Many, particularly Diaspora Gambians, are faulting President Barrow for Gambia’s ever mounting problems and slow development pace. Conveniently, it is always easier to pass blame around rather than own up to one’s faults. But with an honest and closer look at our everyday problems, the conclusion is undeniable: Barrow is a symptom rather the cause of, our problems.
Our national malaise is multifaceted: political sycophancy and naivety, tribalism, corruption, misinformation. And this: a security sector still unable to reform itself and whose messiness has the potential to unravel our fragile democracy.
With the birth of the Jammeh Green Boys, sycophancy in our politics reached a new height. The name calling, insults and the threats against families of perceived and real critics of Jammeh became the order of the day. A Post-2016 Coalition victory also witnessed a worrisome growth of bigotry and political sycophancy. Critics of Barrow and the coalition government during its honeymoon period, were subjected to vitriolic attacks. Just like the Jammeh era, some of us were seen as hypocrites and enemies of progress.
We’ve gone tribal. In shameless tribalism, some have shown the audacity to believe they are better than others. Lamin Jaiteh’s chilling disrespect of Rohey Malick Lowe is a prime example. Remember also how Jammeh singled out the Mandinkas, threatening them with death and extinction. Our politics continues to fan tribal tendencies. Think about Aji Yam Secka’s call on Mandinkas to vote for Hon Ousainou Darboe mainly because he is one of their own.
Lamentably, corruption under the new dispensation has become a badge of honour. Public services are not dispensed without lubricating the hands of public servants with banknotes or other favours. The most vulnerable are women who are cajoled into sexual favors in return for employment and/or public service such as promotion, training and bonuses. As a result, everyone is grabbing as much as they can on these-get-rich—quick schemes.
Hoarding and manipulating of crucial information to empower the public has created avenues to leak government information. Furthermore, it has led to a lot of rumour mongering and misinformation. As such, we expend a lot of energy and time on social media where we get most of our news, the greater part of which is fake. Social media has become a hub of information about our everyday politics. But it has also become a conduit for insults, malice and slander. We have become fond of bringing each other down and callously obliterating honors and dignities in the process.
Our national malaise also extends to our ill-reformed security sector occasionally used as an extended arm of the executive to trample on the rights of civil society. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, someone once said. However, logic and reasoning dispel this assertion as a moronic fallacy. Power never corrupts but it is leaders who find it within their means to use power to advance their own corruption. We witnessed this phenomenon during the Jammeh days. And we are seeing the past repeating itself in this new political dispensation of ours.
All these issues, and adding our own infantile attitudes and mindsets to the mix, continue to provide the fertile ground for the continuation of our national malaise under Barrow. He isn’t the cause of this malaise, but rather a symbol of it.
Retired police officer