Barrow Isn’t A Rookie Leader

Now that Mr. Mai Fatty [former Interior Minister] has spoken clearly that he has never betrayed the oath of office, it is very important for us to accept the fact that the president has every right to fire any political appointees like ministers. Whether the insider’s story is true or not, Mr Fatty has proven to be an outstanding citizen or minister who has positively contributed to the democratic change and security services reforms. Mr Fatty’s political activism over the past 22 years has led to exposure of human rights violations by former Dictator Yahya Jammeh at the international community. His brilliant and remarkable contributions as Interior Minister has set the stage for continuous security services reforms. Though it is indeed disappointing to see him gone so soon but I believe President Barrow made the right decision. As Mr Fatty rightly stated, the President has constitutional right to hire and fire anyone and this can happen especially when it comes to policy disagreement. There are many reasons why someone could be fired. Firing has nothing to do with competency or ability to do a job in a professional manner. Firing could be as a result of corruption as alleged by the government insider or it could be as simply a lack of chemistry or what we call in the USA ”not a good fit” in a particular organization. So this is not new. We must remember that the President was entrusted to make decisions on our behalf based on constitutional provision which recognizes him as the Chief Executive and Commander in Chief. Sometimes some decisions should be kept private and confidential until a right time for disclosure. This happens in every advanced democracy.

In any democracy, the President being the ultimate decider or the Chief Executive should make decisions based on supreme national interest. The leadership is about making hard decisions which might not be appreciated or welcomed by many at the time but in the future such decisions can turn out to be in the best interest of the country. President Barrow’s decision to fire Mr Fatty might have national security or political implications but that remains to be seen. At this moment, we should avoid character distortion or politics of personal destruction for cheap popularity or political expediency. The Gambia and Gambians are at a crossroad. As citizens, we must look for what is best in us and tap those ingredients for the development of our country.

Rejoicing over the firing of state minister is not the best cause for political celebration or victory; rather we should demonstrate that our supreme national interest supersedes any individual political interest when such decisions are made on our behalf. It is the best among us who have the courage to accept the positions of responsibilities and accept the ultimate decision to be relieved from those positions even if it is found out not to be a good fit in such positions. This is what public service entails. A politician who refuses to take up position of responsibility because of the fear of firing is indeed not worth to be people’s representative in any capacity. Firing or losing a job is a learning experience which can make the politician or citizen a better person or leader. Therefore, ignorance political zealots forget to remind themselves that firing can be the best thing that can happens to anyone. As late genius entrepreneur brilliantly articulated in his speech at Stanford University on reflection of his firing as founder of Computer company Machintosh, Steve Jobs described his firing as “the best decision that ever happened to me.” Mr Jobs later went on with his life to become the founder of one of the most successful computer companies in the world – the Apple Inc.

So the firing of Mr Fatty can ultimately make both President Barrow and Mr Mai Fatty a better leader. It will help them make personal evaluation of their professional leadership and what has led to such a decision. This firing indicated that Mr President has absolute authority in exercising his constitutional responsibility and it has signaled that he is in charge. It made him bold and decisive leader and dismissed wildly held distorted view by his opponents as “Lame Duck President.” Finally, the critics admitted that Mr President is in charge. No more hate-mongering slogans as “Rookie President, Lame Duck President or Sleepy President”. Mr President is the main decider and he is in charge.



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