Banjul, The Gambia—Yahya Jammeh is one of the world’s most absurd dictators. He has been in power for 21 years – after deposing long-time Gambia first republic president Sir Dawda Jawara in a 1994 bloodless coup. His coup was premised on the fact that the Jawara administration was growing increasingly unpopular. Jawara and his personal cabal were becoming more and more self-serving and in constant thirst for selfish and personal goals at the expense of broader national interests.

Gambia needed a president that could move her forward at the time. Yahya saw himself as the messiah who could save Gambia, but Gambia’s business is a serious one; not meant for people who lack vision to move the nation forward.

And sadly, after 21 years, Yahya Jammeh’s regime has not only been calamitous but also ruinous – even more calamitous than the regime he deposed. Rather than spend the past 21 years since he assumed office to fight poverty, poor health care delivery systems, and unemployment, Yahya has been busy oppressing his own people.

A lot of other things have also gone wrong in Gambia since Yahya came to power. Today, there is monumental corruption. Yahya and his political desperadoes are stealing from the nation’s coffers. They are not only buying nice houses but sending their children to school abroad. 

The emphasis is on personal aggrandisement and self-glorification with the result that corruption has become a euphemism for explaining political leadership in Gambia in relation to the management of national wealth. Gambia is a tiny nation with a population of less than 2 million. Yet, more half of the population live below the poverty line as a result of corruption and economic mismanagement.

It is the case that there is no freedom and genuine democracy in Gambia. Yahya’s mediocre style is one that bothers on obscene desperation reminiscent of someone on a suicide mission. After 21 years, one expected Yahya to be a mature leader but this is not the case. He is not who he says he is. The nigger continues to play politics with the lives of Gambians, a truth that many Gambians are conscious of.

Thankfully, also, it is his mediocre style that has led to the sufferings; the unlawful cowardly killings; the maiming; and the torture of innocent Gambians. Gambians are fleeing for their lives in droves. They are concerned at the desperation of Yahya for political power. His methods are crude and portend danger to lives and property of the innocent and hapless. Virtually all the deaths and enforced disappearances are traceable to Yahya and his acolytes. These must stop immediately!

Admittedly, these are dangerous times for Gambia. Everything has gone wrong under Yahya Jammeh. He lacks clues on how to move Gambia forward. He also lacks the capacity to be Gambia’s president. This is because he equally lacks ideas on how to diversify the economy of this great nation. His team most of whom are criminals also lacks cutting edge ideas that will take Gambia out of the woods. They have nothing to offer.

Gambia, in its quest to become relevant in the eyes of world does not need a president that lacks a 22nd century vision. They must rise above Yahya’s mediocre style. Gambians need a president with solutions to her challenges. The kind of president that would give the people all the freedom they need rather than one who oppresses them.

Bala Musa (not his real names) wrote from Banjul.

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