Alagi Yorro Jallow.
Fatoumatta: It is that time of the democracy cycle again, folks when Godfathers, influential politicians, and political job lobbyists gather in a conclave of sorts and scurry like zombies at a buffet of raw human meat to secure themselves a government position and ensure their placing in the new administration to influence political decisions on behalf of individuals. However, unfortunately, as the inauguration draws nearer, it is becoming harder and harder to escape the sense that the sheer desperation, egocentricity, and idiosyncrasies of those who are so hungry for a top government position are presently at a scorching fever pitch.
Watching and reading the unpleasant clamor for government positions is comical, fascinating, and disturbing. However, listening to the clatter and the tussles between the different interests, watching the games, and the intrigues that are being set is, saying the least, nauseating and bewildering. Observing politicians scraping the bottom of the desperation barrel and falling over each other to emerge as members of President Adama Barrow’s government has become almost embarrassing. The scorched-earth desperation on display is a regrettable drama, made light by the hilarious fact that it does not seem like any of them have caught the attention of President Adama Barrow. He appears to be observing the rituals quite intelligently, silently, and analytically.
Fatoumatta: The change was and still is the mantra that engendered the unprecedented revolution witnessed in the December 4, 2021, Presidential polls, which saw the victory of President Adama Barrow at the election. Teeming Gambians are still basking in the euphoria of that historic victory. Never in our 56 years of independence had we had nearly a turnout of almost 90 percent of registered voters in a free and fair presidential election; an aspirant successfully wrestled power from the political gladiators and political landlord’s clutches; it was a feat worthy of accolades. However, while most Gambians are still in a trance-like euphoria, it is pretty sad to see the self-explanatory shameful display of desperate office seekers, mainly from the Gambian Diaspora community and some of those busy in political trenches that joined the Presidential grand coalition who were, recently, yelling for change like honorable screaming Banshees.
Of late, social media has been awash with various phantom lists of ministerial nominees. While President-elect Adama Barrow or his party has not categorically made any public list, obscure articles with names of specific individuals for ministerial slots are being sponsored on every social media platform. Those very desperate and cutthroat measures that we have become all too familiar with in the Gambian polity are, yet again, rearing their gluttonous fangs. Advertorials, personal branding indistinct articles, and phantom ministerial nominee lists being circulated on social media, particularly on Whatsapp forums and groups, seem almost like a form of coercion and pressure tactic that serves as a gimmick for those so desperate for appointments in President Barrow’s regime to bulldoze their way into the incoming administration.
Fatoumatta: Discerning Gambians came out in their multitudes and their hundreds of thousands; they came out in droves, young and old, atheists agnostics and Christians and Muslims, and voted for continuity under the leadership of President Barrow. Continuity and change: They wanted something different from what was obtainable over the past decades from the predecessor governments. They want the “business as usual” in the attitude and mentality of this administration for change. They want the status quo of corruption, impunity, incompetency, mediocrity, and the habit of putting square pegs in round holes to be a thing of the distant past. However, even while President Adama Barrow has not been sworn in, cretins orchestrating all sorts of measures behind closed doors, and those sponsoring the curious WhatsApp messages are already staking their claim.
One shudders to think of the horrible mistake if such desperados portend what we might witness in the incoming administration. However, if this is so, then the change most Gambians clamored for may just become an illusion.
Fatoumatta: Suppose there is one thing that Gambians should have learned over our past political and government experiences. In that case, those who are so desperate to clinch power, those who are so desperate to grab power at all costs, are the significant components in the destruction and obliteration of our democracy, of our country. It would be reasonable to presume that those so desperate to clinch power and are ready to go to any length to secure it are individuals whose personal interest and ambition overshadows the nation’s interest. Penning down of phantom names in a list that has not been sanctioned by the President-elect or his political party, manipulating oneself into power employing underhanded tactics to muscle opponents out is utterly repugnant to the values which represent the grand coalition that President Adama Barrow has established and the message he carried for over a decade.
Fatoumatta: If nothing else, Gambians are indigent students of history. In the 2016 historic Presidential Election victory of President Adama Barrow with the grand coalition ticket, the country saw the heightened desperation of some influential politicians who strived to be named in President Adama Barrow’s new administration as Secretary-General and others as Vice President. There was so much desperation in the air that it became almost pathetic to watch to effect immediate constitutional amendment or changes in the constitution for a select people to serve in top government as Vice President by lying about their age and also embellishing their credentials, ultimately compromising their moral rectitude just to be appointed in Cabinet. President-elect Adama Barrow must be wary of such pressures. He must do everything to the extent of his knowledge and in his power to resist surrounding himself with the vampires lurking in the shadows of this instrument of change, ready to bleed the country dry, like some of his predecessors did.
Unfortunately, not many seem to embrace that the quest for power is not necessarily good. Apart from being transient, power can be the greatest curse and undo those who desire it. Over time, the quest for power and relevance has brought many a stalwart crushing down to their knees. If there is one thing, all Gambians should have learned, being seen to be too powerful within an administration and being identified as the figurehead within a government can be the most significant disadvantage for a person once that administration comes to an end. We have seen this trend all so many times. For example, during President Adama Barrow’s first Cabinet pick two years ago, his estranged Godfather Ousainou as Foreign Minister Darboe, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang as Vice President, Ahmed Mai Fatty Dindinding Mansa of the most powerful Interior Minister in history, and Justice Minister Abubacarr Baa Tambadou were identified to be one of the most influential and powerful figures in the President Adama Barrow administration until they were removed. The same scenario played out and repeated in this incoming administration if President Adama Barrow failed to take charge of his constitutional responsibility; otherwise, he may be held as a hostage since no individual should be able to hold the President and the country hostage.
Power may have its benefits, but it may just be glitter, not necessarily gold. Moreover, power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to deteriorate absolutely. We have seen how the allure of power has turned some of the most outstanding men in history into the worst of men and women. So power is not always a virtue.
Fatoumatta: Whatever happens in the next few weeks, whoever emerges as part of the face of the next regime, the overriding factor among public officials should be the interest of the nation and not anyone persons’ interest. The former has got to be the code of conduct guiding the activities of all the public officials who represent change. Those officials must forgo their interests for the overall good of the nation.
As we enter into a new dispensation on January 19, 2022, one only hopes the President-elect will look profoundly and sieve the bunch of desperate, power-hungry leeches which may not understand that moving forward, there will be no more room for random, gluttonous chunks to be taken out of the national cake. One hopes to identify the individuals who do not wish well for the country and put their interests ahead of The Gambia. One hopes that he will strike out the names of those who are already poised to give a bad word to this promise of change, which so many Gambians have fought, bled, and died for over the years.
This administration must be known for its honesty, integrity, and astuteness. Moreover, those who will be chosen to form the face of the government must reflect the virtues and values, which this movement has held so strong.
President-Elect Barrow must beware of the biblical serpent in the Garden of Eden, who comes with a sugar-coated tongue, but with a veiled aim of derailing the objective of change and providing better for the 2 million people who are relying on this promise of change. The hope of Gambians is for the incoming administration to be made up of competent individuals, irrespective of party affiliation, age, gender, ethnicity, or religion. It must be made up of a team that every Gambian will be proud of, capable of showing us that better alternative.
One hopes the President-elect will tour the length and breadth of this great country of ours and even maybe the Gambia diaspora community and put together a team of patriotic, capable, loyal, qualified—professional Gambians with the competence and compellability to confront the ills that have bedeviled us for so long.
Fatoumatta: So many Gambians, young and old, have placed their trust and faith in the incoming government. They are desperate for positive change. Change is all they ask; the difference is what we need! As for those so gung ho in hoarding after power at all costs, they should appreciate the need Gambians have for change and embrace the concept that; their quest for power is not that change but rather, the change that is the power.