LAMIN NJIE: If self-belief is what drives a leader, President Barrow has a bag that’s almost full with it

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Self-belief. Self-belief. SELF-BELIEF. That’s the answer I got when I asked one political analyst friend about the one thing that makes a leader successful. There wasn’t any hum and haw in his answer. It left me thinking if self-belief is such a major requirement, President Barrow has a bag that’s almost full with it.

Last Sunday was just another day in office for President Adama Barrow. He met with the people of West Coast Region where he looked rampant in terms of self-belief, in terms of confidence. At this meeting, it was the president’s assertion that any prospect of him seeking a second term will depend on what he’s been able to achieve. His comments gave indication he has his one eye set on staying in office a little longer. Could even be his two eyes.

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Sunday came right after the President’s trip to Senegal. This trip has been a huge success for him personally. The president managed to kill one bird with two stones as he himself would say. He participated in the two-day Liberal International forum. He also attended his ‘brother’ Macky Sall’s investiture by Beno Bok Yakaar, the Senegalese president’s grand coalition of political parties. But it’s the latter activity that has particularly jolted President Barrow.

I was in Dakar to cover the Beno Bok Yakaar event. Thousands of Senegalese converged on a sport facility in Diamniadio to endorse President Macky Sall as their candidate in the upcoming elections in Senegal. And while I knew President Barrow was in Senegal, it was a surprise to me when someone informed me he will be coming to the event. And come he did.

Somehow, this event boosted his confidence as a leader even if it wasn’t part of the deal that saw Gambian taxpayers dispatch him to Senegal. It was a learning curve for him. And a major part that was of special engrossment to the president, to my mind, was the screening of a 20-minute documentary. This documentary was about President Macky Sall’s major accomplishments as he seeks reelection. I was in the press section listening, where I also tried to compute President Barrow’s broad review of it.

What does he make of this documentary on a man he calls his brother? Is he inspired? Will he try to emulate Macky Sall as a way of winning the hearts and minds of his people? These were some questions that ran through my mind. I even wanted to approach him for an ambush interview, something I knew I wasn’t going to get. In fact the only time I came close to him was when his motorcade taxied to a fleeting halt right next to my car as it they tried to beat a very annoying post-event Dakar traffic. I’m sure he saw me waving at him.

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President Barrow faces one hell of an uphill task. The Gambia, in terms of development needs, is not like Senegal. President Barrow, in terms of leadership expertise, is not like President Sall. This is just how things are. I hope the President accepts this reality.

Yet, self-belief can go a long way for President Barrow as he continues his wholesale transformation. I see a lot of adrenaline in him these days. I see a man pouring forward with so much desire, so much hunger. That he will do better than Jammeh and Jawara shows he is aching for success. Good for him because a leader who is not busy being successful, is busy failing.

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