Honestly I doubt the President did a good speech yesterday!

Of course he didn’t say anything untoward or despicable about Jawara or anyone. But the speech lacked the relevance and fire that the occasion deserved. This is particularly important given the intensely polarized and unhealthy nature of the politics and governance situation in the country for which he is in fact a leading protagonist.

Hence I had thought that his speech would use the legacy, ideals and vision of Kairaba to redirect the country. He could have used that speech to reach out to opponents and offer compromises and make appeals as well to the other side.

In that house yesterday all of the political parties were present but he didn’t mention any party or party leader. He didn’t speak to any of the issues prevailing in the country. He didn’t recognize the founding fathers as OJ did. So for me he was speaking in a vacuum.

Smart presidents in democracies always use such occasions to address prevailing issues and concerns by drawing from the life and ideals of the deceased. They use the life of the deceased to send messages of assurances and reconciliation and appeals. In celebrating the life and work of DK Jawara the President has plenty of examples about Kairaba to use as basis to further heal and unify his country! Barrow failed to do that yesterday.

Everyone who spoke about Jawara recognized and highlighted the democratic credentials of the man. They spoke of his strong and unflinching respect for human rights and unshakable adherence to the rule of law. They spoke about his deep sense of tolerance and peace and above all they celebrated his leadership and his vision for The Gambia.

These are the issues that are causing serious concerns and vibrations in the country. These are the issues that are agitating the country as it moves towards December with the fear of 3 Years Jotna protests.

Therefore was yesterday not the occasion for Barrow to turn things around by reaching out to political parties to come around a national building discussion table? He could have asked the 3 Years Jotna folks to come around a discussion table to address fundamental issues? He could have spoken to public institutions to deliver efficient and quality goods and services as a means to enhance living conditions. He could have spoken to security issues given the public perception of ECOMIG, etc.

We had protests in Brikama and Serre Kunda in which violence erupted. Some people have been arrested and sent to Mile 2. In Brikama scores of people were beaten and injured and arrested and now reporting to police.

Barrow could have spoken to that and ask that the police release people and drop charges in favour of tolerance and peace. He could have given assurance that there will be investigations in police brutality. He could have even announced that Gorgui Mboob would be compensated to rebuild his house. He could appeal to Gambians to respect human rights and abide by the rule of law.

This is what leadership requires in such moments. But Barrow failed unfortunately to take advantage of the moment and use Kairaba to remake and redirect the country. Sad.

I was really wondering how this speech came to be written in the first place. Who wrote it? Was there any consultation in the process of writing this speech? Did the speech writers ask Barrow what message he wanted to send? Did Barrow himself ever thought of this occasion and considered what he wanted to get out of it?

I hope in future occasions like this the President and his advisers will seriously consult and critically ponder over what message to send out. Yesterday was a hugely missed opportunity and indeed Kairaba deserved a better demonstration of leadership than what Barrow provided. The country could have gained immensely but Barrow failed us, once again!

With thousands of Gambians pouring out and mourning such a remarkable leader the only drawback yesterday was the substandard performance by Pres. Adama Barrow! We hope such poor leadership will not be repeated ever again!

Thank you OJ and Sidia for saving the day!

For The Gambia Our Homeland