PDOIS’ Jaha Dukureh launches her campaign for president

By Badou Faal

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A website has said anti-FGM campaigner Jaha Dukureh is slated to become the world’s youngest female president.

Mrs Dukureh joined PDOIS in March this year, one of only a few famous women leaders to publicly declare their support for a party.

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Mrs Dukureh made a name for herself a few years ago when she was tapped by The Guardian to lead a campaign against female genital mutilation in Africa.

A quote attributed to Mrs Dukureh on the www.jahadukureh.com website said: “Together we hold the future of The Gambia in our hands. We must walk forward together, with intention and focus. Moving as one, we can we protect the country we love.”

The Fatu Network understands Mrs Dukureh launched her campaign for president virtually on Wednesday attended by people close to her. Another launch with PDOIS leader Halifa Sallah is set to take place.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Mrs Dukureh will run in the December presidential election.

 

 

Badou Faal Wrote

Is this the next big thing that the Gambia has been waiting for? A deep transformative leadership who has already shown that she can achieve the impossible, over and beyond thetrivialities of big boy toys in the form of clunky bridges, trucks masquerading as Ambulances, and busses all put to wrong use.

What the Gambia really needs at this stage of its development is not gimmicks, but real transformational leadership. People who can achieve things; substantial things, life changing stuff, not one more act of gimmickry piled on top of all those that have gone before, or indeed nothing!

At this stage of its development, or non-development, the country badly needs people in power who can demonstrated that they can achieve
life-changing things in spectacular fashion, against all odds!  We don’t need doodlers, whom at the eleventh hour will panic and start ordering all those trucks, buses, and bridges, without a coherent plan in place as to how they can be deployed to best use options.

Mrs Dukureh on the other hand, can present credential to show that she is quite capable of achieving needed transformation in the very important and urgent areas of as women’s health and wellbeing, gender equality, and inequality.

This is significant life-changing achievement, because women as a cohort, constitute, easily, more than 50% of the Gambian population, and have unique health and wellbeing, and other social needs. Therefore, any achievement in this area against the odds is spectacular, and deserves to be recognised, and rewarded in any leadership contest, and not just applauded!

By contrast, both achievements of Barrows, and Darboe in gifting bridges built at a cost of (in all probability overblown) cost of $2,500,000 using everyone else’s money and financed either by borrowed money or diverted aid funding. Either way, because, the bridge can only be accessed by the very tiny proportion of the population with cars, this achievement, if it could be called that, pales in comparison with Mrs Dukureh’s achievements enjoyed directly by hundreds, of thousands, even millions of many girls, women, boys and men over their lifetime, in terms of its positive life changing impact on health, well-being, gender equality, education, employment and poverty reduction efforts, and indirectly by promoting the principle of do-no-harm.

As a further contrast can note that Mr Barrow’s pride and joy, the Bridge, was built without a proper tender process, or much transparency, or accountability, and most likely without proper technical supervision. It might have therefore cost $2,500,00 of $500,000 to build, we would not know. Furthermore, the total cost to the public purse of owning such a bridge has not been revealed, nor has the useful total life of the bridgerevealed. Similarly, we do not know much about the gib shiny uses, and trucks masquerading as Ambulance in terms of acquisition, or running costs.  

On the other hand, Mrs Dukureh could not have successfully achieved the deep transformation to advocate for and support vulnerable little girls avoid potentially life changing harm, thus promoting women’s health,
well-being, gender equality for over half of the entire population, through consultation, community engagement, education, and ensuring no one was left behind. These are nontrivial skills, and carrying out successful entails, transparency, accountability, and the exercise of moral courage to do what is right – no mean feat when compared to simply doing the [wrong thing] the right way.

And that is why we need a to move away from the conditional leadership we have suffered all these years into a transformative one, such as has been demonstrated by Jaha Dukureh. She has demonstrated that she can achieve beyond the trivialities, newly minted old bridges, and shiny cars – important though these might beto much more urgent, and potentially life changing matterssuch, as advocating, and supporting vulnerable little girls in their time of great need, and by extension supporting the
health & well-being, gender equality, and all the while putting her own life on the line to fight against inequality on behalf of the whole nation. So out with the old conditional leadership mode of governance, and in with the new transformative one!  

This is an opportunity for women to seize the moment and ruthlessly assert the advantage – they are more than 50% of the population, and that, demographically speaking gives women a natural win.  Of course, not all women will vote for a woman (at least, not to the extent that most men will do, when faced with the same situation), but then again, not all men will vote against a woman, just for being a woman, so the figure even out, meaning that women should still carry the advantage, because there are more of them to start with.  

Gambian women, it seems, have once in a lifetime opportunity to raise their profile considerable, and to bring some of the more adverse statistics that consistently work against their interests as women down. Jammeh had never made his contempt for women secret, so voting for APRC is out, and by association voting for NPP should also be out. Darboe has two wives. UDP can therefore be ruled out on that account alone!  Other parties’ affairs can be investigated too, and where they work against women’s interest, or don’t actively support gender equality, they can be ruled out too. Of course,Hamet Bah who in married to a girl, who at 18 is three times his junior can be struck out too as working against women’s right to education, including higher education during their formative years, as opposed to keeping an old Flatulencehappy. He should be campaigned against to ensure he loses his seat.

You get the idea, such actions if actively and effectively coordinated through social media, poster campaigning crown sourcing should leave only Mrs Jaha Dukureh standing as the one to go to if you are interested in seeing Gambian women break the York that makes them second-handcitizens in their own country despite being more that 50% of the population. It is only politics, some would say, and I am not interested, but it’s much more than politics. It’s about being able to influence those policies that determine what quality of life women deserve and have in contemporary Gambia. It is all about creating the conditions that make it possible to fall on one’s own sword, in the event of failure, (women hardly fail though. They are usually too resourceful to fail, and it is more likely that other people that fail women) rather than falling on someone else’s sword, and that’s what usually happens when one fails to bell the cat so to speak!

If on the other hand voluntary and stepped-upaction to reduce male dominance of the political culture in the Gambia is delayed beyond the December election, the likelihood of advertently, or inadvertently detrimental, and coercive government policy toward women, either as women, or as vulnerable members of the community – think indifference early marriage, domestic violence, poor childbirth and mortality rates, the list goes on, will increase.

 

Support and vote for the courageous, and wonderful Mrs Jaha Dukureh for President of the Gambia, if for nothing, do so at lease out of enlightened self-interest. The call is to that, since you cannot beat then from the outside, you should join them to give yourselves the best chance of beating them at their own game. The trick is to keep it simple, not overtly complicated. The aim is to get as many women as possible to understand that the time has come to put issues that affect women firmly on the political agenda and the best way to achieve that is to rally behind the only woman candidate standing, and that is Mrs Jaha Dukureh. This trick was used to elect Angela Markel as head of the German government over a 16-year term, with all the benefits that brought for German women and men alike, s, it was latter used to elect Von Layan – whom by the way has 7 children – as president of the European Commission, and the list goes on. It all about identifying one determined, and skilful woman, of the right calibre top and rallying behind them for the shake of everyone else.

So, In the Gambia, we can have our own Angela Merkel in t Mrs Jaha Dukureh. That is a much better proposition than electing a boastful manand a cagy one at that. All this talk about my Bridge is bigger than you bridge, or my fleet of 12 trucks/cum Ambulances is bigger than your fleet of 5 Ambulances is just knew jerk reaction, borne out of panic, like being caught with one’s pants down, and hopping and shuffling at the 11 hour to look respectful again. That will never do. Achieving progress, prosperity, or any sustainable development goals in the Gambia right now and beyond calls for deep transformation of its social and, govern structure, its institutions, policies and processes, workforces.

Merely tinkering at the edges, can only make matters worse, as one we watch one vagabond, pass the baton to another vagabond, in a relay race of thieves and hooligan, always prepared to pull the wool over everyone’s face whilst they loiter constantly from one overpriced, low level CAPEX project to another apparently without coherence, no open tender process, no transparency, or accountability, fair play, and all the while, not having an answer to the worst youth unemployment ever recorded at 24%, coupled higher, and higher percentages of women not making it through child birth, and having higherlevels for low literacy & numeracy, and low levels on community mobilisation, high crime rates, archaic energy systems, poor housing & sanitation, and environmental issues. The list of failures goes on, and has been going on for 30 years, and is destined to get even worst and for longer with climate change effects.

 

And if anyone thinks this is an exaggeration, how do you justify the fact that the President and his household has close to twice the budget allocation for Primary and Secondary education combined in the Gambia. Nowhere else that I know is the phenomena correct. nationwide. The President, Mr Adama Barrow, despite being paid over twenty time the average of a civil servant’s salary, in addition, also has his clothing paid for by the taxpayer. He and his family additionally receive fish-money. The amount received by the way is enough to feed a mid-sized town, village. And despite having a private villa, he lives rent free at government house with all expense paid, again by the taxpayer, some of whom themselves struggle to keep a roof over their heads. And the light is always on at both the State house and at his villa wherever that is located.  But the rest of us must make do with intermittent lights out scenarios. That is not right. It is excessive! It is ruthlessly excessive! it is insensitive, and it is wrong, and the fact that it has always been that way, does not excuse it either. Two wrongs have never made a right! It is also not clear if Barrow regularly pays his fair share of tax, given his declared, and undeclared earnings. That means the poor farmer, who ultimately is the sources of most foreign exchange in the Gambia pays all the above, which explains why Adamma Barrow has taken to encouraging the youth to take up farming, The state house needs a constant supply of hapless farmers to maintain its excessive generous lifestyle.   It is pure genius!  

It keeps the President both out of touch with the people who are food insecure, could not keep a roof over their heads, or afford a pencil, or bus fare to send their children to school, fuelling every man and his dog’s aspirations to one day become President of the whether they have the calibre or even inclination and ability to serve properly in that capacity of not. Who need ability when you can just make it up as you go!

We need urgent overhaul of the entire social fabric, including transformations of our system of governance, including accountability mechanisms, and decentralised processes; we need new, robust and
fit-for-purpose financial, and non-financial institutions we need
socially sensitive priorities, we need transparent policy implementation processes and procedures; to always ensure that, the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. we need new and robust standards for ensuring consultation, engagements, and stakeholder collaborations; we need wellfunctioning and safe cities, affordable housing, proper sanitation, good roads

 

Most urgent of all, we need a digital revolution to cost effectively support the processes of government, education, and health and wellbeing, good roads and for that we need reliable, affordable decentralised energy. Systems.

That aforementioned, I hope will keep every aspiring presidential candidate awake at night, in particularly bright talented and motivated people it should be motivated to redouble their efforts to ensure the right woman get the top job for a change, and give the Gambia just one chance to realise the positive outcomes it deserves in in the crucial areas, including those outlined above crucial what it deserves, was well as resilience to warn off negative impacts of climate change that we know in coming -we just don’t with what intensity or  when.

In public life facts matter, but truth matters more than facts. For example, fact told with bad intent, beats all the lies one can tell” – William Wordsworth

Kindness matter too. For example, …” A horse misused on the road spells a nations doomWilliam Wordworth, but again love matters more than kindness. For example…showing kindness where no love was intended, can sometimes sound insincere, and coming from the mind, not from the heart. For example, “we delivered on our promises! Can sound cold and distant and a mere matter of fact spoken from the mind, not the heart!

 

 

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