Opinion: PR AT THE STATE HOUSE: SABALLY’S WOES WITH THE YOUNG AND ACHIEVING
Updated: Aug 31, 2019
In his all-time best selling masterpiece, ‘’48 Laws of Power’’, the widely respected author Robert Greene described narcissism as a disease that makes its sufferers ‘’prone to vicious bouts of envy if they see others getting the attention they feel they deserve’’; and that due to ‘’inner emptiness’’ and a ‘’fragmented sense of self’’, narcissists tend to use people that exist in lives as instruments of attention and validation’’. Ask any keen political observer of Gambian society and politics who this caps fits, and they will be quick to point to the self-styled so-called Gambia’s pen, Momodou Sabally – the former Secretary General of the infamous APRC party and one time Jammeh Minister for Presidential Affairs. Even for Jammeh’s ilk, who’s a certified megalomaniac, Saballly’s arrogance was legendary. As a result, he was publicly booted out of power in a humiliating fashion, and with it came crumbling the little respect he enjoyed.
As though the whole Gambian populace has a meeting of the minds, no one pays heed to anything whatsoever that Sabally got to say. The reason why I would begin by expressing my sincerest apologies to all Gambians for betraying the most kept secret in town: that no one should give attention or take seriously anything that Momodou Sabally says. I have decided to break the omerta and weigh in on the matter because, as a student of law, politics, and the media as well as a keen observer of Gambian politics and society, I think it is quite unfair that Sabally has made the presidency’s media and communication office his newest punching bag. Equally unfair is his failed attempts at making it look like the office is responsible for everything that goes wrong in The Gambia government and the State House, in particular. His write-ups, which counted to five in four days, are laced with personal attacks and gullible innuendos and insinuations against individuals in the Department of Press and Public Relations at the presidency.
Giving my academic background and research interests, I have been closely monitoring the activities of the press unit and contrary to the image that Sabally wishes to paint, the team is made up of dynamic, smart, highly accomplished young staff who have done amazingly well for themselves and doing extremely well in executing their professional duties under trying circumstances. Wonder why a sorry soul who doesn’t have the ability to be happy for anyone succeeding would come after them? Instead of critiquing constructively as one would expect any man of his caliber to do, Mr. Sabally, true to his colours, was calling some of them derogatory names in order to taint their reputations.
Since the team joined the presidency a little over a year ago in what was part of SG Habib Drammeh’s plans to beef up and set up a fully functional PR team for the presidency, a lot has changed. Up until that point, there was no such structure at the country’s highest office, even when the ‘most smart economist turned PR guru’ Momodou Sabally was the Head of the Civil Service and Minister for Presidential Affairs. Unlike other sectors of the civil service that are currently undergoing institutional reforms, the press secretariat bequeathed by the former administration that the self-styled jack of all trades now turned PR guru Momodou Sabally so graciously served is being built from the ground up. Completely anew.
Soon after I learned of the new hirings, new social media platforms for the presidency on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram followed. They are frequently updated with engaging content leading to the exponential growth of these accounts to tens of thousands of followers within a short span of time. Despite operating with meager resources and in a system designed to hoard information – a legacy of the administration Sabally served, the team is employing innovative means of communicating through mini-documentary videos, infographics, topnotch images, newsletters,news briefing etc to market and sell the programs and policies of their principal.
Now, is this enough? Perhaps not. Can they do better? Absolutely yes. But to suggest that the people at the State House are being complacent is quite dishonest, at best. The team is young and so is the office, and despite that, they are punching more than above their weight. As a civil servant who once worked as an information assistant, I can imagine how tedious a job they must have given that it could be a nightmare to access information, and without ACCESS Public Relations becomes a mere exercise in futility. I hope Sabally can use his ‘’experience’’ in a better way than smearing a young team that he could generously assist. Else, he would be a fool at forty, and ‘’a fool at forty is a fool for life’’.
On that note, I would conclude by suggesting that the presidency should improve in two areas: 1) public engagement in order to bridge the gap between the president and ordinary masses, and 2) incorporate and compel political appointees like Ministers to complement their messaging. Cabinet Ministers need to be out there getting their hands dirty,defending the plans and programs of the president.
Editors note: Views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Gunjur News Online. Got an opinion article? send it to us at GunjurNewsOnline@gmail.com