Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: Today, we are beyond fear, inspired self-realization, and individual freedom as a careerist politician. It is challenging and gritty, being an influential and powerful politician out of the office and out of power. The windfalls of African politics. The Gambian politician, especially in top government position with a better return on their official portfolio. They shared a trait designed to display virtuous lust and greed, show off sophism, recourse to sophistry out of a crisis in philosophy with a poverty of conscience as well as poverty of political ideology and its deficiency, love for concepts, excel within a body politic that embraces sleaze in addition to the big man syndrome, enjoy and strut about in the trappings of power.
Fatoumata: A dejected careerist politician mesmerized by the trappings of power reflects on adulation and toadying for a political comeback by meandering and serpentine for politics of the belly. After removed from office, these stranded politicians increasingly prioritizing political and civic involvements take an interest in Diaspora reciprocal effects building Diaspora outreach and partnerships is mattering’s become innovative with their Diaspora programs and fanfares to make their case in keynote speeches to fanciful splendors raising fund, with a fraction of pledges from party supporters.
Fatoumatta: These are many and varied and range from the mundane – such as red carpets at functions that the particular state functions and graces political meetings – to the grave, such as outriders where available, state cars, state bodyguards, diplomatic passports, fully furnished official domicile, and even a little pocket change reaped and garnered from unretired imprest, fraud in perdiem allowances, unused air ticket racketeering and financial misappropriation following foreign travel to splash around at posh restaurants and giving alms to undeserving electorates and to praise singers.
Fatoumatta: When strongmen need a shoulder to lean when they get kicked out of office, they often turn to other strongmen. For example, President Yahya Jammeh living exile in Equatorial Guinea—home of Africa’s longest-serving president Teodoro Obiang, was voted out of office following 22 years of autocratic rule. However, Jammeh did not precisely go quietly into the night. His attempts to stay in power included first conceding defeat before calling for fresh elections in a stunning, public turnaround. It took the threat of military action by regional neighbors to get Jammeh to give up the presidency but not before he carted away with expensive cars, including two Rolls Royce and emptying state coffers.
Fatoumatta: But every good thing comes to an end, and the Gambian politician is not immune to the indignities imposed by political sell-by dates. The result is a sad spectacle, for a Gambian politician out of political office, cut off from access to government largess and the privileges of office, is a sorry spectacle.
Fatoumatta: They limp along in misshapen clothes, bearing outsized but unrealized ambitions alongside the massive debt they will have incurred while in the good books of the powers-that-be. The odd torn trousers and ‘laughing shoes’ have been spotted adorning politicians shorn of power, a testament not to an absolute lack of money but to the lack of fawning assistants and adoring acolytes who would ensure such indignities never happened.
Fatoumatta: A Gambian politician out of office is a fish out of water; he or she is dead, buried, and cremated. Thus, their big political egos have found ways of retaining a semblance of relevance, even when political virility has been chipped away by a combination of time and voter apathy. As their political power ebbs away, their big men resort to one time-tested tactic that never fails to fire up their ethnic vote base and reclaim whatever little political dignity they can clawback.
Fatoumatta: Because of political dignity, they declare that they are running for president at the subsequent elections. Running for president in the Gambia is, mind you, not about winning the presidency. The Gambia is one of those strange political dominions where everyone more or less knows who will win the presidency well ahead of the elections themselves. However, this notwithstanding, their big men have to declare that they are running for the presidency, for a presidential run in The Gambia is a source of tremendous financial resources and a bottomless well of political notoriety. As soon as the declaration is made, matters change rapidly. Perennial losers.
Fatoumatta: Some Western NGO quickly shows up to help arrange for the never-ending “civic education,” which is just poorly disguised voter bribery. The big man is at the forefront of this, but they make sure they eat at least half the money that the NGO pumps into the campaign. Big, fat dinners are arranged in top five-star hotels within the Tourism Development Areas in Kairaba Beach Hotel and Senegambia hotels, astonishingly lavish events at which people with deep pockets feast on tiny morsels of alleged food cost them hundreds of thousands of Dalasis per plate. They do not flinch at a price, though, because most of the money is stolen from the public anyway.
Fatoumatta: The only people that pay for their meals are the ordinary people in the street, who are too honest to realize a whole gravy train is there for the taking. Thus, the big man gets into gear, campaigns half-heartedly in an election that even they know they will lose, but in which they must pretend to have a chance if only not to be consigned to the political rubbish heap. It is a tired but reliable mechanism, and as you look around the news outlets, you will see some of the same old operators, who always rise to declare they are running for president. Some things never change!