No one can dispute that Jammeh’s rule is over. It is no longer a question of how to overthrow him, but how to manage the transition of power and set Gambia on the road to democracy, stability and prosperity. It is essential that all three work together, and this should be the focus of all our leaders.

In the world today there are many politicians, but very few statesmen. A politician is a political leader whose main focus is on gaining and staying in power. It would seem that we have many of those in Gambia today. These people are in general interested in their own advancement and the interests of those they represent at the expense and if possible the exclusion of all other groups. No matter how they disguise it their motives are essentially selfish and usually lead to strife and oppression. What is forgotten today is that the Junta which toppled Jawara from power did so with good intentions and started to make real and needed change. I personally welcomed this turn of events after years of stagnation and corruption of the later years of the Jawara regime. So I’m sure did many Gambians. Then selfish interests and tribalism took over and here we are today.

A statesman is a political leader who seeks and works in the interest of all concerned to improve their condition, whether they support him or not. Jawara was a great statesman, respected and appreciated by both his supporters and enemies. Unlike so many of his fellow politicians he rules with a light and gentle touch, the very opposite of our current self-imposed president. Obama is a towering example today, as was Nelson Mandela. It was not that they did not have problems or face challenges, but that they tried to resolve them through dialogue and peaceful means. The lack of unity in our opposition leaders shows the absence of statesman among them.  The closest to a statesman among them is actually Madam Tambajang, although a newcomer to the public view.

IF Gambians are to reverse the decline of the past twenty years and catch up with our closest neighbor (Senegal) we need statespersons. Leaders who can re-unite our country and turn around the decline. It will be a huge challenge, but not impossible with the right leaders. Party politics and selfish interests will have to be set aside in the coming years otherwise a Jammeh clone will arise to rule again. Gambia has statespersons who could do the job very well, but will the people support them or vote for leaders from whom they hope to get something? This has been the pattern since the first national elections and we have the result. The electorate are as much to blame as the politicians. It is true that people get the leaders they deserve, although they do not see it at the time.

The main focus of Gambians of all ages should be on who is the best person to do the job of running our country in the best interest of all concerned. We need a statesman or woman. Honest, determined, a good listener to the people and above all a great leader who can harness the power of our country and move it forwards.

Jammeh saw himself as a king accountable to no-one. This was his downfall and has destroyed our country. In a real democracy, the presidency is a JOB and like any applicant they should be elected on their qualifications, skills and abilities to DO the job. This should be the criteria that all Gambians should vote for a president. He/she should not overstay their mandate or go against the will of the people. Every job has a job description, an evaluation process and a periodic review. In politics this begins with an election manifesto (what and how they plan to rule), ongoing observation and criticism by and independent press, enforced by an independent judiciary, and finally held accountable at periodic elections. This is democracy that has given Europe and America the political stability for economic growth and social development.

Instead of running away to hustle and do menial jobs in the west, we should learn from them and try to implement their system in our own country. Gambia is an economically viable country and could return to being the semi paradise it once was. As a Japanese man once commented. “Africa is not poor. Name one mineral that is not found on your continent. Africa’s problem is a management (leadership) issue usually characterized by GREED, STUPIDITY AND VIOLENCE. Jammeh summarized in three words.

Let’s pray for competent statesmen to rule our beloved Gambia AND support them. 

Written By The Gambia Patriot

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