Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: Reports heard and read through the grapevine and posted on Facebook with more elusive or imaginary the foe of manufacturing consent that Halifa Sallah of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS} and other peripheral “taf yengal ” political parties are in the advanced stages of building a Grand Coalition of opposition parties spearheading the building of a coalition by the Gambia For All (GFA) party leader, Mr. Bakary Bunja Darboe, is a BIG LIE and a gross distortion of the truth and a propaganda tactic and fake news. Here is the unedited report of the false statement by one Amat Tijan, and it reads:
“Hon Bakary Bunja Darboe, former Vice President and now leader of GFA, has called for a grand coalition of opposition parties meeting, Schedule on the 18 of September 2021 at his Fajara residence, a source told us. Hon Darboe, Sallah, Kandeh and Bojang have all consented to attend the meeting. Efforts are on the way to reach out to the rest of the opposition parties. It seems the APRC NPP alliance has triggered a quick reaction from the main opposition parties, as the Wolof proverb said.
Makh Mattna Bayee Chem Rewhu”.
This false report exposed the lack of fundamental understanding of the principles of PDOIS and its leader’s techniques for practical leadership negotiation skills and processes. However, this is not the first time PDOIS spearheaded the Grand Coalition building. The author of the false report demonstrated that he does not understand the arts, economics, and politics. It is time that social media activists and political hacks educated themselves about electoral politics and making coalitions. They should not steer transparent sources of laughable propaganda.
Fatoumatta: Rights are right, but rights are predicated upon responsibility, just as human freedom presupposes responsibility and liability for one’s actions. Thanks to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press, the social media milieu has become the home and arbiter of misinformation, info-manipulation, social engineering, and dangerous political and ideological propaganda.
Fake news is cheap to produce, sweet to share but that does not make you a news person, for genuine journalism is expensive – yet the destructive effect of your cheap news is socially costly. Despite its inherent inconsistency, every fake news tries to convince you of its truth by appealing to your preconceived notions, shared biases, and ideological base (groupthink). Fake news purveyors quickly play into your prejudices, enticing you with the kind of news you are already predisposed to accept, either supporting your hitherto held views or soothe your bias, even when it is not valid.
Sadly, when fake news is repeated, it develops a life of its own, making it difficult to know what to believe. While it may take some diligent discernment to detect fake news, the simplest detector is an objective mindset: being slow to believe what looks too good or too salacious to be accurate, being slow to share unverified news, and not being an ambassador of ‘breaking news.’ Once shared, fake news must have done damage even if it were refuted, retracted, or rejoined/countered – it is a social poison, the adverse effect of which is unquantifiable.
Verify. Stop the Press. Be an agent of truth alone.
Fatoumatta: No doubt one of the Gambia’s most competent political strategists, most innovative in a state-manly political craft Mr. Halifa Sallah of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), acclaimed as the Sering Dara and the Lion of Bourdillon, loved by many respected by all, hated by not a few, rightly or wrongly was the architect and prominent protagonist of building the 2016 Grand Coalition of opposition political parties that ended twenty years of tyranny.
Before the grand design of the 2016 Grand Coalition of opposition political parties, Halifa Sallah and PDOIS leadership took a significant step to form a broad-based coalition of five parties, called the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD), to mount a credible and rigorous challenge to then-incumbent, Yahya Jammeh of the APRC for the 2006 presidential election. The formation of NADD was greeted with great interest and anticipation within the ranks of opposition supporters at home and in the Diaspora.
However, Halifa and PDOIS leadership have made disciples after them, engineered a political ideology that produced leaders and other political officials, and seems to know when and how to manage the many controversies around him and PDOIS, whether legal, moral, and political. Stepping into the big shoes of Edward Francis Small and going beyond him to employ pragmatic political genius, he seems to know how to trade opportunities and when to bow to superior ideas without losing his interest. Despite his presumed unhappiness and feeling of betrayal over what happened with his brainchild, both the 2006 NADD Coalition and the Grand Coalition of 2016, Halifa seems to have put this behind him as a statesman, hardly speaking but looking to the future with his next strategy close to his heart, knowing that he was outsmarted by an upcoming fellow master of the game. In all of these, less is heard from him, but no one should underestimate his silence; he is capable of striking back, and those who went public to undermine him must watch their back always as their laughter may not last long unless they are wise to reconcile and appease him.
Fatoumatta: Suppose you decide to ignore history and political realities and enter into an alliance with a minority or groups that cannot deliver you victory. In that case, you only have your political naivety to blame, not others. You cannot keep playing the victim and blaming others for marginalizing you. You are reaping what you sowed. The only time Gambian opposition united and formed a solid Grand Coalition without ethnic consideration was in 2016. That happened because of the vision, foresight, and ingenuity of Halifa and PDOIS leadership, and many other Gambians agreed with a persuasive case against 22 years of evil dictatorship. They had paid a massive price in birthing the democratic government.
You may or may not have the same situation again. Still, you can create a working formula by building strategic alliances and coalitions to win. That will happen by making the right choices and building the right coalitions. Is insanity no longer defined as doing something in the way and expecting a different outcome? Political insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The currencies of politics are votes and support. Use yours to buy victory.
Fatoumatta: In a democracy, you demand power, fairness, and equity by reaching out to others, forming alliances, taking considerable stakes in the major parties, and appealing for justice. You will not succeed by claiming to be exercising your democratic rights by voting in a particular way and manner and seek to deny others the same rights by voting for you in the form and fashion you want. Democratic rights can be exercised individually or collectively out politics.
Fatoumatta: There is no right or wrong in politics. No person, zone, region,or ethnicity, is automatically deserving of anything beyond and above that which is constitutionally guaranteed. To win the Gambia’s presidency, you have got to be a significant stakeholder in party politics. The electorates understand, and the coalition of minorities is aware of that, too. However, suppose you deliberately chose to be a stakeholder in just one of the peripheral parties. In that case, that does not give a damn about being elected as President. You would not zone the presidency to you despite your massive support for you, and you keep blaming others for your miscalculations.
Fatoumatta: I have heard this argument before: you can keep all your eggs in one basket if safe and robust. This is maybe true in so many other things. Still, it is a fruitless argument in politics and in a country as diverse as the Gambia. The extant law makes it impossible for any part alone to produce the President. So the safest and strongest basket in politics is the one built by the majority of Gambians.
Fatoumatta: The presidency of the Gambia is for all Gambians to desire and aspire to. No part of the country is automatically entitled. Everyone who desires to be President, from any part of the country, needs to reach out to others in the other parts of the country to build a coalition that can win and deliver the presidency to him or them. In building that coalition, they do not have to agree with themselves in everything; they only need to find common grounds for their mutual and collective interests to be planted and flourish. This requires strategic thinking and alliance forming.
Alagi Yorro Jallow