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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Letters: Numbers do matter in politics but so should accountability

Dear editor,

Often, when people say politics is all about numbers, they are referring to economic gains politicians like to take credit for. I’m not referring to those kinds of numbers because numbers confuse me and I don’t like things that confuse me. I’m referring to situations where political parties lay a red carpet for anyone that joins their party because they claim “politics is all about numbers”.

The argument is that the more people you get on your political platform, the more likely your chances of winning a majority and gaining power. Often, this argument is made when you question politicians about embracing people of questionable character or when political opportunists jump from one party to another. The political parties, if they even care at all, usually lead with a disclaimer that they don’t subscribe to what the person of questionable character stands for, but that they have no control over who chooses to join their party or who aligns themselves with their party. And to a degree, I agree with that position. I understand. I can wake up today and call myself a supporter of henpipi and there’s nothing they can do about it! What they can control is to make sure I don’t get on any of their platforms to speak on their behalf or to their supporters! They have a choice to not elevate me because my character does not represent their values!

I know that all political parties, and yes even the evil APRC, claim to stand for certain values and ideals that they outwardly encourage every member to abide by. Political parties expect/hope that those who represent their political party will portray these values and ideals.

Therefore, I would think that people that do not represent these ideals and values will not be elevated or given a platform to represent a political party. I can call myself Henpipi all I want and spew garbage on their behalf all day long, but they certainly will not have me in their inner circle because our beliefs are polar opposites! While a political party may not have control over who chooses to join their party, they surely do have control over who they give their platform to and who they elevate.

It never looks good to, on one hand, criticize other parties for one thing, while doing the same thing on the other hand. Yesterday, I saw a classic whataboutism when one party member confronted another on an issue and the confronted simply retorted “what about so and so” and the conversation ended right there. Neither one of them actually addressed the issue at hand.

Numbers do matter, but I would think that character and values should also matter. Those at the forefront of political parties should reflect the values of their party. Elevating opportunists and turncoats to the limelight and claiming politics is all about numbers, is in and of itself not only short sighted but duplicitous if you ask me. Essentially, what you’re saying is that we are willing to use people with questionable character and elevate them if they can get us a majority. If that is the case, I can only imagine what questionable characters you will keep around you to maintain that majority or power. And how will you be able to hold anyone accountable for their role in the dictatorship? Forget those who were found wanting by the Janneh Commission, if we continue to think that NIA personnel, Junglers and Yaya Jammeh were our only issues, we will continue to subsist in mediocrity and you will continue to see legal impunity all over soon enough.

As we claim to be trying to forge a new path in 2022, a path that is very much removed from the path we took between 1994 and 2017/2021, it is important that we hold each other accountable. There is nothing wrong with saying “I was wrong” or telling out associates that “they were wrong”. What is scary is to see people who actively contributed to the dictatorship and backwardness of The Gambia pretend that in fact they were saviors (as our current foreign minister is doing) of the people and assume a stance of defiance that they are saints all along and Yaya is the only devil. And what scares me more than anything else is when these people are unconditionally embraced by political parties and given a red-carpet treatment simply because “politics is all about numbers.” Makes me wonder if any is serious about accountability! If not, I guess we cannot blame Barrow since he too can always say “politics is all about numbers.”

Alagie Saidy-Barrow

USA

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