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Monday, May 16, 2022

On the D669M saga

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Dear editor,

On the whole, the controversial D669 million withdrawal of government funds by the Office of the President (OP) in 2016 contained in a recent audit report actually happened during Jammeh’s time and not when Barrow was president. That left me wondering why the office of the auditor general had waited up to this sensitive time in 2022 to publicly reveal such damning report in a press conference that obviously failed to explicitly explain the circumstances and the government involved at the time. I may probably not know and would ask to be pardoned if I don’t but when was it the duty of the auditor general’s office to exclusively organize such press conferences to publicly share reports like this without consulting the government it works for? They could have consulted the government prior to the conference to brace for the unfavorable effect. Indeed, the whole thing smells very stinky way up to the heavens.

And amazingly, when the former finance minister Amadou Sanneh was questioned by the press about the “suspicious withdrawal and expenditure” instead of clarifying to the Gambians that it indeed happened in Jammeh’s era, he left many of his listeners with the impression that the OP of Barrow had something to do with the alleged misappropriation of the funds which he new nothing about as the then minister in charge.

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If for nothing folks, I think the Gambians need to do some serious soul searching in this month of Ramadan over this pervasive political dishonesty geared towards tarnishing the image of the government on very silly reasons. All these politically disgruntled laterdate activists often aided and abetted by their accomplices that are holding important government positions will only continue to be victims of their own manoeuvres. Shame on all the schemers rooting out for the opposition propaganda.

And please President Barrow, tell the Auditor General to go and organize another press conference and clear the air for the people to know the truth.

Samsudeen Sarr

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Leadership

Dear editor,

Someone I spoke to asked that I join them the next time they deliver a leadership training for a particular group. I suggested that I should probably deliver a training on followership, demonstrate the nexus between followership and leadership and how followership can influence leadership. Essentially, the terminal learning objective will be to show that followership characteristics, traits or behaviors influence leadership; that followers, who I consider leaders in their own rights, can have a huge influence on the type of leader they have.

In my mind, the focus has mostly been on leadership and not enough on followership. She wasn’t too sure about my proposal because in her words “they’ll be more interested in leadership.” She also hinted that they might even get offended because “these are leaders” and a class on followership may not be too thrilling for them.

I share the above because I came across the phrase “Africa has a leadership problem” and while I don’t doubt that, I also think it’s just one of those phrases many of us simply regurgitate without much thinking behind it. And that is because our concept of leadership is often so limited and at times completely flawed. We think our problems revolve around leadership alone. And so go to any African country and there are “leadership” institutions galore, all focused on building leaders for today and tomorrow. Despite this emphasis on leadership, the “Africa has a leadership problem” conundrum still persists. Africa has a leadership problem is true; it just doesn’t tell the whole story. AFRICA has a followership problem but acknowledging that means we have to look inward and take responsibility. Acknowledging that means we have to accept the bitter truth that our leaders cannot continue to be poor and mediocre while we are excellent. It doesn’t work that way!

It took some convincing for my friend to agree to my suggestion. While others emphasize the importance of leadership, I will mostly focus on followership. I’m hoping that once we realize that you cannot have an enduring leadership crisis without a corresponding followership crisis, some of the attention on poor leadership will shift to poor followership. I’m hoping that we will agree that the effectiveness of a leader may be in the head of the leader but it rests on the shoulders of the followers. I’m hoping that Africans will realize that our problems are not only the self-absolving leadership crisis we decry, but also a serious followership problem. And that’s you and I.

Having said all that, let me see which wonderful younger brother of mine, sister, niece or nephew will assume the mantle of leadership/followership and say brother or uncle, your ndoggu is ready and I want to bring it to you! I’d think I’ve earned that much.

Alagie Saidy-Barrow  

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