By Sulayman Jeng
A brisk trek on Gambian social media unearthes a simmering contention for former APRC members allying with Barrow. In their twisted political marketing spree, some opponents of Barrow escalated efforts to redefine the acceptable political correctness of affiliation between party members. Seedy Njie oftentimes is illustrated as fitting their mold.
Contrastedly, the best examples of their referential phenomenon rest comfily at the UDP door steps. For instance, the likes of Modou Soma Jobe known for his notoriety in ambushing UDP and subjecting its members to horrific distress of manhandling and unlawful detentions is not only welcomed with opened arms but awarded the position of deputy campaign Manager. Same goes with Sukou Singhateh and Majanko Samusa who both played significant roles in effecting a state of emergency for Jammeh to continue in power during the impasse. Arguably, if their membership in UDP aren’t both a bad political and moral taste, why would Seedy Njie’s closeness to Barrow and NPP be sinful? Here, we must remind one another that those housed in glass homes must not be throwing stones.
Looming above this uncanny political attempt to merchandise President Barrow as an unelectable product is the trivialising of fundamental national peace, stability and security by partisan blindness. For instance, Gambian politics has been, in most cases, reduced to more about giving and getting favors than finding a common purpose in fostering national development. A vivid sample is the portraying of Barrow’s road and bridge projects as insignificant, misplaced priorities and white elephants albeit, he has anchored his works on the NDP blueprint. This may seem like a rosy picture to some of his critics who often dismissed such projects as non-selling political profit for the incumbency. But any political pundit worthy of his or her salt will not rubbish such projects especially in regions that have been neglected from independence as non political profit for the incumbency. Allow me to craze your indulgence in taking a quick dive into our political history to remind the arm-chair pigmy pundits how we fought dictatorship for 22 years with all our energies and resources. Blood got spilled.
Bodies were torn apart. Lives lost and many fled to safety. Despite all these horrific deeds orchestrated by Jammeh and substantially presented to Gambians, they continued returning Jammeh to power. Some of us calling out and exposing Jammeh’s travesties were tagged “enemies of progress”, “bad citizens” and “cockroaches”. When the 30th December attempt failed to dislodge him, the only democratic option left on the table was to contest against him as a united front. Suffice it to say, the coalition effected same. Fast forward to now with Barrow as a tolerant and humble leader rolling out NDP projects to these long disadvantaged communities, do you think come 2021 they will barter him with a new kid on the block?
At a personal level, Barrow is bridging his relationship gap with local communities that have been neglected by central government due to political biasing. We all vividly recollect with disgust Jammeh telling communities that his government will never deliver basic amenities such as roads, water and electricity to them just because they support the opposition. Despite everything heaped on Barrow, he is yet to make such owlishly selfish and crude pronouncements. Instead, he continues to roll out the NDP to every Gambian community irrespective of its support for his leadership. Most importantly, President Barrow has grown markedly more assertive over the past year. As a resilient and proactive leader, his government leaves no stone unturn in responding swiftly to Gambians’ calls. Furthermore, laughable assertions of Barrow’s ineptitude are wearing off with his intelligence leadership and readiness to implement the NDP. Additionally, he appreciates in a polarised country subjected to deep hurts, great-power competition, economic inequality, and dazzling technological incapabilities, where gossips as well as pathogens spread with viral ferocity, the stakes are too high and the consequences too dire to simply stick with what worked in the past and hope for the best. Thus, he refuses to drive his authority from ultratribalist politics and personality cults and focuses more on the give-and-take that is so essential for national development. More broadly, he is prepared to partner with any citizen, stakeholder and/or friend of the Gambia willing to support the NDP instead of those bend on derailing it.
Admittedly, President Barrow has a lot of ground breaking works to accomplish before 2021 presidential election to keep him several political streets ahead of his competitors. One of such is getting rid of the Mambury Njie, Mamadou Tangara, Alhagie Ceesay and trimming down his galaxy of advisers most of whom are not cost effective but rather costing his political rating worrisomely. He must equally be conducting unannounced visits to our health facilities to see their deplorable conditions at first hand. Health of any community is the backbone of capacitating its human resources. Thus, great emphasis and investment must be redirected to our health sector by drastically cutting down unnecessary expenditures such as luxury vehicles.
Like Covid-19, corruption is also devastating in our struggling economy and living standards. Perhaps, I have missed it but I never heard an assertive address by Barrow on corruption. It is repelling a lot of potential investors and citizens desiring to add their quota on the development process. Jammeh with all his sorry backside imperfections, he had his acts together when it comes to supervising and checking on institutional practices. At one point, his mystical presence was smelled in almost all public institutions. He inquires, double-checked to ascertain information filtering to him. Stepping up with these will add more grease to your political elbow. In other words, President Barrow must take his fate in his own hands.
Some are ungratefully positing it is not Barrow who gave us freedom of expression and assembly that new Gambia enjoys under his leadership. Why didn’t we give same to ourselves under Jammeh for 22 years. Even though power belongs to the people, it is government that guarantees such freedom for the people to enjoy as is true with Barrow as opposed to Jammeh. Thus, giving the devil its due, one can comfortably conclude Barrow is a tolerant leader. Despite all the profanities thrown at his person instead of leadership, he neither cried baby nor ordered for an arrest. That is the kind of leadership a healing nation needs to nurse its deep wounds. Unlike Jammeh, Barrow does not play brother against another. We how how Jammeh succeeded in divide and rule cheque book to continue muzzling us. He will fire an elder brother and replace him with the younger.