Alagi Yorro Jallow
President Adama Barrow’s political ambition is so reckless, it borders on being poisonous. His latest predicament teaches us that however badly you want something, never, ever, show people that you are desperate to get it; even if you are desperate. The reason the anti- Barrow Youth Movement for Development brigade is gathering a massive storm is because everyone is beginning to sit up and ask themselves why this guy is so madly in love with drunken power he wants it so badly and through whatever means necessary. And if you consider the damage he has done with the little power he has been given in the past two years, people are beginning to wonder how much more pillage he will do if he got the full serving in 2021 and beyond.
The red flags are beginning to be flown, and whenever that happens to a politician you know he is about to get into dangerous uncharted waters. And if he is not careful, he will burn his fingers bad.
Gambians must forget the pedestrian nonsense about “hustlers” propelling President Adama Barrow to state house in 2021-2026. Adama Barrow’s candidature is framed on a pre-existing alliance between section of the United Democratic Party militants, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) supporters and the middle-class elites in the Gambia and those in the Diaspora. It is foolhardy to imagine that Adama Barrow can win the United Democratic Party votes if Ousainou Darboe and the UDP supporters decide to go against him.
More so if Adama Barrow is seen to be vexing the rural elites with his “Youth Movement” directly attacking the UPD militants: For that reason, Adama Barrow has never directly attacked UDP. Most often with his “Youth Movement” and the political patronage Adama engages appears to be engaging his political father, vice president Ousainou Darboe in shadow boxing through his “unofficial” and sometimes poorly gifted political strategies.
To become President, you need the State working for you, not against you. I heard people saying that President Adama Barrow and his political God- father Ousainou Darboe are building a “war chest.” People also say President Barrow is determined to form his own political party and contest elections after his current mandate. Adama Barrow and Ousainou Darboe have two problems, the factory of their war chest is within the realm of the republic and that no “war chest” equals the State’s carte blanche to collect taxes. There has been, in the past, equally determined, hardworking candidates, with great reach across the Gambia and who spent millions on their presidential aspirations, but such ambition did not see the light of day.
Adama Barrow is the only candidate that has managed to break the State “ceiling” because of the 2016 grand coalition that brought most of Gambian opposition and civil society activists together, in unity, to end 22 years of entrenched dictatorship. Ousainou Darboe could have easily won against Yahya Jammeh in previous elections, but Yahya used the State resources, deployed the divide and rule charm (read money) within the ranks of Gambians especially certain politicians, religious groups and civil society groups, leading to the fielding of divided presidential candidates to the advantage of Yahya Jammeh.
Adama Barrow is the kind of candidate that is solely focused the 50+1 threshold and nothing more. Pulling “this tribe” together with “that tribe” to achieve that threshold. His presidential ticket will not be “revolutionary” like that 2016 grand coalition but President Adama Barrow is equally loved and loathed in many places, just like Ousainou Darboe and any other politician.
Being predictable is a bad thing in politics. The main reason Ousainou Darboe has long survived in Gambian politics is his rare ability to be enigmatic. No one can read Ousainou Darboe’s next political move, there is no school such political artistry that taught you must be Ousainou to study Ousainou Darboe. That’s what Adama Barrow lacks; the patience of a hungry lion watching a herd of buffaloes from his vantage position in the savanna, picking the weakest link in the herd and pouncing when least expected.
When you are hungry for prey and you run all over the grassland chasing after anything that walks, you give your prey easy time to take advantage of your desperation to gang up and take you out of the ecosystem once and for all. In politics, as in the jungle, the predator that does not have the patience to time its prey always ends up starving to death. Adama Barrow should start watching his weight, because very soon there will be no prey to catch.
Science says that it takes a lot of energy, skill and tact for a marathoner to sustain a race from the front of the pack. The reason the IAAF introduced pace-setters in the marathon race is because they wanted elite athletes to be assisted to lower world records. The reasoning is that you cannot lower the world marathon record by beginning from the front, and so the World Athletics body started paying a bunch of road-runners to set the pace in front for the guys following them to keep up, after which the pacesetters would fall off and leave the elite runners to dogfight to the finish line.
That’s precisely the point Adama Barrow should learn here. When you are the guy everyone is struggling to chase, you must have a set of three lungs and the poise to keep your head even when everyone around you is losing theirs trying to catch you up. But Adama Barrow being Adama, he will damage his lungs struggling from oxygen debt and run out of steam from the beatings he shall be receiving all over the place. I am not saying Adama Barrow will be damaged goods before 2021, but when you are running a full marathon like a sprinter, you know your lungs are about to collapse, and you will have yourself to blame.
President Barrow needs to watch how Cheetahs hunt their prey in the jungle. Wildlife researchers put the cheetah top of the list of the jungle master schemers. The cheetah is the fastest animal on land. On its day, a cheetah can run faster than a speeding bullet, science built its body for speed. But this superior ability comes with a major drawback. A cheetah can only sustain that speed for short times meaning that before he begins to hunt he has to be ready to get his prey before he starts to run.
To do this, a cheetah stalks his prey until they are as close as they can get, then they kick it into high gear. A gazelle knows that if he outruns a cheetah in the first 100 meters of the chase, he has won the competition and saved his life. Because a cheetah’s brain is smaller than a pea-pod and if they keep running at 100 meters per second for long distances, they risk suffering brain damage and dying during full flight chasing a meal that has already beaten it for pace.
The Barrow Youth Movement politburo, especially the young, restless greenhorns like Dou Sanno and the Diaspora wing of the movement should be more tactical in their politicking in support of President Barrow’s 2021 campaign bid. If they insist on taking the current path, Adama Barrow’s presidential ambitions may evaporate before 2021.
Unlike his predecessors Yahya Jammeh was known to constantly pursue his detractors using ALL available levers of the State power. Yahya cracks the whip, and it pours. He has occasionally and ruthlessly so, exploited the coercive power of the State to banish his political “enemies” in times when he felt his leadership was acutely being undermined.
Yahya Jammeh exploits the “unhindered” power of the State, using a ruthless carrot and stick approach, with constant harassment, intimidation, arrest and persecution thereafter, has succeeded in placing on a permanent “inactive” mode of activist, politicians and Diaspora clicktivist who tweets short sentences with “big” English words, far from home, somewhere on the Streets of chilly Seattle and London. If push comes to shove, Adama Barrow has no qualms in flexing his muscles and removing any stubborn surrogate or member of his Youth Movement. In his final term Adama has no obligation to be nice. Not even to his cat. He may or not be seeking re-election any time soon.
In so doing, the President Barrow is attempting preempt early political campaigns as he embarks on solidifying his legacy in his first term. Many supporters of the President have the view that pre-mature 2021 elections jostling may undermine his authority as President, as politicians his supporters will be trying to “replace” him even before a significant part of his first term expires.