Alagi Yorro Jallow
If Banjul is to survive and thrive as a city that deserves its designation as the capital of the Gambia where families can live and work, where tourism can boom, where economic development initiatives are in abundance, and be truly known as a “world-class city,” like Kigali capital of Rwanda, we need visionary leaders who can and will put the interests of the city before their own.
Banjul needs leaders who have the guts to put personal agendas meant to discredit the City Council Mayoress and her councilors and the Minister for Local Government and Lands aside and be willing to put the city’s well-being first.
The design of a city, eminent French scholar and philosopher, Michel Foucault, would argue time and time again, is a political phenomenon. It is best left to people with no crisis-of-the-moment myopia. It is in this reason that cities strive to elect the best leaders, those who articulate vision that serves the moment while thinking of the future (in the medium and long term). Those who should be elected to the highest office in the land “exemplary leadership” must be earned daily by staying on the high ground and not ostracizing adversaries.
In Banjul, one of the salient issues bedeviling the city other than water, sanitation, security, waste disposal and the dilapidated state of the capital is unacceptable. Like most cities, Banjul is faced by challenges of waste management and low infrastructure capital not only in the settled areas but also in terms of movement of capital and goods over her infrastructural networks. It has been a headache for all administrations and there is absolutely nothing wrong in thinking through policy solutions for the same. If Banjul the Gambia’s capital city was the picture of a person, she would look miserable – an ugly scowl on her face, an emaciated body, and a cascade of unprintable expletives issuing from her filthy mouth.
I know what you are thinking – it doesn’t matter whether the Mayoress of the City leaned to Gambia government or whoever may be responsible, Banjul, deserves better like Kigali. There’s an epidemic of sadness, anxiety, and despair upon the city – utter despondency. Let’s start with the good news. Banjulians are generally an entrepreneurial people. They are resilient and survive the worst predations. But many parts of the capital city look no better than they did in 1965 at independence. Many Banjulians still live without amenities of modernity. They are still ravaged by diseases of poverty, such as malaria. Banjul, our most undeveloped city, sometimes resembles an open sewer – often literally – in many a place. You can tell a developed city by whether it has pedestrian sidewalks. Banjul have virtually no better roads. Autos, many of them deadly weapons, emit the most nauseous fumes as they murderously careen on our roads.
In public policy analysis, we have a simple sentence explaining the problem of myopic thinking. “When all you have is a hammer, every problem will look like it needs hammering”. Most often than not, the problem needs a screw driver, a spanner or a jack. But the problem is not the hammer. The problem is the hammer mentality, and this is what the Gambia government, Banjul City council administrators are suffering.
A good leader must have an exemplary character. It is of utmost importance that a leader is trustworthy to lead others. A leader needs to be trusted and be known to live their life with honesty and integrity. A good leader “walks the talk” and in doing so earns the right to have responsibility for others. True authority is born from respect for the good character and trustworthiness of the person who leads.
Genuine leaders have a conscience, are compassionate and more motivated by a sense of selfless purpose to their country and society. Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” By Banjulian vote on City council’s leadership clearly have failed to grasp the power and the truth in the capital of the Gambia. Banjul deserves better.