Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: Good politicians feel the pulse of the masses and accordingly change their strategy to account for the changing mood of the masses. Politics involves a series of compromises, and seasoned politicians strike when the iron is hot. It consists of the making of shifting priorities to achieve political objectives. Politics is an art of compromise; there is nothing absolute or eternal in the realm of politics. There are ups and downs in politics, which necessitate a change in strategy to deal with the changing realities of the time. A good politician is thus flexible and not static, to reckon with day-to-day changes in politics.
The Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), the National People’s Party ( NPP), and other peripheral political parties have formed a Grand Alliance and merged into a Grand Coalition to re-electing President Adama Barrow to a second term on December 4, 2021, Presidential polls which gave cause for much more celebration by the silent majority of Gambians supporting President Barrow. As the news of the newly formed Grand Alliance trickled in, the social networks went crazy. Gambians, young and old, far and wide, expressed their delight at the possibility of this new Grand Coalition party, and others who dislike and his critics were outraged with deep consternation by the minority of Gambian voters. Political victories have been hard to come by in the past three decades. However, this new Grand Coalition not only gives the vast majority of worn-out Gambians a tremendous sense of achievement, but it also gives hundreds of thousands of people new hope that their cause was a right and new determination that change will finally show its face in the Gambia.
Fatoumatta: For many Gambians, this week has been a time to be proud; a time for reflection on the possibility of a new dawn, a time where our country has the chance to sow the seed of success in overcoming the great turmoil that our electoral and political process has thus far represented. Now, as Gambians look towards December 4, 2021, Presidential polls, it is beginning to look like we may be standing at the beginning of a new chapter in our history, one that will hopefully be defined by a prosperous democracy incontrovertibly built upon the will of the people.
Although, Gambians have been put through the ringer. Apart from dealing with the dearth of security, employment, health care, education, striving to provide for our families, and rising crime, to name a few, we have been lumbered with political leadership that is solely focused on personal interests rather than on solving our widespread problems. Furthermore, even though there are many Gambians that Gambians would ideally like to see done differently, the one consensus of what people want right now seems to be a change of government.
A brilliant man is known as Albert Einstein once described insanity as ‘doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.’ It would be difficult not to agree with him. If having the same party and same political actors in power for decades translates into a reality where we still have no stable electricity, no unity, no security, no peace, no job opportunities, no development, and hardly anything good, then how on earth can anyone expect a different result in terms of the way the country is governed if the same party keeps hoisting itself into power? It would naturally follow that for our life to change from the nightmare we are living into a more structured dream, and we must change; the country must change, and the government must change. Furthermore, for the first time in a very long time, a vehicle with the ability to translate that nightmare into a dream and then into reality is being presented to Nigerians. That vehicle is this newly formed united merger.
However, now that the first leg of the task has been achieved, this marks the point at which the real work needs to be done. To consolidate the exceptional success that the merger represents, the Grand Coalition government of President Barrow must now pass the crucial test without allowing the demons of the past to re-emerge. The demons defy stepping up to the challenge of putting personal interest aside for the party to operate in the interest of all the people of this nation. Instead, the Grand Coalition must set the objective of making the Gambia a place liveable for the right of the many. The Coalition must work in partnership with each other to create a dynamic, broad, and competitive platform for progressives, for minorities, for women, for children, for the poor, and every interest. The Coalition must be fashioned as an entity that seeks to restore trust in Gambian politics, cleanse Gambian politics, and decentralizes it so that people can once again have hope that politics can be about the service to the public.
Fatoumatta: The Grand Coalition should be a party entrenched with solid ideals; the ideals of integrity, impartiality, unity, honesty, and development. However, furthermore, it should also be a party equipped with the valor to welcome new ideas required to make those standards a reality for Gambians; a party of practical process in pursuit of a gallant cause and the solemn obligation to act accountably, transparently, and impartially. These should be at the core of the Coalition’s intention for the Gambia.
Fatoumatta: Politicians thus have to move according to the nature of changing tide. The present-day international politics brooks no morality or ethics. It is based on the principles of Machiavellianism. This means that one has to assess the domestic and international situation and then take action. Politicians cannot afford to live in an ivory tower, cut off from the main currents of politics ever-changing its forms. Politicians cannot isolate themselves from the masses by sticking to their ideals.
True democracy has never been a concrete box that isolates the political leadership from the people. Moreover, if it is true democracy we are interested in, then the party leadership must embrace that fact. Leaders of the Grand Coalition have an obligation to use their positions of power to earn the people’s trust because that will primarily impact the public’s confidence in the government. As leaders of the National Executive Committee of the APRC gathered at the Coco Ocean to announce the merger with the NPP, they must know all too well the enormous responsibility that they have undertaken and the great trust that the Gambian people may be willing to place in them. More than anyone, the leaders of the Coalition know well the change that the Gambia desperately needs. They know that this country is anxious to step away from its past, desperate to get those things done that need doing for the future.
Fatoumatta: No less important, the parties that have come together to form the Grand Coalition must get their acts together individually. The ongoing internal wrangling that litter most opposition parties’ corridors has to stop with immediate effect. Suppose the government of President Barrow is to have a chance of success and have a chance of being inclusive and nonpartisan in its internal decision-making. In that case, the different entities that form it must find a way of letting bygones be bygones, cooperating, and actively seeking consensus through compromise and dialogue. Each of these parties is responsible for cooperating fully with the ideal and unity necessary to establish and promote the Coalition.
Let me state a simple truth: public faith in the political process is extremely low. Many people are still pessimistic, especially given that a number of the strong players in the new Coalition were once part of past governments. Part of Adama Barrow and his Grand Coalition’s challenge is to earn the trust of the people by avoiding political trickery, standing up to the so-called political activists and tangal cheeb politicians, abstaining from inflammatory behavior, working together, and convincing the public that the party is ready to be the fresh new change the Gambia needs despite some of the personalities that make up the Grand Coalition.
Fatoumatta: If managed well, the Grand Coalition can bring the Gambia together to unite people as one nation. Our hopes for the Gambians correspond with a sense of consideration, decorum, and responsibility. Let us be hopeful and optimistic about this chance. One can only shape the opposition and make it what they need it to be when they participate in the process.
As Gambians prepare to embark on this new chapter in their political life, one element of change seems to rise above all others in terms of importance: specifically the need for our politicians to show love for the Gambia. Love for the Gambia means putting public interests above personal interests. It means doing everything possible to keep partisan politics fair and clean. Love for the Gambia is not about the words that politicians speak but about their actions. It is about putting nation-building above everything else. Leaders of the Grand Coalition must display their love for the Gambia.
Politics is an art of compromise; there is nothing absolute or eternal in the realm of politics. There are ups and downs in politics, which necessitate a change in strategy to deal with the changing realities of the time. A good politician is thus flexible and not static, to reckon with day-to-day changes in politics. Politicians do not believe in a static approach. They mold themselves according to the changed circumstances. Politics is dynamic which is always in a state of flux. Politicians who fail to take into account the newly emerging realities prove a failure. They are supposed to be very sharp and perceptive to take full advantage of changing situations. However, likewise, they have to absorb in themselves the changes occurring at the international level. There is a saying that the friend of today can be an enemy of tomorrow and vice versa.
Fatoumatta: With December 4 Presidential polls approaching, we have a chance to start a new chapter, put aside individual and party interests, and insist on accountability from the political class. More than anything, we should all accept personal responsibility for making this happen because only individual Gambians putting the Gambia’s interests first can build the just, democratic society that will make present and future generations of Gambians justifiably proud. As this new dawn breaks, the Grand Coalition led by President Barrow is giving Gambians a platform to do just that to consolidate our emergent democracy and reconciliation of a dividing nation.
Alagi Yorro Jallow