Gambia: Why Were You Elected?


True leadership cannot be defined as just being comfortable in familiar territory. Outstanding leadership shines in times of crises, sober leadership does the unexpected to pacify a nation, and negotiation does not mean one is weak.

All, the only punchlines I am hearing from our symbol of unity is “Gambia Kang Killing & Gambia Bena Bopa”, a misnomer. Sitting in an office changes nothing as it only amplifies one’s sense of entitlement. Everything else rises or falls, not by being in a chair but by providing robust and pragmatic leadership while in the chair. The president must be beyond juvenile rhetoric around “Taf Yengal” and the mechanical application of our Constitution, all the while not being true to the spirit of it—this is not leadership. Such activities can only be defined as politics anchored in charlatanism.

The question to be asked of the Gambian National Assembly members is: Why were you elected? The answer: To solve problems like a leader, and not to solve issues in the quick-fix style of Masala business.

How on Gambia’s earth did you approved a budget that earmarked 22 million dalasi as a “Presidential Donation” and 33 million dalasi for repairs and renovation of the newly refurbished State House and think that either or both actions are real leadership? What lunacy enables you to continue to approve a budget without including any indication of the salary and allowances of the president. In contrast worldwide, the salaries and allowances of all other world leaders are well-known and published. So why is President Barrow the exception? Is this real leadership? Why then did the Gambians fight for accountability and transparency?

You were elected primarily for one purpose: deep thinking. It is your job, having taken the oath of office, to do some critical, creative, empowering, and visionary thinking and then translate your thoughts into plans and actions that transform your people’s lives.

Most of you are well-educated with international experience and now you have the power and platform to push for things like campaign finance reforms and ending the money-pit traditions that enforce a cycle of poverty, so do all of this!

How can you accept the wife of the president or the office of the First Lady funded by with 330,855 dalasi in the 2018 National Budget? Is this exactly why you were elected?

Let your people get angry and hate you for being insensitive to the plight of the poor, as you are clearly showing them your irresponsible attitude. You must think and rectify the budget so that the electorate begins to value voting for candidates with better plans.

Nobody knows where we headed without a leadership worth its name to guide or direct us. The social contract between our political leaders and the followers has collapsed. Fundamental issues of far-reaching significance are churning beneath the placid surface of life. The Adama Barrow government is a vacuum presiding over chaos, and politics like nature abhors a vacuum. If the politicians don’t get their act together quickly, then I shudder to think what might rush into this void. Revolution is a gamble involving impossibilities. It occurs when an administration breaks down. For example, years of anarchy followed the breakdown of the administration that dethroned former president Yahya Jammeh.

In this atmosphere of gloom and doom, there are new waves of changes all around us. We are a country in a decline that is not terminal or irreversible, but is still a decline. Our political system, dominated as it is by a handful of power-hungry, corrupt rulers, seems incapable of producing long-range answers to our problems. Unless we pull down the entire corrupt, decrepit, dilapidated, superstructure soon, the ultimate disaster of chaos is inescapable.

I would say to those who govern that it’s not their job to be liked. As for the female National Assembly members, Oh, my sisters, it’s your job to check and scrutinize the executives as you already know. It’s your job to fight against small thinking and show tough love and love tough!

Gambia’s Debt is well over 240 million dalasi and takes up 50% of the revenue. As a leader, your job is to figure out how to increase national wealth and not how to be continuing acting like a walking social welfare ATM machine.

The country is humiliated and impoverished. Democratic forms remain, but democracy is, in effect, dead or dying. This country is in deep trouble and sinking. Tremendous responsibility rests on the shoulders of our National Assembly’s leadership. Our political leaders and senior civil servants involved in decision-making are smart, but they also live in a very rarefied environment and rarely meet common citizens. As the Americans say, you need to monitor the daily pulse of the people face to face. How can you afford to be passive spectators of events? You can’t fail to see the rising spectra of a fragile Gambia helplessly stumbling into a catastrophe. It is not enough to sit back and let history evolve slowly. To settle back into your cold-hearted acceptance of the status quo is no longer an option for you.

Please below is article of mine for publication to your readership.

Yours in solidarity,

Alagi Yorro Jallow.

Join The Conversation