The presented arguments by Mr. Jarjue in your October 26, 2021, published issue concerning my essay on predicating Barrow will win the next presidential election on December 4, 2021, deserve wide attention and this fitting response will hopefully debunk his flawed counterarguments. This will be my first and last rebuttal of any kind. For the benefit of the readers, allow me to give a context to meaning that I am not responding to give the author any state of relevance, nor am I castigating him here, but rather providing him the windows of sound glad tidings to read to understand issues and reason with absence to prejudice and impulses when countering an argument in the court of public opinion. It is my honest opinion that he mischaracterized the essay and failed to grasp its objective.
It is important to reiterate that my prediction is based largely on hypothesized assumptions of my designed constructs based on the current political climate in The Gambia. The essay is an opinion piece and not an empirical study of any kind. The article is developed within the cornerstone of a qualitative essay, where I predicate my observation on the existing social phenomenon combined with the art of refined judgment to state my proposition and conclude. I did not use a survey or polls study to predict as the essay is not anchored on academic research. Nor did I use the Bayesian statistics to run multiple regressions either to estimate the posterior distributions of the true proportion of voters that will vote for each candidate in the forthcoming presidential election as that requires resources to undertake and I am not placed in that position. Therefore, this is strictly an opinion piece and readers are at liberty to refute my proposition or provide a counter-argument to advance the discourse to contribute to the body of knowledge.
As I stated in my essay, the views expressed are not intended as propaganda for Barrow, but solely as a reflection of my perspective and how I view the Gambia’s political climate favoring Barrow’s re-election. The lines of my arguments were centered on the summit of conventional wisdom under the streams of objectivity without any form of implicit bias.
Having said that, the essay was written in good faith based on reasons best known to me with no cords of ill-intention, malice, or prejudice against the person of Lawyer Ousainu Darboe or to the other presidential candidates vying for the December 2021 presidency. I stated the obvious reasons dictated by my conscience and reasoning mind and with the hearts of my heart, knowing full well of African politics and that my intuition agrees with my logic. One can argue that these reasons are found to be uncomfortable to the other players who saw my predictions for betting on Barrow’s reelection as bias. That is rather unfortunate, and people are at liberty to agree to disagree with my points of the arguments. That is how organic knowledge is shared and perspectives enhanced. But, however, this does not negate the fact that I shouldn’t express my thoughts of the mind either, as I am constitutionally guaranteed under the 1997 constitution as a citizen of the republic to share my views regarding the situation of our country in relations to democracy and governance.
More importantly, as an independent social democrat, I do not belong to any established political organization or group in The Gambia, neither am I rooting out for Barrow or propagating a false narrative, nor am I looking out for anything from him or his government either, as I am content with my situation. I stated the obvious in my essay and nothing short of my theory is politically motivated.
1. I doubt you have read my essay to understand the epistemology of the paper and I am not surprised at all that you are unable to discern it either from an academic paper. What your reaction demonstrates to me is an indication of failing to read the text of the essay to grasp an understanding of its rationale first and then present a compelling counterargument to it. You have failed in that regard as you have allowed the instruments of conspiracy theories, false followership, partisanship, and identity politics to blind your viewpoints, blocking your arteries, and denying you the reasoning abilities to think for yourself and debate the issues and not personalities.
It is true that many when countering an argument or public opinion tend to retaliate or attack the personality of the person and not the substantiation of the views expressed. That is wrong and I need not to vouch of the person I have become as I have proven myself beyond reasonable doubt in all that I do in my life and do not need an endorsement from individuals who allowed anger and arrogance to hijack their conscience. That is because my records are in the public domain and speaks for itself. You can throw jabs to question my qualifications and character, but that does not take away my earned credentials. Similarly, it is an uncontested fact that “one will never cross an emotional bridge, if you keep rushing back to the other side.” Consequently, that is exactly an inference of what you demonstrated by showing the true color of partisanship as if you are a corn in a popcorn machine.
2. You claimed that I supported Hamat Bah’s statement when he identified or classified certain group of people as “rats”. That is not true. Yet, you failed to address the fact and provide a context regarding my position on his statement. Here you go again rambling as you failed to highlight my points of the argument on Mr. Bah’s statement and nowhere did you see my endorsement for such statement. All I have stated in social media through my Facebook page was that he presented a deeply sensitive, alarming, and concerning topic that requires keen attention by the authorities in Banjul to investigate such alleged happenings as discrimination, tribalism, and politically motivated profiling has no place in our country. It is despicable to accuse me of supporting Hamat Bah’s alleged tribal vitriol as he himself on records, said that his statement was taken out of context.
The historical evidence I provided on my posts on social media condemning tribalism and discrimination are in the public space as I denounce such evils in our society. The excesses of these vices are in play, and we do not need to downplay it or deny their existence in our polity, unless you intentionally want to tell us that you are living in North Korea and not in The Gambia. Stop being in a state of denial and holding the view that tribalism does not exist in The Gambia. That narrative is self-troubling. It is dangerous to peddle a wrong narrative of a consequential effect that has the virus of turning our country to another Rwanda if care is not taken. In this case, one can deduce the fact that you are denying the existential threats of tribalism, discrimination, and marginalization in The Gambia against the Fulas. I am a living proof and had become a direct victim myself on many occasions based on the color of my skin and particularly on events where I put on my typical cultural Fulani attires or outfits in a public transportation. Do not tell me it is not happening because you have not become a victim of this unwarranted characterization and inhuman treatment.
3. Do you know the basis of Obama’s presidency – 2008 and 2012? I guess you may not know but President Barak Obama was selected as the democratic nominee on merits and elected as president not on the color of his skin and intellect, but on the content of his flawless character based on his messaging and soaring speeches as he personifies a persona that reflects the values of leadership in the United States and who the Americans see as the symbolizing feat of change and hope. His ascension to the presidency was historic and no one saw it coming, even the defeatist white supremacists couldn’t tell.
Above and beyond, he packaged himself well with a winning team, by understanding the ugly belly of the American economy, presented his ideas, and argued on the substance of policies and not on personality cultism as his messaging were inspiring and heart-touching that even those who were racist see hope and the flames of change in him as a person they could trust and lean to bring the much-needed reforms and change in America. You cannot compare and equate Obama with Darboe as the two gentlemen are from two different leagues.
4. According to Thomas Paine, “arguing with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like giving medicine to a dead person”. Let me put it to you that one can justifiably state that Darboe shot himself in the foot and complained that he cannot stand by using a tribal tag as a cited example in one of his public speeches and I quote “if the UDP was headed by a Fula, no one will say that the UDP is a Fula tribe”. Such an example is unjustified and is not a suitable way to convey a message to constituents. Such comments are demeaning and insensitive. This presents consequential reputational damage to his person and to his party in the art of persuasion and the rhythm of expansive communications.
As a result, I measured Darboe objectively based on his expressed views, not on his qualifications, because his messages haven’t been too convincing or appealing to the average voter. Every time he speaks, he opens the cans of controversy upon controversy with questionable intent on his leadership capabilities, and what type of leader would he be if he were given the opportunity to lead The Gambia?
Darboe is not a unifier, but a divider who uses political rhetoric in a way that appeals to his sympathizers. It is therefore, disgusting for a leader of an opposition party to declare that no one can stop his running for the presidency in December 2021, in the sense that the country will become ungoverned if anyone dares to challenge or question his eligibility to run for president. These are outside the bounds of leadership and anyone looking for the mandate of the people cannot force or impose his or her candidacy as a delight of inevitability. The Gambia is a country of law and were constitutionalism takes prime in our jurisprudence and if people have doubt to any candidate’s eligibility, then the courts will have to decide and give a valid and logical interpretation of the law to avoid setting bad precedents of a log-jam of ambiguity in our jurisprudence.
You see when I say that Darboe has a poor communication skill, I meant it from the substantive issues he discusses in public and not attacking his person. Of recent, he made very serious allegations that Barrow’s government has secretly been receiving crude oil from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. No one should make such unfounded allegations to please his or her constituent as it is a sign of weakness and desperation to get to power through presenting false narratives of unfolding events in our governance. His alleged claim was countered by the government through the Spokesperson denying knowledge of such as the government has not proceeded with the goodwill offer from Nigeria. This further adds an injury to his credibility, thus placing him on the disadvantaged aisle against Barrow.
5. A sincere and reasonable person will not raise the issue of ethnic politics to the extent of claiming that “the Mandinka tribe is the majority and the King Makers in Gambian politics”. My opinion is that your assumed proposition is very insulting and the height of ignorance, which shows both weakness and arrogance. In the case of tribes, there is no majority based on your assumption. As per the CIA World Factbook 2021, the Mandinka ethnic group count is 34%, which does not give them the absolute majority since it is outside of the 50% margin of majority. Your assumption implies that you are peddling unconscious conspiracy, tribal nationalism, and ethnic politics out of anger. Regardless of the majority status of the Mandinka tribe, do you think your unimaginable line of thinking and bigotry will have any impact on our national politics, given that most Mandinkas I know or have interacted with and crossed paths with are liberal and progressive? I believe not as your proposition is unmerited. Therefore, it is dangerous and a recipe for disaster to sell that narrative, as the Gambia is a highly heterogeneous society, and the other tribes together constitute the absolute majority and not as you otherwise suggested.
6. Can you educate me on where is it stated that higher education or academic qualifications are the set criteria for the presidency, or they make one become a better leader? I quite disagree with those that hold this view. Educational qualification does not make one a better political leader. It has the benefit of making one in understanding the dynamics of politics, governance, policy development and congruence, international relationship, and diplomacy. Using the construct of schooling to measure competence is wrong and we need not put too much emphasis on formal educational credentials as educational attainment is not a strong predictor of how politicians will perform in office (Carnes & Lupu, 2015). I refer you to Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu’s article entitled: “What Good Is a College Degree? Education and Leader Quality Reconsidered” to help you understand what competence and leadership is all about in political development.
7. Please, do not put words in my mouth as I did not question Darboe’s educational qualifications. I only question his leadership capability, persuasive, and communication skills as I do not think they are convincing at all. That is my opinion!
8. I need not “educate myself regarding what Fabakary Tombong Jatta said about Jammeh’s position on the NPP and APRC alliance.” That is not the objective of my paper. I cited Jammeh’s imbroglio creating a splinter group within the APRC as a goldmine opportunity for the NPP on Barrow’s reelection bid. Many see it differently and I respect their positions as that is the beauty of reasoning in the context of democracy.
9. You have every right to deny that Gambia’s political climate is not polarized. I find it rather unfortunate that you are downplaying the ugly skins in our country hijacked by the intense culture of smear, innuendoes, and blaming it all on Barrow’s head. That is what we called a deliberate attempt on apportioning blames on a political opponent and absolving your political organization and leadership. The signs are visible for everyone to see and one thing I can state is that even those as blind as bats could feel the roaring thunder of an enraged toxicity and the biting insects of identity politics in our homes, communities, and in the public space.
10.The characterization of your statement that “the opposition has failed to work with Barrow’s government in all spheres of development as Jammeh’s playbook” is a demonstrated height of ignorance, an injury to reasoning, and a slaughter on human understanding with the notion akin to defeatism.
11. I refute your characterization on my person as a tribal political writer. I am baffled with such classification as I am not a political writer, but a social commentator with the undying urge to share my thoughts and ideas, likewise learning and seeing different perspectives with people I interact daily. I am unmoved with such attack on my person as it does not change or alter my person in The Gambia, but encourages me to keep my head high and continue being ME.
To conclude, it seems you are looking longingly into the windows and refusing to accept reality. Life provides us many endless opportunities to agree to disagree with reason, but not with our impulse.