In Africa, political patronage is one of the biggest hurdles affecting the development of the nations. Given the low level of awareness of most of the citizens in these nations, the political class uses this all the time and hide behind patriotism and the desire to develop the country. Mostly, this is only rhetoric.
Political patronage promotes corrupt practices and breeds nepotism. Once this has spread its tentacles anywhere, the ordinary folks – who mostly are innocent – are used to rally behind a political figure whom they are beguiled to see as their political and economic messiah. Most often than not, s/he is as corrupt as they come.
In the midst of such group(s), there may be one or two highly educated individuals who serve as a rallying point for the people. Their presence is vital to the success of the indoctrination; for, the ordinary people will see it as confirmation that the announced aims and objectives are true. They will insinuate that had this not been the case, they wouldn’t have been ‘here’.
These groups mostly come in the form of youth groups, party youth wings and in the Gambia, ‘Yai Compins’. These are then used before and during elections to canvass for votes for designated politicians. With this type of politicking, African leaders (or most of them) highjack the development agendas of their nations and plunge them further into abject poverty.
It is worrying to note that within twelve months of coming into office, President Adama Barrow has had at least two of such movements associated with his name. The stated intentions are noble, like are always the case, but deep down it may give unscrupulous individuals the chance to embezzle funds, take advantage of the good will or have an edge over business competitors or all of the above.
The history of the Gambia during the last two decades or so should have been lesson enough to avoid a repetition of this type of politics. It’s high time the citizens of the country woke up to these evils which have the potential to retard our progress. Government officials should not be seen to be doing (or endorsing) anything that can jeopardize our development.