Great men do not raise billboards for themselves. They raise great men and women. I pray that on December 4, Gambians reject “Cult of Personality syndrome” in exchange for a battle of ideas. 

Our politics must not be a battle about the most beautiful billboard, branded cars, or the most glittering political party headquarters. I hope our politicians now know that elections are not won by displaying large poster boards and large truck-grade convoy backing up traffic and caravans hit roads across the country’s length and breadth. 

It takes winning the hearts and souls of the ordinary voter to govern. It has never been a beauty contest. It is about finding exemplary leadership for the Gambia. It must not be about displaying wealth and endless campaign signboard spending and organising political jamboree, speeches, and entertainment.

It is sad because the mind’s emptiness cannot be compensated for with some giant billboards. Mediocre leaders are the most insecure people; they put their faces on large billboards where everyone can see them because, for them, leadership is a crown on their wounded ego.

Political leaders who put their faces on the cover of school books, “Ashobi,” pamphlets, and T-shirts fail to put books in the school libraries. Insecure leaders will do everything to remind the people that they are the leaders partly because they do not believe that they are the leaders. 

In the quest to hide their insecurities, these leaders become defensive and arrogant. They cannot be advised in the presence of other human beings. No one below them can criticise them. You cannot even make a joke about them. They fear correction and public criticism because it exposes their internal deficiencies. Insecure leaders are the weakest, but they hide this weakness by acting tough.

Allow me to quote American activist Benjamin Todd Jealous: “In a democracy, there are only two types of power: organised people and organised money, and organised money only win when people are not organised and informed.”

Since independence, we have given too many chances to the organised money cartels and those masquerading as democrats and patriots. Our politicians have rewarded themselves by looting from us to get more powerful. 

When politicians masquerading as democrats, progressives, patriots, or change agents engage in persuasive vote canvassing and buying, conscience and to snatch political parties’ candidacies to win elections, you have to know and note that they are not doing so because they want to serve the people, society or country. 

They do so to grab power and use the same for primitive accumulation, loot or loot the State’s resources again. They are no better than armed robbers who use violence to maim and kill. 

They are even worse than armed robbers who use threat, force, and violence to dispossess their victims of cherished belongings in many ways. 

How and why? Unlike the armed robbers who use only the instrumentality of violence, the politicians, in addition to violence, employ deception, falsehood, lies, sweet talk, and sophistry to gain power, which they knew would be deployed, upon attaining political power, to disempower, dispossess and emasculate the people. 

When will the people refuse to allow politicians to use them? Why do the people insist on perishing when they do not lack knowledge? Who are the sponsors of these billboards?

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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