by Alagi Yorro Jallow
In his very private moments, what does President Adama Barrow think of us? Asking for second term: Are we his lovers because we agree with Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the Father of English literature, who said love is blind? Or are we Barrow’s fools because fools don’t see what their eyes see? Or are we both because, with enthusiasm, lovers do foolish things? Barrow sleeps and snores, we hail him; he sits up, we applaud him. We salute him even as he croaks and wheezes. He chose his government’s key men from his ancestral homestead and his political roots, we made excuses for him. Those are the ones he could trust, we bellowed at wailers. We said the appointees were the very best at that point in the geography of our politics. Every democracy has its aristocrats; it is their time, we said.
President Adama Barrow two years a bad period for the Gambia. All the pillars of our nationhood were tested, and most were found wanting. Some collapsed, some were seriously weakened, while others were desecrated beyond repair.
However, we reject the almost criminal resignation and negligence with which your government has responded to our national crises since you assumed the presidency. We need not recount the level of despair, the losses incurred by businesses and opportunities wasted for hundreds of thousands due to the incompetence of the Executive now you are asking for a second term in office would be “unpardonable evil.”
President Barrow indicated interest in running for a second term in office, some dyed-in-the-wool of Barrow are already rolling out their arsenal.
One of such is Barrow Youth Movement for Development, religious leaders, council of Sarahule communities from Upper River Region, and strong delegation from Western Division Region, who has printed different kinds of literature, designed to generate awareness on the desirability of a second term for President Barrow.
Truly, some Gambians are raring to go. To them, a second term for President Barrow is a divine project. And they are praying: May God lead the President aright. Amen, somebody!
Why Barrow lacks good governance. He spends his first -two years in his term accumulating a war chest for his second term. Supporting Adama Barrow for a second term in office amounts to political sacrilege. President Barrow is suffering from Executive myopia and certainly does not deserve a second term.
President Barrow, two years and a second term are a long time to live on hope. On more than one occasion you have addressed the nation and promised to fix the fundamentals of statehood once and for all. However, nothing has come of it. President Barrow, why do you make promises that you cannot keep?
Adama Barrow, these half-measures are harming the presidency and your authority as the First Citizen of the Gambia besides tormenting Gambians. Among other challenges, it creates an impression of a reluctant leader, one who enjoys the trappings of office but is not ready to get the work done.
Worse, it suggests that you are being held captive by some forces you cannot disentangle yourself from. You swore to uphold the national good, President Barrow, what is it that is holding you hostage?
President Barrow, unemployment, corruption, bureaucratic incompetence and economic paralysis are the bane of your regime. The country today is crying for action — practical measures to guarantee the citizens that the government has been seized of their concerns.
Instead of providing this leadership, you and your lieutenants — the Cabinet, National Assembly and senior civil servants — have adopted a default campaign mode of regaling the public with tales of largesse to come.
Adama Barrow is in fact Gambia’s most reluctant President, doing the right thing with great reluctance and only if he is dragged kicking and screaming to do it.
This is the perspective from which to understand the insult of a President asking for a second term when for close to two years, he has been declaring his tigritude on rooftops, it is now time to pounce. Not least because his legacy hinges on it, but it is the only decent thing to do. To step down after his mandate.
I am seriously thinking about the mindset of a people with the divine grace of having one of their own as the president of the Gambia. It also raised posers about whether the nation has been this divided since the end of the coalition and the beginning of a civil war between Adama Barrow and his Godfather Ousainou Darboe within the United Democratic Party. It is so sad to think that the same Adam Barrow who had a pan-Gambian endorsement to be standard bearer of the 2016 Coalition that ousted Yahya Jammeh is the same person his Gambians are struggling to force the rest of the country to support barely two years after his first election.
What could have happened? Could the problem be because the Adama Barrow presidency has been truly ineffectual in putting actions into the pledges the man made to the people when he sought their mandate two years ago? His supporters would readily answer this question by pointing at physical developments across the country and development plans earmarked by his Youth Movement for Development countrywide. And can anyone see at the list and see that they are truly on ground. Adama Barrow too should be worried why almost everyone outside his political clan is decidedly against whatever he stands for. He should ask questions from people outside his circle of friends and acolytes. He should find out why people who put their everything into his ascendancy are now openly opposed to his second term or are at best evasive or reluctant about it. He should find out why the Gambian Diaspora that took him as the symbol against dictatorship and hegemony are now almost against him. He should ask questions about whatever it is that is polarizing even his political party he belongs. He needs to find out and ask how to manage to keep his political base intact for his second term ambition in 2021.
There is so much division in the country and Adama should be worried except he prays to be the last president of the Gambia before 2021. The battle cries are too loud not to be audible. So, what is the problem? Is Adama the problem?
Adama Barrow should bury his thoughts to seek a second term in office and concentrate his energy on fixing all the problems of food security, affordable housing and healthcare, human rights and manufacturing these are the key areas President Barrow’s government has identified as pillars to lift the country’s development to the next level.
However, seeking a second term as president undermines our nascent democracy, it would be logical for the President to lead the way and be the voice of reason in such trying times. This has not happened, and the President’s silence might taint his legacy.
Adama Barrow must stand firm and ignore advice from sycophants. He should remember he was elected by Gambians and their interests come first. His administration’s actions, however, cast a dark cloud on his legacy.
The tug of war between President Barrow and his coalition partners and his own political party is nothing but tactics of imperialist politicians competing for power and self-enrichment while the poor languish in poverty. Gambians should avoid falling into this trap as both camps unite, and break ties based on their interests.
We saw how our National Assembly members came together to award themselves lucrative wages and benefits and gifts of cars at the expense of the poor whose cost of living keeps on skyrocketing.
The current political turmoil gives us a picture of how the country is suffering from a serious disease that is tribal and regional divisions instigated by politicians.
Despite politicians continuously calling for patriotic and nationalistic thoughts, it is obvious that they don’t mean it and they can never bring long-lasting unity to Gambians. Tribalism, classicism, and regionalism are the political cards needed to either maintain or ascend to power.
It is wrong to be talking of the re-election of Adam Barrow as President when hundreds of lives are being penurious, and people are being denied quality health care in different parts of the country. In time of political transition like this, the issue should be how to come together and address the problem. But those marketing the President at a time of this transitional justice are like people dancing on the graves of Gambians.
Campaigning for Adam Barrow for second term when people are yet to recover from decades of autocratic rule, when orphans and widows are being produced as a result of the tragedy of these circumstances and people are being divided and the nation polarized philosophically than before, to bid for a second term amounts to political sacrilege. It is an insult on the conscience of Gambians and it is an insult on the moral integrity of Gambians for anybody to ignore what is happening and simply walk to the President and tell him that what is important at this material time is his re-election campaign for 2021.