Alagi Yorro Jallow

Criticism of government is as old as politics itself, and it’s not done to dishonor the leaders but to challenge them to deliver as they promised. It’s only in the Gambia that reminding a government of things it promised to do, is considered as disloyal, traitorous, unfaithful and unpatriotic.

Countering those who remind the leaders of their electoral promises is a diseased mindset. What’s expected from the government is explaining its indecisions that confuse the people, not antagonizing them. Lessons of President John Mahama’s defeat lesson Speech for all politicians especially inexperienced politicians.

Excerpt from President John Mahama’s defeat lesson Speech! I dedicate to President Adama Barrow and all Gambian politicians in the coalition and the opposition.

“……. I have learnt that the calls of the noisy minority cannot be ignored because they largely shape the opinions of the silent minority, who we politicians exploit for our selfish gain. I have learnt that not all those who criticized us hated us. Sometimes the best way to express your love for someone is to be critical of their actions. If I should ever return, I will not display a “dead-goat syndrome” towards disaffection of the masses.

When those who opposed us cried foul, we retorted, “Hate can’t win.” Tonight, however, I am the first to admit that some hate can win. This election has taught me that the hate of corruption can win. It has taught me that hate of incompetence can win. Our defeat has taught me that hate of impunity can win.

I have learnt that the hate of the obscene display of ill-gotten opulence wins. I have learnt that hate of mediocrity and deception definitely wins. And I have learnt that hating evil will forever triumph over the love of evil. That was what happened on Wednesday.

Another important lesson I have learnt from this defeat is that the success or failure of a leader depends on the kind of people he or she surrounds themselves with. While Rawlings appointed the likes of Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas as deputy ministers, I made the mistake of giving that respectable position to the likes of John Oti Bless.

I have now realized, rather too late, that if I had kept the likes of Ben Dotsei Malor and Dr. Raymond Atuguba around me, they would have injected some semblance of sanity into the Presidency and given that high office an aura of respectability and decency. The praise-singing sycophants who act on the dictates of their stomachs are only specialized at telling you what you want to hear.

Unfortunately, I did not listen to voices of reason. Our elders say a disease that will kill a man first breaks sticks into his ears………. “

Praising a government, to me, means recognizing moments it fulfils electoral promises. But making what an elected politician does with our taxes look like a humanitarian service is sycophancy.  If a leader expects more from critics after being shown a flaw in his idea, he’s either incompetent or his lieutenants are due for the sack. The similarity between a critic and a politician is, both have ideas. The difference is what matters. Only one has access to the Treasury.

 Sycophants will praise and support a government uncritically is the ultimate patriotism. See, to love your country more than its government is more patriotic. To love your government more than your country is partisan. Spot the difference.