Every election year, Gambians are faced with the difficult choice of whether to choose a President that the people hate to love or to side with one of dishonest opposition leaders who lack credibility so much so that many would love to hate them. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize the difference between an arrogant dictator determined to perpetuate himself into power by all means necessary and a weak fragmented cartel of opposition parties whose leaders are so divided that they refused to heed the lessons of past election failures. With a history of betrayal, opposition parties cannot defeat Yaya Jammeh in the polls unless they put their acts together.
Gambia is a country where money rules the roost, with the government providing most of the funding for this year’s elections, there is no way that the incumbent Yaya Jammeh cannot remote-controlled the entire electoral process to his own advantage. Election is about money and giving the murky funding of the IEC activities, there is no way that they will be neutral and allow a fair and free election without undue influence by the ruling party. Unless IEC can guarantee that they will not dance to the music of the piper who pays for the tune, it would be another hokey public relation election exercise dressed up to fool the whole world about democracy in the Gambia, but without the rights and institutions that are equally important aspects of a functioning democratic system.
Torn between obsessive insecurity and proselytizing zeal, the cracks in the opposition have become insurmountable with each claiming to be the most popular yet none cannot muster enough votes to remove Yaya Jammeh from power thus turning our grand dreams for a better Gambia into dust and forcing many to become disillusioned with the electoral process in our country. Take Halifa Sallah for example, despite his dismally poor electoral record (he struggled to poll anything above 10% since he started contesting elections under PDOIS ticket) yet he still believes that he can win this year’s election on his own regardless of the controversy surrounding the 2016 Electoral Reforms Act which is still being contested by the other opposing parties.
In the past there have been compelling evidence of massive vote rigging and irregularities perpetrated by the APRC which led to widespread condemnation of the election results by ECOWAS and other reputable monitoring institutions that were on the ground observing a very flawed election process supported and funded with Taiwanese money. Over 1, 500, 000 marbles were supplied by Taiwan, Jammeh’s once closest allies, for use in election despite the fact that the number of registered voters was far below that number.
Now what happened to the balance of those marbles? That is why many Gambians are calling for the replacement of marbles with ballot papers which is more transparent and difficult to manipulate. As long as we continue using marbles, which incidentally was introduced in 1963 because of the high illiteracy rate in the country at the time, there is no guarantee that elections in the Gambia will be free and fair.
With opposition parties still refusing to learn from past failures and Yaya Jammeh obsession with power not accepting any term limit, it still remains a challenge to have new political leadership with fresh talents to take this beautiful country into higher heights. Politics in the Gambia should not be judged on the number of kilometers of roads you build, the megawatts of electricity power you can generate, the buildings you construct for the people, or the volume of agricultural products produced by KGI farms for export. These are important for any under-developed country.
Any dump leader surrounded by excellent technocrats, brilliant experts and highly educated workforce can achieve those essential needs. Leadership calls for much greater attributes than using limited state resources as personal property. A leader must have a strong, clean, disciplined and inspirational qualities to set and galvanize people to higher, lofty and common purpose. Leaders must ensure peaceful rotation of power to allow young and new talents to generate growth and development.
It will take concerted, concrete and well-coordinated efforts on the part of the opposition parties to oust Yaya Jammeh in the 2016 elections. They can only do that if they can put their acts together. Otherwise many Gambians would applaud a woman president in 2016.
God Bless the Islamic Republic of the Gambia!
Written By An Insider