Opinion | Political defection and the case of former UDP financier Alagie Conteh

You know when a cock wants to mate, it first does some “kurukuru, waka waka” before going into business. That is precisely what Dabanai Electrical Company Ltd CEO and the United Democratic Party Party ( UDP) leading sponsor, Mr. Alagie Conteh, did. 

He knew what he wanted to do. Instead of just resigning from UDP and joining the NPP, Mr. Conteh first did some “kuru kuru, waka waka” shifting allegiances before announcing his defection to the NPP to Dou Sanno and Ebrima Sillah. Walahi. William Shakespeare once said, “If we live true to ourselves, we cannot be false to anyone.”

One of the prominent United Democratic Party (UDP) financiers, Mr.  Alagi Conteh, CEO of Dabanani Electrical Company Ltd, is the last person I expect to abandon the United Democratic Party (UDP) for the National People’s Party (NPP). 

Mr. Conteh’s defection to NPP may seem unthinkable to many. Still, it turns out to be a reality we are dealing with today. Therefore, he should not expect reasonable Gambians to celebrate him as a turncoat of incredible effrontery. 

When you see things happen, learn from them. Do not just have a good laugh and look at the issue from the surface. Reflect on it. Think about it. Look at this picture below, and let us learn the open and hidden lessons of leadership and politics in it. 

First of all, never say never. You do not own tomorrow, and it is too absolute a conclusion to reach. Secondly, suppose you are a leader of anything or anyone. 

In that case, if you aspire to leadership when dealing with problems, you can make two choices: you either focus on the issue or focus on the person. After seeing the relevance, it is hard to face obscurity on the business and political front. 

UDP’s influential and leading financier Mr. Alagi Conteh of Dabanai, defecting to NPP indicates the fight against political obscurity. 

We have seen how some politicians have fallen into disarming political hacks, are known officially as government advisers, decamp to become political sycophants, and possibly have the latitude of power to control and steal government finances, secure contracts, and empower proxies fronts to engage in corrupt self-enrichment.

Those political prostitutes know “when to use” and “when to dump.” In every sense of the word, free agents are loyal only to self and stomach. They have perfected the art to a divine fault. Time is nigh for every careerist politician to join the “change” bandwagon. 

The only change in their political sphere is time. The players remain the same. Same forest, same monkeys irrespective of who wins. So, expect the same problems post-2021.

The politics of shamelessness. Please give it to power-addicted politicians, business people, and those who believe in belly politics. Trust them, entice; to convert nakedness into an intelligent suit; to redirect opprobrium into an opportunity without government money.

CEO Alagie Conteh  is an older adult. Noise-making on Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp does not cut it for him. Bank loans bills must be paid. Contracts from the government are anticipated for survival and relevance, and he loves power and wants to be influential. 

In politics, if the UDP becomes the ruling party and gives out contracts, Mr. Conteh might still be in the UDP. Never forget; history is lived forward and judged backward. 

The cost of opportunism is ultimately higher than its immediate advantages. Nothing is worth one’s reputation. The badge of infamy is a lifetime burden on one’s reputation. 

Being held in silent or open contempt by your people is not worth the price of political opportunism. The NPP online media crew humiliated and treated Mr. Conteh like an orphan, as a political stray dog, when “Jeebaaloo” before Dou Sanno and Ebrima Sillah. 

In the aftermath of the 2021 presidential election, Alagie Conteh desperately attempted to ingratiate himself with President Adama Barrow, a man he once publicly pilloried and sworn by all means to render him unelectable and later abandoned him in favour of Baa Ousainou Darboe.

A broken reputation is hard to repair. It makes you distrusted and despised. I cannot imagine how CEO Alagie  Conteh would handle the unease or the burden of facing President Barrow as a defector from UDP! 

Besides, would his defection have any political consequence? Leaving your party to join the party in power is pure opportunism. This means you may leave NPP too if it loses the election tomorrow. Honour is everything. 

If you take the honour for granted, you may find that you no longer have a reputation to protect. Being despised and held in contempt should worry any right-thinking person. Ultimately, only the electorate can determine the fates of opportunists in our politics.

Rushworth Kidder proposes that politicians ought to embrace honesty, moral responsibility, magnanimity, and fairness in ethical dilemmas (“The Ethics of Right versus Right”). Yes. 

The Political transhumance or defection phenomenon will not be resolved by preaching hatred and demonising others as children of a lesser God. Henceforth, the empty promises industry of political transhumance is driven by inability.

To act? Do not throw stones! A factor of living; in glass houses? Because, in politics, cooking bloated, broken promises is the opium of the masses? The empty promises industry—a disrespect for values. 

And people. A blot to leadership? “Those who make promises they do not keep end up powerless and frustrated” (Paulo Coelho). Because the empty promise industry does not last.

Listen to James Freeman Clarke: “A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman of the next generation”. The next election; the next generation. Ours in the Gambia, an abdication of patriotic duty – desertification of politicians.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

Alagi Yorro Jallow

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