After crossing the river Rubicon on 10th January, 49 BC, the Roman general Julius Caesar, famously said: The die is cast. It was to mark the start of a war. Today, 6th December 2021, the die is cast in The Gambia. But it is the end of a war.
After a grueling three weeks of campaigning and crisscrossing the length and breadth of rural and urban Gambia, six men put down their names and asked 967,127 Gambians to allow them to lead the country. Adama Barrow riding on the crest of his white stallion, led his grey army into the battle and came out victorious in spectacular fashion.
The results have caused a political tsunami. Very few pundits would have predicted the wide margin of victory and Barrow’s incisive inroads into places regarded as United Democratic Party’s dedicated heartlands in the Kombos and Kanifing Municipality. These present Barrow political capital and he will spend them.
Barrow has an opportunity to make The Gambia great. He had the opportunity to do so five years ago but did not make the most of it. Barrow had the opportunity to make himself a great president five years ago, but he did not make the most of that opportunity. Now the Gambian people through the grace of the Good Lord, have presented him the same opportunity. He should grab it with both hands.
He should show magnanimity in victory. Now that the electioneering is over, he should avoid taunting his political foes. He should be the bigger man in his words and his actions. His godfather, Ousainu Darboe, has fought long and hard for this country and has the scars to show for them. He deserves all the respect and privileges from this nation. In fact, it will be to the credit of President Barrow if he in the not-too-distant future confer the highest national order on Mr Darboe for his selfless services to our country. Halifa Sallah of PDOIS deserves no less!
President Barrow should realise that it cannot be business as usual. He should immediately set about ringing in changes in personnel and policies. He must introduce a meritocracy and do away with nepotism, favouritism and cronyism. He should appoint competent and honest people to the right positions. He should stamp with all the might in his body on the cancer of corruption eating up the country by issuing a certificate of urgency to the legislature to table, consider and pass the anti-corruption bill.
President Barrow is the commander-in-chief but he should also be the unifier-in-chief. The election has brought out in the open the worst in Gambians. Regionalism, tribalism, class divide and so forth have been given a new lease of life. As he sets about reshuffling his cabinet and refilling the top positions in government, President Barrow should pay heed to the ethnic quota factor. He should ensure that all tribes, regions, religions and classes of Gambians are represented in the new government.
He should lay emphasis on what unites us than what divides us. For example, he should stop inviting groups to meetings at State House or anywhere else for that matter based on tribes. Barrow is a Gambian average who belongs to all tribes and all regions. He should use that unique characteristic to be a bridge builder, a real babili mansa.
President Barrow has his work cut out for him and we congratulate him and wish him the very best of luck. To Ousainu Darboe, Halifa Sallah, Mamma Kandeh, Abdoulie Jammeh and Essa Faal, you have fought a good fight and lost. Hard luck and good luck if you wish to try next time.