frog.
Fatoumatta: Autocracy is contagious. Not long ago, we saw unbelievable incidents of a leading opposition and pro-democracy protestors in Senegal being tear-gassed before being loaded into the back of a police van like a sack of potatoes.
At the time Gambian citizenry watched with bewilderment wondering how Senegal could stomach that.
I once saw a comment in a Senegalese political group where a Gambian was lording it over Senegalese on how complacent they were as to let the absolutist political tradition of Macky Sall regime diminish their democracy and oppress the ‘people’s Mayor.’
(The people’s Mayor is referred to Khalifa Sall former Dakar Mayor (granted Presidential pardon Sunday, who served prison time for alleged corruption as well as racketeering, ensnared the finances of the Dakar Municipality.
Khalifa is a political figure who once considered to be heir apparent to President Macky Sall.
Fatoumatta: The Gambian went ahead to chest-thump how our opposition and pro-democracy activists, notably, are invincible and untouchable by the current regime.
The Gambian went ahead to speculate what may happen if they, the Barrow regime, dare touch the enigmatic.
The Gambian made the Senegalese believe there’d be a bloodbath, alongside other horrific scenes, if they dare lay their ‘filthy hands’ on the doyen of pro-democracy activists.
Fatoumatta: Well, it is now common knowledge what happened in Senegal. With well-orchestrated schemes, the incumbent Senegalese regime is able to clamp down regime change clamors.
I believe that Adama Barrow is watching the goings in the Sub-region with envy wondering how he might deploy the same machinations to contain the perennial problem: Civil disobedience.
He must have been mulling over the subject for a while before meeting a political scientist well-versed with the Machiavellian way of politics who offered the all-too-brilliant idea of normalizing civil disobedience before ushering him out the door of Gambian politics and consigning him to eternal irrelevance and insignificance. They cook him like a frog.
Fatoumatta: Apart from the State Security Services, the Gambia is full of marauding thugs, political hooliganism, professional goons masquerading as politicians as well as political godfatherism that have gained control over politicians.
They are spread all over in higher institutions of learning and also in the lower ones of learning through life’s experiences.
Fatoumatta: A sample was active in Faraba Bantang, Kanilai and in Sere-kunda town since Yahya Jammeh leaves office. One of the areas political leaders even refused to condemn the violence.
(Your guess on why is as good as mine).
Even those who did were half-hearted, going by their publicly known records on sponsored violence – putting harm’s way some of their electorates every electoral cycle. Hypocrisy is surely here with us (to stay if we refuse to blink).
Fatoumatta: Under no excuse shall a people aspiring or claiming civilization resort to violence to make a point.
The local political disagreements we may have, as indeed is inevitable, should not be exposed to our youth folks; least of all civil and political leaders. That is both backward and scary.
This is a very bad political behavior.
Fatoumatta: The political party(ies)’ public relations (PR) masters and the media should join in the fray not to twist facts as they did not occur but to foster dialogue among stakeholders – for a desirable damage control to prevent escalation of violence.
This is politically permissible, to play safe and survive, but it is logically impermissible.
The rounds of criticisms and condemnations should come wholeheartedly and in a successive barrage. What we are facing is not the excuse of the cause.
What we have head-on is the primitive act long practiced during the campaigns and now erroneously extended into apolitical, peaceable times.
Fatoumatta: So, as I watched on Gambia Radio and Television Services, I knew too well what the Barrow regime is bent on accomplishing.
Some of you might have dismissed the ‘Talk show Dialogue’ as insignificant and not worth cogitation, but I saw it as a first of many steps to normalize civil disobedience , normalize violence being applied on the people dent their perceived invincibility, and usher them out of the arena of Gambian politics. Forever!