Departure from Drum-Beating Politics
As Gambia’s political space gets crowded with the emergence of new parties, it’s imperative to reflect on the way and manner politics is conducted to charter a new course to a brighter future. Our local politics has been largely characterized by mediocrity, drum-beating, dancing, patronizing, pomp and fanfare. At tumultuous unending political rallies, the unsuspecting and largely under-educated or uneducated folks would clap for politicians who are notorious for making big, yet empty promises. Politicians would not shy away from promising to build bridges where there are no rivers. They would even dare to promise to fix our perennial problems in 90 days or reduce the price of a rice bag to 700-800 dalasi. They would promise to fix erratic power supply, water shortage, infrastructural deficit, falling education standards, and dilapidated healthcare system among others. Hardly would you come across a political party with a substantive development agenda.
On the contrary, political platforms are used to castigate, malign, character-assassinate, slander, “throw shade”, or settle scores with political opponents or perceived political rivals. In other words, our politicians, apart from a few, have always failed to articulate sound policies that would change the status quo and herald in a new era of progress and prosperity for the impoverished nation. Rather than discussing issues, our politicians talk about other people or tackle peripheral matters. Internal democracy has been overly weak; a party leader would cling on, no matter what. The party revolves around the party leader to the extent that the two become synonymous. In developed nations, a party leader would normally resign if the party performs dismally or fails to meet certain expectations. That culture is simply non-existent in Gambia’s political jargon.
The good news, though, is that Gambians are becoming more conscious of politics and political deception, in the sense that they are now able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Gambians are now ready to hold their leaders accountable to the promises they make. Gone are the days when politicians took the electorate for granted.
Gambia needs a new breed of visionary leaders who put the country first, who have a clear direction, who have sound policies, who would match words with tangible actions, and who have personal and professional integrity. We need a new calibre of leaders who have the prerequisite knowledge and experience to turn the country around from despair to hope, and from backwardness to progress.
I, therefore, suggest that Gambians insist on a debate involving all presidential aspirants, in the upcoming presidential election, so that the electorate could make informed choices. It’s high time Gambians challenged the politicians and asked the tough questions, for The Gambia cannot afford to maintain the status quo.