Just few days ago, I had a roundtable discussion with some of my colleagues from our political economy class. They all came from different backgrounds — representing different countries which encompasses of: Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Sierra Leone. The nascent question that was been raised, but worthwhile to explore was the failure of African leadership. And what is the way forward for the continent? How a continent so vast with resources, yet, the most under-developed. Why our leaders in Africa are not rational, or perhaps, value instrumental to deliver the public goods?

To conceptualize this as in the context of Gambian experience — under the leadership of president Barrow. Quite dissapointenly, the standard of our expectation since Barrow’s reign is subpar. To learned that he inherited a fragile system, to learned that the state of our economy was deplorable according to his numerous revealations, to learned that it will take a fiscal discipline to revatalize the structural imabalancies of the country’s lingering debt, were all, indeed, insightful details to learn. But it is a promise that never was, however.

Given the historical narrative, Gambia is suppose to be that poster Child, as a relevant case study. In context where Gambia will be seen as a success story from authoritarian medieval to a self-imposing democracy. Insofar, almost 2 years in office, the president of The Gambia has thus far betrayed that Promise. In my capacity as a public citizen, the president is inept to lead, for, he doesn’t have the tenacity and the political curiosity to enhance change.

A vivid illustration of this can be seen when the president launched his own foundation for what is portrayed to be an inclusive development for change. The public outcry calls for its abeyance — understanding that it is not the direction the country needs to go. Barrow is doing exactly what his predecessor has done against the will of the country. We all became victims of Jammeh’s financial mismanagement. With grave dismay to some extent, we learned how funds from a dollar bank account in the name of Jammeh’s foundation for peace, flowned to Jammeh himself. Coinciding what transpired, it has been revealed just recently,  a transfer of almost 33 million Dalasis been funnelled to the president wife’s account from one Chinese firm. Very alarming, daunting, and shameful, indeed.

Essentially, the most recent revealation of the president giving handouts, for what is alleged to be 10 thousand dalasis to lawmakers, — a term widely referred to “Clientelism” in political domain. Given money to lawmakers is a voter influence. Not only Barrow is corrupt, but all indications attest to self-empowerment, and cementing himself to power.

For all the subsequent decades under the totalitarian rule, it occurs to me Barrow doesn’t have the leadership aspiration to correct all the wrong doings for the betterment of the country. While I might not go as far as expressing that the president is no different from his predecessor; but in the words of Halifa Sallah, ” there is no system change.” There is a tendency in African leadership to view corruption as a normal phenomena.

After all, the power belongs to us. Our fighting spirit that uprooted Jammeh’s authoritarian rule, hopefully, will not be nullify by president Barrow. For what I learned, president Barrow doesn’t have the political tenacity to carry on reforms, that will cement and restore our hopes, toward — the more progressive society.

– Ebrima/Sailou

Ohio University