Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Advisers

The policy vacillations of the Jammeh regime over the forex fiasco are reminders of how the country's economy has been mismanaged over the years by Jammeh's heavy reliance of unofficial and untrained advisers. This class of advisers may be security personnel and 'ataya drinking buddies' of Jammeh who surround him during his daily 'ataya' sessions; sessions that have turned into a ritualistic congregation of 'hangers-on'.

These characters are neither trained in economics nor in the art of diplomacy, yet they wield enormous sway over a man who is the consummate consumer of raw, unprocessed and untested information. His inability to process information and distill it in the context of the decision making matrix is well known. The hangers-on know it too, and thus they take advantage of it by dispensing advise that benefit them, their relatives and/or business associates. So they gladly take full advantage of a man who wants to be loved and respected by suggesting policy measures that is far beyond their pay grade.

Who are these phantom advisers who are as much responsible for the current state of affairs as Jammeh himself. As it was the case in the early days of the AFPRC when the regime relied on outside advisers, smuggled into State House in the dead of night to advise the AFPRC Chairman. The occupant of the State House has not changed since 1994 but the advisers have, with the exception of a handful who have displayed great resilience and survival skills to outlast all of the original 'soldiers with a difference' but one. This category of advisers is composed of a mix of security personnel, prominent business personalities and private political operatives active in political mobilization and propaganda activities for the Dictator. There lies the danger.

The influence of these unofficial advisers who have little or no professional training is enormous; an enormity derived not from the value of the expert advice they readily dispense but from access to Jammeh. He travels with many of them everywhere because they also provide him his personal protection; a protection that is Jammeh's highest priority. The same group also 'atayas' with him. It is during these ataya sessions that advises are dispensed in rapid succession because it could mean forfeiting a promotion or a fist full of dollars from the Benefactor-in-Chief. not because of the quality of the advise, assuming that Jammeh can discern good advice, but by the number of suggestions carefully calibrated to align with the desires and business interests of Jammeh and a select few at the expense of everyone else.

Recently, a new class of advisers has emerged. They are the students selected by Jammeh to be trained in the University of The Gambia and in Taiwan. They tend to be inexperienced, wet behind the ears and who've been recently absorbed into the system. They are in the eyes of Jammeh the validators of his July 22 revolution. Despite their lack of experience ( and some will question the quality of their professional training ), they have been catapulted into the fore, causing concatenation to the rest of the business community because of these young and inexperienced advisers lack of knowledge and appreciation of the nature and structure of the Gambian economy. These are the ones currently running the economy. No wonder we are in the mess we find ourselves.

As pressure mounts on these young and inexperienced administrators and their boss, a new phenomenon has arisen in an attempt to defend the indefensible regime. These youngsters have taken to social media in an attempt to counter the barrage of criticism against a regime that lacks coherent and effective policy prescriptions when it is most needed - policy prescriptions which have failed to stop the economy from its downward spiral threatening the very survival of a regime the advisers support fervently.