Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: To accentuate Gambia’s greatness, we should understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of the short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the faint-hearted path for those that prefer leisure over work or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Instead, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things some celebrated, but more often, men and women obscure in their labor who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
Time and again, Gambians struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw the Gambia as more prominent than the sum of our ambitions, more significant than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
Fatoumatta: Why is the Gambia, with its endowed human and natural resources struggling to translate into equivalent benefits for the people leading to the economic and political significance, always eager to accommodate strange people with strange missions from our political corridor? You can answer these questions by borrowing from George Orwell’s cynicism. Everything, he said, is politics – and politics “is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.” You will do well for your sanity if you agree with Orwell and refuse to be blinded.
If everything is political – it should then include the management of ensuring our security and continuing stability, efforts and commitment for winning the fight against bribery and corruption and promoting good governance, addressing the solution of rising youth employment, and the lack of it; it should include the war on thieves, over the looting of our treasury, and the endless wait for the supplies quality of health care services. It should consist of our borders’ opening for beasts of no nation to come to populate – and terrorize – our endowed natural resources.
What is the compelling argument for a second term to President Barrow? Gambians have too much expectation of their governments. They had argued in defense of the people’s right to a heightened expectation. However, for the sake of argument, Gambians conceded quietly that the people’s expectations of their leaders, especially the President, are too high and unrealistic.
Nevertheless, the state of the Gambian economy calls for action, bold and swift. Moreover, President Barrow should act to create new jobs and lay a new foundation for growth. He should build the roads and bridges, the electric grids, and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.
President Barrow and his government should believe, encourage and restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare quality and lower its cost. He should harness the sun, the winds, and the soil to generate green energy and run our factories.
Furthermore, Barrow and his government should transform our schools and university to meet a new age’s demands. All this we can do. All this we will do.
Does President Adama Barrow have a compelling argument for a Second Term? Gambian electorates underestimate the level of the rot in every sphere of the Gambian polity. Even those living in The Gambia and the Gambia Diaspora community grossly underestimated the decay and what it would take to fix it. We also have to give him that – the rot is deep, and we underestimate it.
Fatoumatta: The shock treatment that the Gambia needs an inevitable televised revolution allowed the emotional rollercoaster of our lives to reach heights and depths that had previously been unreached. We have been enraged and in tears of sorrow at the same time. We have seen the evil and the wicked hearts and acts of many. We have seen their inner thoughts be expressed in social media posts.
The Gambia needs so great that any leader who embarks on it will be deemed an error by all the Gambia’s political darkness forces. Gambian electorates will do all within their power to deny such a charismatic visionary and transformative leader a second term. If necessary, voters will kill him, for the Gambia’s political actors are killers. President Barrow’s conduct can cause an economic and political tsunami of positive changes in a nation’s life, for there is nothing like the Presidency’s symbolic and optical value.
Fatoumatta: How can Gambian electorates prevent President Barrow in the future from not trusting him for a Second Term? A part argument for Adama Barrow’s tragedy is his moral and ethical emptiness. If we look at the last four years, there is no positive symbolic thing that he ever did that was not coerced. Adama Barrow reluctantly refuses to jails those culpable for corruption and commit severe economic crimes in the past and current administration at the Mile II Central prison.
Also, the grass cutters guilty and were found culpable by the Janneh and the Faraba Bantang Commission of Inquiries recommendations on accountability and infringement notices remain unenforceable by President’s government. Following government issued a White paper on the Janneh Commission recommendation ultimatum decision for indicted officials and witnesses are gathering dust on the shelves of President.
Others have using the court’s resort to injunctions and restraining orders mainly, those with a sense of impunity, and the presence of sacred cows is still widely held. Public sector corruption is perceived as prevalent and persistent to those who are still cavorting with the government. Adama Barrow must be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing, and that is why the Gambia has collapsed on his head.
Fatoumatta: Ethical willpower is what Adama Barrow could not muster. He has had more than enough time and enjoyed the longest stretch of public goodwill conferred on any President in recent memory. Adama Barrow frittered everything away, and his supporters add insult to injury by wailing that the people are not patient with their failed and frail god. However, President Barrow’s second term agenda is still on the drawing board if he could address the issues under consideration, such as universal healthcare, food security, manufacturing, affordable housing, with uninterrupted clean running water and electricity.
President Barrow is more determined to deliver. By most measure, he can be reelected and leave his mark behind, an economy far more potent than the one he inherited, provided his government policies and structures can actualize the people’s economic and political aspirations before December 4.
President Barrow’s most significant challenge for a second term in the Presidency would be his message to the Gambian people on why we should elect him for a second term. We have never had a president who showed as much reluctance to govern as Adama Barrow did. He combined both a laissez-faire and laissez aller attitude to governance. He would not typically respond to emerging emergencies until crises build up into a crescendo that shakes his government.
Fatoumatta: It would be recalled that the 2016 coalition campaign transition document in question was exceptionally well crafted and spelled out in precise details the specific deliverables Gambians should expect from President Barrow were he to win the Presidential election. He won, and therefore Gambians started to ask for results. It took almost less than ten months to December 4 election, and aspirant and candidate Adama Barrow should be ready to answer any questions on whether he was prepared to rule in the first place and why Gambians should believe he is now prepared for another mandate.
There are two essential issues about campaign promises that we as citizens should note. In a democracy, candidates are voted for based on their commitments to the electorate and voters’ belief that they will keep the said promises. In the Gambia, because we have had a long history of electoral fraud and godfathers rather than voters deciding electoral outcomes, there is a deplorable tradition of citizens demanding that promises be kept. Voters knew that they never voted for the said officeholders in the first place and therefore did not have high expectations. Gambians did vote for President Barrow, and it is appropriate that we scrutinize and assess the President based on his election campaign promises.
Fatoumatta: The second important issue about campaign promises is that candidates, pushed by party surrogates and campaign teams, tend to promise more than they can deliver if elected. On assuming office, therefore, they try to tone down their promises and engage in creating justifications about the difficulty of the realities they find in the office. It is also the case that in certain situations, the nature of the problems encountered by governance teams is much worse than what they had anticipated.
Fatoumatta: What might have been the case for President Barrow, who assumed power after voters disgraced out a corrupt and irresponsible government in our history. Nonetheless, he still has questions to answer because he made all the promises of fighting corruption, institutional reforms and embark on a system change counted in Barrowism. Most of them have not been kept. Indeed, citizens are not stupid, and they usually have a clear idea of what is possible or impossible and what timelines are realistic. Sincere and committed politicians who have exaggerated their campaign promises have every right and the obligation to issue reality checks to the citizenry on their programs and issue revised timelines. President Barrow’s question is when and how did he engage Gambians on the challenges of program implementation so that they could decide whether he deserves a second chance. President Barrow and his 2016 coalition partners did make entire election campaign promises that interest most Gambian voters – security, anti-bribery, and corruption, ending impunity, institutional reform, repeal and modified all archaic colonial laws in our statutes books, Diaspora enfranchisement, affordable quality healthcare, uninterrupted clean running water and electricity, amendments to the 1997 constitution, and jobs for the youth and women empowerment. Okay, fine, where exactly are we on these items, which of course have to be broken down into details?
Fatoumatta: In short, Adama Barrow’s reelection is a choice between Gambians freedom and good governance. The bulk of his administration is what some people see as the threat social media pose to the country.
On the whole, Gambians have one primary concern: President Barrow has not talked sufficiently with them. The tide has changed, we are the voter Citizens, our time has come, and the ball is now in the court of aspirant/candidate Adama Barrow – talk to us, convince us on what you have been doing with the power we gave you.
Alagi Yorro Jallow