Who we go put dey?

Finding the answer to this question may not be as hard as you think. When elections are at hand, ordinary Grenadians ask themselves the question, “who we go put dey?” By that they mean who we go make Prime Minister.

Generally, fitness and acceptance are not informed by book learning, but by cultural factors. Folks locate the leader in a place of mystique and separateness! The PM occupies a special place in people’s heart! An emotional picture, eh?

An important issue is how people feel about the leaders of the main parties. People normally look for certain qualities and the reputation of the leader. Notably, it is entirely possible for a party leader to grow his likeability over time (Tillman). Does he have the common touch? Does he show himself as one of us; loving, kind, giving, caring, etc.? When they reach their decision in the matter, no one should ask that they explain themselves. Equally, the very people who favour ‘leader A’ today, may, under different circumstances, favour ‘leader B’.

A leader who is known to lack natural appeal is at a big disadvantage. However, he may gain some ground if he can win the people’s respect. It is also worth recognising that Grenadians have elected the uncharismatic in the special circumstances where the nation has been in trouble.

Once the problem is seemingly fixed, we go back to our old ways. Nevertheless, it is possible to ‘trick the culture’ and win by skillfully working the issues of the day, strategically aligning them with demographic interests and concerns. Simply put, the challenge is to create a ‘Rising Tide’ to lift all ships!

People may decide to ‘put you dey’ if they are satisfied that you want the best for Grenada and that they can put their trust in you. They want to feel that they can do well under your leadership. Like it or not, for many Grenadians the leader must symbolise the ‘Hand of Supply’! It’s mostly a welfare transaction issue.

In the context of the adversarial political system we operate, leaders must be mindful that having low ratings on the likeability scale is tough, but that where the people have ‘a case against you’ it is fatal, unless you recant and repent and demonstrate that you can be good for the economy.

As it stands, many people are convinced that one leader is better for the economy than is the other.

Attempts to explain or rationalise failure do not help. When you are Minister of Finance, people expect you to bring solutions to their most basic financial problems. An explanation is not a solution, it is perceived as a blame-shifting device.

Leadership is a human duty and will always be affected by imperfection. To discuss a leader’s reality is not to attack him. If the subject of discussion is honest facts, for example, a man’s own words, then that leader ought not to encourage his followers to believe and say otherwise. And he should not wait to be called out to speak the truth. In other words, he must not mislead or let-down his followers.

The leader‘s duty is to so conduct his affairs that when the people ask, “who we go put dey?”, he gets the nod. He will not get that nod if his talent is for wrong politics or sets-up his surrogates to believe his lies and to feast on ‘raw meat’!

It is painful to hear followers innocently fighting for their leader when that leader knows better, but keeps his silence. Like Coard, he may accept “moral responsibility” only after the battle is lost. It is one thing to be smart and calculating, it is another thing to be unjust! Add prime ministerial power to such a leader and no citizen is safe! If people see a leader that way, then they won’t ‘put you dey’.

William Joseph

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