Usually, many wannabes come out close to every election time, indicating their interest in the presidency. Usually, before then, you hardly hear anything about them or their ambition. 

Simply because the presidency of any country is the biggest prize, serious candidates do not wait a few months before coming out. Furthermore, it is why many of them score so low.

Like now, watch the political landscape. You can see the severe moves of serious candidates. Maybe three. Maybe four of them. They deliberately fund the publicity but also deny it. In this, they have created the buzz. People are discussing them. When they eventually launch, nobody wonders.

I like that educated young people want to engage in civic and social engagement, have ambition and career aspirations, and work with a predictive quality. I like young people who wish for political power. 

However, like I have written here many times, management does not concede. Power concedes only when offered something equal or greater in return. 

Politics uses the bottom-up approach. Power is not acquired overnight, and it is built in increments. Do not get it twisted, and politics is about representation. 

Whoever aspires to lead must earn the confidence and respect of those they wish to lead. In politics, numbers are destiny! 

The people must know you, or those they trust must know you. Do not think you can go it alone; if you do, you will fail spectacularly. 

Barack Obama did not become the President of the United States from obscurity. It happened before our eyes. That 2004 Democratic National  Convention (DNC) keynote speech at John Kerry’s Democratic Convention made all the difference. That speech launched Obama’s national campaign. Before then, he was busy working his way up the ladder, gaining people’s confidence.

When you begin the idealistic and romantic nonsense about godfather politics, where do you want to put community and opinion leaders? 

They did not become leaders by staying in their living rooms to watch the Samba and  Pateh. They matter because they care about their community and have gained their people’s confidence. It would be best if you had them to succeed. You need their approval. If they cannot work for you, make sure they do not work against you.

People must learn to eat a banana before plantain. Eat small things before you look at oversized items. Work your way up. Become a community leader yourself. Know how things are done. 

You like citing George Weah; would he have become president without former president Charles Taylor? You are using President Macron of France as an example! Go and do your research! That was how Essa Mbye Faal thought he could become President just like that. His vote tallies could not even win them a seat as councillor in Half Die ward. He should have asked late Pap Cheyassin Secka( May Allah grant him Aljannah Firdausi). “Love Does Not Win Elections,” Yadicone told us from her experience. 

Unfortunately, the Gambia’s problems need more than just ambition. It needs a history of integrity and values. It requires a background of purpose and selfless service. Mr. Essa Mbye Faal may not lack these, but indeed Halifa Sallah has more. 

Furthermore, I think Essa Mbye Faal is grossly advantaged to, for the first time, do something uniquely beneficial to the masses of the Gambia – and that is to support the aspirations of other candidates for the Gambia.  

However, Mr. Faal can begin by publically acknowledging the chance that Gambians now have is to install Adama Barrow as the President of the Gambia come December 4. He should use his political machinery to campaign for Adama Barrow before the elections and, importantly, be there to help him deliver his noble promises to Gambians after he wins. 

Essa and his colleagues into Gambian political experience at delivering promises in the latter. Their Machiavellian expertise is at ‘neutralising’ the opposition. Their enormous wealth in the former shall surely come in handy. 

We expect him to not only give his support publicly, but he should also instruct a few ‘ill-mannered’ supporters from his massive followership of cultured supporters to respect Adama Barrow by keeping their mouths shut, for he may be the only independent candidate, but he is also a true leader of the masses of the Gambia. 

The Gambia must put its best foot forward to confront the existential challenges that face it. After that, Adama Barrow or Halifa has the best chance to redirect to the right, credible path. And then everything else shall fall in line.

We look forward to that day; perhaps in the next few days, the “Tangal Cheeb and Sosalasso  politicians”  would mount the podium and hail, ‘Vote Barrow or Vote NPP and Save The Gambia !’ And then their names would be written in gold in the streets.

This is my advice to those keen and likely to run for the December 4 presidential election. Start doing something. Now. Develop a message. Then organise lectures where you will speak on serious issues, make sure you dovetail into your statement and harvest the publicity. Do many photo ops. Sound bites. Commission the appropriate photographs. Of you and family and associates. Become the news. Become a serious brand.

Branding is critical. 

Sadly many candidates do not know. They imagine it is just for Africell and Qcells. Sit with professional Public Relations experts and craft your communication strategy, which will be encompassing. Develop a message. Do not join them in “I will build schools, turn the Gambia into America, etc. It is because some “Tangal Cheeb” OR Sosalaaso” politicians do not have solid and appealing messages. 

Have a reliable team to manage the implementation. Turn the strat into a PLAN. Public Relations. MR. Social media engagements. Advertising. Events. All. Do not just be a poster candidate. Follow the example of what happens, especially in the US. See the careful development of political brands. They have a core message. They have a strategy for communicating the message. They also have plans for the strategy. They speak at valedictories—express opinions on the economy. Use professional advisers (like Awolowo did).

 Make policy statements and become an expert. Perfect your public presentation style. Get on the covers of serious publications. Do television and radio shows. Gauge the electoral mood. Conduct polls. ETC. They do not wait till four months before the election. It is solemn business. Let our candidates learn to do the same. Furthermore, do it as well. This is free advice. After this, I will charge you.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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