By Pa Ousman Cham
Leadership has always been one of the best factors to consider when determining the goal of a society or a community. It does not matter how big or small a community might be; it must have a leader if it wants to be developed and harmonised.
Honest and transparent leadership has always been a questionable issue in the minds of many Gambians. It has proven very difficult to pick or elect leaders who would serve the nation instead, what we have seen are leaders who the nation served.
Leadership has been defined generally as how a single person takes responsibility of directing a community towards a common goal. This I can say was the coalition coming with the ‘coalition manifesto’ which today is no more the order of the day thus we have a government that has lost focus and direction.
The Gambia today is more less like the leadership in the book Animal Farm where leadership is presented as power over those not possessing qualities of a leader. President Barrow and his entire cabinet are manipulating the people to thoughts more favourable to them, keeping them distracted from the problems they face, and therefore less likely to rebel against them. This is a tactic that seemed to be working fine for the government but thanks to social media advocates the government is being exposed daily. A large portion of this manipulation comes from the main party that has hijacked the government from coalition partners.
As in the Animal Farm, this manipulation of thought eventually stifles the animal’s ability to think for themselves, allowing the leaders to take complete control of every aspect of the farm with little or no resistance. Some forms of leadership however, do not stand out as much, and are not even associated with power. Rather in the case of The Gambia, greed and revenge have overcome the administration.
Undoubtedly, the country is enduring the effects of poor administration, inadequate judicial infrastructure and insufficient numbers of expertise within government, but these shortcomings cannot explain the abuse and misuse of state funds and abuse of office from the top.
It is very disconcerting how corruption has left the poverty-stricken to be perpetually poor at the same time impeding the growth of democracy and societal construction in the New Gambia. By deflecting from the original purpose of funds or services, the amount of corruption within the system is assumed to be the single most significant factor to blame for the catastrophes of leadership and the lack of socio-economic development the country is experiencing.
In President Barrow’s government, corruption is manifested through misuse of power mediocre management of the economy, thievery, absence of democracy and personal wealth aggrandisement as the sums revealed by the Finance minister at parliament spent by public officials on travels and per diems have shown.
The Barrow administration is exercising a system of patronage and in the process sported enormous power and authority allowing them to subjugate all relevant institutions consequently laying a bad foundation for governance in the country. That is why corruption is rampant in the state economy.
The recent announcement of the government of an impending food shortage in the country signifies great danger in entrusting the wealth of the nation to this president and his allies in government.
The Barrow administration is living on deception since day one, from the defending former vice president Fatoumata Tambajang’s age to the recent statements made at the National Assemble about progress of the NDP. His wife’s foundation’s involvement in a D36 million scandal, is a glaring case of economic malfeasance.
Over D230 million has been spent on travels from January to July 2019 yet they have to the guts to announce food shortage. Teachers are on strike for not receiving allowance increment which was approved in the budge. The hospitals are empty. Factor in that the country recently received an aid package of 225 million euros and budget support. The increasing rate of corruption is intrinsically interwoven with the leadership problem. The Barrow government has performed below expectation. They are more concerned with accumulation of wealth rather than development of the country.
Considering the large amount of human and natural resources – the discovery of oil – and the unlimited opportunities and possibilities that abound in the country, instead of bringing the much-needed development, building institutions and being transparent to the people, these leaders have succeeded in exploiting and impoverishing the masses and have caused a colossal waste of natural and human resources.
Therefore, President Barrow lacks the integrity and the intellectual pedigree to run The Gambia. The country is back to square one. It needs young people to salvage it.