THE POLITICAL ELOQUENCE & POLITICAL MASQUERADE?
The Haves and the Have-Nots and the Will-Never-Haves!!
Alagi Yorro Jallow
FATOUMATTA: Ideally, political leadership is supposed to be a calling. A special, noble calling to serve with the inspiration of playing a part for the greater good. As Charlie Arlinghaus once said,” leadership is felt, it can’t be forced, when people see it, they feel it.” Arlinghaus was referring to Political leaders who put the greater good ahead of self. Unfortunately, most politicians have morphed into different predators who collectively view politics as a rich hunting ground for vulnerable prey.
Fatoumatta: We are amazed at how certain outspoken people in our country do not decry about those megalomaniac political leaders with questionable characters in The Gambia with a patent and impatient desire to effect a change being a change agent. While a leader who is hobbled in public office on account of intellectual arrogance and lacking intellectual and emotional equilibrium, how does an obstinate, impervious and garrulous political undertaker lead from mischief and public buffoonery?
Fatoumatta: While we may cope with the intellectual infirmity of a leader, how do we relate to the moral infirmity, ethical impairment, conscience putrefaction, character decadence, and even a discernible “but dress covered and apparel hidden” mental instability of the dubious crusaders for physical strength and vigor in leadership, who are in our midst? How? Unfortunately, moral or mental fitness is not the determinant of qualification for eligibility to exercise the right to freedom of speech. It is inalienable. Our expectation, however, is that the masses our people will stop giving the messages of these fake prophets any serious consideration. Those who contributed so immensely to our destruction yesterday cannot be our today’s solution providers, even at their redemptive best; and certainly, cannot be the pathfinders to our salvation tomorrow.
Fatoumatta: Politics is the ultimate jungle. The first lesson dwellers of the jungle learn is how to self-preserve. Only the living rocks the forest no matter how powerful or beautiful you may be. And you cannot live (long) by being meek or gentle or too eager to lift every prostrating beast seeking help. Did you not hear Edwin Clark Jnr. shooing off power addicted politicians for being too gentlemanly for the treacherous forest of political demons?
Fatoumatta: People always say arrogance can’t get you a job, that is not true, but look at Jose Mourinho for example – managed Inter, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham all in a space of 9 years. Compare that to humble Eddie Howe who’s been content with managing Bournemouth into mid-table obscurity. In a competitive job environment where everyone is fighting for survival, serious organizations will always go for employees who get the job done but today in politics. “Nyaka Jomm” means emotions over results, sideshows over performances.
Tigers don’t shout their tigritude just as dead men don’t proclaim their deadliness; they inflict it with summary swiftness. If you wait to hear their roar before they strike, you are dead. Fix your gaze into the predatory eyes of a tiger, “it is less likely to attack.” It relishes “the element of surprise” as the icing on its cake of gallantry. When a tiger marks up a human as prey, sneaking up on him at night is perfectly normal. And you do not spare a tiger ensnared. You assist a troubled tiger to your sorrow. It knows no word called appreciation. It knows only itself and its cult members. I see so many of this around politicians with no blood
Buttressed by largesse from faceless donors who dutifully ‘invest’ in the campaigns to reap the benefits later, the politicians often sprinkle all kinds of denominations of currency to the gullible voters with grandiose promises that will never see the light of the day. When the last confetti drop and the TV cameras are gone, the so-called leaders disappear into the thin air to begin what has become the norm – enriching themselves and returning the favor to their masters (donor). The voter, who should be the VIP by his vote and the whole concept of public service, is relegated to the back of the line never to be seen or heard from again for five years!
As the folks who paid the piper gleefully dance to their tune of choice, the citizens are left to toil and confront the contours of hard-knock life like an individual in an anarchical state. Those who muster the courage to register their displeasure are promptly pacified with temporary goodies to lull them to a long-term slumber.
Most of you will recall the push and pull game that Gambians witnessed right after the coalition cabinet ministers were sworn in. Godfathers came out, cracked the coalition government blazing and made known their displeasure. Some coalition partners reluctantly dismissed the maverick politicians’ tactical alliances-for political domination to make the case for their campaign financier! Tellingly, the alleged financier, a faceless donor was so powerful that even the President had to exercise great restraint when addressing him. It was clear to many a Gambian that the ” Number 1 Marina Parade” was no child play. And the head honcho was also a biggie who had invested heavily in the coalition with hopes of landing government tender. Nobody would have known this if the coalition boys didn’t let the cat out of the bag!
That is just one of the ways the political system works. Tycoons and business magnates bankroll campaigns so that they can cash in later. And the sad thing is that those biggies do not think about the common man. From the tendering process to procurement, the whole system is designed to enrich the folks at the top.
The leaders routinely have a pseudo- entities that they award the tenders to at outrageously exorbitant figures and then make a killing not knowing that at the end of the day when debits must equal credits, the taxpayer, who is the citizen is left to shoulder the burden. As for our politicians paying taxes. In the mood for unanimity in a deeply partisan National Assembly? When it comes to taxing their salaries and emoluments, there is no opposition or coalition, they are all ‘ Honorable Members’ united and saying a resounding NO to taxes! But they will gladly pass VAT to further stifle the average the Gambian.
Fatoumatta: People always talk about revolution. Take this to the bank, there will never be a revolution in the Gambia, not when we steadily rely on the partisan pulp that the politicians are feeding us. It will take a miracle for opposition sympathizers to work with coalition sympathizers for the greater good of the country. Not when everything is seen through the prism of who-will-benefit. If an issue will benefit the opposition, a coalition sympathizer would be damned if he supported that course!
And this brings me to the dichotomy of class. Those at the top will look out for one another. Politicians will always be available to cushion them and diligently work for them lest they lose campaign finances. This ensures that the money train is always headed to the top. The so-called middle class can go to work every morning just to keep the wheels of the economy. They work at the Beck and call of the biggies. They are paid salaries that are enough to buy an apartment, get an automobile, pay school fees, dress up a little bit, and spare some change for roast goat meat and beer while keeping their eyes glued to European soccer league matches in local joints. While at it, the cash registers of European sports apparel shops are vibrating with currency from the Jersey sales and everyone remains ‘happy.’
Tigers are animals of interest anywhere. They kill and eat even animals bigger than them. They are also clannish. They hate opening up to anyone outside their mother’s room. Those who know would tell you that “Tigers do not normally roar at other animals, but instead they roar to communicate with far-off tigers.” Even when a tiger plans to kill another animal, it won’t see that prey as deserving of its roar. It would rather hiss before finishing off the victim. Tigers are not just big and strong; they are clever too and that explains their successful reign of terror. When a Tiger sees you are a big one, it uses wisdom garnished with guile and hunts you down by ambush.
The hardest-hit individual in this scenario is the struggling citizen who neither belongs to the upper nor middle class. He or she is left to fend for himself or herself. Ironically, when it comes to voting and thronging political rallies, you can count on him or her, but when it comes to catering to his or her needs, the system goes mute or mediocre at best.
Fatoumatta: The middle class is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the common citizen is hoodwinked into believing nonexistent things. As the politician’s loot, they are blinded by a few bills to make them merrymaker for a day or two and then get back to reality when everything settles down. The system is designed to keep them down and make them stay down.
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