Diplomats and representatives of multilateral organizations are not just resident in the country waiting to be called to state banquets or national events. They are the eyes, ears and mouthpieces of their respective principals.
These representatives, by requirement are not allowed to interfere in domestic matters. However, they are expected and required to report back to their home governments or agencies and they do send reports. How do they compile those reports?
In addition to being trained in international law and international relations (diplomacy), they are generally experts in public policy and governance. Every policy decision the government makes public can be thoroughly examined and expertly assessed by these representatives.
The president and his team can be as flowery as they want in their communication, but as soon as a policy decision is taken, these experts can assess where they are likely to go wrong and their monitoring mechanisms will prove to them the success or failure of any specific policy matter. Although they cannot interfere in such policy matters, they observe from a distance and when citizens decry along similar lines of thought, it resonates.
These are some of the issues they will include in their reports assessing the performance of the government or a certain public enterprise. Part of their monitoring mechanisms includes how a specific policy impacts people’s lives in the areas targeted. This is where the essence of this write up comes in.
Since a lot of these agencies or diplomatic missions do not have a permanent or regular presence in the daily lives of the people, they get their information through third party sources, namely local newspapers and other forms of media.
Social media is a crucial resource for such research in gauging the reactions of the public towards any public policy decision. I will be hard put to believe that Barrow and his team do not know that, in fact I think they are well aware of it.
So why are they constantly trying to convey the misleading notion that what goes on social media sites is of no consequence? Obviously if it is for political gain, the reach is inconsequential as most Gambians are not connected. But therein lies the problem, Barrow and his team are over consumed by politics that everything is viewed through a political lens even where national interest is glaringly front and center.
The diaspora especially, by virtue of their absence from home can only engage their compatriots through these social media platforms and their views have an impact in many quotas. Labeling them as rabble-rousers or unpatriotic does not cut it. If anything, such tags put the government in very bad light and gives the impression of their aversion to dissent, a very dictatorial tendency.
These foreign emissaries may not interfere with internal policy matters but their home governments take their recommendations seriously.
So if the president and his team want to play politics with every issue, let them go ahead. Those listening with objective ears will ascertain where the facts lie. Unfortunately for us they hold our purse strings and just as we have been informed of the funding challenges facing the National Development Plan, more negative ratings will impact us further.
What a pity that so much goodwill is being wasted all because of a president’s greed and desire to self-perpetuate. So keep up your social media campaigns; let the hashtags flow and in the end we will triumph as a collective. Our goal is a more responsive and accountable government.