Sering Dara Halifa Is A Master of Political Gambit Ever Hopes To Survive The Complex Minefields of Political Intrigues That Characterize The Gambia’s Realpolitik. Halifa, A Political Realist

Mamos Media

Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: It is not easy to write about Sering Dara Halifa Sallah, praise him, and not come out like Jali Bamba. His sycophancy deifies Halifa Sallah embarrassingly, even as he knows he is a mortal of common fears and normal faults. However, unfortunately, it is not easy to praise Halifa without descending to sycophancy.
It is also not easy to write about Halifa Sallah and criticize him without coming out as many other so-called political opponents, political pundits, and “tafyengal activists” who think statecraft is an art or science with definite rules such as the holding of mere elections and the preservation of friendships and also in anticipation of ministerial and diplomatic appointments.
It is not easy to criticize Halifa Sallah without descending to vitriolic proclamations of the trivial type of political novice. Halifa and PDOIS, who needs no introduction. Halifa is a vital member of that activism and political leadership axis of impeccable character and economic wisdom. Alone and aged now, he is still by the hearth, keeping the fire burning.
Fatoumatta: An article like this necessarily must commence with a caveat. There is usual angst when writing about public figures, especially Halifa Sallah, where politicians are sometimes caught in the storm’s eye. Suppose there is any political figure whose reputation has always hung in the balance, Sering Dara Halipha Abubacarr Sallah. There is, therefore, the reasonable expectation that one would be expected to toe the line of the regular Halifa Sallah-bashing that has become the pastime of political commentators in the Gambia. My commentary will be more reclamatory than condemnatory. The leadership problem in The Gambia requires that we pay adequate attention to rescuing what is given to us as leaders and those who can be forced to achieve what is needed for nation-building. Furthermore, all this becomes imperative despite their human frailty.
Halifa Sallah’s significance straddles Foroyaa newspaper and People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) affairs and the postcolonial fate of the Gambia. He began as an activist-politician whose democratic audacity, together with the tenacious agitation of the “System and Regime Change,” caught Gambians’ attention and hearts at the height of the aftermath of the aborted rebellion of July 31,981 undemocratic saga in the Gambia led by Mr. Kukoi Samba Sanyang inspired Marxism political ideology. However, the significance of Halifa Sallah and his colleagues, in my reckoning, goes beyond the truncation of an electoral victory and thievery of public resources and accumulation of wealth. On the contrary, and like almost every political issue in The Gambia, it goes to the very heart of the Gambian national integration, which lies at the heart of the national project. It is a crisis that almost consumed the soul of the Gambia. Its reverberation is still at the heart of party politics in the Gambia and the diversity of the political anomalies that ails us. Therefore, it stands to reason that those who fought the war of the second liberation, as it were, deserve a trajectory analysis that attempts to cumulate their contribution to the more significant issue of the salvaging of the Gambian nation.
Sering Dara Halifa Abubacarr Sallah is no hero. On the contrary, he is a politician and an organic public intellectual who cannot be understood in the Gambia’s shared understanding of politicking. I concede that he is a master of political gambit, required if anyone ever hopes to survive the complex minefields of political intrigues that characterize the Gambia’s realpolitik. However, it seems that calling Halifa Sallah a political realist is the most consummate compliment one can ever hope to give him. Moreover, this is all the more so within the complex relationship that links the governance with the future of the Gambia. Whether we like it or not, the existence and presence of Halifa Sallah in the Gambia’s political landscape and any other politician within the Gambian plural context of exemplary leadership and nationhood is significant for the survival of the Gambia we want it to be. If this is correct, then it stands to reason that we need a concept of leadership that can hold the Gambia together in its plurality.
Fatoumatta: Halifa is one leader out of many involved in the turbulence of making the Gambia work. He is unique because, like other politicians, he is concerned with power and power play dynamics. On the contrary, Halifa’s political gambit is usually tied in with the political fate of better Gambia within the country’s overall development. Let us begin with the successful politics of decency, enlightenment, youth politics, women’s empowerment, and the struggle and political story of the Gambia. I suspect that any attempt at narrating the turning point of the political and empowerment story that transformed the Gambia’s politics during the First, Second, and birth of the Third Republic would have to factor the Halifa Sallah and PDOIS genuine opposition leadership in years into the Gambia’s governance and political history. However, that is not imaginative in the sense that the development dynamics of the Gambia in itself require sustainability if any governance creativity of one leader and political party is to have any positive and continuing effects on the lives of the citizens of any country. Thus, Halifa and PDOIS did not just enter into politics and then retired to savor access to public resources, ministerial and diplomatic appointments, and accumulation of wealth and goodwill. Halifa and PDOIS’s political leadership gambit is /was to further that legacy of decent politics and good governance through calculated political engineering that ended twenty-two years of the vicious dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh and brought in a new democratic dispensation and designed to the election of President Adama Barrow into power. Suppose Godfathers exist to perpetuate good governance and decent politics. In that case, I am for Sering Dara Halifa Sallah as a Godfather. Therefore, Africa and the Gambia must play host to a powerful politics and governance story that I have argued should be replicated throughout the African continent as a critical response to the challenges of reforms and restructuring and anomalous coalition-building in Africa, which he designed in the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) in January 2005 with a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between opposition political parties except for the United Democratic Party. Furthermore, according to the MOU,” The goal of the alliance is to put an end to self-perpetuating rule, ensure the empowerment of the people so that they can participate in sustainable development and 2016 in another splendid and grand style, however, the Halifa political ingenuity spearheaded a grand cocktail coalition of seven opposition parties and one independent merged to a form a grand alliance, simply to put a united front to face Yahya Jammeh for the first time. Halifa’s brainchild in 2016, reminiscent of the NADD alliance, turned out to be a slamdunk Gambians’ move to unseat dictator Yahya Jammeh of his twenty-two years of dictatorship.
Moreover, the Halifa and PDOIS factor in politics is not just a Gambian brand alone. It is to his credit that a credible opposition could be mustered to dislodge a sit-tight political party with a slogan of ruling the Gambia for many years rather than empowering hundred and thousand of poverty-stricken Gambians who voted the party into power. Does this political clout for ideological politics in the midst of a pandemic of insane self-aggrandizement count for anything when considering the future of the Gambia? I have always been a student of leadership dynamics, not only within the organizational framework or as a managerial necessity. Professor Chinua Achebe’s lamentation about the absence of leadership in Nigeria strikes a deep core in me. Leadership is the most cogent factor in any reform effort, either at the organizational or national level. However, the search for this reform factor must be as realistic as the context in which the investigation occurs. It will be an irresponsible expectation to think that the Gambia can ever throw up a saint or savior without sin who will take us to the Promise Land.
Fatoumatta: The fundamental question for Gambian people is: What can be done with or gained from Halifa Sallag’s political capital as a significant dynamics come December 4, 2021? The political capital the Gambia requires for meaningful national restructuring and reform does not deploy charisma for dumb electoral victory. On the contrary, there is the need for an ideological arrowhead that could serve as the rallying point for a progressive recalibration of politics around which we can redefine democratic governance in the Gambia. With his political decency and success, Halifa Sallah displays many political virtues that (a) speak to the fact that he is his person; and (b)character, ideology and maturity, and knowledge and wisdom matter in politics and good governance.
Fatoumatta: A leader who moves with the tides of political maneuvers is without a backbone required to move ideas to practice. I see this clearly in some of our wannabe t “angal cheeb’s political” characters wanting to be President and political relevance. However, they became a toast of not only the Gambia but of the African continent. Halifa Sallah himself is far from a politician that is subject to the self-interested will of others. Furthermore, leadership, for him, is, first and foremost, self-evident willpower. However, more significantly, leadership requires an ideological fuel that ought to become the source of ideas and ideals that can motivate policy conceptions and implementations.
Fatoumatta: The Gambia’s current season of anomie and the manifestation of obscene corruption reveal that ideology dies within the dense atmosphere of political greed. Is it possible to disengage Halifa Sallah and PDOIS from the rubric of corrupt politicking? That is a question we must wait for time and chance to reveal. However, it seems that there is more to the Halifa Sallah factor than achieving a grim certainty that he is a dishonest and unethical politician. Of more interest is the need to delimit a sphere of progressive politics in the Gambia—the kind of thinking that led to the evolution of the 2016 Grand Cocktail Coalition of Opposition for Democracy and later ended an entrenched kleptomaniac rule that accommodates all democratic and patriotic minded politicians and patriots around the possibility of making the Gambia a democratically viable and evolving democratic country. Thus, can Gambians see the forest for the trees? Is it not time for us to commence reclamation of those who possess the political money to lead a silent revolution of leadership in the Gambia? Can Halifa’s ethnic commitment be excavated into a national development dynamic? In what sense can politicians and national figures like Halifa and Adama Barrow become the central discursive point in a leadership theory in the Gambia which speaks to a pragmatic understanding of politics as determined by flawed characters?
Fatoumatta: With Halifa Sallah and PDOIS leadership, we have an opportunity to commence an articulation of a Gambian leadership theory that begins from where the Gambia is at the moment and then moves on to what possible progress we can achieve with what we have in terms of people and capital. “Leadership,” Robin Sharma tells us, “is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work….” As a result, we can get beyond the present disillusionment we now have with the crop of politicians who want to raid our votes and destroy the Gambia. Thus, we may begin to find a means of rethinking a framework of political leadership that, however flawed it may, provides the most available juncture from which we can move forward as a nation. Fatoumatta: I argue that Sering Dara Halifa Abubacarr Sallah and PDOIS offer a good starting point in that reflection, not those “tangal cheeb politicians” without any political ideology.

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